Comcast Tech Tells Me He’ll Be Right Back… I’m Still Waiting

One of the most frequent complaints we get about cable installers and techs is the blown-off appointment, wherein the tech claims they showed up at your house and you weren’t there. But here’s a story of a Comcast tech who actually showed up at a customer’s home and then skipped out before completing the job.

Over at her blog, Consumerist reader Kate details her struggles to get Comcast to successfully transfer her 87-year-old mother’s cable to her new apartment, but here are the basics:

First, the original installer failed to do his job properly, as everything went on the fritz the day after it was installed.

“We got the program guide but no picture,” writes Kate. “I called the company and they said they could not get a signal through to the box. They thought it could be a bad box. Seemed suspicious since it had worked fine on Wednesday. The first appointment they could give me for someone to come back out and get it working was Tuesday – this was Thursday.”

Since Kate actually had a flight back to California on Tuesday, she wanted to get it resolved sooner. Thus, the next day she went to the Comcast office and picked up two replacement boxes — a full digital receiver for the TV in the living room and a digital transport adapter (which provides some channels, but no program guide) for the secondary TV in the bedroom.

The adapter worked fine, but the new receiver had the same problems as the first one.

Once again, Comcast’s phone techs could not successfully send a signal to the box, but Kate had no luck in improving the service appointment, meaning her mom would have to wait several days.

Yesterday, the second tech showed up and after about 45 minutes, he declared that all was fixed and he’d be on his way.

But before he left, Kate wanted to test it for herself:

I picked up the remote and pressed 28. It went to 30. I checked the channel guide. It went 21, 22, 24, 27, 30. I showed him that we were not getting all the channels.

“She’s supposed to get every channel, right?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Well we’re not.”

“You will in a little while.”

“I don’t believe that,” I said. “This is just what happened last week, and then it stopped working completely. I’m sorry, but I need you to stay until we’re getting all the channels we’re supposed to get.”
He looked unhappy, but mumbled “Okay.” A minute later, he walked out, saying, “I’ll be right back.”

He never came back.

After waiting an hour, Kate called Comcast and was told that the tech had marked the job as completed. The only thing the company could do was to open a new job ticket and get someone out there the following day.

Kate tried to explain that this was unacceptable as it had already been a week and she was supposed to be on a flight in a few hours.

I made six calls to Comcast that day. I talked to the Operations Manager for the Beltway area, who was in Texas. I asked to speak with the Area Manager. [T]he Operations Manager, said that the Area Manager was not in the office but he would have him call me. [He] also promised to call me back within an hour to let me know when the technician would come back to finish the work. Neither of those calls came.

But someone from Comcast did eventually call back, but they said they had to speak to Kate’s mom.

They asked for the last four digits of her Social Security number. She gave them. They said that wasn’t what they had on the account. She took out her Medicare card and read them the entire number. They said it wasn’t right. They didn’t want to let my sister talk to anyone because they didn’t believe she was really my mom’s daughter, even though they had called the number on the account and reached my mom and my sister has the same last name. They told my sister she has to take my mom to a Comcast office and have her show them her photo ID and Social Security card. I was told the same thing when I took the phone back. Is there some law that says you have to even have a Social Security card to order cable TV?

So Kate made another call to Comcast and after a 20-minute hold time, she finally spoke to a human being who said she could sympathize and that she was going to locate the tech and have him come back.

“She gave me a ticket number, which had never happened before, and promised someone would call me back within 20 minutes to let me know when they would be coming back,” writes Kate.

No one called, so 40 minutes later, Kate called Comcast again.

“This time I got a young man who was also very nice,” she writes. “I gave him the ticket number. He called it up. He said he still couldn’t find the tech. I asked for his supervisor. He said she was on another call, so he didn’t know how long she would be, but he would have her call me as soon as she got off the phone. He gave me another ticket number.”

No calls were ever returned and no tech ever showed.

She ultimately had to change her flight in order to make sure her mother’s problem got resolved.

“Okay, so this much angst over cable TV seems kind of absurd,” admits Kate. “At least 26 people have died from the heat or the storm. But Comcast doesn’t provide emergency food aid or cooling shelters. They’re a cable company. They actually don’t have anything more important to do than get people’s cable working right, and my mom’s still doesn’t.”

We note that a Comcast rep has already commented on Kate’s blog post and we hope he’s able to get this issue fixed ASAP. However, as nice as this is — the problem should never have happened in the first place.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    About halfway down the list of things gone wrong I would be calling another provider.

    • Panzer_Meyer says:

      Unless, as usual, you have only 1 choice for cable TV service in your area. I’m lucky enough to have FiOS as an option in addition to COX, but that is not the case for most people.

      • El_Fez says:

        If only there was some way to receive broadcast television signals through the air somehow. . . .

        • humphrmi says:

          Yes, and if her mechanic can’t fix her car properly, she should just buckle down and ride a skateboard.

      • chefboyardee says:

        false. there are two options. comcast, and you don’t need TV to live.

        also, satellite.

        • amuro98 says:

          “also, satellite”

          …is not usually an option when living in an apartment like Op’s mom does.

          So if you want extended channels like Travel, etc. your choices are whatever cable company happens to have the monopoly in your city.

    • Kabusted says:

      Unless you’re talking Dish or DirectTV, sometimes people only have one cable option, and cable is typically the better option in many areas vs. terrestrial.

      And these days with both major terrestrial services dropping AMC, MTV, Comedy channel, etc., and with cable issues like this and prices skyrocketing for no good reason, cutting the cord has never been so worth while.

  2. Coffee says:

    Had an issue with Comcast where, shortly after a move, they disconnected the internet service when they shouldn’t have (turns out the internet was left on from when the previous tenant was there, and no one had bothered turning it off) instead of switching it over to me. My then-girlfriend was taking some classes online, so the issue was time-sensitive, and the switch had been scheduled in the system for weeks.

    It took about two hours on the phone with various reps, each of whom told me they would send out a technician, who would be there in two weeks. Given the exact time of the disconnect – exactly when the new service was supposed to start – I knew they had just cut the feed remotely, but each tech insisted that there was something physical that had to happen in the building for service to work. I eventually reached someone who was not a mouth-breathing jackwad, and he hit buttons on his keyboard for 30 seconds, reactivating the service, but it took way, way longer than it should have.

    I’ve also had a company insist that a modem was broken and try to send a new one overnight when all that needed to happen was the line needed to be reset remotely. Had to escalate to a supervisor for that one.

    TL;DR – these companies spend loads and loads of cash on shit like this because they cut corners and hire incompetent employees, or they don’t give their employees the power to affect anything. Sucks.

    • Not Given says:

      Or you can’t get past the useless tech support when all you need is some nerd to push a button in the office but they won’t let you talk to him.

      • Coffee says:

        Exactly…in my first example, the first 1:45 of the two-hour call was demanding, then asking, then pleading that they just find the angry-looking guy who is always helping then with their updates.

  3. crispyduck13 says:

    For a company who’s main activity is hooking up people’s cable they sure seem to do a piss-poor job of it.

  4. j2.718ff says:

    Smaller deal, but I had a similar experience with a tech leaving…

    I moved to a new apartment, and ordered cable internet. Apparently, this required a tech to come out and “install” my modem. After about 15 minutes, he still couldn’t get an IP address. He called the office, but was put in hold for more than 10 minutes.

    Finally, he said to me, “I’m really sorry, but I don’t think I can get this working now, and I have another appointment in 5 minutes. Would you mind if I left?” He was genuinely apologetic. And I have enough computer experience that I was confident I could fix it myself without his help. So I let him go. He then asked me to sign off on the work. I politely refused, and he went on his way. Fortunately, it was a simple fix, and I got online successfully with no further help.

    I really felt bad for the tech, though. He was clearly overworked and undertrained. And it was just a slap in his face that he couldn’t even get through on the phone to get additional help. Were I not tech savvy enough to configure my own PC, I’d have been quite mad with the lack of service.

    • nishioka says:

      > Were I not tech savvy enough to configure my own PC, I’d have been quite mad with the lack of service.

      You should still be mad at the lack of service, but at least you know the tech himself isn’t responsible for it.

  5. Janel90 says:

    Ready for all the “Mitt Romney boos” but here I go. I have been with Comcast for 20 years now. I’ve had all the normal issues- box doesn’t work, need a tech to visit, questions about a bill — but Comcast has always answered in full, arrived on time, called back to check on my service, even reduced rates when asked to. I cannot complain. I only have good things to say about them!

  6. dush says:

    Comcast has a satisfaction guarantee now so she should be fine.

    • mingtae says:

      There is no satisfaction guarantee. Reps are available 24 hours a day and the tech will arrive on time. After that, you’re on your own.

  7. galaxirose says:

    EECB worked for me when it took 2 months (and 5 different techs) to get my service turned on. I got the info from Consumerist too… I’m sure it’s in the annals somewhere…

  8. triana says:

    We all know what happens in horror movies when someone says, “I’ll be right back.”

    And now, no one can find the tech? I am not wrong about this.

  9. tbax929 says:

    I already get Encore. I think it’s part of my Starz package or something, so I’m not getting anything extra. They can have their little pissing contest for as long as they like, but I’ve already decided I’m ditching pay TV completely when my DTV contract ends in December.

    My decision has little to do with this latest spat and more to do with the escalating costs of programming and the fact that my NFL team sucks, so I’m not doing Sunday Ticket this year, which was the only reason I went with DTV in the first place. If my team decides to play well this year, I’ll just go to my local watering hole for the games.

  10. rlmiller007 says:

    Worked for Comcast in the Northwest for 9.5 years. Here are the facts: They need the Social Security number ONLY if they are going to access phone records or other billing info (and for some sales issues as well). To troubleshoot they do not need to verify the account to that extent. Phone/name/home addess are enough to troubleshoot. Lots of reps are confused by this as you can eventually be fired if you’re not careful.
    I have taken many, many calls about techs with the famous last words: “I’ll be right back,” and they never return. Maybe getting a piece of their equipment to make sure they have to come back.
    An install is called a “positive” job. Meaning they make money from it (as opposed to a disconnect where they lose a subscriber). At least in my call center ANY positive job would get same day priority service even if a supervisor, or “on call” tech, had to go back. As a last resort it would be next day,
    Try asking for an “escalations” department. You can also call the corporate office in the region and talk to an “executive customer care” rep. SH*T would hit the fan if they called the call center. Directors and supervisors would jump all over themselves to help one of these customers.

  11. jeepguy57 says:

    “She ultimately had to change her flight in order to make sure her mother’s problem got resolved.”

    Really? To get a cable connection resolved?

  12. do-it-myself says:

    I’m moving in a month and this scares the bejesus out of me. I know they have their new “transfer service” but still.

  13. ianmac47 says:

    So Viacom turned off streaming and torrents… oh wait, that’s right, they didn’t.

  14. abucsfan says:

    I lost my Comcast service over Memorial Day weekend. I called and the rep said my modem was bad and he’ll arrange a replacement. Is next Thursday good for you…4 full days without phone & Internet? He gave me the option of going into their conveniently located office and picking up a new one on Tuesday which I did. The problem was the local Comcast offices have closed to centralize their operations so I had to travel 23 miles one way to get there. Unfortunately, a whole bunch of other folks were already there for the same reason and this ended up being a real hassle. When I returned home, I called AT&T and dumped Comcast. They probably called me 3 times encouraging me to come back with fabulous offers. If they spent only 1/2 the effort to keep me they wouldn’t need to make such calls.