Comcast Tech Bullies Customer for Cash, Breaks His Hard Drive, Drills Huge Holes In Walls And Baseboards

Jason ordered something very simple from Comcast. He wanted cable service, internet, and a router. He wanted the internet hooked up to several computers. He wanted two regular cable boxes and one DVR. He wanted wall jacks installed in his home. Comcast, last we checked, offered all of these services. So why did Comcast’s installer show up without a router asking for $115.80 in cash? Why did he drill holes in Jason’s walls and baseboards, and unplug his HP Media Center PC Box (thereby breaking it)? Why was he rude to Jason, requiring him to “show the cash” to “make sure he had it?”

Jason cc’ed us on a letter he wrote to Comcast asking for compensation for the holes their subcontractor drilled into his walls and baseboards, as well as the hard drive he fried by unplugging cables from the Media Center Box without powering it down:

The representative I was talking to put me through to asupervisor, who asked me how much cash I had on me… and odd question to be asking a customer I think, however I told him I had around $60 on me, and he told me that if I would give the technician that amount, that he would allow him to install the service and place the remainder on my first bill. This seemed sort of unorthodox to me, almost like bullying to get some cash up front, but I obliged, since Comcast obviously had the upper hand. The installer actually asked to see the $60 cash, as if he didn’t trust my word, however when I tried to give it to him, he said “no, I’ll collect when finished, just wanted to make sure you had it”. This began what was to become a very long day for both me and Comcast.

Read the rest of Jason’s long day inside.

Jason writes to Comcast:

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February 16, 2007
Dear Comcast, The following is a complaint that I would like for formally register with Comcast. When I called Comcast to get the address to send this to, I spoke with Brandon, extension 52146, and he insisted that I file a claim for damages with him after hearing about the incident. The reference claim confirmation number is: (

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?) I explained to him that I did not believe a simple damage claim would let me express everything that happened in the incident, and he suggested that I forward this letter to you for further investigation. Below is a complete description of the incident. My contact information is at the end of the letter.

On Thursday, 02/15/07 we had an appointment for our new cable service to be installed by Comcast. Our order was for our home office, so we chose residential service, and our package included high speed internet with home networking, along with digital cable service for the living areas. Our experience was less than ideal, and I feel that my experience with Comcast needs to be addressed. It is my hope that you will review the situation that occurred carefully, and try to correct the errors that happened, both for myself, and future customers. We it not for the fact that you (Comcast) are the only cable provider in this area, we would certainly take our business elsewhere. Our appointment was made via the 1

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?COMCAST phone number about one week prior to the install date. We spoke with a representative that assured us he would take care of everything, and we would not have to worry about the small details. This was reassuring; however it turned out to be a disaster.

We initially called to get the special ‘Triple Play’ package, but found out that we did not need everything in the package, and needed a few things that were not included. In the end we would wind up paying twice the price, for about half the services that we could have gotten and just not used with the Triple Play package. We explained to the representative that we needed the following things:

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?Speed internet, and to connect 4 computers
Digital Cable Service (2 regular boxes, and 1 DVR)
ShowTime movie channel
OnDemand Access

Our representative took a few notes, and reviewed what packages were available. He decided that the bronze package was the best for us, and ShowTime as an addon. With the addition of the HSI request, we were given an appointment time for Thursday 02/15/07 and quoted the time block of 9AM – NOON. The representative told us that our install would be $39.99, and we would have to pay that to the technician that came out to setup our service. He then added that our monthly bill would be $75.81. We were happy with this, and he welcomed us to Comcast. At this point everything seemed to be set, and we looked forward to Thursday.

On Thursday morning, I awoke around 8:30 AM, to find a voicemail on the office phone from the Comcast Dispatch Center, stating that a technician was at my door. The timestamp on the message was 8:04 AM. Since we had been told the time block was between 9AM and Noon, this was unexpected, and not within our normal schedule. I called back the number that was left on the voicemail, and she stated that we had missed out appointment, but she would contact the technician and see if he was willing to come back out since it was technically a missed appointment. I tried to explain to her that we were given an appointment time of 9AM – Noon, and she got very combative, stating that everyone knew that AM appointments were from 8AM – Noon, and it was simply not possible that someone told me 9AM instead of 8AM. She put me on hold for a long while, and contacted the installer, whom relayed that he would return to do our installation within the hour.

At around 9:15 AM he indeed showed up and was ready to install our service. He never introduced himself, so I can only reference him by his installer number, which was 692, and I do know he was from Helm Cable, which I assume is an authorized contractor for Comcast. The first words out of his mouth were to the effect of he needed to collect $115.80 to install our service. This of course conflicted with the $39.99 that we were told by our sales rep that the installation would cost. Figuring he was trying to pocket a few bucks, I immediately called 800

?COMCAST to confirm. I was transferred to a couple of departments, and eventually told that it would indeed be $115.80 to install my service, despite the $39.99 that I was told by the initial sales rep. Apparently the initial rep neglected to inform me that we would be required to prepay for the first month of service as well. I was sick on Thursday, and had limited cash on hand, and I wasn’t about to leave the technician at my home alone while I went out to the bank or ATM. The representative I was talking to put me through to a supervisor, who asked me how much cash I had on me… and odd question to be asking a customer I think, however I told him I had around $60 on me, and he told me that if I would give the technician that amount, that he would allow him to install the service and place the remainder on my first bill. This seemed sort of unorthodox to me, almost like bullying to get some cash up front, but I obliged, since Comcast obviously had the upper hand. The installer actually asked to see the $60 cash, as if he didn’t trust my word, however when I tried to give it to him, he said “no, I’ll collect when finished, just wanted to make sure you had it”. This began what was to become a very long day for both me and Comcast.

Keep in mind that we operate a very successful home office at this location, and to question me, the customer, like that was simply uncalled for. I was extremely belittled and left feeling like I was subject to whatever Comcast wanted or they simply would leave without installing the service. Technician 692 began in the living room after I gave him instructions on what types of boxes would go where. He installed the DVR Box in the living room without much effort, although he did unplug some of our AV components from a power strip, without regard to them being functional. One of those devices was a HP Media Center PC Box, which provides the ability to watch things from the computer on the television in the living area. He never asked if it was ok to do so. When he unplugged the HP box, it immediately shut down, without being done properly from the console. Later that evening when I realized this and plugged the box back into the outlet and tried to boot it up, it stated that the hard disk had errors from a bad shutdown, and would not boot. HP states that it will be $230 for a new hard drive for this box, and that doesn’t even to begin to consider the countless hours of programming and digital family photos that were stored on the box, that are now unrecoverable.

This was caused solely from the carelessness of the technician. After the living area was up and running with a DVR box, he moved onto the bedroom, where a regular digital box was to be installed. This was done without any issues other than the fact that apparently did not have the box setup properly in line with our account, because when I tried to tune to ShowTime later that night, it stated that it was a subscription only service, and that I should call Comcast for ordering information. I did just that, and within a few moments they had updated the box so that our already paid for subscription was now active on it. Note that on this particular digital box, and on this box only, about have of the OnDemand videos are unplayable. We receive an “Error Code 224” when attempting to play certain OnDemand channels. I called customer service several times about this matter, two of the times I spoke with a lady names “Latonda(sp?)” who’s operator number was 52008, and she had us go through the standard troubleshooting procedures, and then told us that we had to watch an 8

? minute video entitled “About OnDemand” before the service would be activated. I tried to explain to her that several of the OnDemand services worked, that the issue was limited to certain channels within OnDemand, but she didn’t want to hear any of that. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, she stated that customers were not allowed to speak to supervisors, and that she would have to relay my message for me. I called back a second time hoping to get a different representative, however I reached her a second time, and as soon as she realized that she had just spoken to me she said “I cannot help you any further and will now disconnect this call” and the line went dead.

The third call to 800

?COMCAST got me a different representative, who had me try the same troubleshooting methods, and eventually told me that they would have to send a technician to my house to diagnose the problem. I stated that I had filed a complaint with Comcast and the BBB regarding my installation, and that if they sent a tech, it would have to be someone different than the Helm Cable Contractor that did my original install. He stated that they could not guarantee that, and set an appointment for 02/19/06 from 10AM – Noon. If Helm cable shows back up for this appointment on Monday, they will not be let on the property. Only an actual Comcast employee will be authorized to be on my property at this point – no one from Helm Cable Contractor – they have messed up enough already. The third and final digital box was installed in the home office area without issue. The remainder of the home office install was – putting it lightly – the worst experience with a company, ever.

The technician began by running a wire up from under the house, up into the office. However, he simply drilled a hole in the floor and left the cable poking out between the baseboard and the carpet – this is in our home office, where clients come to meet, and we try to keep a professional image. This was not acceptable. I informed him that I wanted a jack on the wall, the response was that it would be $40 to place an outlet on the wall, and since he had already drilled a hole in the floor, he would still have to charge me $9.99 additional as well, even though the cable would be moved to an outlet. He also said that I would have to pay the $40 today, despite the fact that the customer service supervisor already agreeing to accept $60 cash today and to bill the remainder on the first bill. The supervisor told me specifically that he had ‘flashed’ the new price to the technician, and he would have to accept that. Since I did not have the extra $40 in cash on me, I am now left with a cable wire coming up alongside my baseboard from the floor. The hole is not even up against the baseboard either – it is about an inch out into the floor, creating a very unsightly appearance. I would like this fixed, and I would like it done at no cost to me, bearing in mind the ordeal I have encountered up to this point. After the installer had left, I noticed that he had also drilled holes in three other walls as well – some of them much larger than they should have been, leaving access for weather and insects to now enter my home. I have included photos of these at the end of this letter, and would like them repaired as well.

After the cable for the HSI was ran, the technician just sat down at my office desk without saying a word, and started closing programs. I immediately stopped him, and asked him what he was doing, to which he replied that he had to close certain applications for the internet to work. Let me preface this by saying my company is in the internet business, and we have several years of knowledge on whatever this guy learned in his narrow field and classroom training as a technician. I informed him that some business applications had to remain running, and he actually rolled his eyes at me, as if our business was unimportant. He was very immature in the entire matter. I then opened up a web browser for him, so that he could download the software that he needed. He tried for about twenty minutes to get the modem to activate, and he eventually had to call someone to activate it from their end. He started to get up and leave, and I had to ask him for my usernames and passwords, which he then wrote down for me.

It was at this point that I looked over to the equipment that he installed, and realized that he only installed a single modem and hooked it to a single computer. This was not what we ordered at all, so I asked him where our router/gateway was at. The technician initially informed me that we did not qualify for a gateway, and could only use the single line modem. As far as I know there are not any ‘qualifications’ to receive a gateway, other than ordering one, so this was beyond me. He said that he had done everything he was supposed to do, and was leaving now. At this point I had not yet signed the paperwork or given him the money, so I called 800

? COMCAST yet again, to find out that the initial order was botched and no gateway was put on the work order. When I asked what we could do to resolve this matter, the representative said someone would call me back. We waited about twenty minutes with no response, so another call was made to 800

?COMCAST, and we were transferred to an unknown department whom asked the technician if he had a gateway on his truck, to which the answer was no. They then told me that they could not send out a Comcast Person with a gateway because since he was a contractor they could not release their equipment to him, and they would have to schedule me an appointment for the following week. I was very tired of dealing with the interruption to the office at this point, as it was well after noon, and the technician had been here over three hours. I told the technician if he could not get a gateway installed today, that he should just pack everything back up, take it back with him, and I would reschedule in hopes of getting an actual Comcast Employee to do my install.

It was only after this, that he offered to go back to his warehouse and retrieve a gateway. The technician called his warehouse to make sure they had one there, and the proceeded to let him know that he would have to charge me $149 for the gateway, and it would have to be paid to the technician today before he would install it, while he was on the phone they also told him that he had a ‘flash’ saying that $60 was due today instead of the previously quoted amount. Even after telling him that, they still insisted on me paying them $149 in cash before he would return with the modem. It was at this point the technician left, but not before telling me that I could not use my current DSL internet connection anymore because it would interrupt his install, and returned with a gateway about 45 minutes later. So my business was without internet service for a total of around three hours. Upon returning, he did not knock, or make his presence known; I simply looked up and seem him walking through my house unannounced. He’s quite lucky I didn’t call the cops on him right then. He hooked up the gateway when he returned, and stated that I owed him $149 before he left.

I immediately called 800

?COMCAST (yet again), and after speaking with over 4 people, someone eventually told him that the cash up front would not be required. He mumbled a few words and tried to activate the new gateway. At this point to be quite frank – all hell broke loose. Apparently in the Nashville area, from what he explained to me – there are two ‘districts’ and 05 and an 07, and a modem that’s programmed for one will not work on the other. He had brought back an 07 modem, while I live in an 05 zone. While sitting in my office at my desk, he picks up his cell phone and proceeds to very loudly use vulgar language towards who I assume is the worker at the warehouse that gave him the wrong gateway. It’s now after 2PM, and he make the comment (exact verbiage)”I guess I should have packed my shit up and taken everything back and forget about this job.. in fact it’s close to being my last day, I’m over this bullshit.” He drove the few miles back to the warehouse and eventually returned with a new gateway around 3PM. Once again he never knocked or announced his presence; instead he opened my front door and walked in like he owned the place. He even went into the bedroom where he installed a digital box several times to talk on his cell phone, I assume so that I would not hear him. Each time however I would follow him, and eventually had to keep shutting the door so he would not enter. He installed what was now the third box, and once again had to call someone to activate it from their end. I then signed the papers, gave him the $60 and asked him to leave my property.

He made the comment that if I had any problems that I should hope that I don’t get Helm Cable as a contractor, because they will not make future service calls here. While I’m sure that was just him spewing at the mouth, it’s not something I want to hear as a new customer. The entire installation experience was a complete and total disaster. What should have taken 1 to 1

hours at the most liberal estimate, took six hours. The remainder of this time my home office spent without access to the internet, which our business depends on. The entire attitude of the employees of the contractor, Helm Cable, was contemptible.

During the installation we spoke with at least 14 representatives over the course of 6 calls to the 800

?COMCAST customer service number. During each call I did ask the representative to make notes on the account specific to the call, so that someone would be able to review everything at a later date. I ask you to please review this incident, including what I have written to you, along with the notes that are on my account (assuming they’re complete). It is my hope that you will resolve this matter quickly, and correct the wrongs that have been done, and work to ensure that mistakes such as this do not happen again. The only reason that I am still a Comcast customer is the fact that, as far as I know, Comcast is the only cable and HSI provider in my area, however I will be researching that fact this coming week.

Here are the resolutions I would like Comcast to take, in order to retain our business, and correct the mistakes made during the installation of our service.

Compensation for replacement of the drive in the HP Media Center box that was damaged by technician 692 when he disconnected power from the device without asking any questions.

Repair of the unsightly holes and cables that protrude through the home office floor, living room wall, and bedroom baseboard, and professional re

?installation of the lines via wall jacks, as initially requested. I would request this be done by an actual employee of Comcast, and not a contractor, such as Helm Cable, who performed the initial installation.

Credit to our account for service, for the time lost dealing with this matter all day on Thursday during the installation. We operate a home office, and lost time is a valuable commodity. We spent 6 hours for what should have been around 1.

A formal apology from Helm Cable for the trouble and disruption they caused both me and my business, and their rude and demanding behavior regarding prepayment, despite prior Comcast arrangements.

A resolution to the problem stated above with digital box (

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?). OnDemand only works with very limited functionality on this particular box. I’ve attempted several trouble

?shooting calls as stated above, with no resolution other than them offering to send Helm Cable to repair it. It is my sincere hope that we can work together to resolve these problems, and maintain a proper business relationship for the future. Please contact me to confirm that you have received this letter and that the problem is being looked into. I have CC’d several people on this letter, including the Better Business Bureau….

Thank you in advance for resolving this matter,

Jason

Comcast has a serious problem with their subcontractors. —MEGHANN MARCO

Jason’s Letter (PDF)