STERLING HEIGHTS (WWJ) — When you hear the phrase “cable TV office,” what pops into your mind’s eye?

Probably something with all the charm and style of an unemployment office. Maybe, on a good day, the Secretary of State, with all the cheer of waiting in line to get a new driver’s license.

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If that’s your mental image, you really need to check out one of Comcast’s new Xfinity Customer Centers. Michigan’s third such store opened Thursday at 33407 Van Dyke Ave. in Sterling Heights, in the Shops at Sterling Ponds center, just north of 14 Mile Road.

The 4,100-square-foot store “gives customers the opportunity to learn about and explore all our new technologies,” said Gerald Smith, senior manager of government affairs for Comcast in Michigan. “It’s a more welcoming atmosphere, a new attitude to make it easier for people to do business with us.”

Comcast Xfinity stores are less an institutional wait in line than a visit to a fun electronics store — with giant-screen TVs to play with and iPads for customers to use to check out service offerings. Customers can try out the latest Xfinity X1 cable TV box and Comcast’s home monitoring service.

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And yes, there’s a cash register counter where you can pay your cable bill or set up service. Or, if you’d rather do it electronically, there are payment kiosks.

Comcast’s other Xfinity stores are at 17613 Hall Road in Macomb Township and at 1971 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Suite 116, in the Knapp’s Corner shopping center in Grand Rapids.

More Xfinity stores are opening soon — next week in Rochester Hills and next month in Plymouth.

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The new Sterling Heights store will host a Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday. Detroit Tigers pitcher Drew Smyly will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to sign autographs.