Jaws Of Comcast

Just when you thought it was safe to connect your computer to the internet, Comcast customer service rears its crappy head again.

Why do techs seem to have such an antagonistic relationship with their customers? Where’s the oversight monkey managing the relationship between customer, CSR and tech?

Customer is assumed guilty until proven innocent. Customer is enraged. Customer does is an IT tech and customer service rep at his own job, making Comcast’s grievances all the more apparent.

Glorious ineptitude, ignominy, after the jump…CLICK HERE not the more link.

“Just found your web page. Thought I’d send on this one, even though it’s a few months old now. I’m still angry.

Chris

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Really unbelievably bad customer service, thanks!
Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2006 12:44:04 -0500
From: C. D. [redacted]
To: ecareonline_midwest@comcast.net

Please forward to the manager responsible for the call center as well as the person responsible for the Indianapolis area technicians for Cable Modem service.

Hello,

The only reason I’m writing now is because my wife was too busy today with appointments to get DSL and switch to a satellite dish. Since we’re stuck with one another, I’m hoping that my letter will do some good in preventing things like what happened to us from happening in the future — you WILL lose customers if the service we received from Comcast is representative of the service other customers are provided. I am a manager of a group of people who provide customer service in an IT environment. I hope that you will find my feedback as helpful as I find the feedback I receive from OUR customers.

The problem with Comcast’s customer service is not that we had a bad incident, it was that we attempted to remedy a single problem a series of NINE times, and that at each point, with each customer service rep or technician, the problem resolution was either delayed, or made worse.

I’ll start at the beginning –

Melinda, my wife, arranged for Comcast cable internet service several years ago. From the very beginning, service was intermittent, with her being able to receive data for five, ten, or twenty minutes at a time, and then be able to do nothing for a minute or two before service resumed. She called Comcast immediately and was told that according to their tests, her modem was working appropriately. Therefore, she accepted these interruptions as a normal part of having cable internet.

Perhaps Comcast should have made some more detailed inquiries, and perhaps if my wife had known more about how the internet service was supposed to work, things would have been fixed then. It wasn’t, and she lived with the interruptions for years.

Three weeks ago, I helped upgrade our home network with a friend of mine who works for IUPUI as a network engineer. We replaced all of the wiring, router, and switches. The problem with the internet service continued. My friend and I ran tests and found that the modem was dropping off line for periods of time even though it was showing a signal from Comcast. We found that we were unable to receive an uninterrupted signal from the modem with either the new or old routers, with any of the sections of new or old cable, or with a direct connection from our computer to the cable modem. We were forced to assume that your modem was the problem. Additionally, the modem was, according to my friend, a non-standard model, and one he had never seen installed in any home that received Comcast cable internet service. He also noted that the power supply for the modem was non-standard, and that the brand did not match the modem. This only confirmed in our mind that the problem was the modem.

We called customer service at Comcast to ask that our modem be replaced.

Customer service informed us that according to them, our modem was operating normally, and that the problem must be on our end. My wife wasn’t happy to be blown off, so she had me contact customer service online.

After I explained the problem to an online representative, they agreed that the problem was most likely the modem and that we must schedule a service call via the phone. Upon contacting Comcast to request (for the second time) a service call, the service representative threatened to bill us if there was, in fact, no problem with our modem or the cable lines owned by Comcast. My wife pointed out that she had not received a new modem during all the years she had been a Comcast customer and was entitled to an upgrade. The customer service rep finally caved in and agreed to schedule an appointment for the next day.

The Comcast rep never called or showed up. After we called in (angry), we were assured that one would show up the following morning.

That following morning, the service tech called us en route and asked about the problems we were having. Instead of simply agreeing to come in and switch out the modem, they started arguing with my wife about the fact that our router was probably responsible for the problems we’d been having, and that, again, there appeared to be no problem on their end. My wife recounted some of the troubleshooting measures we had taken, and assured them that the modem was at fault. She had to CONVINCE your
techs to actually visit our house.

When the techs arrived, they noted that our modem was, in fact, obsolete by several years, and had probably been obsolete at the time of installation. They noted that because the modem was no longer entirely compatible with Comcast internet, packet loss, like we had experienced was absolutely typical, if not unavoidable. This only reaffirmed how unhelpful and uncooperative Comcast had been up to this point.

After replacing the modem, the Comcast techs left . . . without taking the time to test it to see if it was operating correctly: it wasn’t. Instead of an intermittent signal, we now had no connection at all. We
attempted to re-establish contact with the technicians, but only reached the Comcast phone support instead. The person who assisted us on the phone was the single most helpful person we had reached during our entire ordeal. She walked us through the troubleshooting steps to isolate the problem at the modem. After, again, attempting to establish a connection using various cables, new and old routers, and a direct link from our laptop to the cable modem, we isolated the problem at the modem.

Comcast phone support made repeat attempts to reach the technicians who had installed the modem. They, again, insisted that the problem must be our routers, our cabling, or our computers. They insisted that the problem could not have been their modem. Your phone support convinced them otherwise, and assured us we would have new equipment that would be tested on site, by the end of the day. This did not happen. The techs who had visited us previously said, after being convinced that they would need to return to our house, they did not have a spare modem on their truck. I find it hard to believe that they didn’t carry extra cabling or modems with them during service calls, but if this is, indeed true, I’d recommend a chance in procedure for your techs in the future.

My wife was even less happy than before, but was promised a return visit from a technician the next morning at 8:00 am with a brand new modem. This also did not happen.

Upon calling Comcast today to find out why her internet was still not working and why we didn’t have a tech at our door at 8:00 am as promised. We were never given an explanation as to why we didn’t have a new modem, but were instead referred to the lead tech at your customer service center. The lead tech checked the connection to our house and found, like previous technicians, that the modem APPEARED to be working correctly on their end, and that the problem must be within our home network (again, it’s OUR fault).

By now, my wife knew the spiel: we’ve tested the network on our side, we’ve used different computers, different routers, different cables, and even a direct connection — nothing is working, the problem is your modem. The tech stopped for a moment, and then concluded that the problem must, instead, be our cabling OUTSIDE the house. Therefore, an additional house call would need to be arranged . . . the following day.

My wife’s law office is in our house and it’s been a particularly busy week for her. Internet connectivity makes her job MUCH easier. Two days without service was unbearable. Comcast’s service was unacceptable, the remedies appeared to be either stall tactics or so incompetently applied that they merely made the existing problems worse.

So she canceled an appointment, took an hour and a half of her work day, went to Office Depot and bought a new cable modem. Nobody in our house was surprised when it worked and that the interruptions in our service had disappeared.

She made a return call to Comcast and asked that her lease on your modems, which have never worked properly from the moment they were installed, be picked up from our house. She was informed, not so politely, that we would need to drop the modem off at your “local” office (45 minutes from our home) for the lease to be terminated. I think, understandably, we’re not very happy with Comcast right now.

Again, I work in IT, and I work in customer service. I get it that sometimes bad things happen, and I get it that you need to keep costs down and cannot go around giving away $100 pieces of equipment (plus what you’re paying your techs for installation) on a whim. However, this was unacceptable. To recap:

* Melinda was told that the modem was not defective.
* Two years later, she asks for a replacement modem when we determine it must be defective and is blown off.
* We confirm with a different Comcast tech that the modem must be defective and should make a service call.
* Comcast argues that the modem must be operational and that the problem is on our end. With some arm twisting, we arrange for replacement equipment to be installed.
* Comcast fails to show up for the scheduled appointment.
* The following day Comcast technicians call to troubleshoot the problem over the phone and insist that the problem is our network. We have to convince them to show up at our house.
* The technicians discover that our old Comcast modem is incompatible and should have been replaced years ago. They replace the old modem with a new one that does not work at all and leave before checking to see if it is operational.
* The technicians are unreachable via phone. Comcast customer service rep help us run tests to isolate the problem — it’s the modem (again). However, the techs insist that the problem resides in our home network. After some convincing, the techs agree to return to our house, except that they are now suspiciously without an additional new cable modem.
* An appointment is made for the following morning at 8:00 am, when a new modem will be installed. The techs never show.
* We call Comcast to complain about the no-show. We’re referred to the lead tech, who tells us that the problem must be in our network. After some convincing, he says that the problem is probably the cable outside our house. A service call is arranged . . . for the next day.
* My wife breaks down and buys a new cable modem from Office Depot. Our internet works perfectly.
* My wife attempts to arrange for Comcast to pick up the defective equipment and/or stop our lease on the defective modem. We’re told that we must drive 45 minutes each way to the Comcast service center to have our lease canceled. All I want from my internet service provider is for the service to work, for it to be fixed when it doesn’t, and for the staff to be helpful, pleasant, and attentive if I happen to need them.

Grades:

fixing problems — F — it was never fixed, and only one attempt was made to remedy the problem.

helpful, pleasant staff — D — online support was great, and our one phone assistant was great, but they merely assured us that we weren’t insane and that the problem was on your end. Everyone else seemed to be fighting us about what the problem really was.

Please do your best to fix this. I hope that our experience was not indicative of a larger problem at Comcast. It just seems impossible that a company like yours would have ANY business if all of your customer interactions were like this, so I’m forced to assume that you do pay attention to customer feedback and do systematic problems in your customer support.”

Comments

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  1. billhelm says:

    whoopdee doo. i’ve heard far worse about comcast…

    slow news day, eih?

  2. droppedD says:

    I used to work for Cablevision; if a customer is reasonably certain their modem is defective, regardless of signal test results, the customer can swap their modem at a walk-in center for a new one that day… no tech visits or hassles necessary. In fact, i probably fielded a few calls just like that one, and resolved them that way, especially if they complain about intermittent service loss. Every tech support department has a few idiots, but there’s no reason to give a knowledgeable customer a runaround or blame them for the problem.

  3. rlee says:

    Well, to be fair, it looks like the letter got truncated. His summary spoke of 9 visits, yet the rest of the letter hasn’t even gotten to the first one.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    It was truncated, sorry, not sure what happened. The full version is up now.

  5. rlee says:

    Ah, now I see the whole letter. Wow.

  6. Das Ubergeek says:

    I wish people would learn to use the government.

    In Los Angeles, for example, when the cable company blows off an appointment, they owe you $25 in bill credits. They’re not exactly going to volunteer this information, so you need to ask for it. Other cities have similar rules (though the amounts may be different), so check with the City of Indianapolis.

    The next time Comcast gives you the runaround, explain that you’re going to hang up and you’re going to call the franchising authority. It’s listed (by federal law) somewhere on your monthly bill (it may be on an insert). Or call City Hall. Usually it’s the Information Technology department; sometimes there’s a Cable Franchising Committee.

    Call them. Make a complaint. At the very least, your complaint will be tallied up when it’s time for the rate case (i.e., rate hike) or the franchise renegotiation. At most, you’ll get someone who has a direct line to someone at Comcast who actually has a brain.

    I’ve had Adelphia for six years. I’ve called the LA ITB at least ten times… we just dial 3-1-1 and tell the operator what we want. It’s netted us nearly $200 in bill credits, nearly instantaneous service, “hidden” bargains to compensate us, and best of all… direct numbers for The Ones With Clue.

    It’s your government. You pay for it. It serves you. Make use of it.

  7. CTSLICK says:

    Good Lord, the continuous flow from Comcast issues has me truly concerned…Time-Warner has sold our region to Comcast. Hope I don’t encounter any of the issues that have been recounted on these hallowed pages.

  8. The whole time I read this letter, I was screaming out, BUY YOUR OWN MODEM! Then they did, and there was no problem. I agree that Concast is inept, corrupt, and generally shiny rectal ticks, but sometimes you just have to help yourself to get things done.

    Anyway, I’m glad they are switching to DSL. It’s much cheaper. ^_^

  9. QuirkyRachel says:

    With all of the problems I’ve had with Comcast cable and Internet, I’ve rarely had a tech that could fix the problem over the phone. They’re just inept. It took 3 hours to hook up my internet with them, and then I was the one who figured out the problem and fixed it, not them.

  10. warf0x0r says:

    I had this exact problem but with TimeWarner cable, which sold its share in MN to Comcast. But rather than deal with Timewarner I just went out, bought my own modem, called them up and gave them the MAC address and that was that. Ironically TimeWarner sounded upset that I had bought my own modem and wanted to return my issued Toshiba (a modem that was obsoleted much before they installed it in my apartment, but they wouldn’t offer me a credit for paying for it myself… oh well.