(Preface: I’ve been wrestling with whether I should use Must.Be.AWESOME!!! as a venue to write about my experiences, opinions, and encounters with any one of the thousands of consumer brands with which I come into contact. Ultimately, I’ve decided to write about only the ones that display some sense of AWESOME about them and not abuse this blog as a platform for complaining. Whatever the subject, we’ll call this The Experience Series.)
Everyone I know has had some kind of problem with Comcast Cable in the past. Be it service interruptions, poor internet speeds, limited channel selection, or crappy equipment, Comcast is like the AT&T of television and internet providers. My own poor experiences with their customer and technician services date back to 2004, but this post will focus on my most recent encounter with them, which was also my first exposure to their @Comcastcares Team.
I’ve been getting gang raped on my Comcast bill for years. There’s a very specific menu of services I want from them, often which don’t correspond to any of their packages. HDTV is important, fast internet is important, but home phone service I could care less about. In fact, if my condo association allowed satellite dishes, I would have already transferred over to one of the digital satellite companies because of their wider offering of HDTV programming. I am, unfortunately, stuck with Comcast.
This makes me an easy customer to forget about. My options for gravitating toward the competition are limited, especially since Verizon’s FiOS hasn’t been extended to my neighborhood. Comcast essentially has me in a stranglehold, so why should they waste valuable customer service time placating me?
This time, I decided to air my concerns over Twitter to @comcastcares, Comcast’s realtime Twitter customer service handle. Much has been written about Frank Eliason’s success in satisfying Comcast customers via Twitter, so I won’t rehash. Suffice to say, Frank has a whole digital outreach team now that monitors Twitter for any mention of Comcast. Where they find users complaining, their instant answer is, “Can I help?”
The instant gratification of this attention is great. One of the team members replied to me pretty quickly. I explained my dissatisfaction and described what I would ideally like to receive. The conversation moved from Twitter to email where the team member indicated she would like to get more details and then engage other Comcast people to figure out what they could do for me. This all sounded reasonable to me, and I loved the interaction.
However, interaction dost not make satisfaction. The team member who had taken my issue never responded back to me. After a week with no contact, I prodded her to remind her. Nothing. Frustration level: elevated. So I took back to Twitter and blasted out another series of tweets describing how @comcastcares abandoned me… just like Comcast’s usual phone-based customer service. This time, I got replies from two different digital outreach team members. I had to re-explain my situation and forward the email trail to these new folks.
Within a day, I got a phone call from a customer service rep named Lisa who then connected me with another rep in my area. (This was the first inclination to me that there may be a disconnect between their corporate offices, where @comcastcares sits, and regional offices, where accounts are managed and technicians dispatched. More on that later.) Lisa, as it became apparent to me, had been assigned as the “case manager” for my issues.
My local rep, Darcy, was supercool. Darcy examined my account, saw how I was indeed spending way too much money, and made several fixes that would save me about $50 a month on my bill. Furthermore, she arranged for a technician to come out to replace my aging wireless internet setup with a faster one, and even credited my account for a couple free movies. THAT was AWESOME customer service. I only had to wait for the technician to arrive a few days later.
Here’s where it got real frustrating, and this part serves to really illustrate the critical disconnect between Comcast Corporate and Comcast Regional Office Wherever. First off, the technician called me at the end of the three-hour window in which I was to have waited for him and told me (in the worst broken English I’ve ever heard) that he didn’t have any of the equipment he needed to upgrade my home setup and that I would have to call Darcy back and schedule another setup time. This was completely unsatisfactory, demonstrative of Old Comcast that didn’t give a shit about its customers and employed Lazy Assholes.
I called Darcy and Lisa back. More phone calls were made. Broken English Tech called me back saying he would actually get off his ass and go get the required piece of equipment from his office and come back later in the day. Thanks, buddy. You’re a class act. Lisa promised to call me back later and check to make sure everything was fine.
Broken English Tech arrived at my home and immediately set to his mission of showing me how inept he was at his job. After connecting the new device to my modem, he could not figure out why the interwebz wouldn’t come on and proceeded to call someone at his home office to literally walk him through how to fix the problem. Once he was finished, I asked him if he would help me connect what was supposed to be a new wireless router to my laptop.
Take a breath. It gets RETARDED after this.
Broken English Tech informs me that this new piece of equipment isn’t a wireless router. I ask him why I would want another router that does nothing beneficial to my connection at all and forgo all of the wireless networking I have set up in my home. His answer to this is to call his boss and receive top cover for telling me I was shit out of luck, buddy. Call your local Comcast customer service rep.
I am barely containing my fury at this point in time. I have internet but no wireless networking, so now my fiancee and I can’t work from home at the same time. Thanks, Comcast. Lisa calls me back to see how the installation went. I give her a double barrel shotgun blast full of ARGH. There’s just no excuse for this kind of idiocy, and I have to reschedule with Darcy again to have a technician come out and re-install the wireless router.
The next day, as I’m contemplating whether I’ll tweet about my Comcast experience, I realize my internet connection on my desktop has stalled out completely. The lights are on but nobody’s home. Cue one metric assload of Twitter-induced fury. Frank Eliason himself picks up my angry tweets this time and manages to remotely activate everything so that I’ve at least got some connection. If he could do all that remotely… why the hell do I need an incompetent technician to come into my home and push a couple wires together?
A second technician appears the next day, this one much more understandable, affable, and competent. He installs the new router. He does some courtesy tests on my connections, TV and internet, to make sure everything’s working properly. He helps me set up the wireless networks on all my peripherals. It’s all good in the neighborhood this time.
Now I have three separate devices taking up space in my office: the cable / phone modem, a wireless “booster” (which has no real appreciable speed increases over my old equipment), and a wireless router. It looks like the prop department from The Matrix downstairs.
After all is said and done, Lisa and the corporate Comcast customer service peeps are all in agreement that the level of service I received was unacceptable. The most telling facet of this whole experience is how shitty local customer service can totally destroy any positive virtual customer service. I appreciated their acknowledgement of that fact. I also appreciated Lisa and Darcy making personal phone calls on their own time to check up on me and make sure everything had been straightened out. While there’s only so much someone can do from behind a phone, those two really made me feel like I was being taken care of.
Here to help Comcast with future customer service upgrades, I offer a simple breakdown of the highs and lows of this, My Comcast Experience:
- Quick, timely communication from the customer service reps
- Reps genuinely wanted to make things better
- Reps had authority to credit accounts
- Technician #2 was friendly, competent and effective
- Long wait time behind initial request for help
- Technician #1 incompetence
- Technician #1 laziness
- Technician #1 unable to communicate effectively
- Services not fixed to standard
- No technical follow-up to ensure everything’s working properly
- Obvious gap between corporate and local customer service
- Comcast equipment is still not high end