Ordinarily I reserve this blog for the social sciences. However, I need to vent. I am sabbatical this year and I would love to work from home. For years I have used DSL. It is slow, but it has been reliable. Recently the line has become very flakey and extremely unreliable. I decided to move to Comcast. Unfortunately it is the only alternative in my neighborhood.
People have warned me that I will be unhappy with the service provided by Comcast. I have no basis for judging this. I cannot get ANY service. Repeated attempts at getting a simple cable run from the street to my house have cost me about 6 hours on the telephone over a three week period. Here’s the recap of my experience:
John in sales is happy to get me started on my Comcast experience. He is disappointed that I only want an internet connection and no other bells and whistles. However, he agrees to sign me up and schedules a technician to do the install at my house on July 31.
As promised, the technician shows up on time and is ready to set up my own cable modem. The good news is that the install will be simple – the house is pre-wired. The bad news is that there is no wire running from the street to my house. The technician assures me that this will be taken care of very quickly.
Sure enough, within 30 minutes of his departure I get a call from someone indicating that a new appointment will be scheduled the following week. However, the person at the other end of the line is very garbled and the line drops. She calls back and murmurs some additional information, but it is not clear. I think that she is scheduling a time for a technician, so I indicate that we need a line run from the street to the house. More garbled conversation with an appointment scheduled for the following week.
Fifteen minutes later a call from the same individual. Something mumbled about an appointment for the following week.
I wait at the appointed time. I am supposed to leave to be with my father who is the hospital. Strangely, scoring an appointment with Comcast seems to take precedence. No one shows, so an hour after the “window” I drive 5 hours to see my father.
11:15 am. At the hospital I call to see why no one showed for the appointment. After being routed through several individuals (and after escaping from the dreaded telephone tree) I am given a new ticket number. I dutifully write it down and treasure that number. Silly me. I am told that the appointment for August 7 had been cancelled. The appointment was for a technician to come to install the modem inside the house. However, because no cable had been wired between the street and the house, there was no sense in sending the tech. Of course, I was not notified. This agent assures me that someone from the “dispatch team” will call me to schedule a new appointment within 24 hours.
2:00 pm. Dispatch calls! A victory. Dispatch has no call back number and is apparently top-secret – Comcast’s version of the NSA. It quickly becomes clear that the ticket was written incorrectly. The ticket is for a buried cable. Instead I need an aerial cable strung. That requires dispatch to send me to a different department. I am assured that the “aerial cable” dispatch office will make an appointment. I was put on hold for 10 minutes. The dispatch agent came back on the line several times to assure me that she was waiting to be transferred. At long last I was transferred. The line went dead. No appointment, no call-back.
3:00 pm. I start the phone tree again. My customer service representative is very confused about what I want. After getting my basic information, he indicates that I am not a customer (indeed he kept asking for my customer number). I indicate that I am trying to become a customer. I produce my ticket number and he says he will check if I don’t mind waiting. Every two minutes he comes back on the line to let me know he is checking. This time my phone drops the line – I am getting lousy reception in the hospital. My fault.
4:00 pm. I find a quiet place with better phone reception. I work through the phone tree again. My customer service representative tells me I need to talk to Sales. I point out that won’t help my issue. I am told that I should talk to Tech. That sounds promising, so I am transferred. A successful connection. However, I am told this department can’t help. I am transferred to Sales. Sales listens patiently to my problem and tells me I need to talk to someone in Repair. I am transferred there. Following the fourth explanation of my plight, I am told my old ticket number was never filled. I am given a new ticket number and informed that dispatch will call me at 4:00 pm on August 10. I keep asking why it will take so long for dispatch to call. Amid apologies (I am increasingly getting pissed off) I am told that I will be called at that time.
4:00 pm. I am driving home from spending my time with my father in the hospital. There is no call from dispatch.
8:15 am. I am getting more clever. I quickly work through the phone tree and get to Repair. I explain my problem to my agent. He assures me that Sales needs to handle my problem. I ask to speak with his supervisor. He indicates he will try to help me without having to go there. I produce my new ticket and he says he will check it out. He tells me he will be putting me on hold. I ask if he has my call back number in the event we get dropped. He does. We do get dropped. No call back.
9:00 am. On to the next representative. Profusely apologetic. Indicates that an appointment has been made for next week. I ask whether this is to schedule a technician to set up the modem in the house. Indeed it is. I note this will not help since I need an aerial cable strung. Again I produce the ticket number. This representative seems to understand my plight (or at least is faking empathy). She will take care of the problem, but needs to put me on hold. Before doing so I make certain she has both my home number and my cell phone number to call back in the event of a dropped line. She dutifully notes both. I’m put on hold. The line drops.
Number of people spoken with: 14
Number of dropped calls: 7
Service completed: 0
Time spent on phone: 6 hours, 11 minutes
I would love to complain about the lousy service from Comcast. But I am not even a customer (yet). It appears that I never will be. Comcast is a large corporation. Mostly its representatives want to help solve problems. But Comcast has grown large very quickly and is having difficulty managing its growth.
If markets worked reasonably efficiently, I would have a number of other providers vying for my services. I am willing to pay. Yet I am served by a monopoly that has little incentive to take me on as a customer. I feel as though I am living in a 3rd world country in which the internet is a novelty. Right now my DSL is running at 22,000 bps. My last telephone modem (retired 20+ years ago) ran at 72,000 bps.