By Linda Hardesty

My dad and I once spent a miserable Saturday afternoon putting together a "do-it-yourself" media cabinet. The salesman at the Scandinavian furniture store assured us it would be simple – any idiot with half a brain could do this. We figured we had at least one whole brain between us, so it wouldn’t be a problem.

But it turned out to be a lot harder than the salesman had said. We had to deal with incomprehensible instructions, seemingly written by someone for whom English wasn’t their first language. There were diagrams, but it was hard to figure out which way was north. There were irritable words spoken between my dad and myself. And finally, of course, there was that one last linchpin piece of fiberboard that didn’t quite fit where it was supposed to. Ah, the memories!

So, when I saw the announcement that Comcast had created new self-install kits for its voice, video and Internet products "for quick and easy set-up of Comcast services," I was a bit skeptical. (For the announcement, click here).

Comcast’s release was rife with language that seemed to be employing that old marketing trick of turning a bad thing into a good thing (supposedly).

For example, it read, “Our new self-install kits give customers the ability to install their services anytime and at their convenience, without having to even call us,” followed by “Making the self-installation experience better and easier is one of several investments to improve the service and support we offer our customers.”

Hmmm…Is this really going to be convenient for the customer or does it just save on truck rolls for the operator?

The self-install kits don’t cost anything, but there is a $9.95 shipping and handling charge. Kits also will be available at local Comcast service centers for pick-up soon.

We live in a society where we pump our own gas, scan our own groceries and (sometimes) construct our own furniture. I guess we’ll be installing our own voice, video and data services as well.

— Linda Hardesty is associate editor at Communications Technology when she isn’t building furniture. Contact her at

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