Andrew's Epic Comcast Debacle

UPDATE: After he sent an EECB, all of Andrew’s billing errors have been resolved.

Comcast is a horrible tangled mess of utter crapitutde, as reader Andrew’s story aptly, if not concisely, illustrates…

I’m sending this mail as a last resort. Comcast has been giving my wife and I the runaround concerning our bill since we moved our service from one apartment to another around May 18th. In that time we’ve been on the line with Customer Support, sent e-mails to Executive Customer Support, and talked on the phone with representatives of Executive Customer Support, and none of it has helped. I’m going to try this last attempt to contact someone who can help at Comcast, and I’m also forwarding this to Consumerist as the level of support that we’ve gotten from Comcast up to this point has been atrocious.

My wife and I were married last October, and we’d been living together and enjoying our Comcast cable tv with no trouble since June of ’07. We sent in a request to change my wife’s name from her maiden name to her married name in early November after getting back from our honeymoon and it was never processed. I finally went in to the local office a few days ago and they changed it on the spot there, but we had asked via phone several times for the name change to go through and it never happened. This isn’t something that I should have had to go down to the local office to address.

We recently signed up for a new two-year contract so that we could continue to pay a special rate rather than the full price for the premium package we’re signed up for. Comcast told us that they would send out a new contract for us to sign and send in. It’s been almost a month since we went with this new contract and we still haven’t received anything to sign and send in, though we have been billed at the new rate at least. Eventually, after receiving a call every few days from a Customer Service Representative asking if we’d received the contract, she called back to tell me that we were on a one year plan rather than a two year plan and didn’t need to sign any sort of contract. It would have been nice if we’d been told this the thousand other times that we dealt with Customer Service and they told us that we were going to be locked in for two years at this special rate.

Our cable television was recently screwed up to the point that it couldn’t be watched for two weeks. It started on May 22 and wasn’t resolved until June 3. This was nearly two weeks where we couldn’t watch cable in our living room because of this service disruption. I tried to get someone out to look at the service, but we were going to be out of town on the only day they could get someone out and we ended up having to set a date two weeks ahead. Like I said, the problem eventually fixed itself. A comcast repairman called me the morning that he was supposed to come out for a service call and asked if we were still having the problem, explaining that there had been an issue with the apartment complex that he had fixed. Since we were no longer having the issue I told him that he didn’t have to stop by.

The last time we had a service disruption of several weeks we were given a credit of $50. I complained about this service disruption while I was in the local office and was stonewalled. First the lady told me that we couldn’t be compensated for that time unless we made a call as soon as the disruption took place. I told her to check her records as I had called the day that the trouble started, and after looking again she admitted it was the case. She then said that we’d only had a service disruption for a few days, and I counted up the days and pointed out that it was closer to two weeks than a few days. Finally she said we couldn’t get a refund for lost time because the service technician hadn’t actually come to our house. I explained to her that we had someone scheduled to come to the house, but I had told him not to come out because the problem was with the apartment complex and that it had been fixed. It seemed silly to waste the technician’s time and my time when the problem was already solved.

Eventually they agreed to give us a $20 credit, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough given all the trouble that I had to go through, all the hours that were spent on the phone with technical support, and that I had to finally go down to the local office to get all of these problems addressed.

We started having trouble with the box again towards the end of the month. I contacted Customer Service and they said it was most likely a problem with the set top box and not with the line going into the apartment. By this time we had done our patriotic duty as Americans and spent our tax rebate on a new HD television, so I told them that on a service call they could just switch us out for an HD box to replace the old malfunctioning box. Comcast scheduled a service call to have someone check the connection at our apartment just to make sure there wasn’t a problem there and to bring the HD box at the same time.

Two days later I got a call from the technician and he told me that he was ahead of schedule and would be at our apartment in a few minutes. An hour passed and I got a confused call from the technician asking if I was at home. It turns out that Comcast sent the technician to our old apartment’s address instead of the new apartment we’d moved into a month before. I asked if he could come to the new address and he said he would have to call me back. Another twenty minutes passed and he called me back and told me that he couldn’t come to the new address because the account that he was on a service call for wasn’t the account that we had at the new apartment. Evidently when we moved they closed the account at the old address and opened a new one at our new address that used the same account number but had a different phone number associated with it. It made no sense to me, but the Customer Service Representative I talked to seemed to think that it was business as usual.

After another hour on the phone with a CSR we discovered the problem. The phone that I used to call in was still associated with the old account, our new account was associated with our Comcast phone number and not my cell phone despite me giving my cell phone number as the primary contact for the new account, and the CSR who scheduled the service call never bothered to verify the address and instead decided it would be a good idea to send a service technician to a vacated apartment to add a new HD set top box to an account that had been closed for a month. Then I discovered that it wasn’t actually a service call at all, they were just sending the truck out to swap the boxes and they were going to charge us $30 for this. When I called it was to set up a service call to see what was wrong with our service, and the HD box was being brought out as a convenience. At this point, disgusted, I told them that I was perfectly capable of connecting a cable box to my home theater system without a technician coming out and charging for it, and I just picked up the box at the local office myself. It turns out that the problem was a faulty box and not a problem with our connection, which is a good thing since Comcast seems incapable of actually sending someone out on a service call.

At this point I figured that our troubles with Comcast were over, but I was wrong.

When we switched to the new plan, supposedly two years (later changed to one year) at $160/month, we were told that our account would be credited $50 and the customer service representative gave us a different amount to pay that was $50 less than the amount on our bill. Then at the next billing cycle that $50 showed up on our bill again buried deep in a bill so confusing that we had to sit on the line with a CSR looking into our account for about twenty minutes before they realized what the problem was. Evidently our account was credited the $50, but that credit was supposed to be applied to our next bill and the original CSR shouldn’t have told us to pay the lesser amount. Due to this confusion and since the CSR we were talking with had to spend a half hour digging through the billing system before figuring out what was wrong, she offered to give us a $30 credit to our account for all the trouble. We said that was fine. She told my wife to make a payment of $158.69 for our June bill and everything would be okay. At this point we thought that we were in the clear.

That is until this month when we received a bill for $267.30. Evidently none of the credits that we were promised went through, and the amount that the CSR told us to pay was flagged by the system as incorrect despite the fact that she claimed she was making a note on our account and adding a credit. In addition to this the billing system added a $10 late charge.

Now at this point we are being charged a late fee and told that we were in the wrong for doing what a CSR told us to do back in June. We paid the amount that she told us to pay, supposedly because our account was to be credited for that amount, and now we’re being slapped with late fees and treated like delinquent customers. We have been with Comcast for over a year now and have never made a late payment, but now we’re getting the runaround. My wife is on the phone with Customer Support right now trying to resolve this problem, but so far she’s talked to a very rude CSR who told her there was never a $30 credit, transferred to someone in Internet Technical Support when she asked to talk to a supervisor, and sent back to the main menu to listen to your lovely on hold music and start from square one.

Needless to say we are not happy with the level of service at Comcast. At the moment your company is the only option for cable television and broadband internet in our apartment complex, but Verizon should be coming to our area in the next few months and we will be looking into giving our money to them or just cancelling our service outright if you don’t fix these problems.

-Andrew

Andrew blasted off the email to about 25 Comcast executives. He used the Comcast email addresses we posted here, and a technique known as the Executive Email Carpet Bomb. Another technique for specifically escalating things with Comcast is to send a note to the customer service czar, Frank Eliason, at We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com. He actually fixes stuff. We wish Andrew luck and godspeed to his missive missile exploding in the email boxes of Comcast executives right now.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. LucyInTheSky says:

    craptitude is a word that needs to be in the dictionary. i love it =)

  2. incognit000 says:

    I think ComCast is run by a bunch of guys who want to force you to read more and go outside more often instead of watching TV all the time.

  3. Bladefist says:

    I read that whole article and I am physically exhausted and need to go lie down.

    Based on principal alone, the OP needs to switch to another service. If verizon is on the way, get some bunny ears for now. That will get your local channels in HD. Then get a laptop and hook it up to your TV so you can watch netflix on full screen. Check out hulu.com for episodes of your favorite shows. Lastly, check bittorrent for shows that are on cable channels.

  4. I didn’t know Comcast offered specific contracts that you had to sign.

  5. Eoghann says:

    The timing of this post seems awfully suspicious, given that Comcast is in the running for the golden turd.

  6. Bladefist says:

    @Eoghann: Ya. Consumerist teamed up with Countrywide to make sure Comcast won because the CEO of Countrywide wants to improve his image.

    Tin foil hat much?

  7. nataku8_e30 says:

    This makes me want to post my own 10 page story about AT&T. I’m not sure if there is any internet / cable company that is competent, but when Verizon shows up in my area I’ll give them their chance.

  8. T16skyhopp says:

    @incognit000: and still take your money.

  9. Scuba Steve says:

    Funny how countrywide is winning.

  10. Isn’t posting a Comcast story today like campaigning at the ballot box?

  11. mariospants says:

    @incognit000: “I think ComCast is run by a bunch of guys who want to force you to read more and go outside more often instead of watching TV all the time.”

    No, I think the OP is a guy who wants to force you to read more.

    Seriously, 90% of this guy’s complaints are just part of the cost of providing cheap cable+internet+telephone.

  12. DarrenO says:

    This guy’s letter is a bit confusing.. Was he expecting the cost for an HD package to be the same as a SD one??

  13. Jon Mason says:

    Comcast is both great and awful – I have had minimal outages, great picture quality, lots of extras like free OnDemand HD movies etc. and I get a good monthly rate. HOWEVER, when anything other than a very simple problem occurs, their Customer Service just falls apart… I wont go into my horror stories in full detail, but spent nearly 3 weeks, four service calls trying to get my internet working after moving houses culminating in an EECB that fixed it in 24 hours.

  14. daecrist says:

    I’m the OP. In retrospect I probably should have fired off a shorter letter to Consumerist instead of forwarding the detailed list of complaints that I sent to Comcast.

    After sending that mail it still took about a week before they finally fixed all of the billing errors, but the EECB seems to have done the job.

    And to clarify for Darren, we weren’t expecting HD for the price of SD. The big problem was that ordering an HD box set off a chain reaction where Comcast got our current account mixed up with two other accounts long since closed and we ended up getting overbilled and hit with late charges as a result.

  15. GoPadge says:

    Heh, I’d rather use rabbit ears than cable. The “channel selection” isn’t worth the hassle.

  16. Mike_ says:

    Comcast is the only service provider that still prints my wife’s maiden name on our bill. We were told we had to bring a copy of our marriage certificate to the local office before they’d fix it. Everyone else we do business with was happy to make the change with a simple verbal request. Every time I interact with Comcast, I am more certain they are in business mostly to test the limits of poor service

  17. gaya2081 says:

    I have had comcast for over a year now. I have yet to have any horror stories. In fact have been very pleased with my service.
    Got it installed July of last summer in my new apartment. Installer (contractor) was pleasant, early and installed on a sunday. Ran the wire around the living room to the wall that I was going to have my tv on (only wire in apartment was 6 inches hanging above my door). Everything worked great-TV and Internet. I just had to call them to take the modem charge off my account b/c I had my own. This was fixed and I was credited. Fast forward 1 year. My fiance and I just moved in together. Since he use to have verizon DSL I just ended my service and we put the service (triple play) in his name. Again installer was pleasant, early and install went fine. 2 days later started having problems with the picture-lots of distortion some channels would never load. Called in, resetting box didn’t work so they sent out a tech the next business day (was calling on Sat) Fiance was home for this, said tech was pleasant and on time. He said as soon as he walked in he started laughing. It was because our box was 10 + years old. Replaced with newer working box. We haven’t looked back since.

    The only problem I have is now we get telemarketer calls 5-6 time EVERY NIGHT. They got our number from comcast. Oh well, put us on the do not call list.

    I hope we do not have a problem like any I read here. I promise though….good comcast people are out there (philly area).

  18. @Bladefist: Many apartment complexes have exclusive contracts with cable/internet providers, so the OP may not be able to switch carriers.

  19. danseuse322 says:

    While I agree that any co. should give you service you pay for, this comment makes me laugh:

    This was nearly two weeks where we couldn’t watch cable in our living room because of this service disruption.

    The horror. TWO WEEKS with no cable in one room. They might have had to talk? Seriously, the dependency people have on cable is WHY Comcast, et. al. can do what they do. Andrew wrote a letter almost as long as my master’s thesis but notice he won’t cancel unless something else comes around.

  20. daecrist says:

    @danseuse322: I actually don’t watch that much television, and when it is on it’s usually just background noise. The issue was less about our social life and more that we were paying for half a month of a pricey service that we weren’t getting.

    And I’d switch providers in a heartbeat, but Comcast is the only provider if you want broadband. I hate Comcast, but I hate dial-up more.

  21. ThyGuy says:

    As I used to be one of high ups in a small company that dealed with advertising; I did what I usually do when I read customer complaints that were sent to us. I read it until I got bored, or irritated as unneeded babble.

    This happened halfway through this novel. This is where I stopped. This is where I would have just deleted the E-mail, or threw away the letter and went back to business.

    Please, please, PLEASE! Do not babble for pages about how horrible life is. Tell me what I give a shit about. How much do you think should be compensated, and a paragraph or two stating why.

    The boss always looked at the bottom of the letter looking for what they wanted in compensation, and threw it away if he didn’t see numbers. If I wanted to read a novel, I’d by a book. If you want companies to give rats ass, keep your notes short and harshly to the point.

  22. jonworld says:

    This sounds very similar to my family’s ordeal with Comcast. The problems began when we moved. First, even though we had told them we were moving and did all the account transferring, Comcast never mentioned to us that we needed to return our age-old (from previous providers that were bought by Comcast) cable modem and cable boxes.

    A little more than a month after moving, they suddenly send us a shocking note telling us that we need to return the boxes to the old office (over 1000 miles away) or pay a few hundred bucks. Luckily, we were about to travel to our old town anyway so dropping off the equipment was just a matter of packing it in our suitcases and swinging by the office when we arrived.

    But much worse happened a few weeks before this. After moving into our new house, we had Comcast come over to set up our Phone, Internet, and Cable TV. When connecting the phones, Comcast switched our two lines. The phone jacks that were supposed to be on line one were on line two and vice versa. While, you think this wouldn’t be a problem, especially since we just moved, it was, because both lines had different calling plans and we had already given out our phone and fax numbers to people. They came and switched everything up and the phones worked properly.

    Then came the internet. We discovered that when a computer was plugged in through an Ethernet cable, the internet would work properly for them. However, for some reason, the wireless would give “Limited or No Connectivity” as if the wrong WEP key had been entered (even though we though we had entered the right WEP key). After being on the phone with Comcast (during which they switched me from internet, to phone, to cable, and so fourth even though my problem was clearly with interent). Finally, I got a very polite, friendly, and compassionate lady (I felt really sorry for her because she had to work for such a load-of-shit company). She tried to help me for more than twenty minutes before deciding that we might need a new router/modem unit.

    That evening, trying to figure out every solution possible, I realized that the Comcast technician had such bad handwriting that we had all misread the WEP key from the sheet he gave us. With the internet working, Comcast mysteriously had to replace our modem/router again a few weeks later (even though it worked fine). The problems above kept me without internet on my computer for a month.

    And last, but not least, we had problems with the cable. Our basement TV’s cable box went faulty at first, but that was easy to fix. Shortly afterward, we bough a new HDTV and we had unpacked another TV that needed to be on cable. So we called Comcast, emphasizing that we needed a technician to come with a regular box, and HD box, and be able to wire a new cable jack to our HDTV. The next day the technician arrived late with two regular boxes (no HD box). He also said he couldn’t even install a cable jack near our HDTV because he “didn’t have time” and because our “house is too big.” We finally got the cable jack installed (the technician left the cable wiring in our basement a complete mess), but still had no HD box. We finally picked one up at our local office.

    The above post doesn’t even come close to describing all the problems we had with Comcast. Sadly, while direcTV is available in our little country town, there are no other phone or internet providers, so we are trapped.

  23. Rivercat says:

    This is not unlike what happened to me when I moved last year: Comcast repeatedly tried to “confirm” my appointment to set up new service by calling the old number and getting annoyed with me for not being there. Then when I tried to change the name on the account to my name instead of my mother’s name, it just could NOT be done according to every CS rep I spoke with–including the one who called to know why I wasn’t home when they showed up to install “new” service as a result of the name change they couldn’t even make. Gah!

  24. dinnyin says:

    “My wife and I were married last October, and we’d been living together…since June of ’07″

    Clearly, God has taken your cable as punishment for your sins.

  25. praktisk says:

    File the paperwork to let Comcast deal with your State AG while simultaneously working with the Comcast Escalation Department. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be put through to someone who can really help you when you ask them for their name and extension number to be included on your complaint form for the State AG’s office.

  26. Dillenger69 says:

    Wow, at that point I’d just cancel the whole shebang and be done with it I can live without TV … if I can get my internet and phone connection elsewhere.

  27. Wet_Baloney says:

    Get a life, man !!! It is insane for anyone to be spending $160/month for television. Read a book for a change, or just use rabbit ears and watch PBS. In some countries common people don’t earn $160 year. You could probably feed a small town for $160 month. You are just another greedy, wasteful American. I bet you even drive a Hummer!

  28. Obviously, you shouldn’t have gotten married.

    Amazing how Comcast is heaven or hell, depending on where you are…

  29. evslin says:

    @dinnyin: Is this a new vector of attack for the Westboro Baptist Church?

    GOD HATES COHABITANTS!

  30. drjayphd says:

    @Eoghann: So now someone needs to post a Countrywide-related story, in the interest of equal time? Sounds good to me.

  31. alice_bunnie says:

    The Frank Eliason address should hopefully get you some results. We had a horrible experience with AT&T and our only other choice was Comcast. Between the two of them I don’t know who was going to make me have a stroke. I posted my woes about Comcast on my LJ and “Frank” got in touch with me and things started rolling. We got some serious customer service, and things have been pretty good since.

  32. 2719 says:

    OK if you want credit you should not cancel the service call. Once you do that and they pull up your account history it will show as canceled by subscriber meaning you have no problems. This fact won’t help you. But there is a problem, if you get a tech out and have no problems they can charge you. You can’t win.

    Another thing I’d like to point out is – there is a service call and there is an install/upgrade. You can’t have both at the same time. Well an installer could clean it up and in the process fix your problems but a service call is just that a service call. A service tech will not upgrade your DCT and add additional outlets. That’s not his job. As simple as that.

    I have zero experience with Comcast but I know majority of cable cos do this.

  33. I get free OTA HD.

    Give it a try.

    And for the record I only get two stations. Two is better than one. And since there are only Two stations within 90 miles of me I pretty much figure I am maxed out.

  34. rellog says:

    @nataku83: I have to agree. I had Charter… HORRIBLE! I wanted to try Verizon, but I was told that the area where I lived wasn’t profitable enough to offer DSL to… I’ve had Earthlink- worst experience to date. And right now I have Time Warner, who isn’t too bad, but their rates are a bit high. And their trials in Texas have me a bit worried. I refuse to go with AT&T because of their involvement with deregulating the local franchising laws in WI.
    So ya, all of them suck, just to varying degrees…

  35. Joedragon says:

    Direct TV + dsl and phone cost less then what they are paying and that is with HD and DVR.

  36. failurate says:

    Maybe I’m more patient, but I don’t really get where the tragedy is in this. He had some billing issues where credits weren’t applied properly, an issue with his apartment buildings connection, and a bum box.

    So, where’s the fire or do I just need to RTFA again?

  37. Meathamper says:

    I don’t know, I’ve had bad experiences with Comcast but this takes the cake.

  38. ceriphim says:

    Can we PLEASE fix the apostrophe/quotation mark typo in the title block?

    Andrew__”__s Epic Comcast Debacle

    Is that not driving anyone else nuts???

  39. s2eb779 says:

    I sent an EECB about two months ago to Comcast using the email addresses found here. I received a call from the “manager of my market” within twenty minutes. My billing issues were fixed, he stated that he had a meeting with the local call center director in my area and identified who I had talked to. It may have been BS, but all emails had a CC of (I forgot his name) the vice president of customer affairs or something like that (I googled his name). But anyways, they fixed my billing errors, AND, I’m paying $95 bucks a month for internet, digital, HD, DVR, and premium channels. But, I do live in a smaller Comcast market. Sadly, they’ve still had to come out twice since then to fix issues in my neighborhood.

  40. RaymondTermite says:

    having had many issues with comcast, i’ve found the only way to get
    good customer service is to contact frank via twitter or email. he is
    the only person i’ve found who actually care’s about the customer and
    get’s things done quickly and efficiently.

    RG

  41. snidelywhiplash says:

    I have nothing useful to add. I just wanted to say that “Epic Comcast Debacle” would be a great band name.

    Actually, I will add that I’m heartily glad I don’t have to deal with Comcast at all.

  42. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @ceriphim: If you see typos and that sort of thing, the best thing to do is to email the editor (the links are all in the left column) rather than pontificate about it in comments.

  43. BustedWheel says:

    i had that same thing happen to me with the two-year contract/special rate junk. They never sent me the contract (or even mentioned it to me in the initial conversation), and suddenly i was getting bills for double what I should have. When I called, they told me that I never signed it and sent it back.
    Then, they simply switched me to the one-year/no contract plan. It took several months for the billing to get fixed too.

  44. Etoiles says:

    @Wet_Baloney: Or it could be that $160 is the cost for a package deal that also includes broadband Internet service and a land-line phone for the home, and the $160 ultimately includes all of the taxes, fees, set-top boxes, remote controls, etc.

    Our Comcast bill is about $70 per month and most of that is for Internet access. TV I could live without (and have done, though I prefer to have it) but ‘net access is life these days, pretty much. For work and job access, too, not just entertainment or contact with friends / family.

  45. the_gank says:

    I’m sure someone or so many Comcast employees are reading consumerist constantly…. I hope they get the run for their craptitude service…and customer experience ….

    Should I say -0.1% Customer Satisfaction Experience is the rating they get