Pattye Benson

Community Matters


‘Tis the Season … Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus!

We’ve all seen the promotional offers about upgrading your TV, especially during the holiday season – it’s easy and it doesn’t have to cost your anything. You’ve read the words — enjoy a much sharper picture, a lot more channels and a low sale price.

Your TV may be capable of receiving a lot more channels and displaying them a lot more clearly than you probably think it can but be prepared for the customer service calls, endless add-ons, equipment upgrades, etc. etc. As friend Neal Colligan discovered during the last few weeks, be on guard if you are pondering an upgrade from your dumb TV to a smarter species. Just in time for Christmas, Neal offers his humorous journey of discovery that not all smart TVs are created equal and that nothing is ever as easy as it appears. And … yes, Neal there is a Santa Claus!

Hoping This Isn’t Your Christmas

~ Neal Colligan

It all started simply enough…time to make some changes to the living room. It’s where the dogs and I spend most of our free time watching sports or movies. Part of the initiative involved replacing the big screen. While the 51” SONY, rear-projection, early HD compatible was a fine TV 8 years ago; a lot of technology has come along since then. Not being one to jump on every new model of stuff (my golf irons may be this old too), there still comes a time when upgrades are necessary. Plus, it’s just before Thanksgiving and all those TV’s are on sale! After a quick educational session at Best Buy, I decide on a Smart TV….yeah, no more going to the Red Box for DVD’s…stream away on Netflix…easy/peasy. Armed with knowledge, I purchase the TV days later (Costco/Delaware to save $$$) for a great price.

All we need now is a new HD box with HDMI connection. I’m far from a technology wizard but I can spell HDMI. Enter the Comcast chapter of the story. Springing up early on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I’m dedicated to being one of the first customers in the Downingtown Comcast location…it’s behind the Loews Home Center BTW… well hidden from the occasional customer. After tracking down their office, I dutifully return my old box/power cords and sundries and receive my new (1/3 the size and 5 lbs lighter) HD converter box with the HDMI hock-up…they even gave me an HDMI cable…ease/peasy. Just hook it up and call the number on the slip and we’ll turn it on. “Will I be watching college football at noon?”…”Of course” the nice lady assures me. This is important as its conference championship day and the Iron Bowl (Alabama/Auburn) is on at 3:30. Hook-up is easy as I’m now become adept at slipping behind the new big screen to the cable connection in the rear.

Time to call Comcast……grinding halt. They cannot find the “box” on their system. Through a series of 6 phone calls and two on-line chats, I’m given a number of reasons that it may not be working….but no solution. Kick-offs have begun and I’m splitting my time now between two rooms trying to keep up with the action. By 2:30, Comcast has given up and “maybe it’s a bad box so why not bring it back to our store for another”. Dashing the 22 minutes back to Downingtown (I know where they are hiding now) at halftime of the early games…I’m now 10 deep in line… aaargh. Box back and new box in hand, I scramble home. Quick hook-up, now that I’m an expert at sliding behind the TV and quicker call to Comcast….can you put in the phone number associated with the account?…. press one for cable TV… press four to speak to a technician…call volume is unusually high today, pleases stand by… hello, this is fill in the blank can you give me the phone number associated with this account?… for security can you give me the last four digits of your social security number?… let me transfer you to a technician…. click… This goes on for the rest of that day… did I mention it was a great college football Saturday. After talking to Debbie, VillaRosa and Justin… Comcast could still not turn on the box. “We’ll have to send someone out… and we may charge you for the visit.” Fine … whatever… can it happen today… UCLA/Arizona State is the night game. “How about Tuesday???… can you be home from 1:00 to 3:00???”

I was happy to meet Dan that Tuesday at 1:30… he’s a cable god. Wired me up, gave me (now) my 3rd new box and got me a signal. What happened to the other two boxes I wondered? “Probably a bad batch not set to our signal; they go back to the factory to get re-programmed.” Tough business model to make a profit, Comcast must be about $800 into my TV now with my 13 phone calls, 3 web-chats and Dan’s time but they’re almost a monopoly so I guess they can make some mistakes. No worries…I’m a Smart TV operator now!!! Time to open Netflix and begin my streaming life…or so I thought.

Enter Comcast Chapter II. The stream is no good, the movie is constantly buffering… what to do?!? Call the trusty Comcast… what number is associated…. well, you know. It seems Mr. Colligan that your modems are totally outdated. The internet modem reached its End-of-Life last July and it’s too slow for streaming movies. Really, why wouldn’t my guy Dan have let me know I thought? And, just so you’re not disappointed, Comcast does not support Smart TV technology… only Apple TV…. REALLY!!! Your Comcast phones are going to be ringing off the hook after Christmas!!!!

Back to tech buying. Bought a new combo modem (voice, internet and router!!) from the Comcast website…. they are very specific about what they support. Set that up with a quick two-phone call chase… easy/peasy… I’m getting better now. BUT, where does the phone plug into this one???? Let me check … that model does not support voice connections. Back in the box, return, repurchase….. It’s now mid-December and I’m hoping to be up and running by College Bowl Season. And, now that I have some mail-back and wait for the new modem time; I pack up the Smart TV (not supported by Comcast), drag it back to Costco and buy the dumb (OK they’re not really dumb but you get it…) TV (Best Buy was cheaper) saving me $400 and order Apple TV for $99 bucks. BTW, this is good company with great support!

The rest of the story is pretty much the same. BUT, I am now streaming fine, have my own modem (no rental from Comcast although getting the one I returned off of my bill could be another two month process), Apple TV and even went back the Best Buy on the Price Match guarantee and got another $50 off my new dumb TV. More importantly, for me, is that I’m done before Christmas.

Learn How to Make Movies in Tredyffrin . . . and it’s free!

Fall Schedule of Public Access TV classes now available . . . Learn the basics of video production and certification for free.

Learn how to shoot & cut . . . how to frame . . . lighting and how to get great sound. You and your crew can build a series that airs for free on TV! Or take the free classes so you can make better home movies.

The classes are free to Tredyffrin residents and crew members of shows produced by Tredyffrin residents. The Basics of Production class is mandatory for every Tredyffrin Township Public Access TV producer and crew member and is a required prerequisite for the Control Room and Shooting for the Edit courses.

Every taping, according to the physical demands of the production, requires a certain number of certified crew members to safely tape a show. At least three Basics of Production-certified crew members, one of whom must be the (Tredyffrin resident) Lead Certified Producer, are required for a three-camera studio taping.

Classes are held at the Greenwood Studio in the Tredyffrin Township building. Students may attend either the Thursday evening or Saturday noon class, and that selection may change week to week.

Register by 5 PM on the Friday preceding the curriculum at or by calling our Comcast Studio/Station Manager Gene Donahue at 610-408-3633.

Setting the Record Straight on Conspiracy Theories Surrounding Supervisors Meeting

There has been talk about what happened to the recording of Monday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting. For those watching the recording at home, the taping abruptly stopped at 11:20 PM and (as one of the 2 audience members that stayed until the end) I know that the meeting went until 11:45.

The missing footage included the voting on the zoning ordinance amendment and the registration ordinance, as well as the public budget meeting discussion. Although I reported the results of the voting, some people were troubled and wanted an explanation.

To get an answer and put the conspiracy theory to rest, I called Gene Donahue, the Comcast representative in charge of the township’s public access channel, for answers. According to Gene, the time setting on the meeting was 4 hours but the meeting went over the 4 hours. According to Gene, this should not have posed a problem as he was aware the meeting was going over time setting. But when Gene attempted to switch to a second computer to keep providing the feed, there was a brown-out and he could not continue to providing live coverage. However . . . understanding the problem, Gene stayed very late in to the night (remember it was already 11:45 when the meeting ended) and recovered the missing section of the meeting. By 7 AM yesterday morning the recording of the supervisors meeting is running in its entirety. No missing footage – no conspiracy.

I would encourage you to watch a re-run of the meeting. Here is a link for the Public Access TV Channels Guide:

Daily Local Runs Article on BOS Meeting

I picked up yesterday’s Sunday Daily Local newspaper and was surprised to see that they too were running the story from last week’s Board of Supervisors Meeting. Blair Meadowcroft’s article from the Main Line Suburban Life appears in the Daily Local newspaper in a slightly different version with a new headline.

It has now been a week and I’m still fielding phone calls and emails from people, wanting more details about the Pitcairn Properties offer and an explanation of the difference between that offer and the solicitation of Comcast. As I explained at the supervisors meeting, I believe that conceptually the Pitcairn offer is the same as the supervisor’s solicitation of Comcast and can offer the residents no further explanation.

Although the Trust board members were left with no choice but to accept the Board of Supervisors decision on Pitcarin in 2008; I have to admit several Trust supporters have suggested that the BOS decision might have been different if the public had been made aware of the offer at the time. However, for the Trust, it is not about going backwards — we accepted and understand that we can not go back to 2008 and recover that offer from Tony Noce, of Pitcarin. It is about 2010 and about the process and decisions of our Board of Supervisors.

From my vantage point, questions remain unanswered by the supervisors responsible for the Tredyffrin Township Supervisors Holiday Firefighters Fund Drive. Other than bringing public awareness of supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson solicitation of companies doing business in the township or under contract negotiations (such as Comcast) what more can be done?

Tredyffrin official responds to question about fund drive

By BLAIR MEADOWCROFT, Special to the Local News

TREDYFFRIN — Tension mounted at a township supervisors meeting after Pattye Benson, president of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, spoke about funding for firefighters.

Her comments came just after the end of the first quarter and the March 31 deadline for collection of the Tredyffrin Supervisors Holiday Firefighter Fund Drive.

Benson said that after budget cuts to township fire companies, three of the seven supervisors worked on the fund drive, which netted $23,200 for the fire companies.

“I voiced my concern about the solicitation by supervisors to companies that could be doing business with the township, and I cited a specific example from May 2008 and the Pitcairn Co,” Benson said.

Benson explained how in 2008 a vice president for Pitcairn Properties had offered an in-kind donation worth as much as $50,000 to the trust. But the trust later learned it could not accept it.

“The idea was that there could be a ‘pay to play’ perception because of a final review of the land development project between the township and Pitcairn,” said Benson. “Warren Kampf was chairman at the time and he was absolute that I could not accept this offer because this company was doing business with the township. I knew nothing about Pitcairn’s planning commission review, yet I could not accept the offer.”

That conflict of interest, Benson said, is similar to the fund drive in that supervisors were doing fundraising for fire companies.

“The very same people who told me I couldn’t accept the offer from Pitcairn were out soliciting money,” said Benson. “The way I see it is the only difference between the Pitcairn/Trust situation and the fire company solicitation is that one was an in-kind offer and the other was a monetary contribution; both could be perceived as benefiting the township.”

Kampf said township Solicitor Thomas Hogan had advised that the donation could not be accepted because Supervisor Judy DiFilippo was on the trust’s board, thereby creating a conflict of interest.

“The difference as I see it between the situations is that we are supervisors who are free as individuals and who are allowed to accept charitable donations,” said Kampf.

“I do not surrender my rights as a private citizen. When I see a problem that I can help with, I will. We went out, asked for help and were able to raise close to $25,000. And people were free to refuse to donate. There were some who refused, and that is fine; we wouldn’t hold that against them.”

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