After Seattle Storm, Comcast And Qwest Shine

Recent storms ripped through the Seattle area, downing powerlines and cutting cable and phone access for thousands of citizens.

In the aftermath, reader David called Comcast and Qwest, expecting an abyss of pain. He was stunned then to receive polite, prompt, professional and thorough repair service. Writes David:

In the past I have been quick to criticize these companies, but I have to give them some serious props for their service yesterday. In the aftermath of the storm, the guys in the field are working incredible hours in terrible circumstances, and they couldn’t have exceeded my expectations more!

In the face of adversity, humans can band together and achieve great things. Now if Qwest and Comcast could just attain that level of minimum competency on a daily basis.

David’s letter, inside…


David writes:

    “I’m sure you’ve seen news reports of the recent wind storm that swept through the Seattle area in the early morning hours of Dec 15th. Sustained 60-80 MPH winds led to massive power outages and destruction. Fortunately, my house came through the storm with very little damage: The phone line came loose from the side of my house (I never lost service) and when the power came back on, a surge blew out two cable boxes.

    I tried to call Comcast on Sunday the 17th, but they were clearly swamped with calls. Unable to get through via the phone, I turned to their Web site and launched the chat application. Expecting a massive queue there too, I was pleasantly surprised to find the queue only two deep. The agent I chatted with was very polite and helpful and walked me through several troubleshooting exercises. Ultimately, I chatted two other times with Comcast that day, after waiting for downloads to finish, etc. and ever had more than a 5 minute wait. When we finally concluded that the boxes were just fried, I asked to schedule a technician to come to my house. Again, I was pleasantly surprised when the CSR informed me that a technician could be at my house between 12-4 the very next day. I was even more surprised when I got a call at 9AM the next day from the technician saying he was available and could he come by. He was in and out of my house within 30 minutes, replacing my fried cable boxes and even taking a look at my loose phone line (to make sure it wasn’t actually the cable line) on the side of my house.

    With that repair completed, I visited the Qwest Web site and self provisioned a service ticket. At 5:30 PM the same day, I had two trucks from Qwest show up to repair my loose line. I actually felt somewhat sheepish. This was not a major problem at all–after all, I still had service–and there are literally still tens of thousands of people without power in the Seattle area. Nevertheless, the two Qwest guys got out their ladder it inspect my problem. Within a half hour, they too had completed their repair–complete with sawing down some tree branches from a neighbor’s tree that were interfering with both my phone and cable lines.

    In both cases, the guys from Comcast and Qwest could not have been nicer or more professional. In the past I have been quick to criticize these companies, but I have to give them some serious props for their service yesterday. In the aftermath of the storm, the guys in the field are working incredible hours in terrible circumstances, and they couldn’t have exceeded my expectations more!

    Sincerely,

    David Schwartz
    Seattle, WA”

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Robin_Hood says:

    This is what happens when the red tape is removed from the system. People do the right thing the first time.

  2. Curse says:

    Sadly, I think this person’s experience with Comcast might be the exception, rather than the rule in the storm.

    My parents experienced both a power and cable outage during the December storm. Phone service (through Qwest) did not appear to be interrupted. Their power was turned back on after five days, the cable took a lot longer. When they got their power back on, my father was able to access the Comcast web chat by borrowing a dial-up account, and none of the customer service representatives were any help.

    First, they had him troubleshoot his connection, and when that failed, the customer service agent decided that dispatching someone to his home would be the best solution. After trying to find a good time to send someone out, and fiddling around a bit more, the customer service agent discovered that there was a complete service outage for the area; doesn’t this seem like it would be good information to have upfront, BEFORE you make someone troubleshoot their connection?

    Comcast’s website also made no mention of the outage. Luckily, another customer in their forums mentioned that they saw the actual Comcast lines down, but no Comcast trucks in the area.

    Comcast’s poor customer service efforts even got a mention in the local paper here. Apparently, customer service agents for Comcast were blaming local phone provider Qwest for their outage problems, even though the systems are completely separate.

  3. drtimhill says:

    While I do agree that Comcast came through well in the emergency (and I was right in the middle of the worst hit area), I do think they have a truly awful Web site (www.comcast.com). Take a moment to look at this site. Notice anything? It’s basically just a sales machine. You can find out about stuff you can buy, and order it, and add stuff on. But what about customer service? What about online information about outages? How about reporting them online?

    I checked the site a few days after the storm, when we were still without service, and could find no mention whatsoever that the storm had even happened! Pretty much every other utility’s web site had up-to-date information and emergency contact information. Comcast.com was still merrily selling the latest $$$ upgrades.

    Sites like these shout “we despise you, customer” louder than even the worst customer service, imho.

    Oh, and bear in mind that while TV is hardly a necessity, Comcast these days offers VOIP phone service.

  4. denki says:

    It took 3 and a half days after the storm for the internet to be availible again for me, but because I knew it was a wide-spread problem and not localized to my house I just sat on it. I can either blame my ISP, or the provider the ISP is outsorcing, Qwest. I choose Qwest!

    Actually, the storm did me good because I just went to the local gigantic University of Washington and got work done away from home using completely untapped T1 lines…so, thanks for being slow, Qwest!