One of the most frequent complaints we get about cable installers and techs is the blown-off appointment, wherein the tech claims they showed up at your house and you weren’t there. But here’s a story of a Comcast tech who actually showed up at a customer’s home and then skipped out before completing the job.
Over at her blog, Consumerist reader Kate details her struggles to get Comcast to successfully transfer her 87-year-old mother’s cable to her new apartment, but here are the basics:
First, the original installer failed to do his job properly, as everything went on the fritz the day after it was installed.
“We got the program guide but no picture,” writes Kate. “I called the company and they said they could not get a signal through to the box. They thought it could be a bad box. Seemed suspicious since it had worked fine on Wednesday. The first appointment they could give me for someone to come back out and get it working was Tuesday – this was Thursday.”
Since Kate actually had a flight back to California on Tuesday, she wanted to get it resolved sooner. Thus, the next day she went to the Comcast office and picked up two replacement boxes — a full digital receiver for the TV in the living room and a digital transport adapter (which provides some channels, but no program guide) for the secondary TV in the bedroom.
The adapter worked fine, but the new receiver had the same problems as the first one.
Once again, Comcast’s phone techs could not successfully send a signal to the box, but Kate had no luck in improving the service appointment, meaning her mom would have to wait several days.
Yesterday, the second tech showed up and after about 45 minutes, he declared that all was fixed and he’d be on his way.
But before he left, Kate wanted to test it for herself:
I picked up the remote and pressed 28. It went to 30. I checked the channel guide. It went 21, 22, 24, 27, 30. I showed him that we were not getting all the channels.
“She’s supposed to get every channel, right?”
“Well we’re not.”
“You will in a little while.”
“I don’t believe that,” I said. “This is just what happened last week, and then it stopped working completely. I’m sorry, but I need you to stay until we’re getting all the channels we’re supposed to get.”
He looked unhappy, but mumbled “Okay.” A minute later, he walked out, saying, “I’ll be right back.”
He never came back.
After waiting an hour, Kate called Comcast and was told that the tech had marked the job as completed. The only thing the company could do was to open a new job ticket and get someone out there the following day.
Kate tried to explain that this was unacceptable as it had already been a week and she was supposed to be on a flight in a few hours.
I made six calls to Comcast that day. I talked to the Operations Manager for the Beltway area, who was in Texas. I asked to speak with the Area Manager. [T]he Operations Manager, said that the Area Manager was not in the office but he would have him call me. [He] also promised to call me back within an hour to let me know when the technician would come back to finish the work. Neither of those calls came.
But someone from Comcast did eventually call back, but they said they had to speak to Kate’s mom.
They asked for the last four digits of her Social Security number. She gave them. They said that wasn’t what they had on the account. She took out her Medicare card and read them the entire number. They said it wasn’t right. They didn’t want to let my sister talk to anyone because they didn’t believe she was really my mom’s daughter, even though they had called the number on the account and reached my mom and my sister has the same last name. They told my sister she has to take my mom to a Comcast office and have her show them her photo ID and Social Security card. I was told the same thing when I took the phone back. Is there some law that says you have to even have a Social Security card to order cable TV?
So Kate made another call to Comcast and after a 20-minute hold time, she finally spoke to a human being who said she could sympathize and that she was going to locate the tech and have him come back.
“She gave me a ticket number, which had never happened before, and promised someone would call me back within 20 minutes to let me know when they would be coming back,” writes Kate.
No one called, so 40 minutes later, Kate called Comcast again.
“This time I got a young man who was also very nice,” she writes. “I gave him the ticket number. He called it up. He said he still couldn’t find the tech. I asked for his supervisor. He said she was on another call, so he didn’t know how long she would be, but he would have her call me as soon as she got off the phone. He gave me another ticket number.”
No calls were ever returned and no tech ever showed.
She ultimately had to change her flight in order to make sure her mother’s problem got resolved.
“Okay, so this much angst over cable TV seems kind of absurd,” admits Kate. “At least 26 people have died from the heat or the storm. But Comcast doesn’t provide emergency food aid or cooling shelters. They’re a cable company. They actually don’t have anything more important to do than get people’s cable working right, and my mom’s still doesn’t.”
We note that a Comcast rep has already commented on Kate’s blog post and we hope he’s able to get this issue fixed ASAP. However, as nice as this is — the problem should never have happened in the first place.