Comcast Kills Woman

    Dear Consumerist,

    Please help me. Comcast is killing me.

Why is Comcast killing this nice woman and how can you help? Find out, after the jump…

Sherri writes:

    “I am currently (as we speak) on the phone with Comcast’s customer service line. I’m on hold as a customer service rep emails dispatch to find out why they haven’t arrived. They have to email as they can’t actually call dispatch. I know this because I do this all the time.

    I had cable and internet reinstalled back in March (I’m going through a divorce and I had to have a new account set up). It took a month to get a DVR and it hasn’t worked since I got it. In total, I have set up six appointments, five of which they have totally not shown up for. They are absolutely making me crazy.

    My first appointment was from 2:00 – 5:00 on a Thursday. Took a half day off from work. Had a call at 5:30 that the technician was running late, and when he hadn’t shown up at 7:30 I called them. They apologized and rescheduled for that Saturday from 8:00 – 11:00.

    That Saturday at 1:30 I got a call. The dispatched told me that they hadn’t come because they were out of DVRs and they needed to reschedule. I lost it and said I didn’t care about the damn DVR at this point. If I didn’t get internet I was going to seriously lose money and my mind, plus I really wanted my bloody cable TV. After I got really (really) angry they contacted dispatch. Finally at 4:00 or so, an angry tech showed up, which… sorry.

    Had to wait three more weeks to get my DVR. Made an appointment for a Saturday, 11:00 – 2:00. I hated to do it as I had a guest in from out of town, but I couldn’t miss more work. We sat around until 2:00, at which time I gave up. They called me an hour or so later, but this time they were helpful and rescheduled for that night… and actually showed. DVR obtained.

    And then… the new DVR doesn’t work. It freezes and crashes in both live and recorded. Recorded shows… don’t. Or they cut off the last ten minutes. You can’t pause live tv, which the machine helpfully notes is an error. In short, it doesn’t work. And just for the record, my old DVR and the previous cable box worked perfectly.

    So… I rescheduled on a Thursday, and took another half day off from work (I know!). I called before the appointment to ask customer service to email dispatch to tell them about my missed appointments, and to please show up, and to bring a DVR.

    The tech showed up promptly, to my shock. Yay! He had, however, no DVRs.

    He swore up and down that it almost certainly wouldn’t be the DVR as they don’t have any problems with them. So he found a splitter he says is the problem. I let myself be persuaded and he left.

    That night it started crashing again. Last week, every single tv show I tried to watch crashed out. So I called AGAIN. And set up an appointment AGAIN, for this past Friday. I was going out of town for Easter, and really didn’t want to wait another week for a weekend appointment, so I decided to take a full day off Friday rather than a half day to fit in the appointment. It was scheduled for 11:00 – 2:00. Nothing. Finally at 3:00 I had to leave for my trip.

    At 3:30 I got a call that the tech was in front of my house. I had to tell them I was about forty miles from my house at that point, so what the hell could I do about it? I rescheduled AGAIN for Tuesday (today), and they actually had a night appointment available, so I took that.

    Later that day, though, I got another call, this one saying that I had missed my appointment. I think I was a wee bit snippy when I told the person that it wasn’t me who had missed the damn appointment. This person didn’t know about the new appointment that the other rep had set up, so I had to set it up again.

    Yesterday, I took the precaution of calling ahead and asking customer service to email dispatch with what’s been going on, and asking them to call me in advance if they didn’t have a DVR. I’m so naive.

    I had to leave work an hour and a half early today if I wanted to be home at 5:00 for the appointment (Atlanta traffic). My boss, at this point, is as over it as I am. Got home. Waited. Then I got an automated call at 6:00 informing me that my appointment has been cancelled and I need to call Comcast to reschedule.

    This time I really lost it. They actually had me crying.

    So I called Comcast again. I waited while the nice rep (they’re almost always nice. just utterly ineffectual.) wrote the usual emails. This time, though, she promised to call back after she finds out from dispatch what’s going on. That’s a new one. I’m still waiting.

    I don’t want to start over and get a dish. Even if I cancel cable, I still have to have internet from them unless I get a land line and DSL. I really wish there was some bloody competition. I think that’s the worst part. I just want to get my damn cable to work, and I feel like a hostage.

    PLEASE HELP ME!!! Anyone? (I’m totally serious)


We think Sherri needs to contact the Atlanta, GA Information Technology Bureau, but can’t find their number, does anyone have it?

Related: Shopper Sinks Teeth into Cable Company

UPDATE: Sandra writes: “She needs to contact her county Board of Commissioners; they should handle this sort of thing.

Fulton County —
Cobb County —
DeKalb County —


Edit Your Comment

  1. Amy Alkon says:

    Why can’t these rude assclowns pick up a fucking phone and tell the consumer they’re going to be late or not show at all? Oh yeah. I know the answer: M-O-N-O-P-O-L-Y.

    Be sure to thank your senaturds and congressturds, with their hands deep in the pockets of all the communications lobbyists!

  2. nweaver says:

    I think she needs to switch to sattelite and DSL

  3. Ben Popken says:

    Greg writes:

    “I just got irritated reading Sherri’s plight with Comcast.

    I too have recently gone through a 6 month battle with Comcast of Atlanta which culminated yesterday with a commitment to DirecTV. I have no idea whether this will be better, but it certainly can’t be worse.

    A brief history:

    About 6 months ago, my TiVo started going haywire. Pixelating all recorded shows, sometimes recording a blank screen, etc. This was intermittent for a good while, but began to pick up around thanksgiving. I had no problems with my other TVs, so I assumed that the problem was my 4 year old TiVo.

    Decided to suck it up and buy a new TiVo. I’ve been with them from the beginning, so I thought that I could cough up $50 for a new DVR (after the rebate).

    Immediately after hooking up the new TiVo, it got worse. Hardly any recorded shows, now my “live” TV was pixelating as well. Bypassed the TiVo and cable seemed to work okay. The problem must be the TiVo, right? I had a month long escapade with TiVo, but eventually got a new one, free of charge and an 80 hour model to boot.

    Guess what? TiVo doesn’t work. Okay, problem must be with Comcast.

    Call customer service. Set up an appointment. No show.

    Call customer service. Set up an appointment. Get a call from the tech that he’ll be at least an hour late. I tell him to shove it.

    Call customer service. Set up an appointment. They actually show up. The guy replaces all of my connections, my splitters, gets my positives and negatives to “acceptable” levels whatever that means. Assures me that everything will work now. Later that night, TV goes crazy (still not using TiVo) and now the one in the bedroom is jumping all over as well.

    The only way I can watch TV is to bypass the cable box and TiVo, plugging the coax directly into the TV.

    I mention my saga to some neighbors. THEY’VE BEEN HAVING THE SAME PROBLEMS, but have been defeated by Comcast’s suckiness. They’ve decided to live with it – although their problem seems less drastic than mine.

    Called Comcast to explain that my entire neighborhood is experiencing the same problem. They tell me that a tech will be out to switch out my cable box, which to them is obviously the problem. I ask to be contacted on my cell phone as I work 15 minutes from home and can shoot back in order to not take more time off of work. No call. Get home that evening and there’s a message on the home number. Call customer service. Wait on hold for 30 minutes. Hang up. I quit.

    Call DirecTV yesterday. They’re going to come out on Saturday. We’ll see how that goes.

    A few notes for Sherri.

    I initially had Comcast Internet as well. It worked great for a while and then started failing every night. They told me it was because their modem wouldn’t work with an Apple Airport. Told me I needed one of their approved wireless routers. I got BellSouth DSL and it hasn’t gone out once.

    Check with your neighbors. It seems that Comcast is putting out shitty signals to half of Atlanta. My neighborhood is small and “at the end of the line” as told to me by a tech. Additionally a giant subdivision is going in next door, and this will certainly degrade the already weak signal.

    It will never be their fault. They told me that my cable problems were because of A) my TiVo B) my receiver C) my TV was too old!!!

    I know little about DirecTV. My neighbor uses it and she’s had no problems. Other people say that they have good customer service. I’ll just be happy to give no money to Comcast.

    One sad thing is that after 6 blissful years with TiVo, I’ll have to give it up because the DirecTV DVR was cheaper, had two tuners, and will be one less piece of equipment to degrade any signal. It’s like losing a pet.

    Anyone want a slightly used 80 hour TiVo? His name is Bob.”

  4. lgf says:

    There is no GA IT Bureau…

    Cable service is regulated by the FCC. Your county Board of Comissioners may be able to help you according to this website:


    But it may not (up to them). The GA Public Service Commission only deals with fraud and deceptive advertisement regarding cable, and this is not the case. The only one left is the FCC.

  5. El Mystico says:

    FWIW, I have had nothing but success with DirecTV, though others’ mileage may vary. And I’d be glad to give Bob a new home. You can never have enough Tivo.

  6. fizzer fits says:

    Dear God do I feel your pain. I had a dead-on simular experiance with Comcast in Atlanta over Internet, cable, and DVR. The amount of time I took off of work to wait for those jack-asses to come and fix their services and have them simply not show up made me feel like a first class idiot.

    When the DVR was installed, I was told by the tech that it wasn’t compatable with my projector. I had to convince the guy that it was indeed compatable and install it myself in front of the poor sap, who literally said ‘Well, I’ll be damned!’

    Don’t even get me started with the Internet troubles – over the course of a year they installed splitters, amplifiers, and new cable-modems to fix a connection that worked only half of the time – I realized that it took on average of about 4 hours of my time on each of those calls for them to actually show up.

    And yeah, you get the same really-nice customer service rep who has you go over, again and again, your Comcast woes (don’t they put this stuff in a database?) only to tell you at the end of the conversation that the most they can do is schedule another tech appointment.

    I was stuck with Comcast as work had an agreement with them to pay for the Internet portion – I was prepared to give up that benefit towards the end of the ordeal but decided instead to move out of Atlanta. Comcast wasn’t a part of that moving decision, but god-damn it wasn’t like they weren’t trying.

    Anyways: next time you are on with customer service and feel you are not getting anywhere ask to talk to a manager. The customer service rep will invariably tell you that ‘all of the floor managers are in meetings’ and that one of them ‘will call you back.’

    Of course they aren’t in meetings and they won’t call you back. Be as kind as possible and ask for the manager’s e-mail address and phone extension – if they won’t give you that ask for comcast corporate’s customer service e-mail address, the customer reps name and his/her manager’s name. Generally by the time you finish with the first question one of the floor managers will magically be out of a meeting and you’ll get one on the horn.

    Good luck – you’ll need it.

  7. Ben Popken says:

    Swiss Buckeye writes:

    “I had digital cable and a DVR, and then bought a brand spankin’ new HDTV. I called up Time Warner the very next morning, telling them I wanted the HD package and a new DVR to record in HD. I was told that the HD could be turned on right away, but DVR had two options: a) make an appointment and have a technician bring it to the house and install it, or b) I could go to a payment center and pick up a new DVR myself. I chose b, and less than an hour after I called, including a quick trip to the nearest payment center 15 minutes away, I was up and running. I don’t want to diminish the fact that the service she experienced was completely unacceptable, but you know the old saying: if you want it done right, do it yourself.

    Since I have TW and live in Ohio, it may be different, but I highly recommend going and getting one yourself if possible. Sometimes you can’t avoid an appointment, but it sounds like she just wants to try a new DVR, in which case there’s really no need for a technician. Whenever I can, I always opt for picking up and/or installing items myself. Saves me the hassle of relying on some underpaid and overworked lackey who couldn’t care less about me.”

  8. Ben Popken says:

    Lady Crumpet writes:

    “I currently use Directv for tv and use Earthlink for DSL. Why? Because
    Comcast would not recognize that my house was in the city limits of

    At first I checked with other cable providers, but they all told me I
    was supposed to talk to Comcast. I checked with my landlord, who told
    me to contact Comcast. When I told him what Comcast said, he said that
    was ridiculous, as several people up and down the street used them for
    their cable service.

    Despite repeated calls, no one seemed able or interested in helping.
    One rep told me they had service for an address that was next
    to mine, but that my address was not recognized as a
    serviceable address.

    I finally gave up and went with satellite. Comcast can kiss my ass.”

  9. spine_11 says:

    i had dish network for several years and it was pretty decent. unless it was raining. then i had a “searching for signal” message.

  10. drsmith says:

    Spine_11 – you need to have your dish re-aimed. Mine only drops out for a second here and there in the worst weather. You can do it yourself, it just takes some patience and the ability to see your TV at the same time your aiming the dish.

  11. matto says:

    I am very happy with my Speakeasy DSL, and much happier with my DirecTV service than I’d ever been with Comcast.

    People who spend two thousand words describing the agony Comcast has put them through, and then close with “and I don’t want to go with sattelite, it’s too much hassle” really boggle me.

  12. Boston Kevin says:

    This thread, along with my own recent miserable experience with Comcast, has pretty much convinced me to switch to DirecTV immediately. Thanks, Consumerist!

  13. limiter says:

    I have Comcast and they suck (but I think at this point everyone knows that), but my apartment has a tree in front of it that keeps me from using a dish from the balcony.

  14. misskaz says:

    I have luckily had no problem with Comcast and their service. They seem to be willing and able to repair and replace lines, splitters, etc., when SBC refused to provide similar services for our DSL, and then charged us when they finally did. We paid an extra $5 a month to SBC for 3 years for the “line-backer” coverage. Apparently, that only covers telephone repair calls, not DSL, even when the problem is the damn telephone line itself. Is that not the “line” I was “backing” by paying that extra money?

    I was worried when we made the switch from DSL to Comcast internet that we were just jumping from the frying pan into the fire. But Comcast techs have showed up on time for every service visit, ready and willing to replace the aging lines to and from our apartment. The reps on the phone have been friendly and relatively knowledgable and quick to dispatch a technician. So far, I have no complaints.

    Then again, we have the option of RCN cable and internet here (Chicago), so maybe the competition has something to do with it. We could also get satellite although I think the large building next door blocks our beam to/from the mother ship or whatever.

  15. reallymadcow says:

    Hi Matto, Sherri here:

    The reason I say it’s too much hassle is that I’d have to get a land line, cancel my VOiP, get DSL and satellite TV service – all a lot of hassle (and installation fees and MORE appointments) when all I bloody need is a new DVR. And BellSouth isn’t much better than Comcast as far as I can tell.

    And I had the exact same set-up until March, and it all worked perfectly. My upload and download speeds are really high. The internet is working great. My VOIP is great. And I didn’t have a problem with cable once I finally got it installed. As far as I can tell, it’s just the bloody DVR.

    So does anyone know of a high-speed internet option that isn’t a cable modem (which brings me back to Comcast) or doesn’t require a land line?

    By the way, here’s an update.

    The customer rep did call back last night at 9:30 (wow!). Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to my phone so she left a message saying that she was checking in to see if I’d heard back from dispatch, which, of course, I hadn’t.

    I didn’t call them again. I couldn’t handle it yet.

    Now, get this: I got a call this morning around 10:30 from Comcast letting me know that there’s a tech guy in front of my house for my appointment. I don’t have an appointment scheduled for this morning, and I told him that, and that I was, you know, AT WORK.

    Now they’re just taunting me.

  16. Ben Popken says:

    C writes:

    “I must remain anonymous as I do work for Bright House Networks and can enlighten you all on a few things in the cable industry. First I would love to know from Sherri what make and model DVR she was given. I know in our system we use Scientific Atlanta 8000 and 8300 DVRs. The 8000 is trash. The HDD runs hot and constantly overheats causing so many problems. The 8300 is a much better box and solves a lot of problems. What I would strongly suggest to anyone that is having problems with any cable provider…always always always request a supervisor. This key point will save a lot of trouble and especially if you get their direct extension and working hours it will clue them in that you are serious about your service. Also request for credit for all down time. As an added measure raise hell and demand months worth of credit for inconvenience and time taken off work and what not. If anyone has any questions or issues that I can help with feel free to email me.”

  17. I had a similar problem with Concast some months ago when they started removing channels from their analog line-up to force people to get the more expensive digital service. I capitulated, and it only took 1 month to get the cable setup and 2 more months of calling and demanding credits to my account for all the outages, “On Demand” not being on demand, and the DVR not DVRing things…

    As for internet, it depends on your area, but DSL is still much cheaper than cable. I would suggest getting the landline with a bare minimum calling plan (should be $15/month or so) and DSL. It should still work out cheaper than the $50-$60/month for cable internet, albeit a bit slower.

  18. Das Ubergeek says:

    Every city regulates cable. All the FCC will do is tally yet another complaint, they won’t force any action.

    Here in Los Angeles, if the company misses an appointment (there’s a grace period of an hour, I think) they owe you a $25 bill credit.

    The Information Technology department of the City of Atlanta can be reached on (404) 330 6110. If they can’t help you, they can tell you whom to call. If all else fails, call your city councilcritter and start making noises to the newspapers.