Andrew's Epic Comcast Debacle

UPDATE: After he sent an EECB, all of Andrew’s billing errors have been resolved.

Comcast is a horrible tangled mess of utter crapitutde, as reader Andrew’s story aptly, if not concisely, illustrates…

I’m sending this mail as a last resort. Comcast has been giving my wife and I the runaround concerning our bill since we moved our service from one apartment to another around May 18th. In that time we’ve been on the line with Customer Support, sent e-mails to Executive Customer Support, and talked on the phone with representatives of Executive Customer Support, and none of it has helped. I’m going to try this last attempt to contact someone who can help at Comcast, and I’m also forwarding this to Consumerist as the level of support that we’ve gotten from Comcast up to this point has been atrocious.

My wife and I were married last October, and we’d been living together and enjoying our Comcast cable tv with no trouble since June of ’07. We sent in a request to change my wife’s name from her maiden name to her married name in early November after getting back from our honeymoon and it was never processed. I finally went in to the local office a few days ago and they changed it on the spot there, but we had asked via phone several times for the name change to go through and it never happened. This isn’t something that I should have had to go down to the local office to address.

We recently signed up for a new two-year contract so that we could continue to pay a special rate rather than the full price for the premium package we’re signed up for. Comcast told us that they would send out a new contract for us to sign and send in. It’s been almost a month since we went with this new contract and we still haven’t received anything to sign and send in, though we have been billed at the new rate at least. Eventually, after receiving a call every few days from a Customer Service Representative asking if we’d received the contract, she called back to tell me that we were on a one year plan rather than a two year plan and didn’t need to sign any sort of contract. It would have been nice if we’d been told this the thousand other times that we dealt with Customer Service and they told us that we were going to be locked in for two years at this special rate.

Our cable television was recently screwed up to the point that it couldn’t be watched for two weeks. It started on May 22 and wasn’t resolved until June 3. This was nearly two weeks where we couldn’t watch cable in our living room because of this service disruption. I tried to get someone out to look at the service, but we were going to be out of town on the only day they could get someone out and we ended up having to set a date two weeks ahead. Like I said, the problem eventually fixed itself. A comcast repairman called me the morning that he was supposed to come out for a service call and asked if we were still having the problem, explaining that there had been an issue with the apartment complex that he had fixed. Since we were no longer having the issue I told him that he didn’t have to stop by.

The last time we had a service disruption of several weeks we were given a credit of $50. I complained about this service disruption while I was in the local office and was stonewalled. First the lady told me that we couldn’t be compensated for that time unless we made a call as soon as the disruption took place. I told her to check her records as I had called the day that the trouble started, and after looking again she admitted it was the case. She then said that we’d only had a service disruption for a few days, and I counted up the days and pointed out that it was closer to two weeks than a few days. Finally she said we couldn’t get a refund for lost time because the service technician hadn’t actually come to our house. I explained to her that we had someone scheduled to come to the house, but I had told him not to come out because the problem was with the apartment complex and that it had been fixed. It seemed silly to waste the technician’s time and my time when the problem was already solved.

Eventually they agreed to give us a $20 credit, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough given all the trouble that I had to go through, all the hours that were spent on the phone with technical support, and that I had to finally go down to the local office to get all of these problems addressed.

We started having trouble with the box again towards the end of the month. I contacted Customer Service and they said it was most likely a problem with the set top box and not with the line going into the apartment. By this time we had done our patriotic duty as Americans and spent our tax rebate on a new HD television, so I told them that on a service call they could just switch us out for an HD box to replace the old malfunctioning box. Comcast scheduled a service call to have someone check the connection at our apartment just to make sure there wasn’t a problem there and to bring the HD box at the same time.

Two days later I got a call from the technician and he told me that he was ahead of schedule and would be at our apartment in a few minutes. An hour passed and I got a confused call from the technician asking if I was at home. It turns out that Comcast sent the technician to our old apartment’s address instead of the new apartment we’d moved into a month before. I asked if he could come to the new address and he said he would have to call me back. Another twenty minutes passed and he called me back and told me that he couldn’t come to the new address because the account that he was on a service call for wasn’t the account that we had at the new apartment. Evidently when we moved they closed the account at the old address and opened a new one at our new address that used the same account number but had a different phone number associated with it. It made no sense to me, but the Customer Service Representative I talked to seemed to think that it was business as usual.

After another hour on the phone with a CSR we discovered the problem. The phone that I used to call in was still associated with the old account, our new account was associated with our Comcast phone number and not my cell phone despite me giving my cell phone number as the primary contact for the new account, and the CSR who scheduled the service call never bothered to verify the address and instead decided it would be a good idea to send a service technician to a vacated apartment to add a new HD set top box to an account that had been closed for a month. Then I discovered that it wasn’t actually a service call at all, they were just sending the truck out to swap the boxes and they were going to charge us $30 for this. When I called it was to set up a service call to see what was wrong with our service, and the HD box was being brought out as a convenience. At this point, disgusted, I told them that I was perfectly capable of connecting a cable box to my home theater system without a technician coming out and charging for it, and I just picked up the box at the local office myself. It turns out that the problem was a faulty box and not a problem with our connection, which is a good thing since Comcast seems incapable of actually sending someone out on a service call.

At this point I figured that our troubles with Comcast were over, but I was wrong.

When we switched to the new plan, supposedly two years (later changed to one year) at $160/month, we were told that our account would be credited $50 and the customer service representative gave us a different amount to pay that was $50 less than the amount on our bill. Then at the next billing cycle that $50 showed up on our bill again buried deep in a bill so confusing that we had to sit on the line with a CSR looking into our account for about twenty minutes before they realized what the problem was. Evidently our account was credited the $50, but that credit was supposed to be applied to our next bill and the original CSR shouldn’t have told us to pay the lesser amount. Due to this confusion and since the CSR we were talking with had to spend a half hour digging through the billing system before figuring out what was wrong, she offered to give us a $30 credit to our account for all the trouble. We said that was fine. She told my wife to make a payment of $158.69 for our June bill and everything would be okay. At this point we thought that we were in the clear.

That is until this month when we received a bill for $267.30. Evidently none of the credits that we were promised went through, and the amount that the CSR told us to pay was flagged by the system as incorrect despite the fact that she claimed she was making a note on our account and adding a credit. In addition to this the billing system added a $10 late charge.

Now at this point we are being charged a late fee and told that we were in the wrong for doing what a CSR told us to do back in June. We paid the amount that she told us to pay, supposedly because our account was to be credited for that amount, and now we’re being slapped with late fees and treated like delinquent customers. We have been with Comcast for over a year now and have never made a late payment, but now we’re getting the runaround. My wife is on the phone with Customer Support right now trying to resolve this problem, but so far she’s talked to a very rude CSR who told her there was never a $30 credit, transferred to someone in Internet Technical Support when she asked to talk to a supervisor, and sent back to the main menu to listen to your lovely on hold music and start from square one.

Needless to say we are not happy with the level of service at Comcast. At the moment your company is the only option for cable television and broadband internet in our apartment complex, but Verizon should be coming to our area in the next few months and we will be looking into giving our money to them or just cancelling our service outright if you don’t fix these problems.

-Andrew

Andrew blasted off the email to about 25 Comcast executives. He used the Comcast email addresses we posted here, and a technique known as the Executive Email Carpet Bomb. Another technique for specifically escalating things with Comcast is to send a note to the customer service czar, Frank Eliason, at We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com. He actually fixes stuff. We wish Andrew luck and godspeed to his missive missile exploding in the email boxes of Comcast executives right now.

(Photo: Getty)