There Is No Point Asking Comcast Where You Can Buy A Cable Box

Consumerist reader Travis is interested in Comcast, but isn’t thrilled about the idea of having to lease a cable box for $9.99/month. So he thought he would ask a Comcast online chat rep about this. That was his first mistake.

Below is the transcript of Travis’ attempt to get a simple answer from the Comcast chat rep regarding this question.

If you don’t want to read through it — though you should, if only because the rep’s generous use of exclamation points might brighten your day — here’s a brief summary.

Travis asks a very direct question right from the get-go. Rather than answer that question, the Comcast rep… 1. Goes through the standard, long-winded request to move the chat into a new window; 2. Asks him if he’s a new or current customer; 3. Says he needs the customer’s full address to answer the question; 4. Tries to upsell Travis on the Triple Play bundle; 5. Lets Travis know he can lease a cable box for $9.99. 6; Finally lets Travis know he can’t answer his question and that he’ll have to call customer service, presumably to get the same runaround.

Again, just like the story from last week about the woman who tried to simply alert Comcast to a bird’s nest in an outdoor cable box — only to end up spending days responding to e-mails from people who obviously didn’t read her original message — Travis’ question could have been answered with a very quick, “I’m sorry. We don’t have that information, but if you call customer service they will be able to help you.”

Instead, he gets several minutes of scripted nonsense and gratuitous exclamation points. In the end, he just comes out hating Comcast even more than before.

Customer service, whether online or on the phone should be about HELPING the customer… not about making them jump through hoops. Online chat reps were supposed to be a way for customers to avoid the hell that is the automated phone tree, but that has just been replaced by endless scripts for upselling products and services customers don’t necessarily want.

Anyway… herewith the transcript:

Comcast: Hi, I’m a live Comcast product specialist. Would you like my help checking out?

Comcast: Just type your question below.

You: Hi, Where can I buy a cable box instead of renting one from comcast?

Comcast: I’d be happy to answer any question that you have regarding our service.

Comcast: So that we don’t lose connection, can you please click on the orange ‘Move chat window’ button to make it a window of its own. That way, you’ll still see this web page while we chat.

Comcast: Thank you for moving the chat.

Comcast: Do you mind if I ask a few questions to make sure we get the right information?

Comcast: How are things coming along?

You: You can ask me anything as long as it pertains to my original question.

Comcast: Thank you!

Comcast: For the boxes you can also have the option to lease them so you can watch our on demand channels.

Comcast: Just to check before we move on, are you a current Comcast customer or have you had Comcast service within the last 120 days?

You: No.

You: And I’m not looking to lease a box, I want to buy one so I don’t have to lease it.

Comcast: Thank you for considering Comcast!

You: My question is how or where I do that.

Comcast: That would be in step 2 of the order process.

Comcast: Prices and plans vary by location, however we can definitely take a look at the available offers in your area. May I have your address with zip code?

You: The price to purchase a box varies by location?

Comcast: That would be correct! May I have your address with zip code?

You: XXXXXXXXX

Comcast: Thank you for providing me your address with zip code.

Comcast: I know you are considering specific services; however, right now we have Triple Play Bundles for as little as $99/month that may save you even more money! I’d be happy to give you more information on those as well.

You: The only information I want is how much it costs to PURCHASE an HD tuner box. I do not want to lease one.

You: Since you have indicated that it is possible to purchase a box, but the price varies by location, I would like to know how much it costs to purchase a box in my location.

Comcast: I understand.

Comcast: For the HD receiver that would be at $9.95 per month.

You: How can I make this more clear? I want to PURCHASE a box. I do not want to LEASE a box.

Comcast: Please call our Customer Services team at these numbers, 1-800-COMCAST (1-800-266-2278). They will be able to give you options and answer your questions that you may have.

Comcast: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

You: Why can’t you just answer my question?

Comcast: I understand. We do not have information regarding the price for purchasing the boxes.

[Travis then pastes in previous text where the rep’s answers imply that they do sell the boxes, but which are really just evidence that the rep never paid attention to his initial question.]

Comcast: I understand. We only lease our boxes. That is at $9.95 per month.

You: Ah, so you lied.

You: Interesting.

Comcast: I am sorry for the confusion. I am referring to the boxes lease.

Comcast: Please continue calling our customer service team they will provide you the information.

Comcast: Are there any other questions that I can answer for you?