Comcast Does Away With “All Day” Waiting

Comcast has begun narrowing the window of time customers have to wait for technicians, says the Wall Street Journal.

    Comcast Corp., the country’s largest cable provider by customers, with 24 million, has phased out all-day waiting and narrowed appointment times to two-hour or four-hour windows, depending on technician or customer availability. In some areas, it has also added appointments starting as early 6:30 in the morning. Cox Communications Inc., another leading provider, offers two-hour time frames and has tested waiting windows as small as 45 minutes in its New England market. And Time Warner Inc.’s cable division has been expanding its “call to meet” appointments, whereby the technician calls a customer while he or she is en route to the home so the customer doesn’t have to wait around.

It seems that cable companies in general are trying to improve their image with customers. We wish them luck, as their industry is one of the most hated around. —MEGHANN MARCO

Finally, The Cable Guy Is Getting With The Program [WSJ]

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  1. rubberpants says:

    This reminded my of that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer keeps telling the cable guy he’ll be there at a certain time and then goes over to Jerry’s to watch him wait around.

  2. Youthier says:

    Last time I scheduled service with Comcast (about 6 months ago), they offered me a two hour window from 8am to 10am and were there at 9:00. Of course, my local Comcast has always been more competent than most that I read about on here.

  3. Anitra says:

    Sounds great, but it only works if their schedulers (and technicians) are competent. When I got Charter cable & internet, I waited at home through the 4-hour window… nothin. Called them up after the window was over: “Oh, it says here your appointment was canceled! Let me reschedule you.”

    Fine. I take another half-day off of work, the technician actually comes this time, but doesn’t have the cable modem. “They didn’t tell me you were getting internet. I don’t have any modems in my truck.” After another call to Charter, I get a guy to come out Saturday morning (5 days after my first, “canceled” appointment) to hand me a cable modem and an install disk.

    I switched to Comcast recently (moved to a different area), and they were only a little better. Once again, I waited long past the stated time, and once again, the tech didn’t have the equipment we requested (this time, we wanted a CableCARD instead of a set-top box). After spending time on the phone explaining the difficulty of freeing up another half-day window from my work schedule, the tech kindly offered to come around after his last appointment the next day.

    Either the dispatchers and schedulers aren’t making the most basic notes, or they have very little contact with the field technicians. If they give me a smaller window, they’d better make sure they show up within that time, with the right equipment, or they need to call me and tell me, so I can cancel my plans for the rest of the day.

  4. vr4z06gt says:

    Comcast has been offering this for a while, thats one of the things that i think sets them over the top for CS, however i’m still leaving them and going back to the dish shortly its just better pricing.

  5. vr4z06gt says:

    this is nothing new, when i signed up almost 9 months ago they offered the service, the guys around here were actually here before they said they would be, which was amusing i just watched them sit in there truck for 20 minutes figured hey I’ve waited before now its their turn.

  6. aka Cat says:

    Time-Warner’s “call to meet” program is great.

    In one of the more surreal customer service experiences I’ve ever had, T-W not only scheduled me for a service tech on a Sunday (I called them Saturday night to tell them my internet was out), but they promised he’d call me before he showed up so that I wasn’t stuck at home. And he did!

    Now if he’d just believed me the first two times I told him the cable modem was broken, it would have been the first sign of the apocalypse.

  7. any such name says:

    last i scheduled a comcast appointment, they gave me a 3-hour window (7a-10a) whereas i know maybe a year ago here in chicago it was a 4-hour window. i’ll take what i can get i guess.

  8. bostonguy says:

    A couple of weeks ago, I called Comcast to get service due to my phone going dead. It was a Saturday morning, and the woman on the phone said that she had an 8am-4pm window on Tuesday, but she was going to see if they could schedule someone to come the next morning (Sunday) between 8-11am. I got off the phone with her after she told me I would get either a call or email if they could schedule the Sunday appt, otherwise expect someone on Tuesday.

    Since nobody called or emailed Saturday night, I got up Sunday morning and was about to run out the door to get food at McD’s when I ran into the Comcast guy as I was walking out the door.

    Of course I’m thrilled that he showed up, instead of forcing me to take a full day off of work, but if I had run out the door 2 minutes earlier, I would have missed him, and I could imagine the Comcast person on the phone, trying to tell me, “Well, we DID send someone out, and you weren’t home!”

  9. matto says:

    meanwhile, DirecTV still offers its customers the 2-week window.

  10. BillyShears says:

    Heh. Comcast. They have (or at least, as of a year ago, had) a Chat system set up for customer service.

    It’s a concept that’s infuriating. These people are already reading from a script, and that coupled within the context of a chat system make the whole experience like some twisted Eliza parody. What’s worse is that you can’t even sincerely ask for a manager without thinking that maybe the rep just changed the screen name and is now Screwing With You.

    I think these companies can learn a thing or two from Amazon. When you want phone support from those apes, you push a button on the site, enter your number, and they call you. A simple modification to that is to have their system call you when a rep is ready so you don’t waste time on hold.

  11. Youthier says:

    I’ve also noticed a difference in times offered depending on the day. Weekend time slots are usually very long (I think I was offered a 8-1 or a 12-5) but the weekday slots were all 2 hours. I suppose like the rest of the world, they have more employees working during the week.

  12. Citron says:

    The last time I called for techs I was given a four hour window and they were three and a half hours late. I think we were refunded a lousy $20 for our time. And then they tracked tar all over my white rug. Like I said before, bastards.

  13. tracer says:

    this is, in my opinion, nothing more than an publicity stunt. they SAY they’ll cut the time windows and their marketing campaign touts it all over the place….but the tech will still be two hours late and will bring a cable box that you didn’t order. on top of that, he’ll either be hungover and smelling like a bar or unable to speak english.

    these are real events that occurred when i tried to get comcast to hook me up with basic cable, internet and an HD cable box.

  14. krunk4ever says:

    I’m pretty sure this has been around for awhile. Might be just now it’s a national policy. When I called to get my cable installed at my new place this past July (2006), they had asked me which 4-hour window frame I preferred.

  15. Benny says:
  16. DeeJayQueue says:

    This from the FCCs General Cable Television Industry and Regulation Information Fact Sheet:
    http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/csgen.html

    “Federal guidelines state that standard installations — which are those located up to 125 feet from the existing distribution system — must be performed within seven days after an order has been placed. Except in situations beyond its control, the cable operator must begin working on a service interruption no later than 24 hours after being notified of the problem. A service interruption has occurred if picture or sound on one or more channels has been lost. The cable operator must begin to correct other service problems the next business day after learning of them. Cable operators may schedule appointments for installations and other service calls either at a specific time or, at a maximum, during a four-hour time block during normal business hours. Cable operators may also schedule service calls outside of normal business hours for the convenience of the customer. No appointment cancellations are permitted after the close of business on the business day prior to the scheduled appointment. If the cable installer or technician is running late and will not meet the specified appointment time, he or she must contact the customer and reschedule the appointment at the convenience of the subscriber. These requirements concerning installations, outages and service calls must ordinarily be met at least 95 percent of the time, measured quarterly, under normal operating conditions.”

    So, yeah. Thanks for finally meeting federal guidelines, barely. Decks.

  17. faust1200 says:

    I wouldn’t give Comcast 10 cents for a bucket of water if I was on fire.