Please, I Beg You, Do Not Send Another Useless Comcast Truck To My House

Chris L. writes in to let us know that the EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb) is probably the only way you’re going to get Comcast to fix a network problem that affects your entire neighborhood. Calling and talking to the “zombies” at the call center will just result in yet another “truck roll” (where Comcast comes to your house and says everything is fine.)

I figured I’d give some props to the Consumerist and their trips on EECBs, as that seems to be the only way to get things fixed with Comcast after dealing with their utterly inept “roll a truck” zombie call center.

So I’ve been avoiding calling Comcast on a latency issue that only came up between 4:30pm and 8pm for about 2 weeks now. Not because I didn’t want it fixed, but because I didn’t want to waste an afternoon waiting for a tech to come and say “no problems here”. I eventually caved in about a week ago and called. Of course, they wanted to roll a truck because the the CSRs don’t have either the authority or the desire to actually check networks for problems and instead just roll a truck regardless of the problem. I tried to schedule a time to do it, but the CSR told me I was trying to do it too far in advance since I could only do it when it was an actual problem. And like it seems how they are trained to do, I felt defeated and just gave up.

Fast forward to last night and I come home to a total area outage. No cable, no internet, nothing. Obviously this is a problem at the node level feeding into the apartment complex. Long story short, I call them, they admit it is a node issue, they say a tech has been dispatched and they have no ETA. 11pm rolls around, it’s still down, and I go to bed.

As expected as the time on a Rolex, I wake up to everything still being down. I begrudgingly call again. Except this time, the tech can’t even check on the network, either due to laziness or ignorance. Of course, I get the “when can we send a technician to do nothing but waste yours and ours time?” from a decidedly sassy woman, I decide to just do the EECB that I found here.

Now, it’s a shame that the only way to get something done correctly at Comcast is speaking directly to VPs, but it is what it is. Within minutes, I get phone calls from a regional escalations manager and the maintenance supervisor. They send techs out and promise if they can’t fix it, they’ll have as soon as I come home. I open the door and everything is running as it should be. 2 minutes after I get home, a tech comes to verify everything is working. Well, it’s up, but I have no idea of the 5pm daily network problem is going to come up yet. He said that the line to the node feeding the apartment was disconnected, causing the outage, and they found a source of major RF interference causing the latency, and I was one of multiple people (including a police officer who lives here) complaining about this problem. He said he’ll stay in the area for an hour or 2 to verify everything is good. On top of that, I got a month of free service credit.

All in all, the EECB was a huge success. It taught me that Comcast’s biggest bottleneck is their utterly inept and lazy call centers through which all support must initially go. Maybe if Comcast restructures their call centers with people who actually know what they’re doing and they minimize truck rollouts they won’t be one of the worst hated consumer companies in the country.

But I somehow doubt that.

- Chris L

Here is the letter I wrote to them:

I have been a Comcast subscriber for my entire life. A came home yesterday to the worst outage I have ever experienced with Comast; a total TV and internet outage. Given that I work in the IT networking field, I did all necessary troubleshooting on my end prior to calling Comcast customer support as a last resort, given their past unwillingness to do anything to help me whatsoever besides “rolling a truck” (their default answer to any problem I have). After being on hold for over 45 minutes yesterday evening, I was abruptly disconnected. I called back and spent another 30 minutes before someone finally picked up. I explained my situation to them and she informed me that my node was down, which is exactly what I thought happened. She said that all she could find is that a tech has been dispatched and there was no ETA of a fix (it had already been down for hours). I wrote down the ticket # she gave me (CR131333452), hoping that it would be back up shortly.

It wasn’t.

I woke up this morning to all of my services still being down. No morning news, no e-mail, nothing. I was shocked that if the entire node was down, which means at least my entire apartment complex of 800+ tenants was down, that they couldn’t have gotten it fixed in 12 hours. But frankly, nothing with Comcast shocks me anymore. I called back while getting ready for work and spoke to another person. I gave her my ticket # and told her the situation. But this time, she said she couldn’t figure out of the entire node was down. Now, how can one technician know that there is a downed node, effectively killing the entire area, and the other not? Either the first one lied or the 2nd one didn’t know what she was doing or was too lazy to check. Given her flippant attitude towards me and her pushing to get me to agree to a truck service, I’d say the second was true.

I informed her that I work an odd schedule and that the only time I have available anytime soon is this evening. I work 6am to 6pm Friday, 6am to 6pm Saturday, I have plans Sunday, and both Monday and Tuesday I have job interviews. In essence, she did not care about this scheduling problem and insisted I take the Friday service time. Of course, this appointment would solve nothing and only waste both my time and Comcast’s time anyway, but since customer service just wants to roll a truck to get off the phone as quick as possible regardless of whether or not it fixes anything, a truck it is.

I asked her about compensation, since I’m paying for a service I can’t even use for a week, to which she basically said “call back later and get a credit”. After nearly 2 hours on the phone, I need to call and request that I not be charged for services I’m not getting? How absurd. I pay a premium for high speed internet and silver package cable with 2 premium channels and an HD DVR, yet your customer service department could care less.

I’m sending this e-mail because I’m afraid, as it is almost guaranteed to happen with Comcast, that I’ll come home and there will still be an outage. I’ll spend another hour on the phone only to have another confused technician totally unwilling to help me, or even acknowledge that the problem is at the node level and not my apartment. Prior to this, for the past few weeks, I have HORRIBLE speed issues around 4:30pm-8pm, prime usage time. From the troubleshooting I did, I can determine that the node was simply overloaded and did not have enough capacity, which is a problem that needs to be fixed at the green box feeding into the apartments, not in each individual apartment. I called Comcast about this and once again, they wanted to send a tech. When a specified that I needed them at a time I could show them this, they refused to even schedule!!!

For the past month, I’ve had horrible network speeds. At least I can say when Comcast was unwilling to fix this I at least HAD internet access. Now I have nothing, except an endless amount of aggravation spending hours on hold to talk to someone whose sole answer is “send a truck because you have nothing better to do with your life than wait for someone to show up and not fix the problem”. The fact that I’m being charged out the nose for these services I can’t even use just exacerbates the problem.

All I want is my cable TV and internet connection up when I get home at 3:30PM EST, my speed problems fixed when they come up at 4:30pm, and I want to pay a fair price for the service when I actually do get it. I can be contacted at the number below.

I hope that as you are all prominent people in positions of authority that you can actually help me when I need it instead of brushing me off like your call centers do.

Sincerely,

Chris L

Good job, Chris! For more information about launching your own EECB, click here. Here’s a collection of posts with Comcast contact information, or you can also contact Comcast on Twitter, which they monitor pretty closely these days.

(Photo: mytoenailcameoff )

Comments

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  1. Puck says:

    Awesome article title.

  2. Apeweek says:

    Intermittent problems are the worst. I once had a cable problem – shared by my entire street, for heaven’s sake – that caused cable to go out whenever the temperature went below 20 degrees.

    In the wintertime here, this usually happened in the evening (prime time!), but they would always send the tech out the next afternoon after it warmed up, who would find nothing wrong. Explanations and appeals to logic and reason (you’ve lost the whole street!) got nowhere.

    Judging from the sea of satellite dishes on my neighbors’ houses, most of them gave up on the problem a long time ago. I soon followed suit.

  3. Quatre707 says:

    I’ve been a Comcast subscriber since 1993 as my cable TV provider, and 2000 as my ISP, at the same residence.I’ve only ever had one service issue over the course of a week, random on-demand errors.
    One subtle complaint about the slow on-demand response time and errors resulted in a free upgrade to two HD-DVRs for six months. This also fixed the latency and errors.

  4. brent_r says:

    @Apeweek: Intermittent problems are indeed the worst, because no-company it seems is all that interested in helping you out short of a total loss of service.

  5. coan_net says:

    WOW – I can’t believe that they send someone out.

    I’ve been without internet since Saturday – and at that time they told me the soonest they could send someone out is on Wednesday.

    Oh, and yes – today is Thursday and no one ever came out yesterday.

    After 4 phone calls (the last at almost 10pm), they finally said they must have had the date wrong because the ticket showed the 24th between 8-2.

    If it is not fixed when I go home tonight, tomorrow will be the start of my first EECB. I’m a network administrator, and I do a lot of work from home during the night – and have already had to make 2 extra trips into work to do simple things that I could have done from home….. if I had access to the internet.

    I hate Comcast, but have no other options. A year ago it was Insight and they would send someone out THE SAME DAY – even late at night to fix issues…..

    Sad that I love where I live, but very tempted to move just for different internet provider…….

  6. Starfury says:

    I’ve got ATT DSL and Dish at home. I’m paying a LOT less than I did for Comcast TV/Internet with better quality/speed. I’ll never go back to them.

  7. RChris173 says:

    What makes this story rather interesting is that my name is Chris as well and I had an indentical problem as did you.

    There was a mysterious latency problem only during the evening hours in the neighborhood where it became almost impossible for the connection to work because of the high latency.

    I had to fight with the CSRs and their notorius “truck rolls” and deal with two techs to come to the house to determine that it was a “network problem.” Since it became clear they could do nothing and Comcast CSRs were not helpful, I had to do a similar EECB, except I did it via telephone.

    It resulted in talking with the Florida (West Palm Beach President’s Office or whatever they call it). He personally called back the following day to verify that the problem was fixed. I also received about $50 in a service credit (essentially a free month of cable Internet).

    I just have to say, as I was reading this article, I kept seeing myself in this siutaiton…it’s almost as if this is a regular thing for Comcast considering every fact in this article is exactly what happened to me…

  8. RChris173 says:

    Just out of curiosity, what area did the problem occur?

  9. gqcarrick says:

    I never worked for Comcast but I did work for another Cable company call center. To be honest, there is VERY limited things we can do. At the company I worked for we could roll a truck, if it was an intermittent issue we could escalate the issue to a higher level tech and if it was real bad they could send it to the escalations dept and they would contact the local offices to find out what was going on. You can’t always blame the call center guys, we can only do so much. The real problem for the company I worked for was escalations, they never wanted to believe there was an issue. One time we had a ton of calls from a certain part of the country about slow speed issues for weeks, finally they looked into it and found out that there was someone with a virus and their computer kept attacking the DNS server and causing the issues. We knew it was a problem, but again the higher ups didn’t wasn’t to believe us.

  10. mike says:

    @Quatre707: You are in a very, VERY quiet minority. Comcast must have serious competition in your area.

  11. wattznext says:

    Well done Chris. Great letter.

  12. Imaginary_Friend says:

    See? This is why you never order all your services from any single company. When something goes wrong, you are at their mercy.

    Glad the OP got it worked out, but I encourage him to unbundle his services.

  13. james says:

    @coan_net: “I can’t believe that they send someone out.”
    haha, how true. When my internet was set up they canceled the first installation after I took a day off work and then didn’t have the tools they needed on the second try. Third’s a charm. :)

  14. Ein2015 says:

    When Comcast was in Dallas, I had major latency issues. The CSR zombies don’t understand that when you’re studying computer engineering, start programming in 7th grade, built many computers, set up many networks, and have held IT jobs… you just MIGHT be able to keep a modem, router, and other various network equipment up and running! *SHOCKER!*

    Of course they insisted on rolling a truck. Of course I told them that I have no time to deal with their ignorance… and that they SHOULD roll a truck, but only to their equipment, not to my apartment.

    After calling various days for a few weeks, I was FINALLY told that the reason for my epic bandwidth failure was due to them temporarily re-routing the backbone connection for my area TO THE EAST COAST! High latency, low bandwidth connections do NOT make me happy, especially when I pay a premium for more bandwidth.

    I’m so glad I have TWC now (regardless of any TWC issues, they’re still lightyears ahead of Comcast). However, I feel sorry for Houston, which gave up TWC for Comcast.

  15. mac-phisto says:

    am i getting this right? in addition to the corner office, a key to the executive washroom & an access card to the corporate spa, executive VPs at comcast also have an entire fleet of competent field technicians at their disposal?

    awesome. beats comparing business cards to see who’s the most successful.

  16. Intermittent issues are VERY hard to catch. When I was working on feeders as a tech here in Tampa, sometimes a crack would occur. These bad boys would ONLY open up and allow RF leaks during certain temperature ranges, which usually meant at night when the sun wasn’t baking the lines here in sunny FL. Channels would sometime merge with OTA analog signals causing people to get pissed and often it would cause noise floor problems making the net slow as hell for a whole leg of the system.

    Here at Bright House though you can always request an in house tech first and foremost. Then if that did not fix the problem a supervisor/lead tech could be requested.

    The biggest help a customer could provide though was when the problems occurred during the day or if certain weather conditions triggered the events. Which would make the scheduling for the trouble call much easier. And if all hell broke loose we always had a tech on call for that area that the squeaky wheels would get sent if it came to that.

  17. chris_l says:

    I’m the guy who sent the story. I’m famous. Who wants to touch me? A few things I figured I’d mention:

    - The are affected was Alpharetta, GA, an upper-class suburb north of Atlanta.

    - I bundle my services because, well, I don’t have a choice. I can’t get satellite because my apartment isn’t south facing and I don’t have a balcony. Obviously Comcast is a monopoly, so I can’t get another cable provider. My only other option for TV is an antenna, which only gives me about a dozen channels. As for internet, I could switch to AT&T perhaps, but they still aren’t allowing naked DSL, which means I get the luxury of paying an additional $25 for a service I will never use to get access to the service I will.

    - I understand that the 1st level CSRs are, for lack of a better term, either idiots or they’re neutered. Well, I don’t give a crap. I’m not going to yell at a CSR because it accomplishes nothing, but I’ll yell at his boss and his bosses boss for hiring idiots and for the few people that can help they simply don’t let them. That’s what great about the EECB; the 404-COMCAST number can’t do crap, but the EECB is 10 levels above that.

    - As bad as this situation was, it reminded me of another story I had that was 10x worse. Long story short, my HD DVR stopped working. I got audio, but no video except a green screen with a “failed HDCP handshake”. Being the tech geek that I am, I knew that means there was a problem at the software level. The level 1 tech basically had no idea what I was talking about and escalated me to level 2. The level 2 tech said that the model I had never supported HDMI, so I should be lucky I was able to use it for the time I had it. I said that makes no sense whatsoever and he said he has proof that the model I had doesn’t support HDMI. So he e-mails me a 2 year old e-mail about the 1st set of HDMI-capable models and he says “See? Your model isn’t in there”. Of course it isn’t, you idiot. My model is BRAND NEW and a SUCCESSOR to one of those models. I asked him if they did a firmware update and he said they don’t use firmware. Gee, I guess these DVRs are powered by black magic.

    Anyway, a couple of hours later and after I hard reset it using a secret code I found on avsforum, it worked. I checked the firmware and it was updated. Guess what I found on that firmware info:

    [en.wikibooks.org]

    The one thing I will say is it must be great to work for Comcast; you have absolute job safety as they never seem to fire the totally inept people.

  18. SomeoneElseNotMe says:

    Wasn’t there a post some time ago about using their live chat? If you were talking to “Eva”, you weren’t talking to a person:

    comcastcares @Cynthia822 Eva is the name of our automated help system not a chat person. Can I help about 1 hour ago from web in reply to Cynthia822

    (from Twitter)

  19. Norcross says:

    I live in St. Petersburg, and I’ve seen Brighthouse as pretty fantastic in terms of service and support. They’ve also got people who seem to actually know what they’re talking about (as @rainmkr does), so just pray that Comcast or someone else doesn’t ruin it for me.

  20. Comcrapemployee says:

    @gqcarrick: You just about covered everything I was going to say. I currently work at a Comcast call center and the people on the phone have the power to do nothing. I get calls everyday where I would love nothing more than to get maintenance out there to check the nodes and taps but I do not have the authority. We have to either roll a truck and hope that the tech puts in a maintenance ticket or escalate the call to my supervisor and hope he does not talk you into another truck roll.

    I believe the biggest issue with Comcast is accountability internally. If a tech never shows or a call center rep never follows up on your problem it doesn’t matter because it will never come back to them. While they do not openly encourage such things, policies in place sometimes make them necessary for the tech or rep to keep their stat numbers up. I encourage everyone to call in and complain about it so the policies can be changed. Also tell them to stop trying to sell you shit when your having a problem.

  21. SinA says:

    I’m having a Useless Comcast Truck come not fix my intermittent problem tonight from 4-7pm. It took an EECB to get my voicemail fixed [consumerist.com] , but apparently that wasn’t my only problem.

  22. coren says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: I disagree – he’s getting a better price, and he’s got a bigger threat in terms of profit if he needs leverage for any reason.

  23. kretara says:

    I had the same internet problems with Comcast.
    My entire neighborhood’s Comcast internet speed would drop to sub 56k around 5pm and would not go much above that until after midnight.

    Comcast sent trucks, but never solved the problem.

    I now have DISH and AT&T DSL and I am saving $60/month, getting more channels, but I have low end DSL speeds. I’ll gladly take a $60/month savings to get a fairly fast internet connection that actually works.

  24. GrandizerGo says:

    @coan_net: Don’t tell them that, I did the same thing when I lost service for 2 days…
    They immediately said since I am doing work on it, it needs to be upgraded to a business account.
    I said screw you, it is my home account that I sometimes use to work from home with. He got his higher up on the phone to agree with him.
    They argued for more than 30 minutes with me over it.

    Dumped them soon after, and went to Verizon DSL, haven’t regretted it since.

  25. jonworld says:

    Weird…it seems the neighborhood I live in also has slow service between 4:30 and 8. I the problem is with an overloaded node. Yesterday, the speed became so slow that I would click a link, watch and few minutes of TV, then come back to view the web page and it usually would still be loading or failed to load.

  26. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @coren: I assume he’s paying $99.00 for the triple play. Anyone can easily beat that by researching a few deal sites like FatWallet and Slickdeals. Comcast regularly runs deals for new subscribers (i.e anyone who hasn’t had an account in the past 90 days), long distance phone deals can be had for under 3 cents per minute or just use your cell, DirecTV and Dish also constantly run deals and the HD is way better than Comcast. It takes a little effort, but I feel it’s worth it and cheaper.

    The idea that a company as notoriously poor in customer service as Comcast will work harder to keep you if you bundle all of your services with them is a myth. If/when you jump ship, they just consider that part of the churn cycle and move on to the next sucker. In fact, they count on most customers being too lazy or uninformed to change companies; that’s why they love bundled services so much. They really have you by the shorthairs then.

  27. Angry1541 says:

    The EECB worked for me…I have had issues with Comcast ever since I started up with them for HS internet. It would drop randomly for random periods of time and randomly come back online.

    The first time they said they’d send a tech and didn’t, the second time the tech came, dug up my yard looking for the cable, couldn’t find it stung a new one and forget to tell the office they needed a bury request. All that and he trampled my garden, my neighbor’s roses, used an antique high-chair base as a step stool in my closet and still didn’t get it to work.

    I sent 5 executives the same email spelling out all the issues–they got back to me within 15 mins of my email and called within 30 mins of email.

    They sent a tech lead out, who when through the entire house checked all the lines, replaced all the splitters with directional (or splitters that limit the signal down one path in order to boost the other) splitters and even suggested that when we buy our next TV it should be to replace the one in our bedroom (which is leaking signal–it’s really old).

    3 days later our cable was buried and everything is working great, except for intermittent issues with the on-demand programming stopping mid-show (which I can live with, for now).

    EECB is the way to go after you have exhuasted (or are exhausted with) the CSRs.

    ~1541

  28. domo-arigato says:

    Here is my Comcast story about ineptitude & evaporating deals – only it came out in my favor because they didn’t know what they were were doing:

    After they upgraded our area to digital I resisted upgrading my cable until I got a REALLY good offer in the mail. I finally received a mailer offering free HBO & Showtime for a year with an upgrade, so I took it to the local Comcast office with my old box and did the upgrade. Of course knowing how they are, I verified several times that that the free HBO & Showtime for a year was confirmed.

    Well, one guess what happens next. I received my first bill and of course they were charging me for HBO & Showtime. So I call and the CSR says she can’t find the code for that particular deal anywhere. Luckily I’d kept the mailer because I knew this would happen; I spoke to a supposed supervisor, got her fax number and faxed her a copy of the mailer.

    Of course no one called me back so I called the supervisor the next day. I ended up having to leave several messages but finally got her. She acknowledged the mailer and said that different marketing firms in different parts of California send out different mailers for different regions, so she wasn’t sure where this one came from. She still could not find a code to input for this particular deal. I’m not sure why there wasn’t some way she could manually do it but I guess that was their system.

    After several conversations and me being persistent, she finally just gave me every premium channel at no charge for one year! Apparently there WAS a code for that & that was easier for her than dicking around with it any more.

    I checked my next bill and it was correct except they hadn’t credited me back for the first HBO/Showtime charges. It took a couple more calls to get that back. So for one year I got free EVERYTHING for the price of basic digital, just because someone couldn’t figure out how to do what they offered. Sweet!

    And you better believe I called 2 weeks prior to the year being up to cancel everything, just to be sure they didn’t screw that up, too.