Thursday, January 13, 2011

Comcast: They're Dumbtastic

Its me, your favorite snarky wheel, with yet another customer service bit of venting.

Here is the text of the e-mail I sent today to Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, my current cable/internet/phone service provider.  My patience with them officially at an end.

Mr. Roberts:

I have been a Comcast customer for years. And let me be clear, I am a Comcast Customer because of all the overpriced and underdelivered services available in my area, Comcast is the lesser of all the evils.

I work from home. I write, I blog, I copywrite for businesses, I consult. As a self-employed person with a home office, nothing is as important as my phone and internet service. NOTHING. I cannot post to my blog without the internet. I cannot speak with clients without a phone. I cannot receive e-mail inquiries or communications from potential clients unless my service works. I cannot research possible freelance jobs, or e-mail companies seeking services.

To say that every day I am without service has a direct negative impact on my livelihood is not an exaggeration.

My service on both phone and internet went out on January 1. After over 35 minutes on hold with your customer service line, I was able to report the problem and schedule a technician.

For the record, could you do SOMETHING about the flipping horrific-turn-my-brain-to-jelly-make-me-all-stabby muzak on that line? Since it is never less than 15-20 minutes of my life I’m losing, it would be preferable to not also want to stick a fork in my ear to make it stop. Also? I know that many questions can be answered online. BUT I CANNOT GET ONLINE BECAUSE YOUR SERVICE IS NOT WORKING, so perhaps you might not want to tell me about it every forty-two seconds.

But I digress.

Tech Number One, we shall call him Lazy, arrived on time, did a cursory check of my equipment inside, went outside for 20 minutes, came back in to tell me that all of my equipment was fine, but that the aerial was having a problem and that he would need to schedule a Line Call, which is a different set of technicians. Once that work was completed in my area, he said, my current equipment set up would be fine and everything would work great, and that it usually took about 48 hours to get the Line Tech out for something like this.

When he left, my modem was flashing weird lights and my phone and internet continued to be kaput.

I called later that afternoon to confirm that the Line Call had been requested, and get an ETA on service restoration. The customer service person asked what my modem was doing, and when I told him, he asked if I would push the standby button on the front. I did. Phone and internet came back. Genius Tech Boy Lazy had neglected to try PUSHING THE BUTTON ON THE FRONT OF THE BOX before he left.

The customer service fellow also told me that I had a bad modem history, and that the modem should have been replaced, especially since I am paying for the fastest possible internet service, and they appear to have installed a modem that DOES NOT ACCOMMODATE THAT SPEED. Awesome. Have been paying for services for over 2 years, with equipment that cannot give me the service I am paying for. Nice.

He proceeded to set up a second tech appt, so that my modem could get replaced. Also? Confirmed that no Line Call had in fact been scheduled.

I had service for nearly 4 hours before it went out again. On advice of the customer service guy, I tried a hard reset of the modem, and was able to restore service, except it still would shut down anywhere from 15 minutes later, to as much as two hours. That’s always fantastic. Nothing to inspire confidence in a client like your phone call getting dropped in the middle of a meeting because the equipment is cranky.

Tech Number Two, we shall call him World Weary, arrived the next day. He replaced the faulty splitter on the inside, went outside and replaced nearly everything, including the place where there were clear animal bites on the wires, and came back in to inform me that Lazy had very obviously not really bothered to look at anything or really do any work, including not placing the Line Call request. World Weary appeared very much to have frequently been to houses where other techs had, to put it loosely, not really done anything. He asked if I had been offered any free services or an inconvenience credit. I had not. WW rolled his eyes and said he would take care of a $20 credit to my account for my troubles. He also said he did agree that a Line Call for the area was necessary, the whole neighborhood was being affected, and that he would put it through as urgent, and that hopefully it would fix everything. He attempted to replace my modem, but was unable to keep it online to speak to the service so he did a hard reset on my current model and left it in place.

My service worked for exactly twelve minutes after he left.

He had given me the direct number for his supervisor so that I could attempt to prevent the brain damage being caused by my having to spend so much time listening to the On Hold music over at 1-800-Comcast.

I called and left a message asking if the Line Call had been scheduled, and if I could get an ETA on when the service would be done.

I never got a call back.

I continued to hard reset my modem every hour or so to try and knock out small chunks of work.

I called and left Supervisor another message. And another. And one on his cell phone. And two on the number of his colleague. Apparently their phones are currently out of service as well.

I called the main number again, tried to ignore the music (really? With the screechy saxophone, REALLY?) and got yet another patient customer service rep. She understands my pain. She sees that it is supposed to be fixed by the next day. She will credit my account for the lost days of service.

Will she credit my account for the LOST INCOME? Not so much.

I am assured that everything will be fine by 1pm the next day. That evening I call back (do not kill self/others while listening to hold music) to find out what happened to my 1pm service will be back. I am told that they are working on it, and will credit me another day of lost service. Will they credit me the lost brain cells? Not possible.

The next day I receive an automated courtesy call saying that they have fixed a problem in my area. I find this hilarious, as I receive this call ON MY CELL PHONE, since my land line IS STILL NOT FUNCTIONAL. I call back. I reiterate, for the millionth time, what my problem is, that I have been without service for 11 days, and that despite the courtesy call about the area problem getting fixed, my problem still exists.

You need a new modem, she says. And then she pauses. That’s funny….you shouldn’t have this modem anyway.

Everyone on the PHONE knows that I have been paying for service I could not receive for 2 years and that no one should have installed this modem on my service, the tech team, they know nothing about this.

I set up a third tech visit so that they can come replace my modem with the right type, and preferably one which functions.

The next night I receive an automated message that they have fixed a problem in my area, and any service calls I have scheduled have conveniently been automatically cancelled on my behalf. Sadly, the problem in my area (mainly my HOUSE) is not at all fixed. I call back. I am starting to mentally write lyrics to the ridiculous music. “weeee are the Comcasts…. Weeeee have elbows and asses….but weeeee don’t know which could be which…..ain’t your life a bitch? Weeeee cannot get you working…..our techs their jobs are shirking….but weeeee don’t really care...if your clients go elsewhere…cause whatever we may be….we’re not as bad as ATT….so you cannot leave us….and you cannot peeve us….la di da di da. Tra la la la la.

Needless to say my original tech appointment? No longer available. But they are happy to credit my account for two more days of non-service.

Tech Number Three, we shall call him Least Useful, arrives at the end of yet another useless work day for me. He arrives, comes inside, informs me that I have the wrong modem (GENIUS) and tells me that he doesn’t have one with him. Because why would the tech bring a new modem to the tech call set up for the specific purpose of REPLACING MY MODEM? He leaves to call around to see where the right modem is. He returns. Apparently NO ONE in the greater Chicagoland area has this precious special modem of which I have need. Someone, he says, will call me to let me know when they can come back to install the right modem.

Tomorrow will be 14 days of no service. I have had to reset my modem twice while writing this note, and hope that it stays working long enough to get this missive out to you.

I would wait eagerly for a response, but at the moment, it’s really hard to reach me.

Stacey Ballis

Apparently I'm not the only one having some issues....

Bruce Wagner designed them a new logo...

Michael Pellegrini posted this:

These people had a rally:

And my personal fave...

Yours in Temporarily Online Good Taste,
The Polymath


  1. Oh Stacey,
    To resolve an issue with my On Demand took over the course of six weeks I don't know how many calls, countless hours on the phone - with brutal music, being insulted for not understanding Spanglish and FOURTEEN service calls just to upgrade the boxes. I was also told there were line problems but funny that the 63 other units in my building had no issues. In my former home I used to complain about Charter Cable. That old phrase about not knowing about what you have until it's gone cannot ring any truer until you have to deal with this goat rodeo. I can't wait to see how good it gets when the NBC merger goes through ... Suck X 2!

  2. Wow. I'm on the verge (like, next week) of switching form DirecTV to Comcast, and this isn't exactly a glowing recommendation. Sounds like someone needs to go on 'UNDERCOVER BOSS.'

  3. While reading this, I laughed so hard that I cried a little. I also had PTSD flashbacks from the summer. I only had the comcast guy out one time, but getting him to my house took six weeks. I also added the number of minutes that I was on with comcrap (hold or talking to someone over the course of the problem), and I finally stopped when I hit around 600 minutes. After that, it was just too much to bear. I really considered switching (many times), but there's that feeling that after all you have suffered, you hate to just give up - then your fight feels like it was for nothing. Until the next time when I will rethink my decision with comcast again.

  4. My aunt decided to finally get cable service after going without it forever. When she scheduled the install, Comcast was told that the house had never had cable service, and therefore the coax cables had to actually be installed. The service tech that showed up asked if she had a drill he could borrow to run the cables. That was a couple years ago. And because of that, she still doesn't have cable.

  5. I went throught the same thing with Verizon when I moved to my new house. Excuse after excuse and whenever I called customer service I got Raj in India (oddly named "Peggy")who always told me to reset the modem. Which did nothing but make the lights blinky but never restored service. But, in my old house I have Comcast, and after I sent them an email similar to yours, I got a personal call from their veep of customer relations....

  6. If you were in France you would be paying for every minute on the phone for "customer service" so it could be worst.

  7. We had the same exact experience with Comcast. They actually admitted there was a serious problem in our area but they did not know how to fix it or where the problem was. A chat with a few of our neighbors one day confirmed they were all having issues loosing service on a regular basis.

    Fortunately we were able to switch to Verizon Fios and we were able to say good riddance to Comcast. Verizon was actually very smart, they set up a tent down the street and people were flocking to it to sign up.

    We went from loosing internet several times per day to now more than six months with FIOS, we have not once lost internet. Like you I really on this as I work from a home office. Thanks, I hope you get this sorted out but it does not look good.

  8. Stacy - I work for Comcast. I am truly sorry for the frustrations we caused. I'd like to offer my assistance in getting this resolved. Please feel free to contact me, provide your account info and a link to this page.

    Thanks for providing the opportunity to assist.

    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations

  9. Comcast isn's helping out in my situation either. Hours and hours, Chats, phone calls, and Emails over again, and my impatience has also gotten the best of me....

  10. I think its a good chance the cable modem finally kicked the bucket (I've had it since 2004).