Tech Support and Social Media: It’s Comcastic!

We live in a society today that’s “always on”. People have mobile devices, laptops, desktops, HTPCs, etc. that are always connected to the internet and at the click of a button we can order an HDTV and have it shipped to our house within a few days. We never have to leave the house anymore with food and groceries available to be ordered and delivered on the internet.

The problem with all these services is that there isn’t any human interaction. As a society we’re becoming so introverted that picking up a phone and calling someone is more of a chore. And to that end, customer service is lacking because now we as people are becoming account numbers and aren’t being treated as customers. There is a lot of time and money spent acquiring a customer, but very little time or effort maintaining that customer and giving them the best service possible.

This is my story about a move with Comcast that went horribly wrong.

Last week I moved about 40 miles to take a new job in a new city. It wasn’t a very long move, nor was it very complicated. PG&E made it very easy to transfer and turn on my power. My apartment complex had water and garbage taken care of. However, my comcast setup was a NIGHTMARE!

On Wednesday before I moved (which was taking place on a Friday), I called Comcast’s concierge service. I told them that I was moving on Friday and would like my services turned on at my new place on Friday. The woman on the other end was very friendly, and told me that since the line going into my unit was active I’d be all set to go on Friday. I said great, thanked her for her time, and hung up.

When I arrived on Friday, after dealing with a moving company who arrived on time and moved my stuff quickly and safely, I decided to hook up my cable modem first. When I hooked up my modem, everything worked. I was shocked (I’ve been through a few moves with comcast and it has never been this easy). So I got my router all setup and was able to get all my devices working. So I figured my Tivos and TV would be the same way. I was wrong.

With Tivo, since it’s not a standard comcast piece of equipment, they require a device called a cable card. The cable card has to be assigned by the cable company and is used to decrypt encrypted signals from the cable company to the Tivo. When comcast issues the cable cards, they have to provision them on the account. Since my old account had these same cards provisioned to it, I assumed that changing addresses would be very simple. Boy was I wrong.

So on Sunday, I check to see if our Tivos are working. Of course, they aren’t. So I call into Comcast and after waiting 20 minutes, I get to tech support who can’t solve my problem and tell me that the Sales department is the only department that can assist me because they are the ones who have the rights to add cable cards (I’m paraphrasing here, but basically it boiled down to tech support can’t deal with cable cards and sales has to do it). So I get transfered to sales, but after 45 minutes on hold I hang up because it seems to me that I’ve been put into Call Center Purgatory with very little chance of ever getting another person on the line.

A few minutes later I call back again. This time I wait about 30 minutes on hold but give up because I come to find out there was a major outage somewhere and that all the lines were full (I think I read this on twitter). So, being on Twitter, I remembered @ComcastCares usually helps people via Twitter with their comcast issues. @Comcastcares is the twitter account of Frank Eliason, Senior Director, Comcast National Customer Service. I sent a message to Frank and a few minutes later I get a tweet back from @ComcastDete, whom is Detreon Roberts, a comcast support professional. Detreon tried to send a signal to my box, but to no avail. But then realized that my account on their end was pretty messed up and that a tech would need to be dispatched on Monday. My assumption is that either the first person I talked to when transfering the service, or the other tech did something and just foobar’d the account up.

So Monday comes and I get a tweet from Detreon asking if I was taken care of. As I get home, I come to find that my internet wasn’t working. Furious, I get on the phone with comcast and ask what’s going on. I get the run around here saying that because my account is in a provisioning status that they can’t add the internet back to my account due to my Comcast Digital Voice Phone service. I very sternly tell the guy that I don’t give a **** about the phone service, I need the internet to VPN into work to get some stuff done (remember, just started that new job, got a lot of work to do). I get transfered to a supervisor and basically told that their hands are tied and that they can’t add the internet back to my account, which was working for most of Monday (according to my girlfriend who was home all day).

So now I have no internet, no TV (well that’s not entirely true, I have a select few channels that aren’t encrypted that I could watch, namely FOX and CBS), and no phone (which again I don’t care about). So now I need to rely on the 3G service I get from ATT (which thankfully works fine when you change addresses). I get back on twitter and tell @ComcastDete that my internet is now down, my TV is down, and so is my phone. I also tell @Comcastcares (assuming Frank is the boss in some sort of way of Detreon and the rest of the comcast folks on twitter). Dete tweets me back and tells me that internet should work in a moment, but TV will require a tech to come out on Tuesday. Dete fixes the internet and now I can finally get my work done. Go Dete!!!

So Tuesday comes around and I get a call at work and it’s a comcast tech at my door. I call my girlfriend so she can let him in (She wasn’t aware anyone was coming, and frankly neither was I as we never discussed a time on the tech coming out). He comes in, takes care of the Tivo in the living room (I actually have two Tivos, but the second one was boxed up due to the move). He gets that taken care of and now Tivo works (Yay!). I assume here that my other Tivo would work because I would think that they would look at my old account and see that I had two cable cards and both should be provisioned to my account. I was wrong again.

On Wednesday I decided to setup my office. It was then that I noticed my 2nd Tivo didn’t work. So on Thursday I go onto Twitter, send a note to @ComcastCares, and within an hour I get a call from a local comcast tech that on Friday I should expect someone around 11AM. 11AM rolls around and a comcast tech comes, takes care of the Tivo, and also drops off a 3 way splitter (which was my request since I need to split the line to a third room) and checks my internet connection to verify for me that I have the correct 50mbps configuration file for my modem. On Thursday evening I was testing my line and noticed I was maxing out with powerboost at 35 mbps downstream when I should be above 50mbps. Sure enough the tech verifies that I was their 22mbps tier. So he gets that changed as well.

Phew. Almost done.

SO that brings us to right now. As I sit in my office (with a bunch of other shit I need to un pack and get into its proper place) I just can’t fathom how moving from one address to another is so difficult. I understand that throughout the years comcast has acquired so many companies and that billing systems and such can make things difficult to manage. But that’s not my problem, and I shouldn’t ever have to deal with that mess.

Now what I need to do is make sure my billing is correct. I had some bundled discounts before which I no longer have now. I also had an erroneous $40 unreturned equipment charge applied to my account when I upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0 back in August/Sept. 09. I don’t rent a comcast modem for internet, and I don’t ever plan on it.

Once I get all my billing stuff situated, I might finally be able to get on to enjoying the service I pay for. Instead I have to write 1500+ words for the world to read (or at the very least Frank Eliason). I feel like I’ve been a very loyal customer to comcast, I just wish that maybe some day my loyalty would be rewarded with no headaches. I do my part and pay my bill on time, at the very least I should be able to expect my service to be moved and I shouldn’t ever have to go an entire week dealing with technical and billing issues. I also shouldn’t have to use twitter of all things to get my problems resolved. The usual support channels should work. People in a support role should have the right access to make changes to accounts. What’s the worst that can happen? My service goes out? THAT’S WHY I’M CALLING!

I should never have to be transfered from that one person I am working with. They know the back story of my problem. The only time I should ever be transfered is to talk to a supervisor. Tech shouldn’t have to transfer me to sales to solve a technical problem. I should also never lose services that are already working. That’s uncalled for.

So in the end, I’d like to thank Frank and Dete for getting my issues solved. The phone support is terrible at comcast. I know they’re just doing what they’re told, but they’re being told the wrong things. There needs to be better training and better service provided by the level 1 technicians at comcast. Things don’t have to be so rigid. Give people the right tools to do their jobs. Don’t make them a cog in the wheel that can only do one thing. Move people around; get them trained in all aspects of the support business and give them the power they need to make my life as a customer easy. When I know more about how the technology these people support, there’s something wrong.

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