This is the end…

Rejoice!  Rejoice!

Today marks my final interaction with Comcast, the devil’s cable company! Well, maybe, on second thought I’m sure they’ll be calling me in 3 months with an unexplainable bill for some silly shit.

We’re moving out of Comcast’s service area, and all I needed to do was shut off my service. As you’d expect, my interaction with them was agonizingly long, and painfully over complicated.

But, at the end of my two chats and a phone call, I got the usual survey. Here was my input:

First agent did not understand my need, although it was explained in plain English. Second chat agent (after transfer) claimed “I don’t know why she transferred you to me… you need a different department”. Finally, after 20 minutes, I received the customer service phone number for the department I needed. This is my last interaction with you, I’m moving out of your serviced area, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  In 20 years of home ownership, your company’s customer service is the absolute worst.  Congratulations, you’re #1!

Comcast Fail, level 999

Another run in with our cable company, another two and a half hours on the phone, and another complete failure in every conceivable way.

So three weeks ago I get a call on my cell phone with promises of “the X1 operating system, free HBO, free Starz, and upgraded internet speed” all for the low, low price of $130/month. Not only that, we’ll get to keep both of our DVR’s and no other changes in our service agreement.  I thought it sounded too good to be true.  Turns out, as usual, I was right. Honestly, this one is on me.  I knew better and every time, every damned time, I make a change to my cable service, I get screwed. But, I blindly believed what I was being told and signed up.

Two weeks goes by and no equipment, no email, no phone call.  I even logged into my credit report to ensure I didn’t get taken by some scam artist who promised me he was Comcast only to talk me out of my personal information.  Thinking back on this, maybe an encounter with someone trying to steal my identity would be less painful.

The website never seems to have agent chat available anymore, so I did what I always regret and called Comcast customer service.

After being half-helped and hung up on, twice, and holding for a total of at least 45 minutes, I got someone who had an IQ higher than that of a cucumber (only just) and we started the dance of agony that is Comcast’s verification process. I beat her to the punch: “my name is ——, my address is —–, and the last 4 digits of my social are —–. Can we please move forward?!”

I explained that I agreed to a new 2-year contract in exchange for the HBO, Starz, DVR boxes, wireless internet, blah, blah… Nothing had arrived, no one had contacted me, blah, blah, etc.

The agent pulls up my account information and explains that although the order was “put in but never shipped”.  Thank you, captain obvious. He went on to explain that we were not, in fact, receiving two DVR’s, we were getting one X1 DVR that would record up to 5 shows at the same time, and a “companion box” that would be able to play those shows in any other room (wherever the companion box was). I was disappointed and asked to be contacted by a manager and to put the whole order on hold until I could get answers.

Fast forward three days, and the fucking package with my new equipment shows up at my door step. So much for the “hold”.  Add to this that the DVR service stopped working in every room of our house, so holding off on installing the new equipment was basically pointless.

So the hell with it, I’ll eat the 2 year agreement and stay with the X1 companion box thing… I can’t imagine we’ll record more than 5 shows simultaneously.

Let’s plug in this stuff and get to it.  Internet modem fires right up, living room box is SLOW to start up and load working channels, but eventually it gets working.

Last step was to instal the bedroom “companion box” that had caused all the kerfuffle. “Please enter your account number and phone number”, I click continue and… “This box needs to be added to your account. Please call 888 blah blah blah” FUCK MY LIFE.

3 customer service agents, one hang up, 54 minutes on hold. I was asked to “verify my account information” 4 times.  FOUR FUCKING TIMES for a series of people to send multiple “reset signals sent to box”, and “can you please read me the error code again?”. And let’s not forget: “Sir, Starz isn’t included in your package, I’m not sure why the agent told you that it was”. “Of course not” I replied. “Of course not…”

After all of that, I’m awarded with nothing. Box is still broken, and a technician has to call me tomorrow between 5 and 9 PM.  $100 says I get no call.  I wonder how many times I’ll have to validate my information, unplug and re plug-in my box and receive “reset signals” before I get transferred to yet another asshat who can’t help me after I decide I’ve waited long enough and call the god damned 800 number. Be sure to tune in the next time I get my Xfinity internet service restored so I can blog about how pissed off I am about the 40 year contract they forced me into.

Comcast, anyone?

comcastsssAnother hour and a half out of my life, wasted on the ever-sucking ass-hats of Comcast.  Due to the seemingly reasonable rational of being completely exhausted of paying over $240 a month for cable that I barely use, I contacted Comcast-Xfinity via web chat.  I should mention that this is my preferred method of contacting them as I frequently feel the need to stomp away angrily and scream obscenities back at the agent who is trying to “help” me.  My original purpose was to remove all of my premium channels and stick with the basic cable line-up.  What I didn’t realize was that the “basic cable” line-up is far from what you’d expect.

Anyway, the channel line-up options are in what basically amounts to three flavors:

  1. Basically nothing outside of local news and “Fresh Prince” reruns
  2. The standard list of the the channels you want, plus a whole shitload of stuff you’ve never heard of and will never watch
  3. The second list plus all of the premium pay channels like HBO and Showtime.

fprinceAs you’d expect, the price difference between the first and second options is massive while between the second and third is actually pretty reasonable (once you get past the ass-raping of the pricing).

Now, if you add the home phone service, which even my grandmother doesn’t use, you’ll “save” even more.  The chat agent mentioned to me, more than once, that I had the option of just ‘not plugging in a phone’ even though I was receiving (and paying for) the service.

Anyway, at the end of my “experience” with the chat agent, I was asked (as I usually am) to take a “quick survey”.  If you’ve read my other Comcast blogs, you know I can’t resist.  Here is the actual text of the “comments” at the end of the survey:

Firstly, I’m convinced that no one reads these, but whatever maybe I’ll feel better after I type it out. The cable channel combinations are obviously set up to suck every last penny out of your customers with no concern for offering packages that people actually WANT.  What the hell is the tennis channel?  SERIOUSLY?  I had 200 channels I never watched before the chat, and now I have some 140 channels I’ll never watch just to save a few dollars while keeping the ability to watch the few shows I actually DO want.  And, that was no small feat, only accomplished by spending the last 1 and a half hours on a chat with your basically useless agent.  This is the last time I’ll be changing my service.  Once I’m used to using services like Hulu and Netflix, I’m leaving for good.  I hope, truly and faithfully, that Comcast goes out of business completely.  You know what?  I DO feel better now. 🙂

Never anything on

Ever notice that there’s never anything on?  Well, if you have Comcast you do.  Because their fucking cable service doesn’t work.

That’s right… It’s broken again.  Here’s the latest score:

brokeSunday, my cable box in the living room started freaking out.  Blank screens, no guide information, sound would go out, DVR recordings wouldn’t play, etc.

So, on the phone we go…  Again.  After holding for what felt like 30 years, I hung up and went to the online chat.  As usual the agent had me restart the box, read the serial number, restart again, hop on one foot while reciting the Greek alphabet and burning incense, but… No dice.

All I ever got back from the cable box was a lonely “0” on the screen and no sound or video.

The agent informed me that the box is toast, and they had to swap it out.  Now I’ve had some experience with the repair jackasses coming to the house, so I opted for the “ship the new cable box” option.  It arrived Wednesday.

I plugged in the new box, and went through the online activation instructions (http://www.comcast.com/activate/) which didn’t work.  I know, I was surprised too!

The box reported via error message on the screen to call an 800 number.  That number took me to a menu with no option for my problem.  A second failure.

Finally, I went online and started another chat.  After unplugging the box, a ceremonial fencing match with technology, and a great deal of “I’m so sorry you are having that problem, sir” commentary, it finally started working.

sucksToday is Thursday.  The very next FUCKING day.  Now the cable box in the bedroom is freaking out.  Won’t play DVR’d shows, no sound, no picture, random fucking broken bullshit.

This time I decide to skip the phone bullshit and go straight to the web.  In a show of amazing patience and good nature, I don’t type in all caps and call the agent any names.  Although, I must admit the lure of vulgar vernacular was almost too strong.

Long story, longer… One of their technicians will be at the house Sunday between 5 and 7.  Which, when translated to Comcast technician-ese means Saturday at 11:00 AM when no one is fucking here…  Again.

Victory is mine, for a price

Victory is mine!  Well, sort of.  And, with a price.  But beyond that, VICTORY IS MINE!  Or is it?  After almost a month of complaining, calling, indefinitely holding, and missed appointments our Comcast cable service is working as expected.  For those of you that have been keeping up with the story, you can read up on my previous posts below, but the short version is it was broken, and using a combination of just about every method (chat, phone, blog, twitter, facebook), I finally got them to send out another tech to look at our cable boxes.  The issue was (again) determined to be “outside the house”, and that repair guy actually showed up this time!  I wasn’t home, but my understanding is that he worked on the connection outside the house, and had to drive over to whatever connection station they have to make the repair.

Anyway, the service is working, and I guess I have to keep my promise and pay this month’s bill.  Sounds like a great story, no?

But, did I really win here?

How many hours do I have invested in chasing down what should be considered basic customer service?
The bottom line is, if you offer a product or service and it doesn’t work, you make it work or you don’t bill for it.  Right?  How have we drifted so far from this basic principle?  When the service I paid for started working I felt like I accomplished something amazing.  But I haven’t.

If I was standing in a watch store and bought a watch and it didn’t tell the correct time I would get a working watch from the sales person in about one minute, two MAX.  Why did this take 4 weeks?  How did we get so used to shitty customer service that actually getting what you paid for has become an amazing accomplishment?

My story could likely be used as a victory for Comcast’s customer service division, where a huge problem on social media and phone was dealt with and fixed by a large group of people who came together.  I wonder if they’ll include the stack of calls and complaints it took to get them to do it…

I love customer support

More Comcast failures.  Last tech never showed, time to turn up the volume on their “customer support”.

Here is the chat I had with their internet agent (conversation has been shortened):

CHAT ID: 5B0287C7-2C30-47C2-9DF1-58D24CD3051B
Problem: OnDemand does not work, hasn’t worked in over 3 weeks. Techs never show up to fix problem. DVR service not working intermittently. VERY UPSET CUSTOMER
Lewel Ray > Hello Frank, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Lewel Ray. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Lewel Ray > That’s not good. I would want your service to work and not miss your favorite shows.I’m so sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you. I really appreciate the opportunity to make things right. You’ve reached the right person. I’ll certainly help you out in any way I can, Frank.
Lewel Ray > Is this occurring on all your TVs or just one?
Frank > Hi
Frank > Yes, all TV’s
Lewel Ray > Hi there, Frank.
Frank > I’ve had this conversation 7 times
Frank > 7 times Lewel.
Lewel Ray > I’m really sorry for the inconvenience, Frank.
Frank > We have called tech support 7 (not counting being on hold right now, so 8) times since moving in to this house
Frank > First we called, set up an appointment for Friday 3-5 pm
Lewel Ray > Are you seeing an error message on your TV screen?
Frank > Tech showed up Thursday, luckily someone ws here
Frank > he coudn’t fix problem, he told us he would send another tech Friday
Frank > That tech showed up SAME DAY one hour later
Frank > no one was home for that
Frank > Error 14
Frank > is the code we see
Frank > Anyway, the original Friday appointment time, NO ONE Showed up
Frank > This is the 4th time I’ve scheudled techs to fix service

Lewel Ray > I’m really sorry about that as the On Demand problem you are experiencing. What we can do normally is have a tech check your service on site to check the root cause of the problem. Also, don’t worry as you are not being charge for the On Demand feature since it is a Comcast provided free feature along with your service. The only time On Demand would be a chargeable feature is when a movie is rented with a charge.
Lewel Ray > Would you like us to troubleshoot your box. I’ll set up an appointment as well so that we can have your service checked on site.
Frank > Please send a tech out, who will arrive when we schedule them so we can get this fixed.
Lewel Ray > Sure thing.
Frank > We have done the “troubleshooting” which involved unplugging the box, resetting the box, and redownloading the guide
Frank > at least 6 times
Frank > each time, they send a tech out, who shows up sometimes
Frank > rarely, acutally
Lewel Ray > Alright.
Lewel Ray > Let me check the soonest appointment we have for you.

Lewel Ray > The soonest we have is: 10/16/2012,0800A1000A
Lewel Ray > Would that appointment date and time window work?
Frank > Sure, that’s fine
Lewel Ray > The tech will call 15 minutes prior to arrival to your location and will arrive within the alloted time window. Someone 18 years or older can also receive the technician.
Frank > Great
Frank > Please note my account with this conversation so we don’t have to go through it again when no one shows up.
Lewel Ray > To recap, we have successfully scheduled a technician appointment for you. I am more than sure this will be addressed to and corrected as soon as possible. Consider this resolved as your cable services will be completely fixed. Thank you.
Frank > Excellent, thanks

Then the website asks me to fill out a survey.  So, here we go again:

Our service hasn’t worked in the 4 weeks that we’ve had it. Since moving in, the OnDemand, and the DVR services have barely (or not at all worked).
1. Weeks ago, we called tech support: Did the unplug, reset, restart, and re-download thing. OnDemand starts working, hang up with tech support.
2. Services not working. We called tech support: Did the unplug, reset, restart, and re-download thing. Couldn’t fix problem. They sent a tech who claims problem was fixed.
3. Services not working. We called tech support: Did the unplug, reset, restart, and re-download thing. Couldn’t fix problem. They scheduled a tech to show up, he NEVER SHOWED.
4. Services STILL not working. We called tech support: Did the unplug, reset, restart, and re-download thing. Couldn’t fix problem. They scheduled a tech to show up on Friday, he came Thursday luckily someone happened to be home, couldn’t fix problem, said “problem is outside, need to send a different tech, he will come tomorrow”. He NEVER SHOWED UP EITHER.
5. Tonight: Services STILL not working. We called tech support, spent 40 minutes on hold. Finally went to internet and used “chat” service to schedule ANOTHER tech to show up Tuesday, 8/16.
Let’s make a bet: This month’s bill says he doesn’t show. Prove me wrong and I’ll happily pay it.

Wish us luck!

My cable company: Failcast

You might say, “The Devil knows software”.  You might say “Yeah, he’s been doing that for a little while”.  And you’d be right.  I do know software.  I know software as a service as if I’d been doing it my whole life for massive Fortune 100 companies.  And that’s because I HAVE.  So here’s a nice example of a complete and utter failure of “Software as a Service”:  Three weeks straight.  That’s how long our OnDemand functionality has been on the fritz.  Not consistently  mind you.  But on-again-off-again (more often off than on) for the past three weeks.  “How long have you had this service?” you might find yourself asking.  And I would answer… 3 weeks.

Yeah, just about every fucking day since I started this service it has been broken.  I’ve been on the phone with tech support at least seven times.  I have their menu systems memorized.  Seriously, I do.

Thursday marked the second time they’ve sent techs out to the house.  I should mention that it will also mark the 3rd time they’ve promised to send techs to the house.  That second one just never came to fruition, but who’s counting?  So, Wednesday (a full day early) a tech shows up and tells my girlfriend that he was able to “fit us in”, spends an hour looking at the cable box, and determines that “the problem is with the lines outside”.  So, now he’s going to send another tech to the house tomorrow…

Friday comes, and guess fucking what?  NO ONE SHOWS UP.  Again…

Last week I tweeted to @ComcastCares who’s Twitter account boasts “My name is Bill Gerth also known as @comcastcares. My background is Computer Networking and I really enjoy helping others. William_Gerth@comcast.com”

@ComcastBill Very disappointed in service, OnDemand has been down every day for a week, 800-number is no help. Another refresh signal? LOL

And, inevitably I got a response, which was promptly deleted after I sent him a link to this blog post.

@KeyboardDevil How can I help?

We also spent an hour on the phone with tech support again.  Mostly because I like the sound of their voices.  It isn’t so much what they say, because I don’t speak Comcast-Islandese, which I have to assume is the language they are speaking when I get an actual human on the phone, but more the sound of their voice.  It’s soothing in a dental drill kind of way, and reminds me of filing my taxes.

The sheer red-hot-fire-poker-in-the-eye of “And who do I have the pleasure of speaking to?” and “Please try unplugging the unit, again” truly enhance my customer experience.

Unplug the unit… Brilliant, I hadn’t thought of that, nor had I tried to do it while sitting through 40 minutes of hold music and the reminder “Your call is important to us”.

Thank god, Comcast associate.  Thank god you are here to guide me through this difficult time in our relationship.

“Save the Internet”

A recent letter from one of my many followers.

Dear Greatest Blogger in the universe:

I keep hearing about “net neutrality” and I was wondering what you thought of it?

(no, this isn’t an actual letter I’ve received LOL)

Net neutrality” is the belief that no internet service provider should have the right (or exercise the right) to ‘throttle’ or control your internet access.  Basically, if the providers are given the freedom to limit your access, they can create a perceived scarcity of access, and profit from it.

You are probably now screaming “son of a bitch!“, so in true blog form, let me anger you further:

74 House Democrats and 37 Senate Republicans just signed their names to industry letters telling the FCC to halt efforts to protect Internet users and prevent phone and cable companies from blocking Internet traffic.

Yeah, check that shit out.

If you live in Florida, you should ask Rep. Corrine Brown where she got $20,500. you should ask Rep. Alcee Hastings about the $28,000 and you should ask Rep. Suzanne Kosmas about her $25,000 influx of cash.

Ready for the big spoiler?!  Your elected officials are fucking you over.  I know, it blew my mind too…