Comcast CEO Hopes His Company's Horrific Reputation Isn't "Universal"

Fortune magazine has an Q&A with CEO Brian “Bad Install” Roberts in which he expresses his hope that Comcast’s reputation for horrific customer service isn’t “universal”:

Q: As a CEO you must be aware of your company’s horrific reputation regarding customer service. How do you plan on improving it? — Eric Sodee, Arlington, VA.

A: I hope that reputation is not universal, and we are working very hard to improve where we have made past mistakes. We do 250 million phone calls a year between orders and services, and, inevitably, with that many calls, you are going to have failures. We have added 11,000 technical and customer-care employees just in the past 18 months. And we are beginning to call customers before and after service appointments to make sure we did the work properly. It is a major goal to continue to improve.

Is Comcast’s bad reputation universal?

If you’ll allow me to get a little personal for a moment, let me tell you that I once went to dinner at a (fairly expensive) restaurant where the waitress never took my order. She came to the table, asked my date what he wanted, took his order and left. All attempts to politely flag the waitress down were in vain. Eventually she brought my date’s order. She dropped it on the table and walked away as both of us were trying to ask her why I wasn’t allowed to eat.

It was so creepy and awkward that my date just gave me half of his food rather than try to talk to her. Eventually she came back to slam the check down on the table before she walked away without a word. To this day, I have no idea why she wouldn’t let me order. I’ve always sort of assumed that her pet had just died or that someone had just broken up with her. Maybe I look like some girl she hated in high school.

That was the second worst customer service I’ve ever experienced, Mr. Roberts. Guess what the first was.

Just sayin’.

Comcast CEO: Investors are wrong about us [Fortune]

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  1. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Interestingly, one of the major polling services just sent out a poll that included questions on whether respondents felt generally positive or negative toward a couple dozen large corporations. Comcast was one of them. It’ll be interesting to see the survey results…

  2. humphrmi says:

    Yes. Comcast’s bad reputation is universal. Your hopes are dashed, Mr. Roberts. Now get back to work and make it better.

  3. Skiffer says:

    Wow, Meg, that sounds horrible…

    I’ll buy ya dinner anytime you want to make up for it :P

  4. savvy999 says:

    Mr Roberts: I can assure you that Comcast’s horrific reputation is not universal; it’s only galactic at this point. There is hope.

  5. kylere says:

    The only reason any sane person uses Comcast is that due to their overly funded lobbyists we have no choice. The only reason I do not directly accuse them of bribery is that I have no evidence, and I hate to state the OBVIOUS.

  6. starrion says:

    Hate to be contrarian but:

    I had an issue with 75% packet loss on my broadband connection. I had a support call, they came out and replaced my modem. Everything seemed ok, the guy left but an hour later the problem was back. (one hour of work lost)
    They came out again, tested the lines and started making noise about problems in the house line. (which is chargable) I took my laptop to the basement and connected directly to the line coming into the house. still 75% packet loss.
    The tech came back at 2pm on a Friday, looked at it, called in and said it was the outside lines. He said they would come back to fix it. Yeah, OK I thought. See you next week. At 4:30 PM, A Comcast minivan, three vans and two bucket trucks showed up, tore all the Comcast wiring off the house and replaced it.
    No more packet loss, no lines on TV and phone service sounded better. Net cost: 5 hours of work over three days, and $0.

    Just changed service last week. Our new package costs $60 less a month than it used to, includes an HD decoder/DVR, HBO, and faster internet. The tech showed up with three hours left on his “window” installed everything correctly and was a heck of a nice guy to boot.

    I don’t work for comcast.
    I live just outside of Boston.

  7. buckwheaton says:

    Some companies base their business on earning and retaining customers. Some, like Comcast and Bank of America, base their business model on buying the customers that come with the companies they acquire. If those customers evaporate, they just buy some more. For cable companies, forever, there were no realistic alternatives for dissatisfied customers. No longer. I count the days until I leave my basement apartment, in a Comcast monopoly area, and buy a house that I can attach a dish to. And my girlfriend, who is an out-of-market Packers fan forced to watch the game at a friends house because of another sports network standoff (see, for example, the two years without Nationals games in DC). I mean really, Comcast, I pay you over $160 a month and you can’t put the game on? Really? Verizon, ATT, please build out ASAP as deep into Comcast territory as possible!!!!

    I hope Brian Roberts has to return a bad STB to a local Comcast branch office one day. All I can say is, bring a hammer, dude….

  8. MPHinPgh says:

    Very diplomatically worded, Mr Roberts. Now, put down the crack pipe for a few minutes so you can think a little more clearly.

    Certainly, you have to realize that you have NO CONCEPT of what’s going on in your company, other than maybe how much money it’s making. At each level in your food chain, the information sent your way is “sanitized” to minimize the perception of just how incompetent and uncaring most of your emplyees are. By the time the information gets to you, it’s all roses.

    If you really care, if you’re really concerned, why don’t you review some complaint cases yourself? Maybe you could talk to some of the people whose nightmares have been outlined here on The Consumerist. And if you really want to show you intend to improve things, give your employees the ability to effect change (the lack of that ability is likely at the root of their apathy), and hold your employees accountable for satisfying customers. Your metrics should not be calls per hour, but something more like “complaints per customer”. Do you really care that CSR “A” handled 20 calls in an hour if everyone of the customers with whom he/she spoke are pissed at your company?

    On the other hand, you could just say screw it and admit to everyone that you’re and virtual monopoly with no incentive to improve anything.

    My money is on the latter (without the admission, of course).

  9. juri squared says:

    The only way I get decent service from Comcast is by knowing a guy who works in a local call center.

    Seriously. This is the only way I’ve been able to get anything fixed when it breaks. That does not reflect well on your company, Mr. CEO.

  10. BStu says:

    Considering Comcast is now billing me $600 a month because they never canceled billing on a phone line they shut off months ago, and actually added double billing on everything else we get from them, and their customer service response has been “it’ll be fixed, stop bothering us”… yeah, I’d say that horrific reputation is pretty universal.

  11. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    “We do 250 million phone calls a year between orders and services, and, inevitably, with that many calls, you are going to have failures. “

    Hmmm…seems to me if you didn’t have such sh*tty service, you wouldn’t have 250 million service calls a year. ;)

    Yes, your bad reputation is universal. I just moved into my BRAND NEW HOUSE in Virginia and have had Comcast for 4 months. In those 4 months, I’ve had more issues with you than I had with Cox in over 5 yrs. So yeah – I’d say you guys roughly suck.

  12. Asvetic says:

    Hum, the current batch of CSRs aren’t trained well, so slam another 11,000 more poorly trained CSRs into the mix and see if things get better!?

    I’ve had mixed experiences dealing with Comcast, and it varied based on what I “the customer” needed. If I was signing up for a new service or upgrading I’d get great service. But, if I had a billing problem or the cable wasn’t working, I’d go through hell to get a resolution, if any existed. I’ve hung up on CSRs and called back just to deal with someone else on a few occasions, which I hated doing because I’d have to wait forever, then I’d have to retell my story (which would usually change to try and illicit a different/more favorable reaction from the new CSR.)

  13. TheKel says:

    I’ve been having issues with my Comcast internet service for months, and they are less and less helpful each time I call.

    The first time I called, I mentioned I was using Firefox and I was told in a very authoritative voice that they DID NOT support Firefox, and I was going to have to start using IE. Believe it or not, that was the most helpful instruction I received. Other comments included:

    - “It must be your router. You’re not using a router? Oh. Are you sure?”
    - “It’s got to be the network settings on your computer. No, I can’t help you fix that”
    - “Maybe you should just buy a new computer. There seems to be something wrong with this one. Oh, it’s two different computers?”

    They sent a tech out to look at the line into the house, and he said that while everything looked fine, he is almost 100% sure it’s them, and not me. He said the only way to make sure the lines into my neighborhood get fixed is to keep calling and complaining. And I am…but it is exhausting.

  14. bluesunburn says:

    @starrion:
    Maybe it’s a Boston thing. I live just outside of Boston as well, and have had no problems with Comcast aside from a snafu with automatic bill payment when I moved this summer. A snafu that was resolved with one brief phone call.

    Hopefully service here won’t change to reflect the rest of the country…

  15. ianmac47 says:

    Comcast’s only saving grace is its monopolistic stranglehold on local markets. I want to switch service providers, but have no alternative. As much as I despise Verizon, I would happily switch to FiOS within a week of it being offered. We’re watching the fiber crews steadily advance toward our neighborhood…

  16. IphtashuFitz says:

    I really wish Comcast would accept the fact that they have many very intelligent customers. Not just when interacting with CSR’s but in overall policies. I’m a professional systems administrator and I hate it when I call up to report my internet connection is out because they treat me like I don’t know anything. They walk through a script requesting that I power cycle my cable modem, reboot Windows (even if I’m not using Windows), etc. when I’ve already done all that BEFORE calling them. Why can’t they simply accept the fact that some people are intelligent enough to do these sorts of things before we call them for help?

    I also take issue with some of their policies like requiring a truck roll to install CableCARDs in TiVo’s (although this seems to vary depending on what part of the country you’re in). When I got my TiVo I was perfectly capable of going to the nearby Comcast office to pick up CableCARDs, bring them home, plug them into my TiVo, and follow the instructions to configure them. But in my state Comcast requires a truck roll, which basically means they charge you extra to do something for you that you could easily do yourself. Pretty pathetic on their part.

    My condo complex currently only offers Comcast, but Verizon hopes to wire the place for FIOS in the next 6 months or so. I can only hope that they do this if nothing else for the ability to use the threat of leaving as leverage when dealing with Comcast.

  17. ExGC says:

    Another contrarian. I’ve had Comcast here in the Chicago suburbs since they bought out AT&T. I’ve rarely if ever had a problem and when I have, the service has been fast, on time, courteous and the service technicians have gone out of their way to get the problem solved. Now I’ve probably jinxed myself though.

  18. jmackowi says:

    I’ve actually had a pretty good experience with Comcast. I know that I’m the exception to the rule (my parents have had issues over and over). Both of the houses I’ve owned, they have shown up on time, done the job right for the most part. The one time they didn’t, they were back within a week to fix it at no charge. Of course, I only use Comcast for internet.

  19. FLConsumer says:

    “I hope that reputation is not universal”

    Hate to break it to you, but yes, it really is universal. Even the Comcast employees down here are so demoralized that they’ll openly tell you about just how bad Comcast is, without solicitation of this info.

  20. MameDennis says:

    Another Northeasterner who has actually had very good experiences with Comcast… Our service has been reliable, and I haven’t had even one billing problem. When we schedule a service call, they show up.

    Sure, the guy who installed our internet/digital voice was a total bonehead, but when we called for help, Comcast sent someone who knew what he was doing the very next day.

    That said, I realize there are far too many people who haven’t had such good luck.

    • Anonymous says:

      @MameDennis: @MameDennis:

      MameDennis….. funny you say “good luck” !! it isn’t about luck, it’s about the sh***y customer service they provide. Comcast sucks, and i will be shopping around for a different provider. Merry Christmas.

  21. mopar_man says:

    Mr. Roberts needs to get his head out of whatever dark cavity he has it lodged in. I’m not a Comcast customer but after reading all the wonderfully bad things about that company on this website, I never will be.

  22. lightaugust says:

    Dear Mr. Roberts.

    Let me watch the damn football game tonight.
    We’ll call it even.

    Thanks!

  23. jeff303 says:

    @ExGC: Chicago burbs here too – I’ve had no serious problems with Comcast other than high price tag and BT seeding blocking

  24. dancemonkey says:

    I’m another exception. I live in San Francisco, and have never had an issue with Comcast. That is, there has never been a problem with the service or with any installations of new service. In fact, the last time I had new service installed the guy went back out to his van to get a spool of white cable instead of the black he showed up with, because it looked nicer.

    I also called to downgrade service due to cost, and ended up with MORE service for LESS money.

    Again, I know I’m the exception, I’m just keepin’ it real.

    I also have no issues with throttled bittorrent downloads :)

  25. ptkdude says:

    As the CEO, isn’t it his job to *know* what and how widespread his company’s reputation is?

    My company has something called the 4 R’s, which drive things such as our bonuses. They are the 4 most important things we need to consider when we do our jobs. One of them is “Reputation”, and I can assure you our CEO knows exactly what it is at all times.

  26. FLConsumer says:

    @ptkdude: Just makes me glad I’m not a Comcast stockholder.

  27. I hope that reputation is not universal, and we are working very hard to improve where we have made past mistakes.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  28. erratapage says:

    We’ve had nothing but problems with our Comcast television and high speed internet lines. We’ve had a few customer service problems, as well.

    I can’t think of a company I’ve had more problems with, but it might be an airline.

  29. bravo says:

    I never had a problem with Comcast customer service, and the product was generally reliable. I just dropped them because their product simply isn’t as good as DirecTV.

  30. Lukeroberts says:

    In my area Montgomery county Maryland, comcast is beyond horrible. Every person I know has had massive issues with both the quality (picture and claim bb speeds) and service. Heck I even know more than 3 people who had the “We canceled the appt. because you weren’t home, when actually you were” thing happen to them.
    If you say “Comcast is…” in MoCo, 8 out of 10 will reply with “the devil”
    In their defense (somewhat) it is because of a very old infrastructure that there is no (due to the monopoly) incentive to improve.
    Once again: Comcast is the Devil.

  31. BlondeGrlz says:

    @bravo: I dunno, my cable never stopped working when it was raining.
    That being said I happily switched to satelite when I moved. Comcast is in the process of screwing my former roommate out of hundred of dollars, and they’ve certainly done their share of pissing me off.
    But my satelite installer showed up NINE hours late for his window and didn’t have the right equipment. I only got someone to come at all after five hours complaining to four different dispatchers/customer service people. Don’t they know what happens if I miss Jack Bauer? People get hurt, y’all!

  32. iEddie says:

    Yes, it’s universal, Brian.

    Notice how he said “I hope that reputation is not universal” instead of “I hope our bad reputation is not universal”. He’d be admitting to bad customer service even more-so than what he did say.

  33. FunPaul says:

    Service has been a mixed bag, every so often I’ve had a positive experience, but for the most part I’d rate their service as horrible.
    The last time I tried to get a cable modem provisioned I had a really frustrating experience.

    C:”One moment…(more than one moment)”
    FP:”Everything going ok?”
    C:”One moment”

    C:”What is the make on the modem?”
    FP:”Motorola?”
    C:”No, what is the make?”
    FP:”Do you mean the manufacturer?”
    C:”No, it’s a number, the make number”
    FP:”Do you mean MAC (mack)?”
    C:”Yes”
    FP:reads it
    C:”One moment”
    C: click
    45 minutes of my life wasted.

  34. kirkvanhouten says:

    Maybe while Roberts is coming to terms about his company having a bad rep, he can also give Seattle some more HD channels and not take a friggin’ year to do so.

    They’re running TV spots here saying they have more HD content than DirecTV. Yeah that’s fine and all, but if you read the fine print in that TV spot, it states that it’s based on market research and channel comparisons in the Philadelphia area.

    Gee, I wonder why Philadelphia would have more HD content over there.

  35. orielbean says:

    I live in Somerville, MA – and Comcast was okay. Thier STB had serious issues with my home theatre equipment, and they also had a lot of bandwidth problems during peak times. I just switched to RCN, and both problems went away. And it’s cheaper. Not bad customer service, but comcast product is really subpar. And they put clickable ads INSIDE my onscreen channel guide! WTF

  36. NefariousNewt says:

    Apparently he doesn’t read this site, does he? Maybe he should start — then he’d find out just how atrocious his service really is. And while I’m pretty sure not every single person whose gone to Comcast for customer service has had problems, it’s the ones who do who should be driving a commitment to get better.

  37. Mike_ says:

    Over the years, I’d say my experience with Comcast service/support has been about 5% good, 30% acceptable, 65% horrific. The only reason I am a Comcast customer is that there are no other options available to me at my current address. And trust me, I’ve looked.

  38. mangopants says:

    I used to agree with most of what is written above. Then I moved and had to go with Charter Communications.

    Compared to Charter, Comcast is run by the Pope and full of saints.

  39. aikoto says:

    Awesome story about the waitress. Great punchline.

  40. aikoto says:

    I don’t have too many problems with Comcast, but they cost too much and the quality of service isn’t great.

  41. bobblack says:

    I’m glad I live in Kansas City where Comcast hasn’t taken hold, so I’m safe from having to deal with what sounds like such horrible service. Given, Time Warner Cable is all that great, but they still sound better than Comcast.

  42. Gev says:

    @IphtashuFitz: Because for every one person who really knows what they’re doing there’s probably a dozen who are utterly clueless. Not to mention that most first tier people aren’t exactly the most knowledgeable people either.

    When I need to call some support place, I expect them to ignore anything I say up front about what kind of troubleshooting I did before calling.

    Rather than fight with them if they start asking me to do things that I already did prior to calling I just pretend to do what they’re asking while actually reading a book or something.

    The occasional person you get who actually believes you and doesn’t make you run through a bunch of stuff you already did is a wonderful thing. I usually try to get their names and let their managers know how good they are.

  43. scoosdad says:

    @bluesunburn: Well I live outside Boston too, and I had to resort to Bob Garfield’s “Comcast Must Die” website to get them to resolve my billing issue.

    Basically they owed me money back on a closed account. I whined about it on Comcast Must Die, and Comcast was silent. CMD asked if anyone had been contacted by Comcast yet, and I posted, “not yet!”

    Was then contacted by an executive CS person here in MA, who spent a few days researching my problem, and decided that although they could easily stop sending me statements every month showing the money that they owed me, there was no way they could send me the money! Whaaaa??

    I went back to Comcast Must Die, posted that update, and basically made them look silly for saying that, and instantly I was contacted again by someone from their president’s office in Philly saying, “the check is in the mail.”

    Mr. Comcast CEO, why must we resort to consumer websites and public floggings to get you to send a check for a lousy $16? You spent more time with me on the phone and in overnight UPS letters than what you owed me. Stockholders, take note.

  44. vermontwriter says:

    Everyone I know would agree that Comcast service in this area (northern Vermont) is horrific. We dealt with the nightmare known as Adelphia for years, and were thrilled when Comcast bought them out because there was hope that things would get better. I dropped cable television years ago when we were told the package we had was rising from $60 a month (both television and internet) to $130. Internet is still horribly expensive at $62 a month with the modem rental, but it’s Comcast or dial-up in this area, and I work from home so I’m stuck. My brother lives in South Burlington and is literally yards away from getting Verizon’s DSL, so like me he’s stuck too. Neither of us feel that $62 a month is even close to worth what we get.

    My neighbor has Comcast and for years routinely on rainy days our internet will go out. I’ve spent hours on the phone with both Adelphia and Comcast discussing the problem. They’re rewired my entire home and that didn’t fix the problem. They finally rewired the street and that seems to have cleared the problem up, but now I wonder why they rewired the street and left old cables dangling all over the place? Is this their version of high-quality workmanship? My favorite issue, though, has to be with their high-speed service. I work from my lap-top and don’t have file sharing turned on with my upstairs computer that the kids use. Yesterday, I had to use the desktop and emailed the project I was working on to the email account I use for upstairs. The email left my laptop at 12:37pm and finally arrived upstairs at 6:32pm. If that’s not speedy service, I just don’t know what is! (Note intense sarcasm). This isnt’ the first time this has happened. An email I sent my dad back in February arrived at his house in August, and an email my neighbor sent me back in September still has yet to arrive.

  45. ToadKillerDog says:

    South Suburban Chicago suburbs in Indiana here. Comcast was ok in initializing service but sucked at billing. When they wanted to jack up my prices and I switched, they tried to screw me until I wrote a complaint letter to the State of Indiana. They wrote a flat out lying response to the state. Funny that they felt free to address the person responsible in the state by her first name. I kept the pressure on and I finally broke even about 4 months later.

    Lessons learned:
    Contacting the State of Indiana is only useful as a threat, they don’t actually do anything in particular.

    Break even was finally achieved by them not being competent enough to successfully screw me over…. hang in there and keep documentation from the start.

    The threat I made to charge them for storing their equipment was never overtly responded to. It may have had and effect though. Can’t decide on that one.

    When is Wide Open West coming further south in Indiana?

  46. reykjavik says:

    WHY in gods name did you not get up and leave?!? What man with two testicles would sit there while his date (or even female friend) didn’t get her food? Not to mention that the man should always let the girl order first – but that I’ll let slide.

    I think you need to stop blogging and start dating men that aren’t douchebags.

  47. Mikew3st says:

    When I first got Comcast everything was going fine for a while, but then I started getting problem after problem and they blamed it on old wiring, so I just canceled it since it wasn’t something I needed. I’m in the DFW area so once Comcast switched over to Time Warner Cable I ordered a new package that was cheaper and faster. They set up everything without a problem and been happy since.

  48. doireallyneedausername says:

    My experience: 90% bad, 10% good. It was 100% bad until yesterday. I had a jumpy picture and all my Comcast DVR box needed was a box reset. Tried to chat online with a rep…hopeless. Called and waited for 10 minutes on the phone. But otherwise, issue was resolved in 30 seconds after the rep answered the phone.

    Nevertheless, I’m waiting for AT&T UVerse to come to my neighborhood. Once they’re here, I will be at the local AT&T store at 5am on the first day of sale to sign up for service. (Yes, the AT&T store locally sells wireless and other AT&T products including UVerse)

  49. flowergirl says:

    @buckwheaton: I want to hang with you and your gf. I too am an out of market Packers fan…. this year we moved from our “no dishes allowed” apt into a more reasonable building and my birthday present from the bf was directv’s nfl package…. never been so happy. (suck that, comcast!) Wanna come over & watch the game? ;-)

  50. kc2idf says:

    Well, I hear about Comcast a lot.

    I hear about Time-Warner only a little.

    I don’t hear about Adelphia.

    I don’t hear about Cablevision.

    Now, certainly, this is at least partly a function of size. I know, for instance, that Cablevision sucked back when I lived in Selkirk, NY. That was over fifteen years ago, though, and they may have cleaned house or been bought.

    I use Time-Warner’s internet service. It seems to be pretty solid for the most part (though their DNS servers are for shit, hence I use OpenDNS). I used to use them for TV, also, when I lived in Cohoes, NY (which is sort of a black hole for any sort of radio signal). they seemed all right at the time.

    TW is, I believe, the second-largest cable provider in the country. If it was purely a function of size, I would think that I would hear nearly as much problem with them as I hear with Comcast, but I don’t, which implies that Comcast is generally for shit.

  51. isadora says:

    I still Comcast.

    I wish I knew when Wide Open West was finally going to be available in my western Chicago suburb. I would start a celebratory countdown.

  52. isadora says:

    @reykjavik: Bwah! So true. I was judging in my head (and not just because her date had testes–WHO lets service like that slide?) and trying not to post: SERIOUSLY, why did you not walk out? Or call the manager? Or tell your date you wanted your own damn meal!?

  53. nikdahl says:

    Interestingly enough, I’ve always had a good experience with Comcast Internet. Speeds have always been great (for the US, anyways), and I seldom have any downtime.

    The digital TV is a different story. The Interface on the cable box is absolutely horrendous. I don’t know how anyone could have thought that was a releasable product.

    Anyways, my customer service experience has been pleasing as well. I recently moved my service from one city to another, with no problems. Didn’t have to wait long, no billing snafus, everything went as planned. At my new location, I signed up for the triple play (internet, tv, and phone), and they were running a promotion, which earned me a Nintendo DS. After calling up to ask for my DS, they informed me that the promotion was for new customers and online orders only. A quick email to a comcast executive email address I found on Consumerist, and I had a $169 credit in my account.

    Just this week, my girlfriend placed a christmas cactus on our set-top box and watered it. The water ran through, and into the cable box, which fried. I called up Comcast, added Equipment Insurance to my account, then drove right over to the Comcast Office. They replaced it no questions asked, they even upgraded it to better hardware.

    The only things that leave me wanting are the set-top box software, needing a dedicated IP for HOME service, faster (mostly just upload) speeds, and lower prices.

    I feel Comcast has received a bad rap at times. I just wanted to share my experiences.

  54. marsneedsrabbits says:

    It’s not the “failures”, Mr. Robert, which implies that your employees tried to do right, but didn’t quite make it.

    It is knowing (as a customer) that your company will only ever pledge to do the right thing when you are called out in a public forum or in an interview such as the one above. It is knowing that if you think you won’t get caught, you will not treat your customers fairly. It is knowing that Comcast will always find a way to do what is easiest and cheapest, but not what is right or best for the customer.

    It is the complete lies, the utter incompetence, and the blatant contempt your employees evinces to your customer base.

    I know that you may not know the difference between those concepts, but if you did, you would know why Comcast has such a lousy reputation.

  55. marsneedsrabbits says:

    @FunPaul:

    That’s bad, but how about this:

    Over the course of the summer, the internet kept going down. The service guy would eventually come out, check the wires outside (but only after half a dozen calls or so each time; hang ups; rude customer service reps; and once, a foreign guy who didn’t want to speak to me about technical matters because I am a woman; and so on). They never found anything. Ever. They came or 5 or 6 times. They cancelled appointments (well, the didn’t show up – they never actually told us they weren’t coming), and still, nothing. But, while they have you on the phone, and in spite of the fact that the service we’re paying for doesn’t work, would we be interested in a sports package on Comcast cable? No? How about other premium services such as…?

    So in between hard up-selling and telling us that the service guy should have called to say he wasn’t coming and were we sure we were really home, we’d ask: could it be the modem? It seems awfully hot. No, the modem was fine. Modems are always really hot. Well, could we exchange the modem anyway, you know, for fun? No, they would not exchange the old modem back since it was not the issue, & by the way, would you like to consider a movie tier?

    Eventually (somewhere between a few hours and a day), even without fixing anything the internet would come back up for a while, Comcast would lie and weasel a way around giving credit (“We don’t have any previous record of an issue” “It wasn’t out long enough”), and everything would work until the next time.

    Finally, about the 6th-or-so time a service guy came out, he actually came to the front door. He said the wiring was fine & could he look at our modem? Yes! s-u-c-c-e-s-s! So he went in, looked at it, & came back out of the room holding the modem and said “”Huh. I thought they recalled these due to these things smoking and catching fire”. Didn’t know there were any left in service. I’ll get you a new one”.

    Uh… yeah. So, we don’t have Comcast anymore. And we will never have Comcast again. And we were morons for putting up with it for so long, but we didn’t have many choices until the phone company extended DSL to our neighborhood. We have DirecTV for cable and they are polite and nice on the phone if we have an issue, which is rare. And they cost less. And they have a ton more children’s programming.

  56. rugger11 says:

    I’ve just (in the last month) gotten Comcast again after a year without them. Through every phase, they have screwed up; however this time around, their customer service has at least been unfailingly polite. So I guess they’re getting better.

  57. WayDownRiver says:

    Meg, I hope that restaurant experience happened when you were a mere girl, and now that you’re older, you now know that the correct thing for your date to do would have been to stand up and find the manager when the one meal arrived (if not sooner), make a complaint, and then leave the restaurant if your problem wasn’t immediately dealt with.

    The same applies to crappy Comcast service. Cable isn’t a life necessity. Once you’ve been abused enough by the cable company, cancel your service, making sure (through your credit card or local representative or whatever) that you are not overcharged.

  58. Snarkysnake says:

    Let’s play “Fun with numbers”…

    This guy makes $13.9 million dollars per year. Then (according to Yahoo Finance) helps himself to another 19 million in stock. This works out to…Sweet Jesus, $3,858 an hour. Do all of you people that are complaining really believe that he gives two shits what you think ? I mean,are you really that gullible ?

  59. adamsummers says:

    As others have mentioned, if you live in the Chicago suburbs, and have the option, get WOW (Wide Open West) if possible. It’s not often that I have ever been as impressed with a company as I have been with WOW. All services I requested were fulfilled quickly, and they have always given me no more than a 2 hour window for service. Last week, I had one of their people coming out between 10am and noon to set me up with an HD box, and when he came at 11:30am he apologized for being late! I almost hope that this company doesn’t get too big, as their service has been excellent!

  60. axiomatic says:

    @savvy999: You sir/maam, win. That was hilarious.

    Dear Comcast, you guys suck and blow.

  61. bumbletowne says:

    My parents internet, cable, and land line go out routinely. They have comcast. When they first started having problems, they would call the help line. The representative either spoke english as an eighth language or would suffer from what i like to call “marble mouth”
    ONe summer three guys came to fix my parents service after 20 phone calls (literally). The first said he showed up and no-one was home. That’s funny, because there were nine people over at the house including a home-care nurse for my mother and me, waiting for the repair guy. My mother has a broken back and WANTED INTERNET so i was there. The second guy watched football with my father. He did not fix anything. The third guy “fixed” the problem. He told us the internet wouldn’t work becuase we had “gotten water on the tubes”. My parents have comcast highspeed networked wireless, so obviously that guy hadn’t solved the problem. Today they still have really sketchy service and the slowest “high speed” internet in the world. Their only choice is comcast…so they pay for it.
    I took the other way out. We do not have internet, cable, or a land-line at my place until someone other than comcast can provide service.
    And this post? This post is being done on Genuine Uncapped (and i DO mean uncapped) surewest wireless.
    6 Terabytes a month baby. It’s not illegal but if you’re asking, you’re one of them.
    Comcast needs to die.

  62. econobiker says:

    If you have to say: “I hope that reputation is not universal” then you have a problem.

  63. andrewe says:

    It looks like that waitress was a Comcast customer and recognized Mr. Roberts. If that was the case she should also have billed him for the meal he did not receive.

  64. Zenbenny says:

    I believe I have had one of the top 10 worst experiences anyone had ever had with comcast (truly a feat). Only a matter of time before Dish has on demand.

  65. HeHateMe says:

    I hate to break to you all but Comcast does have happy customers, so the thought that the “horrific reputation” is universal is not correct. @Zenbenny: Dish will never have True On Demand… their technology won’t allow it. You have to have the direct line connection.
    To those who blame Comcast for not being able to watch a specific game – Try the programmers. Comcast doesn’t make up the programming, the programmers do. Also, there are things like syndication rights which give exclusive rights for certain programs to certain networks. This is most often seen with sports. Also, professional sports franchises typically do not allow their game to be aired within a certain radius of the arena/field unless the game is sold out. Be sure that your blame is directed to right folks, as easy as it is to blame the big bad corporation. I know that everyone thinks they should be able to get every channel or program they want for free or very little, but if thats how it worked I am sure that the quality of the program would be horrible and the picture quality would be even worse, if it even worked. Thats all I’m saying.

    50 bucks says I am accused of being an employee of Comcast, since anyone that speaks out in favor of them “has to be an employee.” I will tell you that I am not. I understand how businesses work, I understand how the cable industry works, and I have never had a bad experience as a customer with Comcast. You are all so predictable.

  66. hazeljemi says:

    I was moving and canceling service and I called Comcast to have them come pick up their modem. I asked them if I could simply mail it too the distribution center but that was not an option so I reluctantly agreed to wait around for 3 hours for them to come. Well, after telling me to wait an additional two hours, they never showed up and I was forced to reschedule. The second time they were supposed to come, they still never showed up. Both times I called them repeatedly while I waited. But there is no way to communicate to the service people to find out if they can actually make it to your home. Well, I was moving the next day and after many calls they eventually admitted to me that I could drive it to the center, an hour out of my way. I happened to complain about the whole thing to my apartment manager and he said that people always left it in the office because a Comcast tech comes out about once a month for service and also picks them up. If they had a little bit better communication they would have known this and could have told me this in the first place instead of making me waste two evenings and a lot of cellphone minutes!

  67. ogman says:

    @savvy999: That’s almost as funny as the article and equally true. Well said!

  68. jesserock says:

    @MPHinPgh: “And if you really want to show you intend to improve things, give your employees the ability to effect change (the lack of that ability is likely at the root of their apathy), and hold your employees accountable for satisfying customers. Your metrics should not be calls per hour, but something more like “complaints per customer”.”

    I have only one complaint with that. Basing a metric on complaints per customer is skewed unless you drop the highest complainers. Some people believe complaining early and without warrant will resolve things quicker (probably based on past experience.)

    Otherwise, well said. I worked for comcast briefly for a dim period of my life, and it was such a soul-sucking experience I still wince when thinking about it. I can only compare it to working for McDonalds, only instead of greasy fries it’s television and internet, and instead of well documented efficiencies and processes it’s Comcast.

  69. sashazur says:

    I guess I’m one of the minority who overall are satisfied with Comcast. I can’t say I am *crazy* about them, but their Internet works better than the DSL we used to have, and we haven’t had any problems with their cable service either (but to be fair, it’s the cheapest possible cable plan, so no box to break or programming tiers to confuse).

  70. ZitosGhost says:

    No worries, Brian. You are still getting paid way too much so just keep pretending nothing needs to be done.

  71. Anonymous says:

    Brian Roberts NEEDS to fire everyone at Comcast and do the freaking job himself. Get back to work you lazy ass, and pay attention to your customers, or you have too much money to be going into the office now. I’m calling to cancel Comcast services, and will be shopping for a different provider soon. That is a promise to you Mr. Roberts.