Comcast Tech Leaves Halfway Through Install, Tells Boss He's Done

Bob Garfield usually writes a blog about advertising and marketing for Advertising Age. Yesterday’s post was a change of pace for Bob. It’s called: “Comcast Must Die.”

After a first failed installation in which no tech showed up and no one at Comcast could (or would) explain why, Bob’s install was rescheduled for September 9. 11 days later. It didn’t go well.

— September 9. Installer shows up on time at 9 a.m. At 12:30, installer leaves to get a drill bit from a nearby service tech’s truck. Five hours later, he is still missing. He has failed to connect one TV, and 2 of 4 phones do not operate. He has also cut off half of existing DirecTV service.

— Comcast customer service asks for “a quick moment” to investigate. Fifteen minutes later, they return to ask for “one more moment.” I am on hold for another 32 minutes. During that, I use another line to call customer service. I ask for a supervisor. I am not permitted to speak to one. I am told somebody will call me back. Nobody calls back. Customer service operator on first line takes me off hold in minute 50 to tell me a tech is on the way. I tell her I have been on hold for a total of 48 minutes. She says I haven’t been. I ask for a supervisor. I am told I’m not permitted to speak to one. One will call me back. Nobody calls. I miss a 4:30 p.m. appointment. I have a dinner commitment at 6:30 p.m. At 5:40 the installer shows up. I am leaving the house in 34 minutes.

— Incredibly, Comcast calls to ask if he showed up. I learn that the installer has lied and told his boss my job was finished when he left. I say he arrived after a 4 hour and 10 minute disappearance, but he can’t finish the job in time. I ask to have the job rescheduled. No, I can’t. She can only make sure he’s arrived. She can’t reschedule. I beg. I plead. I am placed on hold.

Bob plans on wringing every last bit of free service he can from this debacle, then will be canceling Comcast and gleefully ordering services from a competitor.

He asks: “Is this company so frantic to seize market share on voice and broadband that it is willing to disrupt customers’ lives, fail to appear, repeatedly lie to them, walk out on them and then treat the customer as if he or she is a nuisance?”

From the looks of our tipline: The answer is “yes.”

Comcast Must Die [Advertising Age](Thanks, Scott!)



Edit Your Comment

  1. rmz says:

    His installation was scheduled for a Sunday morning?

    Huh. I didn’t think anybody did Sunday installations.

  2. ptkdude says:

    God, how I hate Comcast.

  3. snapbox says:

    We all know Comcast CS is awful. I tried to pay my bill online, and it wouldn’t accept my card. I spent 3 hours on hold last week trying to pay via phone and finally gave up.

    The next day, I called, and I kept being bumped to Massachusetts CS instead of Florida (I have a Massachusetts number, which is tied to a Florida Account). I went through about 5 reps (as I kept being bounced back to Metro Boston CS) before finally a supervisor came on the phone and took my payment.

    I guess they don’t want my money either… I wish there was another choice (Drools on FIOS).

  4. Myron says:

    We’re the cable company. We don’t care. We don’t have to.

  5. Yourhero88 says:

    I think I was shocked by stories like this when I first started reading consumerist, almost 2 years ago…

    While my heart goes out to the writer, it is certainly no shock that CS reps don’t give a flying fork about the customer, their wellbeing, or their person schedules, just as long as they’re getting their 5 American dollars per hour.

  6. homerjay says:

    Why would anyone willingly leave DirecTV for- of all companies- Comcast??

  7. alfista says:

    Verizon installed FIOS to my neighbor on a sunday, and did my house the following Monday. I’m generally not a huge verizon fan, but my neighbor and I were very happy with the service we got from this particular tech. I’m very happy I’m not with Comcast.

  8. Maude Buttons says:

    @rmz: When I moved from an apartment to a house earlier this month, Comcast missed my Saturday appointment (I had a 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. window) and rescheduled me for the next day, a Sunday. I think Sunday’s are their “Oops” days.

    When the guy did show up on Sunday, he spent half the time flirting with the tech he had to call for support and the other half shuffling through my living room, upset that he had to run a new cable wire to connect my television.

    It’s such a frustrating experience. Thanks, Comcast!

  9. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    Consumerist should do a poll – how many of us are comcast subscribers and is their service/product generally good or bad based on personal experience. Then submit it to digg. I am one of the lucky ones. Besides pricing, everything has been generally good for me.

  10. killavanilla says:

    Comcast is god-awful.
    Their biggest issue is customer service. Their product is good (although it is expensive – I pay $155 a month for cable and internet), but how much crap do customer have to put up with?
    Comcast needs to reevaluate the way they treat their customers and make real change.

  11. Asvetic says:

    Sunday at 12:30… the guy left to go watch some Football, it’s that simple.

    He was probably pissed that he had to work on a Sunday, then after realizing that the job he started was going to take longer than he expected decided to call it the day. Let someone else sort out the mess.

    That’s my guess. Either way, Comcast is in the wrong. He should have pulled a Kramer and hid when the guy came back.

  12. joopiter says:

    I’m imagining that this is how my mother’s Comcast install is going to go tomorrow. She has twice now gone to the Seymour (CT) office to pick up an HD box, with explicit instructions from the guys who installed her television on what she needs to get, only to be given an entirely different box by the ridiculously rude CS representative who told her that this is what they had, take it or leave it. And twice now, said box does not work. Finally one of the techs who installed the TV got on the phone with Comcast, demanded a tech come out with the right box and that the service call be expedited. Unfortunately, she has no choice in cable companies as she lives in a condo and is not allowed to install a dish.

    Here’s the bizarre part of the story: the tech guys who have gone above and beyond in trying to help her sort out her Comcast mess? Geek Squad. Yes, I tried to get her to buy from somewhere else, but I have to say the two guys they sent out to install the TV and the surround sound have been amazing to her. One even gave her his number and told her to call him after the Comcast tech came out and he’d stop by and check the connection for her to make sure it was done correctly. Go figure.

  13. MameDennis says:

    When I had Comcast install digital voice and internet over the summer, the tech was a disaster. He eventually got the internet service and phone installed successfully, but he was fully aware that he had screwed up the existing On Demand feature of the cable. He called in to close out the job anyway.

    After we called Comcast again, they sent a competent tech. Turns out that Tech#1 had transposed digits when registering the new cable box, making the addressable converter not so much addressable.

    We’ve had some really great Comcast techs over the years, believe it or not, but their training seems to be incredibly uneven.

  14. bonzombiekitty says:

    My recent experience with Comcast customer service was pretty bad. I needed my service shut off on Aug 31st, as I was moving. I called up a week before hand and had thought I had it all set up. It all went smoothly – no questions asked, no begging to keep me as a customer, etc.

    Well, I guess how easy it was to cancel should have sent up red flags. On the day of the move, I get a call from my landlord that the new tenant is having trouble getting utilities put in his name. It was late and my landlord’s office didn’t open until tuesday so I called back and said I had taken care of it all the other day (maybe he had tried to do it before I canceled everything) and to give me a call back if there’s still a problem. Not having enough time to check myself to see what wasn’t canceled, I waited.

    Get a call on the tuesday after labor day that the cable and internet still hadn’t been canceled. So I call up Comcast. What supposedly took a 5 minute call a week prior, took almost half an hour this time. I talked to two different people (without being notified I was being transferred, all the sudden I was talking with a new person), and I must have said the phrase “I called over a week ago to have the service shut off on the 31st of august. You guys never did it.” At least ten times. When the girl verified my service was shut off, I asked her if I was going to be billed for those couple days that the service was supposed to be off. When she asked me when I had called in previously, I thought I was going to reach through the phone and strangle her. How many times do I need to tell them that I had called them over week ago?

  15. Hawkins says:

    Comcast is indeed something special. I can provide some explanation for Mr. Garfield’s experience.

    During the last couple of weeks, Comcast has failed to show up for three out of three scheduled appointments to fix my internet connection. No calls. No truck. Just an eternally re-booting modem.

    In the hours that I spent on the phone, over ten days, I found that a majority of Comcast CSRs are actually sympathetic, and want to help… but they can’t, because there’s no way for the CSR to communicate with the dispatchers, and very little in the way of notes that they can put into an account.

    They weren’t necessarily just being dicks when they put Mr. Garfield on hold for 50 minutes: there’s simply no way for them to find out what’s going on in the field.

    By persistence and luck, I found a CSR who’d discovered the top-secret unlisted number for the dispatch department in my area. The dispatchers were surprised to get a call from an actual customer, but were pleasant and helpful, and explained that there was an outage that they’d been working on for a week, and that it was almost fixed. They were mortified to hear that the call center had been scheduling service calls, which couldn’t possibly have done any good.

    My point: Comcast’s internal systems are deeply flawed. The person that you call when there’s an outage has no way of knowing what’s going on out in the real world.

    The number, by the way, for Comcast dispatch in parts of Virginia and maybe North Carolina, is (866) 350-4084.

  16. Esquire99 says:

    My experience with Comcast has not been terrible, but they are incredibly unresponsive. I’ve got an HD-DVR that never works quite right. If the box is off, and has to turn itself on to record, it freezes up, won’t show a picture, turn on or off, until the recording is done. It records just fine, but while it’s recording it’s a brick. The only option is to unplug it and plug it back in, which then kills a few minutes of the recoding and wipes out the guide for a few hours. If I leave the box on, it has HDCP issues, so when I turn on my TV I have to turn the box off and back on to get it to make a proper HDCP handshake, otherwise I get no picture. It’s not a problem with the TV, as I’ve used it with the exact same cable box on another company and it works fine. It’s the software Comcast runs on the box. I’ve called and complained, they claim they are aware of the problem, and there is no solution. They sent a tech out to replace it, and he was perplexed by the wiring running to the box. I’ve got a moderately complex setup, but any cable technician should be familiar with HDMI, DVI, and Optical audio cables. This guy looked at my equipment like it was something from space. I effectively told him “Give me the box and wait”. I swapped it out and handed him the old box. He then left. Worthless I tell you. I REALLY want to buy a TivoHD, but at $300, plus $18/month to Tivo, it’s hard to justify over my $12/month box from Comcast, no matter how shitty it may be.

  17. edrift101 says:

    My roommates and I regularly shake our collective fists in the air at Comcast. Their service is actually worse than Time Warner Cable… which is pathetic.

  18. gatopeligroso says:

    Does Comcast still use contractors? Would Comcast ultimately be held responsible for the actions of a third party?

  19. I Blame people who decide they have “choice”: Cable Monopoly or Phone Monopoly, then complain when there is a competitor and say “you cost $3 more a month the heck with that!” when that $3 may be the difference between a good experience and a bad experience.

    you get what you pay for.

  20. brendanm14 says:

    this past Saturday my mother-in-law did not have cable service in her den and the phone was not working (but yet basement cable was fine.) called Comcast and a tech was out in 3 hours….seemed that an animal enjoyed eating the cable outside. They fixed it free of charge.

    I am still amazed that they acted that fast and fixed that free of charge.

  21. Lucho says:

    I was a long time Comcast customer with little to no complaints until I decided to upgrade to Digital and HD. After technicians missed 3 appointments in a row to install the service, there wasn’t enough free months Comcast CS could offer to get me to stay.

  22. Veeber says:

    I ended up switching to DirecTV recently because of Comcast. The cable box kept going out and I would bring it in to swap for a new one. After the fifth one I called them and they told me to go through some silly reset procedure, which worked once, but then 2 weeks later the box went out again and the reset process wouldn’t work. I call back and they tell me to do the reset thing, and I explain that I did it, then they suggest I go swap the box again, which I do but doesn’t help.

    Finally they sent someone out and they discover that the cable running to my house is bad. They don’t fix it, they just came out to check. I have to call back to have someone come out to fix it, which they do a few days later. I come home to find a bright orange coax cable running along the ground across my neighbor’s yard into my house.

    My neighbor complains to me and I call Comcast and they said “Oh well the people we sent to replace the cable won’t bury it, we’ll have to send another crew.” That third crew never showed up so when I had the DirectTV install and everything was working I went out back and simply cut the cable and threw it out.

  23. bostonguy says:

    Hehe, I’ve seen quite a few people commenting here recently about Comcast techs flirting on the phone instead of actually working.

    Wow! I think they’ve done that EVERY time I’ve ever needed a tech at my home! They’ll call to have some serial number registered, be told it’ll take a few minutes for that to get done, and they’ll just flirt away while they’re waiting. Pretty obnoxious…

  24. micahd says:

    Comcast is terrible on the corporate side. I had their service from a small town in Kentucky. I found that I got much better service when I went to the local office which, gratefully was just a few blocks away from my house.

    When we ordered our service the tech didn’t come when they were scheduled so we went down to the local office. After explaining that I’m not an idiot and that I do know how to restart my computer they handed me a self-install kit and credited my account right there. This was great because the corporate stooge said I couldn’t self install even though I could see the cable coming off the utility pole and into the house.

    Now I’m in Nashville and thankfully we haven’t had any problems *yet*

  25. andrewsmash says:

    Comcast is always looking for techs up here, but they hire them as subcontractors. Which, if you are trying to establish a minimum level of competence, is a lousy way to go. Of course, they have what could be described as a “gym membership” profit model – once they get you signed up, they know that the odds of you canceling are so low that they can just relax after the appointment is made.

  26. anon says:

    Know what? comcast actually sources out thier customer serivce to canada – i know because i used to work at the call centre where the calls were taken. a company by the name of Convergys are the ones employing the people to handle these calls. Trust me, nobody cares if the installer doesent show up or lies becuase they aren’t even in the same country. same thing with at&t wireless, hp, compaq…tons of companies.

  27. Jiminy Christmas says:

    I have moved three times in the past 6 years. All three moves involved Comcast installing new service. Only one of those moves was completely painless.

    Move #1: I took off work early and the tech was late, about par for the course. Tech then tells me he will not do the install without a written approval from my landlord, even though I assured him I had verbal permission. That was the first I had heard of it. When I placed the order the CSR even asked me if it was a rental, I said yes, and nothing was mentioned about approvals. So, I take more time off work for the second go-round and it goes fine, though the waste of my time totaled about 4 hours. To Comcast’s credit, they did give me two months free service when I complained about the tech who was late and then refused to do the work.

    Move #2: This one went fine.

    Move #3: The worst so far. Tech was late. I show the tech where I want the tv and modem cable jacks. He then repeatedly asks for my assistance in finding the proper places to drill for the modem, so I ended up being his helper for about 30 minutes. In one of his failed drilling attempts the tech goes through a wall, instead of through the floor, and chews up some baseboard trim in the process. After being at my house about an hour the tech gets a call from his supervisor telling him he has to leave to get to another job. Tech’s not done, supervisor still tells him to leave. Tech leaves and I have a working modem but no tv. I have to schedule another tech two days later to finish the work.

    Move #3, part 2: I signed up for free installation and $19.95 cable internet for 6 months. The first bill comes and there is a $99 charge for the install and $46.95 for the monthly service. I call to correct it.

    Move #3, part 3: When the cable was installed, the tech left the cable draped across the yard from the house to the pole. Two weeks later another crew comes to bury it. I was at work when this was done, so I come home one day and the cable is buried. About a year later, I’m back by the garage planting some flowers and I hit something hard with the shovel. I clear the spot by hand, and there is the coaxial cable. It only had about 3″ of dirt over it. I know the electrical code doesn’t exactly apply to telecom, but code for buried flexible electical cable is 24″. Couldn’t they have maybe gotten halfway there?

  28. Jay Levitt says:

    Comcast differs in different parts of the country. Here in Boston, most of the staff seems to be ex-AT&T, which was ex-MediaOne, or something like that. They’re very friendly, they’re around 24 hours a day, and they have nearly always been able to solve problems on my first call, despite the fact that I had as many as three accounts going (two residential in different towns and one business cable modem on the same line as one of the residences). I’ve moved three times in the past four years and it’s usually gone as smoothly as you’d expect.

    The techs are subcontractors, which does suck, but they’ve never been wildly incompetent. The biggest problem is usually that the techs have to wait on hold for as long as an hour to activate a box.

  29. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Maybe Garfield needed to work from home, required a broadband line & can’t get DSL where he lives.

    But there isn’t any reason to disconnect a Direct TV line or anyone else’s satellite coax cable for the install.
    Run new coax you lazy Comcraptic bastards!

  30. Buran says:

    @bradg33: So you’ll take a system that you admit is a joke that doesn’t work and refuse something that gets glowing reviews from nearly everyone who’s tried it?

    You get what you don’t pay for.

  31. Tonguetied says:

    So over at [] the end result is that the consumer moves over to Comcast from Earthlink and then here we lear that Comcast sucks just as badly….

    Sounds like you can’t win…

  32. edgarj455 says:

    @homerjay: on demand? high speed internet.da.

  33. Jesse in Japan says:

    Seriously, where does Comcast find these people? Do they do like a career day at parole board hearings or something?

  34. “Installer shows up on time at 9 a.m.”

    A Comcast tech shows up on time? I knew something was the up the second I read that.

  35. whiterose says:

    Let me count the ways I hate Comcast. Oh wait, can’t count that high. I recently paid my bill via telephone and the CSR mentioned I would be charged 4.50$ to make this payment. To which I replied, “no I won’t”. It’s ridiculous to have to pay money to give them money. For some reason, he relented and they agreed to take money from me without charging me more to pay them. We’ll see. I bet the charge shows up the next time I get a paper bill.

  36. vikit05 says:

    Recently I noticed bits of wiring and little nails littering my front stoop. Good thing I don’t have children or pets to step on those pieces. I went around to the side of my house that has all of the wiring and noticed a new yellow tag from Comcast, and a new anchor drilled into the side of my house creating a hole in the siding of my house allowing weather and rot to enter. There hasn’t ever been an anchor for the cable wires on my house since before cable existed. We were never notified of their intent to come onto our property or to drill into our house. They have trespassed and damaged our property.

    When I tried to contact them they asked me for my phone number and when I said “No, I…” and then I was hung up on. On the seventh phone call (two of which went straight to an answering machine) I finally spoke with Jewel, who’s office must have used caller ID to call me back, because I never left my last name or phone number. After telling her what I saw she said that she took notes about my story, has my account information and will call me back by 10:00am. It is now 10:35am and I still haven’t heard from her.

    Comcast is the only cable company available in the area. They have a monopoly and horrible service, but does that give them the freedom to trespass and do damage to a home?