May 16, 2011

My Mother's Battle for Closed Captions With Comcast

My mother finally decided to join the rest of us and switch over from a VHS (Video Home System) player to a DVR (Digital Recording Device).

She was super excited about not having to collect anymore clunky tapes. She really likes how easy it is to record things by just pressing some buttons. Before getting the DVR, she was afraid that it would be difficult to use or something would go wrong.

She will find out later that she was right to have these reservations.

While she was very happy with the recording aspect, the closed-captions disappeared. She could not figure out how to get them back on. It appeared that the closed captions were disabled and she was not able to get them back on through the usual way (through menu options).This upset her because she has grown to like using closed captions when watching her beloved Soaps, especially when she vacuums. She asked me to come over and check it out. But, I could not figure it out.

So, she called Comcast and asked about this. First, they tried to tell her over the phone how to fix it. My mother followed the directions and tried their suggestions. They did not work. They urged her to try again, and they kept telling her that it was an "easy fix" and that she should be able to fix it on her own with the directions they gave her. They insinuated that she was not doing it correctly. She of course became upset and asked if they can send a technician over. They kept advising against it, saying it was not necessary. She kept insisting that they send someone over to help, even though she felt like giving up. The customer service representative kept suggesting that my mother try to find someone who knows how to solve this problem. He kept hinting at how it would be costly and a nuisance to send a technician over. She told him that she did not care and wanted someone to come over and solve this problem now. It did not seem to really matter much to them even after she told him about me, saying that I would not be able to watch television without the captions when I come over.

I think it is strange that they were so reluctant to send a technician over to help. They have their reasons I suppose.

Finally, after my mother spent more time on the phone not being listened to, someone agreed to send a technician over to help on a certain day at a certain time.

BUT. . .

The technician never came!

And of course, the closed captions still did not come back on.

My mom called again. Again it was the same nonsense. They were confused and did not know why the captions were not coming up. But, they kept saying it was supposed to be easy and that she can get them back on by herself by just following their directions. She refused and demanded that someone should come over.

Finally, they agreed to send a technician.

Meanwhile, my mother was shown a newspaper article which discusses how the captions disappeared after the HDMI switch (to digital). It suggested that it can be solved using HDMI cables or that a switch back to the old cabling system may be necessary. The article was written by Bill Husted of the AJC Constitution. She cut that article out and saved it. I wish I can find a link to the entire article online. If someone is able to find a link to this article, please send it to me and I will post it here. 

So. . .

This time the technician actually came by.

But, he could not figure it out. He was confused and was convinced that there must be something wrong with the television. He could not figure it out and basically told my mother that there was nothing he can do. My mother could not believe it.

Then, she remembered what the newspaper article said and mentioned the cables. She handed him the newspaper article. The technician read it and was astonished. He started taking her more seriously and then was able to solve the problem using the article's advice. All he had to do was put in the old cable component or COM2 cable instead of the HDM1 cable.

It probably took no more than 5 minutes, my mother recalled.

The technician told her how grateful he was that she shared this information with him. He could not believe that no one at Comcast told him about this or were aware of how to solve this problem this way. He was upset about the time he wasted and the frustration he and his customers endured because there seemed to be no easy solution to bringing the closed captions back. He said that he will definitely bring this issue up at the next meeting. 

So, now the captions are back on after a lot of persistence on my mother's part.

What would have happened if she was not shown this article? What would she have done? Most likely, she would have wasted more time and energy calling Comcast and writing them letters, until something could be done about this. It would have been a total headache.

So, if you are having trouble getting closed captions back on after making an HDMI switch or getting a DVR, there is a solution. Do not let them make you think otherwise!



  1. It sounds like the captions need to be turned on from the DVR box. I have Comcast DVR and use HDMI cables to connect it to the TV and get the captions by turning it on through the box.

    Turn the box off, press the menu button and scroll through to turn on the captions. Hope this works!

  2. Interesting. I was actually pretty nervous to switch to satellite because I was worried about the problem with HDMI cables. Luckily, our box has the option to turn on captioning through the box. The TV has an option, *and* the box has an option, so if one doesn't work, we can try the other.

    Glad your mother was able to get her captions back!


  4. I'm a new HDTV and DVR owner myself, and also have Comcast. I use the HDMI cable and didn't have any problems getting captions. How it worked for me: turn the TV on, set to whatever device is for your cable box (mine is component 2). plug in the Comcast box (either the HD set-top box or the DVR) into an electrical outlet. press the Menu button. *Don't* press the Power button, only Menu. this will bring up a plain white screen on the TV with a bunch of stuff on it. near the top of the menu it says closed captions. use the channel or volume keys to move down and across to Enable. This same menu lets you change the size, font, and color of your captions, and also allows you to select other languages if not English. That's all there is to it! My living room is 15 feet across so it's really handy for me to have my captions big and white.

  5. Thanks, everyone. Yes, my mom has her captions now and is able to turn them on and off with no problems.

    It turns out she just needed to switch the HDMI cable with the COM2 cable.

    I thought it was interesting how many people at that particular Comcast could not solve the problem or understand how to get the captions back on. They gave the very same solutions most of you have left here in the comments, but they did not work.

    Perhaps now, that technician that helped my mom has shared the information with the others in this area and it will not be much of a problem for others in the same situation, anymore.

  6. In times like these, people should put their foot down. Doing so would lead to you getting better service and enjoy them truly. Being lenient sometimes wouldn't be much of a help.


Keep it civil.