Monday, February 23, 2009

Can We Call

Is it too much to hope that I could get through a year without loss of service? Made it to February anyway. I guess that's something.

Thursday, Feb 20, 2009

I woke to find my internet service wasn't working. I confirmed it wasn't my equipment. The lights on the cable modem acknowledged the problem to be at the modem or beyond it. So I called Comcast.

Ricardo answered. I explained the problem and said it showed the same symptoms as the previous outage I had back in July. I mentioned this because the tech who visited me then promised that someone would come back and complete the fix or else the problem would recur.

Me: (paraphrase) That was in July. And no one ever came back.
Ricardo: (paraphrase) According to my records, someone did come out and fix it.
Me: They may have fixed something but it wasn't the right thing. The splitter on the pole wasn't touched and it was supposed to be removed. Could you send someone who can do the right job?
Ricardo: I can give you an appointment for a technician to come to your home on Saturday between 8-11am.
Me: Thank you.
Ricardo: Do you have a phone number for the technician to call before he comes over?
Me: I have VOIP, so without internet service, he won't be able to reach me.
Ricardo: How about a cell phone number?
Me: Cell service is unreliable. Just have the tech come without calling. I'll be here.
Ricardo: Ok, I'll write that on the ticket. He'll come without calling. But I have to warn you that if he's running late, he'll have no way to contact you.
Me: I understand.

Here's a picture of the splitter in question - installed by Comcast.


Late Friday, I found the internet connection was active. But I still wanted the tech to come out and fix the connectors so I looked forward to Saturday morning.


8-11am. No one showed. When 11am came, I assumed the tech was running late so I didn't worry.

At 3pm, I figured there's no way a tech could be running this far behind but I had to leave the house to run an errand so I called Comcast just to make sure the tech wouldn't waste his time trying to visit me even this late.

Me: It's 3pm. What happened to the technician?
Anika: The appointment was cancelled because there was no phone number to call.
Me: Are you sure? I specifically told Ricardo that I had no working phone and just to come over. Ricardo said he was writing down that there was no phone and the tech should come over without calling. Are you sure there are no notes to that effect?
Anika: There is no such note.

Me: Can we get Ricardo on the phone? Let's clear this up right now.
Anika: Ok, just tell me his extension.
Me: You want me to tell you his extension?
Anika: Yes, that's the only way I can get in touch with other people here.
Me: He gave me his name. That's not enough?
Anika: The call center is very large, sir. I cannot do anything with just his name.
Me: Can I speak to a supervisor? I'd like to formally complain about Ricardo or find out what's going on.
Anika: There are no supervisors here on Saturday. Call back during the week.

Anika offered to credit me $20 for the missed appointment and offered to reschedule the appointment.

Anika: Can I reschedule you now? I might be able to send someone there later today.
Me: No thank you. I can't wait here any longer.

We ended the phone call and I left the house at that point.

7pm. I returned later that evening and found a note from a Comcast technician on my front door. The technician noted that the "Scheduled Work Date and Time" for the job was 2-5pm. He noted that he arrived at 4:38pm.

A couple of observations can be drawn from this episode. The first is that either someone is lying or Comcast's system for taking notes isn't working. In fact, this isn't the first time I've encountered this problem.

Second, there's no explanation for how a technician would summarily cancel an appointment on his own. Just because there's no phone number isn't a useful reason. (Even a non-answering number isn't a good reason as I explained in a previous posting.)

Third, there's no explanation for the 2-5pm appointment. Where did it come from? It couldn't have been Anika because I told her I couldn't wait at the house any longer. I specifically told her not to send a technician later in the day. Could the technician just have decided on his own? Without even contacting the customer? What kind of communication is there between the people answering the phone and the techs in the field? Or rather why is it so bad? Here's a more detailed reminder.

Lastly, I have now learned that just because a Comcast representative gives me a name, I should also ask for a phone number. I've never heard of this nonsense before but ok, I'll play along if that's what it takes.

I will file a formal complaint with Montgomery County. Not only is something seriously broken with Comcast's customer support but my connection is still problematic - and it's been this way for 8 months.


Anonymous said...

You should post this to the Consumerist. They love posts like these and when these get published, companies, even Comcast, immediately react.

Unknown said...

You should also post about this on Twitter as comcast is apparently monitoring it.

I'm curious to see how their specialized front line pr/support deals with this vs their bulk support lines.

Anonymous said...

Don - Sorry I didn't get to see your Comcast complaint sooner.
I had almost exactly the same experience with their poor service and sloppy appointments.
Complaining to them at all levels went on for months.
Only one complaint got any action - a formal Complaint to the FCC did it!
That got instant and satisfying service. I also realize that because of that Complaint, something was put on my records and I am treated in a new, caring and special way.
If you'd like I can send you a copy of my complaint to the FCC.
From an admirer - LL