Comcast Is Worse Than The New Jersey DMV

Here’s sad news– Comcast has worse customer service than the New Jersey DMV.

Over at the Trusted Adviser blog there was a bit of a customer service showdown going on between the DMV and the cable company… and well, see if you can guess which operation “Judy” is dealing with:

Judy called XYZ about a common transaction. “Sure,” they said, “here’s what you need to bring, and we’ll take care of you.”

She gets there: “What? Who told you that! You need to go back home and bring the other thing.”

She returns. “You can’t do this, your ex-husband’s name is on the records. We need a copy of the twelve-year old divorce decree, plus his signature on a form. We don’t have that form, but we’ll fax it to you.”

Days later. “Who told you we could fax that to you? We can only mail it.”

More days. “We need to confirm your social security number.” She gives it to them. “Sorry, we can’t match it; we don’t have records of your social security number.” “Then what were you going to match it to?!” Judy asks. We have entered Kafka-land some time ago.

At last, Judy leaves with the desired outcome. It turns out to be wrong.

On returning yet again, it’s, “well, who in the hell gave you that? It’s obviously wrong. Hey lady stop screaming–no need to take out your personal problems on us!”

OK, that was–drumroll–the Cable Company! Comcast of West Orange, Essex County, New Jersey.

And that means–yes, people, believe it or not–the raging success story is the New Jersey DMV. Lately renamed the Motor Vehicle Commission.

Tell us: How can a private company get away with having worse customer service than the most notoriously unpleasant government office ever…?

Customer Service Showdown: The Cable Company vs the DMV
[Trusted Adviser] (Thanks, Ian!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I’ve actually never had any problems with the NJ DMV, aside from the occasional long wait…but you get the same with banks or the post office if you hit them at the wrong time.

  2. Falconfire says:

    Ok I hate to say this, but this is not at ALL a fair fight. The takeover by NJ of the mess that was the DMV has been a raging success story, so to put them against anyone is asking for trouble. What is funny is how little they had to fix things though. Removing privately owned DMV stations who where getting kickbacks from dealerships to get their cars registered first, and adding Saturday and late hours was all it took to alleviate 99% of the problems they where having. Making it so you didnt have to renew your license every 2 years, and registration every 4 years helped too.

    I actually enjoy going to MVC now. Im in and out in under 15 minutes for any transaction I have.

  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Oh, and also…I’ve had nothing but problems with Comcast. I’m planning on picking up an over the air HDTV reciever, and just canceling my cable all together sometime soon (but keeping broadband).

  4. NJ doesn’t have a DMV anymore. It’s the MVC now. That said, I’ve had no problems with the MVC. I heard horror stories about getting a new style license, but I just read the pamphlet they sent, brought what they told me to + a little more, and w/o a birth certificate, got my license in about 20 minutes. The only sticking point the people there had was that I lost ~90 lbs since my last license photo, and I didn’t look the same. But I still have the same cheesy mustache, so they were cool. The old DMV was a horror show sometimes.

  5. What The Geek says:

    I’m from Jersey, and I can honestly say two things:

    A. The DMV here is pretty terrible.
    B. Comcast is definitely worse.

    I used to have comcast. I paid them electronically straight from my bank account for a long time – seldom even looked at the bill. One day, I got a call saying my payment was late. I said “No, it’s not – I paid you over two weeks ago” They had no record of it. Long story short, somehow my account number was magically and without warning changed sometime prior to my making a payment. The weird (ie: shady) thing was that no one could track down the payment even with the old account number that I had been paying into. Even after faxing them my bank statement they still didn’t believe it – basically, they told me it was insufficient evidence that I had made a payment (even though the payment clearly stated who the payee was).

    The moral of the story? If you can live without TV, ditch comcrap. If you can’t, see if Fios is available in your area – they’re not perfect, but they beat comcast by a pretty wide margin.

  6. DomZ says:

    The NJ MVC sent all their employees to customer service training IIRC. The last time I got my license renewed (in September) it took approximately 12 minutes start to finish including me filling out a blank form because I misplaced the preprinted one.

    Comcast is the absolute worst company in America (I have every reason to believe they’ll win the bracket tournament).

  7. bsbeamer says:

    The NJ DMV has gotten better over the past few years. I’ve actually left with a pleasant experience the few times I’ve had to go. My wait has been less than 5 minutes generally for “routine” business and in and out within 15-20 minutes. Not bad for what it once was. Inspection lines are a different story… generally 30-45 minutes.

  8. Juggernaut says:

    In the last couple of years, NJ MVC in Lakewood has had some of the most helpful customer service people I’ve ever encountered.

  9. coold8 says:

    I have been to three DMVs in the past year,

    East Brunswick, NJ – no problem at all, registered a used car and got plates, in and out in about 10 minutes.
    Freehold, NJ – Got into an accident with car, had to get new plates, 3 minutes
    Eatontown, NJ – Had to take drivers test, and get license. Total time 45 minutes , no waiting.

    No problems for me with DMV, always friendly too.

  10. Bladefist says:

    I refuse to believe a government operated institution like the DMV would be flawed.

  11. dalegribble says:

    Comcast has the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced.

    They employ a host of bodies who only have one objective:
    Get you off the phone or out of their face. Helping you is NOT necessarily a goal.

    I had a celebration when I was finally able to sever all ties with Comcast.
    Oh, not all ties… My mailbox is bombarded weekly with mailings and I have no confidence that if I were to contact them and ask to be removed from their list that it would get done. I think that would take 4 or 5 calls, 1.5 hours total on the line.

    One more comment. My wife remarked “I think I’d rather watch a bare wall than to ever have to deal with them again”. I agreed with no pause.

  12. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    Would you venture to say that Comcast is ‘worser’ than the DMV?

  13. seym0ur caKe says:

    I live in New Jersey, and yes, both Comcast and the DMV are the most dreaded places one could be…

    -Shutters at the thought I have to get my license renewed soon…-

  14. t0fu says:

    Comcast service for me tends to be excellent when it’s working. Just hope to god you dont need to call customer support or you are S.O.L.

  15. seym0ur caKe says:

    @seym0ur caKe: That’s the MVC/DMV in Lawrenceville, next to Quaker Bridge Mall BTW.

    And yes, Comcast is worse, but since they installed the new wires from the pole, no complaints… -Knocks on wood.-

  16. missdona says:

    I walked in to a Comcast center in North Arlington, NJ to move my service to a new location. They told me to call the 800 number. Useless. Useless. Useless. All that center does is take payments and check in/check out equipment.

  17. DomZ says:

    MVC office in Turnsersville, NJ = A+

  18. mbressman says:

    I’ve been to that exact Comcast office in West Orange. It is located by a Whole Foods and a K-Mart off of Passaic Avenue. And I can definitely vouch for the fact that it is an incredibly frustrating experience and their operations are ridiculous and totally not consumer-friendly.

    First off, they have counter to ceiling heavy-duty protective glass windows (the same kind a bank might have) which makes it seem like you’re there to deposit gold instead of pick up a cable box. And to be honest (and this is not to say that I’m applying this to everyone that works at that office) everyone I’ve ever dealt with there has been nasty and rude and very unhelpful. What should end up being a 5 minute transaction usually takes 30 – 45 minutes of horrendous and obnoxious service. I can’t understand why they don’t change the dynamic of this service location. Nonetheless, when I go I’m usually not in the state of mind to argue or complain, but I would love to go one day armed with some high-level corporate contacts so that at the first sign of trouble, I can whip out my cell phone and call some VP at their corporate office…I’d honestly like to see what happens at that point ;)

  19. coffee177 says:

    comcast recording: Please enter your phone number.

    rep: Hi this is “Stacy” can I get your phone number please?
    me: I already gave it to you.
    rep: Im sorry, I need it again please.
    me: Ok, Its xxx-xxx-xxxx.

    rep: Im sorry I dont have any record of that number.
    me: Well, You have updated it from my old number atleast 4 times in the past. What went wrong?
    rep: Im sorry, Do you have your account number or a valid phone number please.
    I dont have my account number right now. I cannot find my last bill.
    rep: Well, Im sorry, I cannot help you unless you have a valid phone number or account number.
    me: Cant you look me up by my name???
    rep: Sure, I can do that.

    They are complete idiots.

  20. missdona says:

    @coffee177: Not to defend them, but they can never find my number either. If your area code is from an area that they don’t service then it wont work. Someone finally explained to me after years of that nonsense.

  21. uberbitter says:

    @Bladefist – They were privatized several years ago.

    I have to add my happiness with the DMV as well. Ever since they were privatized I have never had a long wait and never had to deal with a jerk at the counter. I’d almost say they aren’t evil anymore, except for the fact that the 6 point documentation system is ridiculous because it’s a pain to get the documents together and it’s still easy to dupe the system.

  22. CRNewsom says:

    @coffee177: I think these people trained some of the CSRs that I have worked with…

  23. @bsbeamer: Agreed. I renew everything on-line, so there’s no need to go to the offices. They extended the time between inspections for newer vehicles and have evening hours one day a week, so the lines at the inspection stations are shorter. The only problem sometimes is going to the office and making sure you have your 6 points of identification so you can get a new/replacement driver’s license. Nothing more frustrating than realizing you don’t have enough id information.

    I haven’t used Comcast in years, but I remember they were less than helpful when I had problems. I supplied my own cable modem when I had it installed, and they still tried to charge me the monthly rental fee.

  24. Falconfire says:

    @seym0ur caKe: oh dude you dont even know. Have you been to the MVC since the state took it over? Its going to be a glorious day for you, trust me. Just make sure you have your 6 points worth of documents.

  25. Bladefist says:

    @uberbitter: Yea when I was typing that I realized it was privatized, but I had already went past of the point of no return.

    While it’s privatized,I didn’t notice much of a difference at my local dmv, its still a shit hole.

  26. Falconfire says:

    @uberbitter: no they are state run now, they WHERE privatized for years. Them being privatized was what destroyed the DMV. The company who ran them got kickbacks for helping dealerships first before private citizens. When the state took it over, they moved all dealership work to Trenton and freed up the regional offices.

    When the state took over the DMV again, they found huge amounts of corruption thanks to the private firm who ran it. Just a little example that sometimes privatizing something is NOT the way to go.

  27. seym0ur caKe says:

    @Falconfire: LMFAO!!! Got my license back in Jan of this year (lost it for points) and they had me running marathons back and forth inbetween that office and the one in Trenton, just to find out, I didn’t have to go anywhere, my license was automatically “reactivated” if you will.

  28. seym0ur caKe says:

    Forgot to mention, throughout the whole ordeal, the minute my number was called at the Trenton office, a fire alarm went off…@seym0ur caKe:

  29. ViperBorg says:

    “How can a private company get away with having worse customer service than the most notoriously unpleasant government office ever…?”

    It’s Crap, er, Comcast. Are you really that amazed?

  30. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    NJ DMV has a deservedly bad reputation, but they’ve gotten a LOT better over the last few years. I’ve had visits that were under 15 minutes in some of the Southern centers.

    Even in the busy offices the only real problem they have is the wait time. If you go there knowing in advance that you’ll be waiting for at least an hour it’s painless. They even have a desk at the front door where they check to make sure you have all the documents you’ll need before you start the process.

  31. VermilionSparrow says:

    @coffee177: CSRs are *always* required to get verbal verification of phone number and account holder’s name. We do this as a basic precaution against someone calling in claiming to be you and making changes to your account that you didn’t want.

    The number you push before the rep gets on the line is supposed to pop up on the rep’s screen in a Caller ID-type display, which they are supposed to verify with you. Of course, sometimes this doesn’t actually work. And sometimes it’s policy to ask anyway.

    I used to work for Verizon as a CSR, and even if all the information populated we were still supposed to verify that the information was correct and that we were speaking with the account holder before proceeding.

    Honestly, I’d rather have CSRs verify that I am who I say I am before doing anything to my account rather than letting anyone who happens to have the audio dialing sequence of my phone number be able to make changes to my account.

  32. missdona says:

    @Falconfire: Corruption? In New Jersey? I’ll never believe it./sarcasm

  33. stinerman says:

    How can a private company get away with having worse customer service than the most notoriously unpleasant government office ever…?

    It probably has something to do with the fact that Comcast has either a statutory monopoly or natural monopoly in the cable television services in the area.

    The DMV/MVC is a monopoly. Comcast is a monopoly. People aren’t going to do without their cable TV any more than they’ll do without their cars. Therefore, Comcast has no incentive to provide good customer service, just like your local government office.

  34. keith4298 says:

    @Falconfire: I have to agree. I thought it was a fluke the first time I went into a DMV er…NJMVC and was out in under 10 minutes, but then my wife had the same experience at a differnt NJMVC. I don’t like to give credit to NJ, but I have to in this case.

  35. Metropolis says:

    SInce the MVC change theres usually no problems at all with their service. They have a front desk where you need to check in with and make sure you have all the required documents. I’ve been there a few times over the last couple years and the only problem I had was not having enough cash on me to register a car.

  36. applestocrapples says:

    @seym0ur caKe: That’s the MVC/DMV in Lawrenceville, next to Quaker Bridge Mall BTW.

    I was there 2 weeks ago to get my license renewed. Showed up at 8am on Saturday and was out the door by 8:27am. Not too bad.

  37. seym0ur caKe says:

    @applestocrapples: I don’t know, but a half hour trip at 8 in the morning sounds like things could be improved. I will agree that they are better than when it was the DMV. But they still have a long way to go.

  38. heavylee-again says:

    @stinerman:You said exactly what I was going to say. Comcast has no reason to encourage/require its employees to be nice to its customers. I’m not saying that there aren’t any nice Comcast employees, but it’s just out of the kindness of their own hearts.

    Some might say that Comcast does have competition in satellite TV or Fios. But their customer bases are nowhere near what Comcast’s is, and Comcast hasn’t felt enough of a dip in their subscriber base to care yet.

  39. Canoehead says:

    I moved from NY to Jersey, and the MVD experience was fantastic – in and out quickly, generally helpful staff and had my real license right away (in NY I had to carry a piece of paper for 2 months until the plastic license arrived in the mail.

    Comcast in my part of Jersey is located in a total slum and the staff are literally 3 IQ points above protazoa, the CSRs are complete idiots who will bitch you out in that special “sassy” tone for something that is actually their fault – though some of the installer/service call guys are actually ok.

    Comcast “wins” by a mile.

  40. attackgypsy says:

    Connecticut DMV has had just as bad a rep at NJ has.

    But recently, they’ve done a real lot to improve things.

    Needed to replace my license when I lost my wallet about a month ago. Went in, got the paperwork. That took 5 minutes to fill out. Got a number. got called 5 min. later. 10 min. to process. Out in 20 min.

    On a Thursday night. When they have extended hours, and is extremely busy.

  41. Truthie says:

    The NJ MVC has come a long way over the past few years, and my experience at several locations has actually been quite positive.

  42. cde says:

    Jersey DMV (IT WILL ALWAYS BE THE DMV TO ME!!!) ftw. Nothing but good thoughts about them. Except for when they wouldn’t let that 14-day-title-deadline fee pass (I had the title signed and dated 30 days before I had the title transfered to my name :/) but the law is the law in that case.

  43. President Beeblebrox says:

    Comcast sucks so bad they built the tallest building in Philadelphia to prove it (subsidized to the tune of several million dollars by the Commonwealth of PA). Almost 1,000 feet of tribute to the horror that is Comcast.


    Actually, it’s an attractive building, but it unfortunately does symbolize the evil multi-tentacled being that Comcast has become.

    Heh, I remember when they were a dinky little local cable franchise headquartered at One Meridian Plaza in Philly, the office tower that burned down in the 1980s.

  44. t0fu says:

    Are you sure comcast built the building? They did buy out Adelphia and the building could have gone with it.

    philly was adelphia world HQ I believe.

  45. @VermilionSparrow: wouldn’t asking for the account PIN or the last 4 of your social security number be enough proof that you’re the account holder?

    also, i’d like to put in my 2cents about the MVC –i just got a new car and as such needed to get a new registration and transfer my plates…i was prepared to wait at least an hour.. i was in and out in 10 minutes and the help desk was EXTREMELY pleasant and helpful. i was amazed at how wonderful my experience was.

  46. knyghtryda says:

    I’m a newcomer to NJ, so I was rather surprised when registering for a license that it only took ~1.5 hours from the time I got in line to the time I walked out license in hand. Granted, thats still a waste of 1.5 hours, but I’ve had far worse experiences with CA DMV. Comcast though just sucks all around.