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Comcast customer disservice

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Bob Garfield wrote up his tale of Comcast customer service woe.

Fifteen minutes later, they return to ask for "one more moment." I am on hold for another 32 minutes. During that, I use another line to call customer service. I ask for a supervisor. I am not permitted to speak to one. I am told somebody will call me back. Nobody calls back. Customer service operator on first line takes me off hold in minute 50 to tell me a tech is on the way. I tell her I have been on hold for a total of 48 minutes. She says I haven’t been. I ask for a supervisor. I am told I’m not permitted to speak to one.

In the summer of 2005 I moved into a new house and ordered Comcast cable and TV. I was working from home and my business and home phone lines went through Vonage. For the previous four months, my Comcast internet connection would drop offline randomly for anywhere from a few seconds to several hours. It was so bad that I had a special number to call that paged a tech to come out to my house—they called it the "intermittent pager". At the time I moved, they still hadn’t found the source of the problem.

I’d written this log of the calls up, but I hadn’t published it until today.


Called and ordered an install. First thing the rep told me was the first available date was Aug 11. I asked if that could be bumped up since I had been on intermittent pager for 4 months prior. Rep promised a call back in the morning.


No call back. Called back in and was told that my account showed an appointment for 7/30. I stated that Saturday wasn’t ideal and was told that someone would call back to see if we can get a different date.

7/30/05 9:05 am

No call back, but an install tech showed up at the door. He asked where cable should be installed. I told him TV in the living room and Master and internet in the office. He said. "No. the work order shows two locations. Thats all I’m doing. That’s all I have time for."

The install tech hunted for a signal for a little while and discovered there’s no signal to the house. He clipped the feed line in front of the chimney and left it poking from the ground. He told me that he’d call in a work order and have an underground crew come out. It would be 2-3 weeks before someone was out.

7/30 9:45 am

Called in and asked to have the underground work escalated and sped up. The work order wasn’t in the system yet, so the rep advised me to call back the next day.

7/31 5ish

Called back in. There is still no work order, so I asked for a supervisor. I was transfered to Dagmar, a supervisor. Dagmar said she’d email an escalation request to the maintenance contact. I could expect a call in 24-48 hours. I stated that I wasn’t willing to wait that long. She’d asked them to call back sooner.

8/1 5ish

Haven’t heard back from anyone, so I called again. After holding an interminable amount of time, I get through. Pleasding my case with the CSR gets me transferred to a supervisor. The supervisor I talked to (a guy, didn’t catch his name) said that my account reflects that someone from maintenance will be out to perform the work in 24-48 hours.

8/3 7pm

No one has shown up, so I call again. Get escalated to supervisor. It’s Dagmar again. She has no idea why no one showed up.

I explain that I’m about to cancel the order and go with DSL. Dagmar states that Comcast provides better service. I point out the irony of that and explain the intermittent pager. Dagmar convinces me to give them 24 hours to get this fixed.

8/4 mid morning

A maintnance supervisor calls and asks for an explanation of the problem. I explain what’s supposed to be done and the previous missed appointment. The maintenance supervisor says he doesn’t have anything on the schedule for me and never has. He’d look into the issue and call me back

8/8/05 11:00

The maintenace supervisor never called back. I call 1800-comcast and after holding again, talk to a rep who isn’t able to tell me anything. She gets a supervisor on the line who then calls maintenance to check on things. Maintenance is busy, so a maintenance supervisor named Juan is supposed to call me back in half an hour.

8/8/05 12:19 PM

Juan’s call didn’t come, so I called back.

I hold for a bit. Customer service rep couldn’t find my account by my phone number and asked for an account number instead. When I didn’t have an account number handy, he suggested that I find a bill and call him back. Asked to be transferred to a supervisor. I was transfered to a time service—"at the tone the time will be 12:19"—instead. At least it’s more creative than simply hanging up on me.

Russ 8/8/05 12:24:19 PM

Russ was considerably more helpful and creative. Instead of insisting on a phone number or account number, Russ looked me up by the service address. He stated there’s an install scheduled for the outside today. Emailed the communications desk to ask them to give me a call. Could take as long as 10-15 minutes to get a call back. I should expect a call by 12:55.

Russ lets me know that I can call and ask for "install quota" around 3:30-4:00pm to find an open slot in the installer’s schedule—perhaps for the next day. But I need to wait for the line to be fixed outside first.

8/8/05 1:18:08 PM

No one has called back—20 minutes later. While I’m holding for a customer service rep (again) an automated system tells me that I have an appointment scheduled for Aug 16th between the hours of 6am and 7pm. That’s a 13 hour window.

Vinetta answers the phone and tells me that someone will be here by 7pm to find the line under the ground. Then someone will be out in a couple of days to fix the line. This isn’t working out too well, so I ask for a supervisor.

At 1:26:55 PM Helen (a supervisor) picks up. I find out that the Aug 16th appointment is for the disconnect at the old address. I stopped paying for it on July 27 and I made sure that Helen noted this on my account.

Helen digs into my account and finds that the 24-48 hours promised by the previous supervisor on 8/1 was for a install supervisor to come out and inspect the installer’s work to ensure that the outside line tech was actually needed. This was not an appointment to have the work done as I had originally been told.

Today’s appt is planned to be a "USA Alert" to spray paint the lawn showing where the other cables (phone, gas, electric, etc.) are at so Comcast can safely dig up my lawn. The actual repair will be a few days from now. Heen says she Will call the in-house contact and see if the underground line crew can get out sooner. She will call me back either way.

8/8/05 5:59:08 PM Amy

No call back from Helen. Called in again and Amy said that Helen was gone for the day. I was placed on hold and Amy walked to Helen’s desk and found her there. I’m on hold waiting for Helen until 6:04:38 PM.

Helen apologized for not calling back. She was planning on calling at 7pm. Helen agrees the process is broken and tells me that Comcast has no reliable way to solve problems with the lines. The install could be several days away or could be several weeks away and there’s no way to tell. Furthermore since the disconnect between the Comcast call centers and the line maintenance crews is so bad, even if things go right and I wasn’t looking for escalation, the order still may have significant problems. Promises to let me know when the construction crew will be out so I can notify my homeowners association.

8/8 7:50 PM

A Comcast tech shows up to locate the line outside the house. After looking for an hour, he was unable to locate the termination point outside the house. There should be a small plastic cover in the yard somewhere for cable. The only cover he’s able to locate says "irrigation controls" and must be for the front lawn sprinklers. He gave up and said he’d have to have someone who was more familiar with the area come out.

8/9 mid morning

Arrived home to discover the word "comcast" painted on the street and a circle painted around the "irrigation control" box. I opened this box and discovered that there are no irrigation controls in it. Instead is a 3" PVC conduit with coax cable sticking from it. Had the tech from the previous day bothered to look around, he’d have found it.

8/10 early am

Discovered the words "SMUD ON" painted on the lawn in blue next to the "irrigation control" box. Smud is the local electric service. Don’t know what the "ON" refers to.

8/15 11:00 am

A construction crew arrives to work on the cabling to the house. I wasn’t notified of their arrival. I call the HOA and notify them. They aren’t concerned with the work, but they ask me to call the local board president and let him know. I left a message for the board president. I hope there won’t be any problems with that.

8/16 12:12 PM

With the outside work done, I call Comcast to find out when the inside install will be completed. Rep has a LOT of problems finding my account and asks if I’m on Coloma Road—an address I left nearly two years ago. I ask to speak to Helen. Rep then announces she’s found my account.

She provides me with a date of August 30 for inside install. I tell her that I refuse to wait that long and ask to speak to Helen again. She them announces she’s found an opening for me immediately and asks if they can send someone out between now and 2pm. I agree and she sets up the appointment.

8/16 2:25 PM

No tech has arrived, so I call Comcast. Rep can’t find my account by my phone number. Looks it up by address and discovers that my account phone number has been switched back to my cell phone. I ask for it to be changed back.

The rep says they’ll call dispatch and have someone call back within 15 minutes.

8/16 3:12 pm

No call back. I call in again. The rep calls dispatch and checks on the status.

The rep says that she’s not sure why someone ordered an install for today but that dispatch says they can’t do it. Offers me an appointment on Aug 29th. I explain that since I’ve already been waiting since July 30 and have been promised earlier fixes numerous times that I’m unwilling to wait that long. She places me on hold while she looks into it.

She comes back online and verifies my address and asks if this is a service transfer from my previous address. I let her know it is, she says that I have two accounts at my current address and she’s trying to piece the history together.

She comes back and says that they need to wait for the line drop to be completed underground before they can install. I explain that it was completed yesterday. They have no record of that completion.

She states that they’ll call back by 9pm to tell me when a tech can come out. Explains that this is a large job (because I have both TV and internet installed) and they need to send out several people. I ask what the likely timeframe is for the install and am told 3-4 days. I point out how amusing it is that I have a comcast ad that arrived in my mailbox telling my how easy it is to get their internet service installed. I explain that right next to it is an ad from DirecTV telling me they can install service in four rooms in 24 hours for free.

8/17 10:00 am

Still no call back from Comcast. I call a DirecTV reseller and order satellite tv. They apologize that they can’t make their 24 hour commitment as advertised. Due to heavy response rates, it’s going to take 48 hours to get it installed, but they offer me a DVD player or a $50 Target gift card for the inconvenience. I call up SBC and order DSL. They agree to install DSL in three days.

8/29 afternoon

I arrive home to find a note on the door from Comcast. They came by to install cable but I wasn’t home. Remember the last conversation I had with them was two weeks prior when they promised to call me back and let me know when my service appointment was. The note on the door asks me to call them back to reschedule the appointment. I don’t call them back, and never hear from them again.

I still have my cable modem in the closet.

September 18, 2007 1:09 PM

I had similar problems with Comcast and the smaller local company that provide service in my area, so I had Verizon FiOS installed. They told me repeatedly that the $99 rate for phone, cable and internet was not an introductory rate, but they now claim that after 2 years the service will go up to $199. I guess I'll be switching back to Comcast at that point. Why do all of these companies suck? (Oh, except Vonage - they were nice even when i canceled my service.)

October 26, 2007 12:13 PM

can you serve cleveland tennssee 37312

May 7, 2008 12:29 AM

Jesus. I've seen some customer service horror stories. But yours really top them.

Jane and Edward Englehardt,Jr.
November 15, 2008 9:15 AM

I am very unhappy that comcast took away several channels from basic cable. I miss hallmark and New England news the most. Don't tell us to get digital. We tried that several years ago. Were given $10 coupons (3) to mail in with statement to get $10 off for 3 months. Never worked.Also were given 2 free movie coupons a month for 3 months mail in-supposed to be taken off the bill-never happened! We are paying more and getting less. Really not good for retired people like us with limited funds.

This discussion has been closed.

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