Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,

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Profiles in Craptastic Comcastic Service

[Edited to add:

I was so ticked I completely forgot to spell check the post. I just updated it before I give you part two. Yes, of COURSE there's a part two...


So Alameda Power and Telecomm decided to drop their "failing" cable business (essentially the "Telecomm" portion of their name) into ComCast's lap for pennies on the dollar, infrastructure cost-wise. As one of the pluses of Alameda was the chance to AVOID aforementioned cable co., I, and many others, were less than enthused.

However, it is, as they say, what it is. Regardless of my future plans regarding the cable side of things (I'm considering switching to over-the-air HD and buying the shows I want from iTunes or obtaining them through "other means"), faster internet 4 times faster than AP&T's fastest rate. That'll do, pig.

So part of the process is receiving a letter warning that a transition was coming -- "Good News! You're transition is scheduled to occur between 1/27 and 1/31". A follow-up in the form a a door hung brochure assured me that last week was indeed the week.

While I was in Arizona, I received a call from a blocked line. Since I love torturing boiler room callers and other examples of human smegma, I answered it. To my surprise, it was some guy at ComCast insisting that, despite the fact that every piece of mail from ComCast indicated that I did not need to do anything for the services to transition, I would need to fill out a new service agreement and sign off on terms.

He noted that if I wanted to avoid "an interruption of service" that I should do so as quickly as possible. Since this also directly contradicted all previous assurances otherwise, I had some questions.

For the very first time I heard, directly from a ComCast sales drone, that the residential internet service would be capped at 250Gb per month. To be honest, I'm not positive that I can download that much in the way of video and software without making it the basis of my life. However, I am opposed to the idea of paying for bandwidth with "catches" like that -- it always bites you on the ass. I also have issues when people don't really listen to themselves talk:
Me: So, there's a cap on the unlimited residential service.
Drone: Yes, sir.
Me: But there is no such cap whatsoever on your business offering?*
Drone: No sir.
Me: So, you're saying the definition of "unlimited" is different between residential and business?
Drone: Yes -- there's the 250GB cap on the residential...

* The only difference between business and residential is a static IP "option" for 5 bucks, the lack of a cap, and 45 bucks.
...I think you get the idea. I was stunned at the complete lack of awareness of the sarcasm and irony of what they were saying.

So, I get home from AZ on Sunday, and between the Super Bowl, flying from Phoenix to Oakland, had to call in to see if I was on jury duty in Hayward (woo-hoo! Another year free from service!)... you can see that dealing with the apparent lack of transition was not foremost on my mind.

While I might not notice the change in internet speeds, I knew that the channel line-up was dramatically different, which would screw up the TiVo and RePlay DVR's. They were still working last night, which finally prompted me to put it on the "to-do" list today.

I had one real question: "So, what's up with the transition? Your mail says it should be done by now -- was there something I was supposed to do?"

1st Call was at work:
Waited on hold less than a minute. The service rep was less than sharp, but seemed competent enough.  He noted that my part of Alameda should have been switched. He said he would ping both of my cable boxes and that I should check them. I noted that I was at work. He told me to check both my modem speed and channel 120 -- apparently a station that wasn't in AP&T's lineup would be there, and that I could call the main 800 number should there be an issue.
Really no big deal -- I was about to head home to have lunch with Kim anyway. The funny thing about the channel he asked me to tune to is that it's Lilly's favorite (actually, ONLY) television station, Noggin. Anyone with a pre-schooler knows every show on that station intimately. Wow Wow Wubsy and Yo Gabba Gabba MEAN something to y'all. I share that pain.

Well, the DSLReport's speedtest came back the same as it was previously, and the reverse lookup of my IP was still alamedanet.net (yes, really). Channel 120 didn't even exist on the box -- Kim suggested 35, which is now the Food Network. However, it's ESPN Classic (in the process of showing the Bulls/Celtics '91 championship game. Even I recognized Larry Bird and Michael Jordon), so that blows.

So the 2nd call was from my cell at home:
Hold time was slightly longer. Got someone who sounded fairly experienced, but suddenly was cut off.
Well, THAT was useful Let's see if third time is a charm:

Hold time was even LONGER -- about 6 minutes. Not truly horrible, but I don't like the trend. Connected to a service representative who listened to my spiel and then noted he would switch me tech support -- the rep specifically said I should let the tech support engineer know about the slow modem speeds and the fact that the reverse lookup was still wrong. Apparently support for internet and cable would be separate, so I would need to be transferred to cable after the network stuff was settled.

After another 10 minutes on hold (at least it was some nice string concerto) Brandon answered. He was brusk and officious, but I don't care about that. I explain the situation and my setup. He asks for my phone number (which I had already given the customer rep, but hey, that can be lost during transfer). I confirm my address and name on the account. He asks for my ComCast account number -- fortunately Kim is there and notes that the number on the "transitional" paper bill is NOT the account number, the AP&T number won't work. The thing is, if a tech needed to be sent to my address to fix the issue? He couldn't do it without the account number I WILL NOT RECEIVE UNTIL MY FIRST COMCAST BILL. You know, the one I would get AFTER the transition was complete?

He condescends to "troubleshoot" the issue, though what good it would do if there was no way to FIX the problem seems to be of little concern to him. I decide to just go with the troubleshooting.

He starts down what sounds like a checklist that would probably have been fine for over 95% of Brandon's callers, but struck me as odd considering my circumstances.

Step one for troubleshooting? Shutting down my computer. I try to ask why shutting down the computer would help anything, and the trouble REALLY starts: "Sir, if you just do what I tell you, step by step, we'll get through this quickly. Otherwise it will take all day".

BZZZT! Strike one!

I try to explain that there was no reason to shut down the computer, as my wireless router handled the DHCP fun. I suppose if he wasn't trying to talk over my explanation, he might have realized his mistake. He starts to get snarky: "Sir, this is like any other piece of software requiring you to restart after an update". I note that was probably true for WINDOWS, but that it was really not necessary here. HE STARTS TO LECTURE ME. He actually started with the "I've been doing this for YEARS..." bit. I note that I've been doing it for DECADES -- he actually says "Well, why are you calling me??".


I note that I HADN'T called him, I had been transferred, and that all I wanted to do was figure out if there was something that yet needed to be done before I was transferred. He starts to get testy with me, as if I were being a bother, and starts to talk over anything I say rather than listen.


Instead of dealing with someone who was obviously too obnoxious to comprehend that he was only succeeding in pissing me off, I finally said, as politely and calmly as I could manage (Kim said I did REALLY well at it, which was a nice bit of reassurance) "Look, this isn't working out. Can you transfer me to your supervisor?"


"Excuse me?? I want to be transferred to..."

"I don't have a supervisor."

"Okay, your manager. Your superior. Or whomever is in charge of..."

"It's only me -- I'm a contractor working out of my house."

Wow, that shows you just how committed to customer service ComCast is right there, don't it?

"Look, who signs your checks??"


"Then there's someone you report to. I want you to transfer me to them."

"Look, if you want another rep, that's the best I can do."

"Fine, let's do that. I'll deal with you later."

"[dripping with sarcasm] I'm sure you will, sir." CLICK.

Suddenly I was on hold for about ten minutes. Suddenly, I was in a phone tree that Kim tells me is the main 800 number phone tree. If you've ever called 800-COMCAST, you're led on a less than merry chase through confusing menu options, including deliberate dead-ends that were infuriating. One set of options:
Dial "1" if your internet service is interrupted.
Dial "2" if your internet service is slow.
Well, neither seemed to apply, but since the speed WAS too slow, I chose option "2". This gave me this supercilious little commentary how it was likely my router, my computer, the internet... but it couldn't POSSIBLY be Comcast's problem. In desperation, I tried "1", only to be dumped three levels up the tree. I hung up in disgust.
Isn't this FUN?

But wait! The punch-line is the FOURTH attempt. For one, I wasn't going to let Brandon get away clean -- for another, I still had no freaking idea what was going on:
This time I was greeted by name -- I guess that part of their system was working now. And then -- and it's important to note this was the SAME local number that Alameda residents all call, the same one used 3 times previous -- he tells me that there's apparently a work order in the system to re-run cable from the street to the house. This Saturday.

Once that was straightened out, I explained my aggravation with Brandon, in great detail. He promised to make a note of it and to bring it to his supervisor's attention. I thanked him, wished him a good day, and ended the call.
Obviously, that LAST call (sans Brandon's little peccadillo) should have been the first. It would have saved my nearly an hour of my time, and was really all I needed to know. "Oh, the cables screwed up and it needs replacing? I can live with that." Sure, maybe a little door tag explaining the delay would have been nice, but no biggie.

Of course, most of the people that Brandon (if that's your real name!) deals with are relative noobs, so I'm sure the high and mighty "I AM A TECH GOD, THOU SHALT NOT TALK BACK!" attitude serves him well. Yet in the countless times I've dealt with tech support I've generally been able to convey to the tech that he can dispense with the script for the most part and talk to me as a peer, usually by just USING a phrase like "reverse lookup". I help them help me, we figure it out, and I thank them profusely.

That my very first support call went this far south, even using the less crowded local transition number, does not bode well. Yes, I've considered DSL, but guess who deals with that in Alameda? AT&T. Even if FiOS eventually makes it here, it's through yet another crappy telecommunication company, Verizon.

*sighs heavily*

What did I say... it is what it is? Well, the good news is that it won't always be this way. *cough*wi-max*cough*
Tags: customer service rant
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