Comcast Digs Up Your Patio After You Asked Them Not To And Other Assorted Humiliations

Reader Shannon has been without a working phone in her home office for the past 16 days thanks to Comcast. This has her in a bad mood, but she’s also a little ticked off because they sent over a bunch of guys who didn’t understand her when she told them not to dig up her patio.

Here’s her letter:

I am appalled that anyone can speak the word customer service at Comcast. I am so angry with Comcast right now that I am going to compose an email that will be sent to every investor, stock holder, news agency, better business bureau, and consumer protection agency. Allow me to explain why I am so irate; you at least deserve an opportunity to answer why a company that you run is so negligent with it’s consumers.

1.)I opened my account via the web with a live web rep via chat back in April. Because I had heard the horror stories, and because I worked for a local telco, I asked very pointed questions such as “will my service have any down time due to number portability?” and “Is there anything I can do to make sure that this is a smooth process?”. The chat representative assured me that the transition would not have any down time, and that all I had to do was follow the link provided and then fill out the “Letter of Agency” form. I did that and received confirmation for both numbers.

2.)Comcast Rep did not show up on scheduled date, instead, he showed up almost two weeks later on May 5th, 2008 unannounced. I figured the wait was because of the number and I did not say anything about it. The technician installed the service. The number on the ticket read [redacted]. I was very specific in my original chat that this was the number I needed. I explained that I have advertising on that number. The tech TESTED the line and assured us that everything was installed as ordered. What he didn’t tell us was that we were assigned a Comcast Native number. I was able to access the internet and make outbound calls but my inbound calls were just ringing, never actually going through to my home. This was due to the native number being placed on the line.

3.)May 5th, 2008, at 5pm, I contacted 1-800-Comcast. They informed me that it was a simple mistake, gave me the native number and explained that the problem would be corrected within 24 hours.

4.)May 6th, 2008 at 5pm. My services went completely down. No internet, no phone, no dial tone. I contacted 1-800-Comcast again. They explained that the earliest appointment time would be May 7th with an all day appointment (meaning by 8pm). At 8pm, the rep had not showed so I called. The rep on the phone explained that the tech had attempted to call the number on the ticket being reported for no dial tone, did not get an answer, therefore, did not come. They must have dispatched him, because he did show up at 10:00pm. He said he had fixed the problem. I could now use the internet and make outbound calls with the number [redacted] showing up on the other persons caller id, but my inbound calls were still going to never never land, not being received in my home. The tech explained that he could not fix it, that it was a portability issue and said that he would have his boss contact me the following day.

5.) Steve never contacted me. I finally contacted him at 4:00pm. He explained that I was a complete problem and that “corporate emails” had been flying all day and that he or his boss would email me with resolution by the following day which was Friday. No email. I tried to call him all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday yet he never answered his calls, returned my calls or emailed me to this day.

6.) I had three spanish speaking individuals show up to replace wire I assume. They dug a hole THROUGH my patio, buried that wire, then left the entire 1/2 acre of line exposed for the dogs to chew…Brilliant! I tried to ask them to NOT dig through my patio, but they could speak English, No Comprende!

7.) I called back in to 1-800-Comcast on 5/12/08. I spoke to Antonio. He said that a work order had been placed but that it was done incorrectly. He explained that the number had not been ported over correctly either. He said that he was going to correctly enter the work order but that I would have to go through another wound of third party verification. He said that the earliest he could have my new number up and running would be 5/22/08 before 5pm. He further explained that he could not enter a work order at the same time for our 2nd number. He said to call in on the 22nd and that they would then get the second number ported but that it would be at least another 7 days from the time that I call in.

8.) My box was reset, a call came from comcast and my number switched over on the 16th of may. The 2nd number was still incomplete.

9.) On 5/20/08. My phones went down again, no inbound or outbound, no dial tone at all again. I contacted the chat live rep again. The first rep said that I had taken the service off of my account which I had not done. He switched me to sales. The sales chat rep said that he should not have transferred me there and that he would try to resolve. He promised resolution by 9pm. He asked that I log back into this chat and check up prior to 9pm. I did. This time, the rep said that it had nothing to do with that and that this was an inside wiring issue. My questions was then why did rep #1 and #2 say that this was due to an account error and why did I just have my patio dug up to replace wire? She couldn’t answer but scheduled an appointment for another tech to come out 5/21/08. This is now ridiculous.

Really it boils down to reps pushing the blame, passing the buck and taking no responsibility. It seems that there is so much corporate tape to go through that Comcast can’t get out of it’s own way. I want a working phone and I want it now. I was told that it would be installed and by a Comcast rep, I was told that there would not be any down time. Promise after Promise has been broken and contractually speaking, comcast has defaulted. What is going to happen with my advertising bill of 800.00 this month? Am I expected to pay it when obviously no customer could get through to my line? And what about all the business I lost?? And what about the property damage? This situation is a lot larger than simply not having a phone for a few hours. It has now been 16 days (and counting).

Much more transpired through calls and what not but it would simply be too much to write. I am now begging to have this resolved…pleading. My business depends on it. Would you be okay without a phone in your office for 16 days? With all the complaints I am sure that you would rather have it that way!

I have chat logs, copies of all correspondence, recordings, you name it. Ignoring me will not make me go away. I want resolution. This is an opportunity to fix the problem now, before I take this matter for review before the consumer protection agency, the FCC, the better business bureau and all the local news agencies. I hope that you take customer service and promises seriously; any business relies on it!


After Comcast dug up our property without permission and left us without a phone for 16 days, we’d port our number to another company, have the damage repaired and file a small claims lawsuit for the amount of the repair bill… but that’s just us. Here’s some information on how to do that if Comcast doesn’t come through with phone service and a little patio repair.

(Photo: u2acro )


Edit Your Comment

  1. Crymson_77 says:

    And file a complaint with the local utility commission. Since it is a business line, it falls under those rules. Comcast is required to provide service in an EXTREMELY timely manner or be fined for not doing so…heavily…

  2. jjeeff says:

    Hey about a picture of the patio? Without it, this is just some overly wordy rant.

  3. tortcat says:

    I doubt very seriously this is a business line ( for crymson)..prob a residential line being used for a business…big difference.

    I am curious though as to how the patio was dug up? is poster saying they actually tore apart her patio and cut it into pieces to run a cable?

  4. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @Crymson_77: According to legal liability, they are NOT responsible for lost wages, lost business, etc, etc, etc. But that’s for residential contracts…perhaps business contracts are different? I know they have guaranteed uptime, but would that apply here? I would hope so.

    What are they responsible for?

    The damage to your property? Yes.

    The fact that they had three ‘techs’ come over who spoke to English? Yes. This is a serious issue. I am not racist, but you NEED to be able to communicate. What if the Comcast Van was in an accident? You have three people who don’t know English? What if while digging they had an accident? Hit something, broke something (a line or a body-part)…. SERIOUS ISSUE.

    The fact that they gave you wrong information and DID NOT call you back promptly even though it was a business account? Yes.

    I agree with the OP, spread the word to anyone and everyone that will listen.

  5. jumbo pongo says:

    “I am appalled that anyone can speak the word customer service at Comcast.”

    That’s two words.

  6. bdsakx says:

    @jjeeff: Agreed.

    Is it really so much trouble for people to include pictures or other supporting visuals with their stories? I am reading this story and going “oh god, that’s terrible!” and at the same time I’m longing for the visual stimuli.

  7. Zanorfes says:

    @jumbopongo: 2 words or 1 word, doesn’t really matter. Comcast doesn’t know what those words mean anyway, much less see them or count them. To them it’s just gibberish they can’t understand.

  8. kathyl says:


    “I am appalled that anyone can speak the word customer service at Comcast.”

    That’s two words.

    I think at some companies, “customer service” is just one word, and a four-letter one at that.

  9. Barum says:

    @tortcat: I’m going to assume that the patio in question was either a tamped paver stone, or flag stone style. Easier to install whole than repair a section of. Mechanical tampers would mess up the paving stones around the repair.

  10. heavylee-again says:

    But really, are any of us surprised?

  11. Mudd-Dobber says:

    two words


  12. SkokieGuy says:

    @jjeeff: What words would you edit out? Your voyeuristic need to see someone’s ruined patio is a bit creepy. Perhaps you should cancel your Consumerist membership and demand a refund!

  13. Lambasted says:

    Comcast digital phone service sucks!!! USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! My phone used to go out every month and still does from time to time. Their online voicemail system is horridly inefficient to use. I don’t know if all digital phone service is this bad but I will never use Comcast again.

  14. Kajj says:

    @SkokieGuy: Well jeez, a guy has to blame the victim for SOMETHING. She didn’t give him a lot to work with here.
    I mean, the writer didn’t throw in a space after using an ellipsis. Totally deserved everything she got.

  15. The Real 31 says:

    About a month ago my cable and internet just went out one morning. It had been working great for about 6 months. After 3 days of waiting (and sitting around for 5 hour window) the Comcast tech came over and told me that in fact, there was no line running to my house.

    I was either extremely impressed that I was able to get cable and internet for 6 months with no cable, or very mad at whoever dug up my cable and took it away from my house.

  16. B says:

    @Mudd-Dobber: Verizon, we’ll set your house on fire, but your patio is safe.

  17. bsalamon says:

    I would sue for every little problem…and call up your local fox affiliate, they are usually very good at getting companies to live up to their promises

  18. cac67 says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: I doubt that none of the three spoke English. I used to be an otr truck driver, and I’ve run into this problem several times. No one spoke English until I called my dispatcher and told him I was bringing the load back, then suddenly they all spoke English. Just messin’ with the gringos.

  19. tripnman says:

    Wow – these names look familiar, sounds like the OP is in the Sacramento, CA market. If someone from the Consumerist gets in touch with me, I’ll pass along direct office and celluar numbers for all the important people in our area. I kept them after the 6 week outage I had.

  20. audemars says:

    LOL! The best part of the story was:

    “I would have to go through another wound of third party verification.”

    I’m sure it wasn’t an intentional typo, but hilarious none-the-less.

  21. backbroken says:

    @Mudd-Dobber: 3 words: Not. Available. Everywhere.

  22. Crymson_77 says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: If it is under a business contract, and it is specified as a business line, then what I said applies whether Comcast likes it or not. As for the patio, Small Claims Court and a shotgut in hand the next time they show up…

  23. tedyc03 says:

    I am so angry with Comcast right now that I am going to compose an email that will be sent to every investor, stock holder, news agency, better business bureau, and consumer protection agency. Allow me to explain why I am so irate…

    First she basically says she’s going to contact everybody on earth, and that she hates these people, and then asks them for the courtesy of listening to her complaint?

    I didn’t read the rest of the complaint…I couldn’t get past this line.

  24. Pylon83 says:

    When will people learn to write succinct complaints with no emotion or extraneous facts? The executives don’t care about any of that crap. They want to know, succinctly, what went wrong, and what you want done to fix it. They couldn’t care less about your business, or who you work for, or your thoughts about their employees. Get to the point, quickly. Brevity is your friend when writing these things. Further, using “technical” terms like “Comcast Native number” just confuses everyone. The execs probably don’t know what it means, neither does anyone else reading it that doesn’t work in the department that uses that term. Moreover, unless she ordered a Business line, she has no right to expect any sort of compensation for lost business, expenses, etc.

  25. TMurphy says:

    I say don’t wait for them to make a move, go ahead and kick up a storm. They can take their time getting back to you right now, but if you are actively creating a commotion, they have to work fast to contain the damage.

    I hope the law books are in your favor on the lost business front- they don’t deserve to be let off easy on this one.

    As for the workers, if a company sent a team to my house, and none of them spoke English, I would do what I can to get them to go away, even if it means getting them to understand I am willing to call the police (non-emergency of course). I think I’m with a lot of people in that I don’t mind if they speak another language, just as long as I have someone I can communicate with. Not only are there the concerns others have mentioned, but I have to doubt they are familiar with any building codes or safety requirements, should none know English, since they are probably printed in English only.

  26. Moosehawk says:

    A while back I had called Comcast several times to fix a connecting/disconnecting issue I’d been having. They said it may be a problem with our box or lines to the house and I asked if they could try to solve it some other way first before they came and dug up my yard and they said they wouldn’t send somebody out.

    A week later a Comcast truck pulls up in front of my house and a tech comes out with a shovel. I told him to get the hell out of my yard because I did not authorize digging of any sort. They didn’t even survey the yard for other wires or anything.

  27. vdragonmpc says:

    Please they all suck… Verizon took 2 months to run phones to a place I worked for in Prince George VA… Hell they even lied and said DSL was faster at the new location. It sure was It didnt fricken exist there!!!!

    Comcast is still pissed at me because I wouldnt allow a big honkin green cabinet in my yard. I dont have cable and because when I asked about the pricing they quoted an insane install fee we never will. They are not welcome to tear up my property. period.

    Of course the fact that ahem the old box was buried and flattened was a bit rude of me.

  28. @Pylon83:

    Amen, brother!

    While the OP has a completely valid complaint, you are GUARANTEEING an executive will pass off your letter to a subordinate if you write such a lengthy saga. Guaranteed.

    If you keep your letter short, polite and professional, you may even get a response from a big mucky muck in moments. I have several times and, sure enough, their responses are usually under ten words or less to the effect “sorry, we will fix this.”

    Unfortunately, Consumerist never teaches people how to effectively write a complaint.

    Short and sweet, that’s the way to get results. And unlike what Consumerist tells people, write to ONE person.

    Would you like it if someone called everyone in your family or business about their customer service problem? If you wouldn’t like it, don’t expect that someone else will.

    (sorry, OP, not railing on you. Just talking in general…)

  29. u1itn0w2day says:

    Sloppy and disorganized if nothing else.It all goes back to the cable industry using contrators.Hourly employees and routine daily service they still have not mastered.

    Last service request they STOLE my $22 brass/gold plated splitter and they ripped plaster out of the wall by pulling on the old cable & staples at the sametime rather than wiggle out the staples with pliers.They also guessed at the trouble,they said my drop was old so they replaced it.Still get pixilization.One didn’t even bring/carry their tools with them until needed-numerous trips to the truck-it’s nothing but a tool belt.And this was the first of several trouble reports they actually showed up on rather than cancel through the computer.

    They really didn’t explain much except one said the old drop corresponds to the readings he was getting-not good.Also said the original work was not right.I’ll say it again,the cable tv industry used contractors and subcontractors for so many years they know nothing aout training & fielding employees of their own.

  30. nlongtin says:

    I have had a few run-ins with Comcast. Once they parked in my alley blocking my car in for hours.

    Now whenever I get the chance I do something little to stick-it to them.

    See this picture for an example:


  31. Pfluffy says:

    You could always make a claim to your insurance company for the repairs for the damage. The insurance company will get all those damages back from the contractor who did the shoddy work. As for the phone not working, does anyone in their right mind use comcast for anything?

  32. WNW says:

    “Really it boils down to reps pushing the blame, passing the buck and taking no responsibility.”

    That describes every phone conversation I’ve ever had with Comcast.

  33. dragonfire81 says:

    Good luck trying to get them to void out your contract, they will fight you to the end on that and may even send you to collections before you get a resolution.

    I would try an EECB if I were you, also get an estimate on that patio damage and try to get Comcast to cover that bill too.

  34. “6.) I had three spanish speaking individuals show up to replace wire I assume. They dug a hole THROUGH my patio, buried that wire, then left the entire 1/2 acre of line exposed for the dogs to chew…Brilliant! I tried to ask them to NOT dig through my patio, but they could speak English, No Comprende!”

    You mean couldn’t speak english? Besides that… if you really didn’t want them to dig thru your patio and couldn’t get thru with basic english, there’s a worldwide gesture you could of thrown at them (along with their shovels) to get your desired result.

    #1- Don’t let comcrap in your home unless you plan on babysitting them.
    #2- I think the general public knows the word “Adios”. Pick up their shovels, thrown them towards the van, and yell it.
    #3- If you do happen to let these soul depleting monsters into your home, with hopes your service will be better than you’ve heard… RENT THE MOVIE THE EXORCIST.

    The power of Comcast COMPELS YOU!!

  35. *THROW them towards the van…. my bad, yo.

  36. Raziya says:

    Oh Comcast…you’ll never learn!

  37. BalknChain says:

    Comcast just makes me think of a rather southern sounding phrase “Why I never!”
    There really aren’t words for this level of incompetence. Or there is, something like Sear’s Best Circuit Bank of Comcast.

  38. trujunglist says:

    I don’t understand. No in Spanish is the same as No in English. All she had to do is say NO, COMPRENDE? (she already knew comprende according to her post, so she must know a tiny tiny bit of spanish)

  39. madog says:

    @jjeeff: While it may help, once a picture is posted someone just like you will be crying “photoshopped”.

    It comes down to the fact that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But don’t worry, I called that Wahmbulance and they’re headed your way.

  40. scoosdad says:

    Call this guy right away at Comcast’s executive customer service:

    Frank Eliason
    215-286-7480 in Philadelphia (Comcast HQ)

    He’s the guy who usually monitors for complaints on sites like Consumerist and ComcastMusDie-dot-com. This one sounds like it’s in his league. Be proactive and call him first.

  41. friedduck says:

    The interesting thing to me is that people are still surprised by the behavior of Comcast and their employees. I wish the original poster luck!

  42. coffee177 says:

    And people still are buying the combined internet/tv/phone deals to save money. Theres a good lesson here. No matter what the corporation is that wants you to go all in with them – never do it. Keep your services as seperate as possible.

    Comcast: How can I help you?
    me: My internet and tv is down ( note: I have no choice in my area. Its comcast or nothing).
    comcast: We can get a tech scheduled out there this weekend. I see you dont have our phone
    service sir. Is there any reason you dont?

    Me: Yes, If I did we wouldnt be talking right now.


  43. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @Lambasted: Hate to admit it, but I’ve had a lot fewer outages (“Service Interupptions” from ComCrap). My Comcast Digital Voice was out once for about three hours in three months of service. Knock on wood. *knock* *knock* Though they misquoted how long the promo price would last for….but I think they fixed it. I think….

  44. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @TMurphy: Building codes are not the only thing in English….

    Why are people allowed to take driving exams for their licenses in languages other than ENGLISH? The road signs in the majority of the US (especially the Northeast/Mid Atlantic/Mid West, etc) are in ENGLISH. Why give someone a license test in Spanish or French or Chinese if the road signs are in ENGLISH?

    That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

    I know in the southern US signs are bi-lingual, but that applies to what….3% of the roadways? If that…

  45. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @twophrasebark: Complain to a single person? Like the OP did originally did? To a Comcast CSR? It got her…wait for it….Nowhere.

    She has a right to be frustrated and tell the world about. Whether that’s effective or not is a different point…

  46. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @coffee177: I agree with you. I do. But I agree more with saving money. The bundles by ALL the companies are priced to force you into them.

    Comcast: What? Three services? that’s only $33 each a month plus taxes, fees, rental, blah….

    Comcast: What, you want two services? that’s $45 each a month plus taxes, fees, rental, blah…

    Comcast: What? you want just one service? Really? Are you sure? Seriously? Just one? Are you feeling well? You are sure? *puts phone down on desk* “Hey, get a load of this guy, he wants ONE service! *Round of laughter* *phone picked back up* Hello, sir? Really, just ONE…One…service? Like half of 2? This isn’t a prank call? Okay… that’s $65 a month plus taxes, fees, rental, blah…

  47. mariospants says:

    Holy. Fuck.

    If Comcast doesn’t come 1st or 2nd in the WCOTY voting…

  48. ComcastAnon says:

    If you didn’t request business class phone service(WDV) then Comcast cannot be held liable for any lost business. That includes both your possible lost business revenue, and your advertising bill.

    As far as receiving a resolution on the damage, taking it to small claims court would probably just be a waste of money. Use the list of Comcast sup/manager/corporate phone numbers, or launch an EECB. Make sure you REQUEST that they fill out a damage claim form. That will go straight to the call center management, and to their Legal Affairs Department. You would want to follow that up with a call to the LAD as well of course.

    In closing, NEVER order residential services for business purposes. The ToS for residential services explicitly state that Comcast cannot be held liable for anything business-related caused by downtime of any service. Look at the “Workplace” triple play bundle. Only slightly more expensive tan residential, but has more/beter guarantees on everything, including sameday/next day tech calls for EVERYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE(including the internet that can sometimes take a week for an appointment).

  49. 2719 says:

    @ u1itn0w2day

    Cable guys are required to clean up before they leave, no cable wiring, splitters, packaging etc should be left unused.

    Also ‘gold’ splitters are junk %99 of the time.

  50. Ninjanice says:

    Comcast sucks it. I have their basic TV cable service (which is paid through a deal with my condo association). The won’t let me upgrade to digital cable without paying for basic cable twice(once with the association and again on my own account). Seems like they’d want to get more money from me every month, but they don’t. I constantly had problems with their internet service, so I cancelled it. Between my roommate and I, we probably spent about 4-8 hours a week on the phone trying to get them to fix our service. The best is when they sent my roommate to the escalations department because she said that it was “ri-goddamned-diculous” that they expected us to be on the phone with them for at least 4 hours every week if we wanted to use the internet. Yeah, you can suck it, Comcast!

  51. luz says:

    Sale, pero por lo menos no hicieron popo en tu casa, ni tormentaron a ningunos gatitos.