WTF happened to customer service Part 2

I promised a Cable Giant, so I give you Comcast.

Unfortunately, if you want cable internet (vs DSL) in our area, Comcast is the only option. It used to be Adelphia, until they were bought out by Comcast, but honestly, Adelphia was no better.

We have been customers since moving to Boca Raton in 2001. In fact, the day the cable guys came to hook up our TV & Internet cable was 9/11/2001. I opened the door shortly before 9am and Mr Cable Guy said “a plane just hit the Trade Center in New York”. The TV was hooked up just in time for me to watch the second plane hit. Live. So I’ll never forget the date we became customers of Adelphia/Comcast.

We took our account with us when we moved from our apartment to the house we bought in 2004. Various problems ensued, frequently caused by landscapers driving over cables that were not buried properly and resulting in our service being interrupted. In addition, the main internet cable was located in the master bedroom, and therefore my computer, which was in the kitchen, relied on wireless networking.  Wireless networking is what Vanessa Brooks Inc. specializes in thankfully, so most of the time Keith was able to fix basic problems. About a year ago, however, we decided to have the main connection moved to the kitchen, as the interruptions were becoming more frequent and more frustrating.  We set up an appointment for a Comcast technician to come out to the house and install a new cable connection in the kitchen. The man who came was rude and obnoxious. A friend who was visiting at the time was absolutely flabbergasted at the way this man spoke to me when I asked him a question about what outside access he needed. In addition he actually raised his voice to me when telling me that he could not complete the installation without permission from my next door neighbor, because part of the cable needed to put into her yard. I received her permission immediately. This man traipsed mud into my kitchen and through my house and made no attempt to clean it up nor to apologize for doing so. In addition, he was continuously rude to me and when he left my house, I had no cable connection at all, simply a hole in my kitchen wall with a heavy duty orange cable sticking out of it with no connector, just live wires on the end. We called Comcast to complain and to ask for another technician to come out and finish the job. We were given an appointment for a week away. The following morning I used Twitter for the first time to discuss bad customer service – at Keith’s suggestion. I used #comcast and #comcastfail as hashkeys. Within minutes I received a tweet from @ComcastBill, asking me to email him and tell him what had happened, with our account number. After a few emails he promised me that the situation would be dealt with. At 6pm that evening there was a knock on the front door and a Comcast employee was there. This was not an ordinary technician either. This man was clearly someone from management with a background in technology. He came in, listened to what had happened and put the connector on the orange cable and checked that all was working before he left. In addition he noted the name of the original service guy as based on the work paper he had left so that we could file an official complaint. So there was an example of Comcast rising to the occasion when their customer service had let us down.
What a shame they couldn’t keep that up!

A few months ago, Keith & I were simultaneously working at our computers when all internet connection just disappeared. We put the TV on, but other than basic cable which is supplied by our HOA, all other channels were dead too. We called Comcast. They told us there were no outages in the area and put us through to a different department. We were then told that our account had been cut off because we had not paid our bill for five months! Keith replied that our account was on automatic billing. Then they said that the credit card we were using for automated payments had expired. Um, ok, but should you not have informed us of that? They then claimed to have sent us notification. Oddly enough, we never received anything in the mail. Oh no, they said, we EMAILED you a notification. Ok, to which email address? They gave an email address that ended in or .com that apparently had been allocated to us when we opened our account, but has never been accessed by either of us, is not the email address that they  have on file for us, and we didn’t even know it existed! Which led us to the next question – why has it taken five months for you to cut us off? A letter in the mail, or a phonecall, to let us know that the card had expired, and we could have given them the new card info right away. Keith offered this information to them on the phone. At which point the rep told him that no, we couldn’t just do that, they’d have to set us up with a brand new account…. it’s 2010 people!! We’ve been your customers since that fateful day in 2001. For real?! To be fair, it took no more than 10 minutes before our internet & cable were up and running again, but despite the account being linked to  the same phone number as before, this is a brand new account, with no record of any history between us and Comcast…

Cut to yesterday. Every few years we have intermittent connectivity issues. It is simply time to replace the T-connectors on the outside of the house. Each time this happens we have to argue with Comcast to do it, but oddly enough, once they change the connectors all is good again. Problems started a couple of weeks ago, so we call Comcast to set up an appointment. First appointment available is yesterday, between the hours of 11am and 2pm. I gave my cellphone number so that the service person could call me 30 minutes before s/he was due to arrive at my house. I ran all my errands early in the morning so that I was home by 11am,  just in case service person didn’t call. By 1:30pm I had heard nothing, so I decided to call Comcast, just to get an ETA.

The conversation with CS went something like this:
Me: I am waiting for a technician since 11am and I haven’t heard anything yet. I would like to get an idea of when someone will get here please
CS: I see that you had an appointment set up, but it was canceled on 1/27
Me: By whom?
CS: Oh, by us. We canceled it
Me: Em, why would you do that? And not let me know?
CS: Well there was an outage in your area that was causing the problem and the outage was fixed. So your problem went away.
Me: Em, no. It didn’t. It had nothing to do with an outage. And again, why wouldn’t Comcast inform me that they canceled my appointment?
CS: Oh. Well they usually would call.
Me: No one called me from Comcast. Not at home and not on my cellphone. I have voicemail on both numbers, surely they would leave a message if no one answered?
CS: Well…
Me: So, now tell me what you are going to do about my wasted day, not to mention the problem that has not yet been fixed?
This went on for a further few minutes, of her telling me that someone must have called from Comcast, and me saying that no one did. Eventually, after I pointed out that I’d lost a day of work because I had to be home in the middle of the day, I was promised a $20 credit to my account – which apparently is what they credit people when a scheduled appointment is missed. Hmmm. $20… I make more than that in 30 minutes when I’m giving a makeup lesson. But I took it, because something is better than nothing. Then I was transfered to the internet scheduling department to reschedule the appointment. That went well….

CS: The first available appointment is 2 weeks from tomorrow from 2-5pm
Me: Oh no it’s not. The first available appointment is going to be this Friday between 8am and 11am.
CS: Uh. Well. Em… I don’t think we have anything.
Me: Well I think you can find something, because I just lost my day waiting for an appointment that Comcast canceled without telling me, and Friday between 8am and 11, I know that I will be home.
CS: Oh, actually, I think there is an opening. Yes, I can get you down for Friday between 8 and 11. Please make sure that someone over the age of 18 is home…

I tweeted after this conversation. My tweet went something like this: “And again #comcast fail fail fail. You absolutely suck. #comcastfail

Sure enough, within minutes @ComcastBill wrote me asking what was wrong. Only this time there was not much he could do other than apologize on behalf of his employer and verify that the $20 credit had been applied to our account. And of course, because it is a “new” account, there is no record whatsoever of all t he craptastic stuff that happened last year… Having said that, Keith has informed me that we continue to be billed monthly by Comcast for the old account, despite it having been  shut down….

Oh how I pine for good customer service. And just good service…
What I find most interesting about the entire Comcast history is the existence of @ComcastBill. On the one hand, what a great idea! A guy who may, or may not, be called “Bill”, whose sole job (presumably) is to sift through daily tweets that complain about Comcast and to make customers feel better. On t he other hand, how sad that a company gets so much bad rep via social networking that they require someone to be in that position at all.

@ComcastBill, I thank you for being there, and I am pleased that you are paying attention to how people perceive your company. @ToysRUs would do well to learn from you guys – all my #toysrusfail got me nowhere, and they don’t even have an email system that works properly…


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. fettman24
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 12:59:40

    Having experience with Comcast from when I used to be a subscriber and safe to say I will not return. I tried out DISH Network after I started working there, better equipment without nearly as many outages. I lost service just once in the last 3 years, literally. The pricing is so much more affordable as well, lowest every day price offered by anybody. And as your story shows, Comcast takes the cake with customer service, just not in a good tone.


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