Warn Comcast You're Moving, Lose Your Internet Access

Chris gave Comcast a heads up that he was moving and wanted to arrange a transfer date ahead of time, and they disconnected his present internet access instead. Gahhhhhhh! Ahhhh!!! When he made various calls to various Comcast departments, various employees agreed it was messed up, but all refused to actually solve the problem. So Chris, using some email addresses we posted, sent out a well-crafted executive email carpet bomb…

He made a rational business argument. He calmly laid out the problem and course of events. He rationally argued it was both foolish and unacceptable to treat a a high-value Comcast customer in this manner. In an artful and subtle flourish, vaguely referred to how solving the problem would be a good way to avoid more negative publicity for the company.

It got results. A Comcast exec who got the email forwarded to him called the executive customer service department, from his house, and told them to get this solved, pronto. That’s the power of the executive email carpet bomb. Just one of your recipients needs to realize how completely stupid and unacceptable it is for a business to be run in the way that caused your complaint.

Chris’ complaint letter and followup email below.

June 12

To Whom It May Concern:

Last evening I called 1.800.COMCAST in order to set up a transfer service appointment for my impending move from one county to the next. I have been a loyal Comcast customer despite more than one instance of dissatisfaction over the last year (over billed, poor service, empty offers, followed by more inaccurate bills, etc.). I currently subscribe to the “Triple Play”, HBO, HD service, as well as the Center Ice package in the winter time. I have also called and left a message with the executive customer service department, office of the President (215.640.8960), without response. The following, is what transpired happened yesterday

I called the 800 number and navigated my way to the the transfer service department. I spoke with Tony, operator ID UP4. I first asked him if I moved and took Comcast with me, would I be eligible to receive the free 19″ HD TV offer that is currently being advertised in the Philadelphia area. He said that I was. We then proceeded to verify addresses, and set up the appointment time for the tech to arrive at the new address to set everything up. This request was put in on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, with service to be disconnected here on the 27th, and reconnected at the new address between 3 and 5 PM on the same day. This was by far my best and easiest interaction with Comcast, ever. I made extra sure to let Tony know this, as I was thoroughly pleased with how easy this process was, as advertised.

I spoke way too soon.

Moments after hanging up with Tony, I realized my internet was not working. I tried fixing it locally on my end first, by restarting my computer and resetting my modem and router among a few other fixes that usually work. Neither worked, so I called back (reference number CR127432486).

To make an extremely long story short, I spoke with Janet, operator ID 29842, who told me that because the transfer service request went in, it put a flag of some sort on my internet account which deactivated it until the transfer date. Because I notified Comcast that I was moving, they disconnected my internet for what was to be over two weeks! I asked to speak with her supervisor, as this answer was highly unacceptable to me. I then spoke with Janet’s non-technical supervisor Adam, operator ID 29858 (he was not positive this was his correct ID, and also gave me ID NATG01). He only reiterated what Janet had told me earlier, twice. What I fail to understand is if he is a non-technical supervisor, how is he qualified to answer these types of questions, let alone instruct others? Further more, all he was able to do was reiterate what Janet had told me, which is what he told her. He had no solution, new information, or most importantly, help.

Adam the non-technical supervisor then proceeded to tell me that there was absolutely nothing he could do, and that it was most likely a simple glitch in the system that your IT department would have to look into. He did not offer to escalate this problem to the IT department for resolution. My favorite part of this horrible experience is when Adam actually agreed with me how extremely absurd that this situation was, that my internet was disconnected because I called in advance and notified Comcast of the move. To have a supervisor agree with a complaintant, but not have an ability or initiative to fix the problem, is truly amazing.

I was then transferred back to Janet in order to cancel my transfer service request. After being on hold for what seemed an inordinate amount of time, she informed me that the transfer service department told her that they could not cancel the request, it wasn’t their fault, and she had to call the digital phone department in order to resolve. This confused me even further, considering my phone was working fine, as I had been on it for over 45 minutes so far on this call alone. If neither my phone nor my cable were affected, I don’t understand how the phone department would be able to cancel this request. Tony, in the transfer service department, never informed me that my internet would be disconnected as a result of the original request.

I feel at this point, I should be able to request a transfer of service for the time and date originally requested (June 27, 3-5PM). I also feel that my internet at my current residence should not be disconnected as a result of this request. I’m paying for the service, I should be able to use it. Additionally, I (according to Tony) am eligible for the free 19″ HD TV giveaway. I expect to be eligible for this still, despite what transpired. And most importantly, I expect an apology for more of my wasted time trying to correct my service with Comcast.

I hope a speedy resolution is in your interest, as I’m sure that it will cost far less then even more bad publicity than your company has already endured. I not only ask this for myself, but for what I’m sure are many, many other unhappy customers who have faced the same brick wall in trying to transfer their services to a new address. This is border line false advertising – Comcast has made moving services near impossible, not easier! For as much as I pay every month, Comcast should be very interested in keeping my business, and not losing it going forward. Telling people that the problem is their fault, that there is nothing Comcast can do to fix it, being generally unhelpful and unresponsive are traits which I do not consider good business practices. I believe that one business day is more than ample time to return a call of an unhappy customer. Comcast, obviously does not.

I eagerly await your reply.

Sincerely,
Chris E.

Account Number: [redacted]
Cell Phone: [redacted]
Home Phone: [redacted]
[home address redacted]

June 13

Hi Theresa,

It took Comcast exactly 1 hour and 7 minutes to call me after I sent this email last night. I heard from Courtney, who worked at corporate, who had copy of email in hand. Her boss called her from home, and asked her to contact me ASAP, which she obviously did. Her boss wasn’t even on the original email, so the email must have circulated the company very, very quickly. Courtney proceeded to give me her direct number, her boss’ direct number, and her boss’ assistant’s direct number, and assured me that either her boss or his assistant would call me today with resolution. As promised, Michelle (the asst.) called me mid afternoon today. This must be all that Michelle does, because she moved with exceptional accuracy, efficiency, and speed. I think she might actually be a robot. She promised the problem was fixed, that there is indeed a workaround to this massive glitch in their system, I have my original appointment time, and will receive the HD TV offer. And as you can tell from this email, my internet continues to work. So, everything seems to be on course now. Michelle said she would check in with me a day or two before moving day to make sure nothing has changed, and will continue to follow up until everything is done. I was unimpressed that 24 hours was not long enough time for someone to call me back after leaving a v/m at corporate, but the efficiency in solving this in the last 24 hours since, has been impressive when compared against all previous Comcast encounters. It’s unfortunate that this sort of service cannot be obtained via normal channels. But, a huge thanks to the Consumerist (I’m an avid work-time-reader-because-there-is-nothing-better-to-do) I got the answer I was looking for.

Thanks!

Chris

If you want to send an executive email carpet bomb of your own, here’s how to do it.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. ElijahDProphet says:

    Comcast really has no idea what they are doing when managing accounts. I have found my internet, tv, or both turned off randomly since I moved into my current apartment. Once they claimed I had canceled service, so sent me a check for $2 as a refund for my payments, prorated. I deposited the check and a few days later received a bill for the same $2 after service was restored.

  2. Pro-Pain says:

    Wow, besides the rather speedy resolution, the rest was very, VERY, sad. No wonder people hate Comcast. (We don’t have this company where I live). Sounds like a Best Buy situation of sorts. Comcast surely doesn’t want to go down that road…

  3. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    I had exactly the same problem with AT&T when I moved. So the next time I moved, I waited until just a few days before we moved, then they didn’t connect the new service for about two weeks.

  4. I spoke way too soon.

    When referring to Comcast, truer words have never been spoken.

    Nice job, Chris.

  5. SkokieGuy says:

    What sort of brain trust does it take to realize that if Comcast actually delivered the service that is reasonable and possible (currently only through executive intervention) through normal and routine channels, Comcast would have happy and loyal customers.

    Wouldn’t it be nice, Comcast, to not have to compete on price to steal customers from competitors? The first company to develop a reputation for fabulous customer service will soon be able to win over customers based on service and reputation, rather than attract bottom feeders based on price.

    If you empowered your primary contact (lower overhead) employees with the authority and training to resolve problems, then you wouldn’t waste high-priced executive time dealing with pissed off customers, now would you?

    There is a massive local appliance and electronics store in my area that is so beloved for its legendary service that I and others will loyally shop without comparision shipping, full well knowing I might pay a (reasonable) bit more. And I happily pay it.

    Merely meeting customer expectations would be head and shoulders above typical corporate customer service these days. Imagine, Comcast, if you could create a corporate culture where you actually exceeded customer expectations?

    Not sucking might be nice!

  6. billbillbillbill says:

    We scheduled our move a month in advance and had all sorts of problems with Comcast. They shut our internet and cable off 3 days earlier than arranged (not worth the fight the OP went through) and spent 2 weeks after moving trying to get the tech to finally do the install at our new house.

  7. @SkokieGuy:
    I absolutely agree. If there is a service/store that treats me right, I am happy to pay them more than competitors who are cheaper. And equally as important, is to support local stores and not mega-chains.

  8. caederus says:

    Comcast saved me the trouble of transfering. When we moved (18 months ago) I tried calling and the phone system gave me the same message 3 times. It was something along the lines of “We are sorry all operators are buusy try calling back at another time” .

    After bring hung up on 3 times I called verizon for Fios. Followed that up with a letter to customer support canceling my service as of the date in question.

  9. AngelofMotrin says:

    Why is anyone suprised?

  10. dorsia says:

    The very same thing happened to me with Verizon, but I wasn’t as successful. They refused to turn my Internet access back on, saying it would be a new order and they would have to send someone to my apartment, which would take 5-7 days, and have a charge.

    They also told me that whoever took my request for a future cancellation date was misinformed – their system apparently cannot handle such things. So, clearly, Verizon was in error for this whole mess, but they refused to help me.

    I managed to talk them into giving me a month’s credit, but it didn’t really feel like a victory.

  11. provolone says:

    I had a similar issue with Frontier Phone service in Rochester NY when I was in college. A roommate called ahead to let them know we would be moving the following week and we needed the number moved to the new address. About 15 minutes later I tried to use the phone and it was dead.

    I walked to a 7-11 on the main road to call them from a pay phone and explain what happened (cell phones were still a little too expensive for a poor college student in ’96). They told me it would take a few days for them to send someone out. I then explained that they were just able to disconnect our service in a matter of minutes, and that it didn’t make sense that it would take days to get it re-connected. I was in the middle of a job search for an internship, and the disconnected number was on my resume all over town, so it was very important that the phone was working.

    In the end, our phone was never re-connected at that address. I communicated with potential jobs using the 7-11 pay phone for the rest of that month. Between the disconnected phone, the change in mailing address, and my missing drug tests due to the labs not being told about phone/address change, human resources people must have been thinking I was one shady character. I did eventually get a job, but there were a few moments when I imagined Frontier’s incompetence leading to my homelessness.

    I still live in Rochester, but I don’t have a land phone line any longer, and I never will as long as I have to deal with Frontier. If they covered more of the US, they may have been able to make a good run at the Worst Company in America.

  12. dizzydj says:

    Charter did the same thing to me.

    The best part was that someone left the order number open after the transfer, so they disconnected my new house as well as my old house. That got fixed quickly though :)

  13. Zanpakuto says:

    SBC DSL did the same to me as well, and I spent 3 hours on the phone to some guy in India named “Joseph” to get it turned back on.

    Now I want to ditch my phone service and go pure DSL but they are telling me that I won’t have internet for a week? I work with in IT, that’s a load of horse crap but try telling them that :(

  14. ceez says:

    where I live the building provides free cable service which is from Comcast. I purchased an HDTV few months ago and want to get HD service from comcast (cant install a DTV dish on the balcony) but I always hear horror stories from people about Comcast. I dont know if it’s just much easier to stick to my grainy non HD picture than go through over charges and cancelled services for no apparent reason.

  15. mmcnary says:

    @SkokieGuy: What is the name of the store? I don’t get to Chicago much, but I do know people up that way and like to have this kind of info available to me.

  16. HunterZ says:

    AT&T did pretty much the same thing to my girlfriend last night; she had arranged for her Internet to be deactivated later this week because she is moving, yet AT&T decided to cut it off last night without warning instead. Man did that tick her off! She called them and was able to get the disconnect reversed in around 30 minutes, and the people she spoke with were as shocked as she was that they had shut off service so early. I was amazed that they were able to rectify the situation that quickly.

  17. TacoDave says:

    I have related problem right now with Comcast. I set up my service to be transferred to a new address (we bought our first house!) and it has been a pain.

    They didn’t show up to do the install, so I called. “We have no record that you set up a transfer,” they said. I asked if they had a record of the online chat I had with their employee. “We don’t keep those records,” they said.

    I finally got hooked up three days later after missing one and a half days of work due to their incompetence. I sent an email to “Rick” on their website. Their response? “We see that we waived the installation fee. Thank you for your time.”

    A $50 credit? Bullcrap. EECB here I come!

  18. civis says:

    Comcast has been a thorn in my side for the past year. First, the installation man installs HD boxes on 2 of our standard def tv’s because he didnt have any regular boxes left in his truck. I question whether the HD boxes will increase my bill and he answers “No it’s ok as long as our tvs aren’t HD.” Of course our bill is fine for a few months then suddenly our account is audited and charged the extra amount for the HD boxes. Now I have to run the boxes to a service center and exchange them. Why not just stand by your original statement Comcast? I have never encountered a company more willing to make their mistake your problem.

  19. peepytweep says:

    This is precisely why I waited until the last minute to cancel my Comcast service when we moved. We now have Charter (no problems so far). I knew if I called early that it would go horribly wrong. I now have to wait a month and half for my refund but it’s worth not having a random internet outage.

  20. sprocket79 says:

    When I transferred my service a couple of months ago when I moved, it was really painless. As a matter of fact, they lowered my bill by about $10, which was nice.

  21. mk says:

    @SkokieGuy: Being a chicago gal I know of the local appliance store you speak of and you’re right. When spending more than a few dollars, that’s where we and all my friends go.

  22. knucklesammichwitCheese says:

    I once had a Comcast freelance contractor come to my apartment to install my internet after a move. When he asked for my email addy in order to set up the Comcast account, I told him ‘blahblah@blah.com. So when I saw him actually type the word AT instead of the symbol, I knew it was gonna be a long day. I couldn’t get too mad at the guy, being he was elderly. After all was said and done, they sent out a ‘real’ Comcast employee 2 days later and got the situation taken care of, including the messed up wiring.

  23. mjsager says:

    The same thing happened to me. I called to say I was moving on such and such date, and they said OK!

    My internet was promptly disconnected.

  24. JoeVet says:

    I had a worse experience. I was planning to move from a rented apartment. The landlord promised the apartment to another renter 30 days before our final out. The new renter went to comcast and was able to have our cable disconnected and reassigned to his name all without our permission or knowledge. While comcast fixed the problem promptly, they should never have given another unrelated customer permission to alter or closed my existing account. This was the same Comcast office where I was told that I could download the instructions and software to set up my internet account. They couldn’t grasp the concept that internet access was required before downloading could occur.

  25. cordeliapotter says:

    When I moved and transferred my Comcast service, I was charged a $75 transfer fee and my old address continued to receive charges and bills for two months. It’s been 6 months since I asked for my money back, and Comcast has still failed to refund me. To get Verizon DSL, my only other option for internet, I have to pay Verizon $2,000 to bring a telephone wire to my house.

  26. Ein2015 says:

    Comcast should start firing these people who can’t make things happen.

    “Our shitty computer program” or “our random, baseless store policy” are NEVER excuses for failure to do the obviously correct thing.

  27. Nev-in-NYC says:

    How about posting similar information for Time-Warner Cable? Constantly having problems with them and always have to wait on hold for over an hour to get a retard who can never help and who invariably disconnects me when I ask to speak to a manager.

  28. sansraisins says:

    This happened to me. We were supposed to move and I called Comcast a month ahead to schedule at the new place. The move fell through and I called to cancel two weeks later, and they said, “oh, the technician is scheduled at your current location TODAY to disconnect everything”. It wasn’t supposed to happen until we moved. This is messed up.

  29. wagnerism says:

    I just got back online after a week’s outage from Comcast.

    The neighbor’s new installation cut my line (twice!) This time it was cut underground… outage is their fault and the can’t schedule a tech for an entire week.

    I spend father’s day at home waiting for them and they never show up. They called beforehand and I missed that call by 5 seconds – called back immediately – and tried to confirm the appointment. Too late!

    The technician must have been in a rocket to the moon and hit launch as soon as I didn’t answer… or they’re overbooked and take any missed call as justification to cancel your appointment. They only call once and call the appointment dead. That is bullshit.

    Since I was the bad person and missed their appointment, punishment came with a reschedule for five days later. I threaten to cancel and they still say they can’t do anything.

    I call their bluff and canceled. It doesn’t bother me, I’ve been without their service for a week because I got legitimate alternate connectivity via wifi.

    I can get dry-loop DSL installed before their next possible appointment time. Aren’t telco local loops protected by govt laws? I guess I could see some turkey cutting CATV with no consequences whereas someone cutting telco pairs would get into trouble.

    I was never abusive to the people at 800-comcast, but I did have to follow through on my threat to cancel in order to get service. It was fixed the next day.

    Frustrating… I’m backing off their service to the lowest data rate and might still get DSL because it is cheaper.

    BTW, I saw a new Verizon handhole for the FiOS service had just been installed. I’m sure that dozens of you can share their fire stories about their installs.

  30. smint says:

    Nobody “refuses” to fix a problem. Frontline CSRs don’t have the privileges to solve any actual order problems.

  31. mmatg says:

    Customer service problems exist in the entire industry. I was having problems with my satellite dish and signal. After going through the usual decision tree that frontline CSR’S use I was told that the problem must be with the satellite…? I asked if I should call NASA and put in a request to have the satellite serviced. The response…Huh?

    After several visits by Techs it turns out that the original installer never tightened down the dish on the roof!

    Ther is however a dedent outcome, I received many free services – premium channels, football channels, three free months of service… – I just don’t know how anyone can stay in business giving everything away for free when some incompetent Yutz claims the satellite is misbehaving.

  32. gmiller426 says:

    @Nev-in-NYC: I hated TWC UNTIL I scheduled a transfer. Not only did they let us keep internet at the old place for a week of overlap, but we got a discount at the new place for 12 months, the installer came first hour of the time frame given, and when the internet went out the first time, we were given a month free!

  33. magnoliasouth says:

    Believe it or not, I never had a problem with Comcast. In fact, it’s safe to say that we had amazingly good customer service. I know I’m in the minority and probably given time, I could say otherwise, but I was happy with them.

    Now ask me about Mediacom? Oh goodness the story was a nightmare. I believe I posted my experience at epinions. It was such a disaster. Finally all was fixed but it took months to get service I was paying for. That’s right, months. I went nearly four months without internet services and was told so many times there was nothing that could be done. I was actually wishing for Comcast back!

  34. scerwup says:

    This is an example of a great email. Well written, well thought out, easy to read. That’s why it worked so well. Great work Chris. I will be taking cues from your email, if I ever have to write one in an attempt to have a problem fixed. My only question is, if your internet was disconnected, how did you send that email? Seems WAY to long and error free to be sent from a phone. Not talking bad about it, just curious…

  35. Difdi says:

    I too had a similar experience with Comcast when moving into my current apartment. But with a particularly idiotic twist. I had paid my first month of rent on the new place, and would be moving in two days later. Due to a variety of factors, I could not be at my new apartment when the tech came to hook me up, but a friend of mine volunteered to apartment-sit for me. Comcast had assured me that they just needed someone there to open the door for the tech, no paperwork needed. Comcast lies. The tech refused to hook anything up without paperwork being filled in. The next cable appointment available would be two weeks later, according to the tech. My friend didn’t want to give out his SSN, so the tech used his own. Naturally, this gave me a rather nasty problem when I had connection issues about a month into living in the apartment, since I didn’t have the last 4 digits of the tech’s SSN, and Comcast simply could not help me without proof of identity.

  36. HOP says:

    there’s always directv….we moved last year and didn’t miss a day…painless change of service……

  37. redqueenmeg says:

    Hee, last time I moved I told the cable co (Adelphia, which was later eaten by Comcast) that we were moving and they said they would set up a date two weeks from then for when someone could come out and connect our cable box to the wall, and our cable modem as well.

    “Can’t you just turn the cable on at my new place? The outlets are all there,” I said.

    “Well, yes,” the cable person said, “but are you seriously telling me that YOU are going to hook up your TV and your cable modem?”

    “Uh… yes?”

    “OK,” she said, in the tone of “You’re taking your life in your hands.”

    Good Lord, no, I don’t want to wait two weeks for you to send someone out to plug in a couple of wires. Idiots.

  38. failurate says:

    Had something like this happen in college. I had roommates and then decided I didn’t want roommates, so I found a guy with a studio to switch leases with.
    The electricity was in my name on the with roommates apt, so I called and told them someone else would be taking over the account, and that I didn’t live there anymore.

    They shut the electricity off at like 6:00am the next morning. Took like two days to get it back on.

  39. They did that to me, too. We called on maybe the 5th of the month and told them that we wanted our cable shut off on the 18th (didn’t mention why, but the truth is that we were switching to WOW for cable & internet). Sure enough, sometime during the day on the 7th our internet went out and the cable was shut off shortly thereafter. Took about 5 days of harassing phone calls to get it all back on, just to have them shut it off again a day earlier than we had asked in the first place. Assholes.

    They even asked us to stay with them for another month at a much higher rate than we had been paying so they could “make it up to us.” Uhh…. no thanks.

  40. migrabear says:

    I’ve found that calling Comcast after midnight, like at 2 or 3 am Pacific time, I get an instant response, friendly service and usually a quick settlement of whatever I am calling them about. My biggest problem has been with their dvrs locking up and having to have them reset from Comcast’s end. That and their ever-present price increases.

  41. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I had a similar experience with Brighthouse Networks in Central Florida. I called and scheduled a transfer service, and they cut off my cable and internet almost a week before the agreed upon date.

    I called customer service and was told there was nothing they could do. And believe it or not, I was even charged for the whole month.