Step 2 of my strategy was successful. Here's how it happened.
Went into the local Comcast office today, carting my 5100 in tow. I was greeted by a woman I will describe charitably as "the gatekeeper." She was the only one working the front desk.
Actually, "greeted" is not the write word. "Glared at" might be more accurate.
She recognized that I was carrying an HDTV box immediately, so perhaps that had something to do with her stern gaze.
I greeted her nicely and informed her of my purpose-- to exchange this HDTV box for one that has "firewire" or "IEEE 1394." After telling me that she knew it was an HDTV box, she informed me that Comcast does not have firewire.
Not taking no for an answer, I politely explained to her that the boxes with firewire were the model 6200 or 6208. She went into a rendition of how not all areas have been upgraded to digital cable or HSI yet, blah, blah, blah.
So I ask her when will they be getting the HD STB's with firewire, and can I be contacted when that happens. She says they might not ever get any boxes with firewire.
Naturally, at that point the FCC regulation became highly relevant, so I mentioned it and the fact that cable companies are required, effective April 1, to provide boxes with an active firewire connection to HDTV customers upon request. And that is why I would like to have an estimate as to when they will have the firewire-equipped boxes. I am patient, but I won't take "maybe never" for an answer.
I also mention that said boxes have been made available to customers in Sacramento and the South Bay. More excuses from her about why they don't have firewire boxes here ... always behind the other areas, blah, blah, blah.
I ask to speak to a supervisor. She says no supervisor available. I ask for a card of supervisor. She says no card. I ask for a phone number of supervisor. She goes to a note pad to write down a number, but keeps telling me why I am out of luck.
At some point, she says they aren't even going to get the DVR until September, as if that might ease my concern.
So I ask her before she's given me the supervisor's number, "Are you sure you don't have them? A technician told me that you just received a shipment of them into this office."
Well, that did the trick. She gave me a blank look and reluctantly said "Let me go ask." She walks back to the door of one of the offices (that is about 25 feet from the front desk) and goes inside. There is a conversation. (Perhaps with the supervisor who "isn't there"?)
After about five minutes, she is back out. By this time, there are four people in line behind me, which for this office is like 20 people in line at the grocery store waiting for checkout.
She takes my box, still sitting on the counter, rather roughly and turns it around and at a 45 degree angle to look at the back, telling me that my box already has the firewire port. I inform her that it has a DVI port, but not a firewire port. More searching of the back panel by her.
Then she asks me what I want firewire for. "To hook it up to a recorder." She asks me, "A high definition recorder?" "Yes."
Back to the office. Another minute or so and she is back with a set of keys. She approaches a locked cabinent which is in plain view behind the front desk. Unlocks it....
Oila! A cabinet full of shiny Motorolas. But are they just more 5100's? She pulls out a box (again, rather roughly) and walks it over to the counter. Looks at the back panel. She sees something.
Without saying another word to me, she types in my 5100's serial number and brings up our account. Verfies identity and types up the work order. Has me sign it. The exchange is done.
I take a close look at the back panel myself. It has the IEEE 1394 ports. Sticker on the bottom shows it is a "6200/2005".
She expects me to leave at that point but one more question, "So do I have to call the head end to get the box activated?" No, I don't but she goes over to another area to get an instruction sheet on how to get the box activated.
The finish on the box is a little scratched up in places, making me think it was a return, but it still has the plastic covering on the front LED, so it must be new.
Once it is activated, I will post the firmware.
FWIW: No remote, no cables, no instruction booklet, nothing else but the box itself. I should have brought my remote for exchange -- we have had the same TCI/ATT/Comcast remote since 4/99!
I am surprised I was successful at Step 2. Before I walked into the office, I thought for sure the best I would do is get the brushoff with a supervisor's card or get put on a waiting list.
In fact, if she had been nice and told me "We should have thoses boxes by May 15th" or, "Here's the local manager's phone number" I would have been out of there with my 5100. But her statement that they may "never" get firewire boxes and her persnickety attitude kept me there.
The lesson is polite persistence pays off (sometimes).
My recommendation to those who want to exchange their 5100 for a 6200, or a non-working 6200 for a working 6200, is to go to your local Comcast office with your current box and don't take no for an answer.