This isn’t broadband. This is war.
Comcast uses the phrase “Comcast Cares” but my experience with the company seems to show they care only up to a point. If, like the majority of users, you get cable installation and it works, that’s great. Comcast really cares about these customers. They require little work. The company sits back and enjoys the revenue.
However, if you have a problem with your connection, in this case Internet connectivity, that’s where the caring appears to stop.
I have two stories. One involves my home. It is a long story. Another involves my office. That story is shorter but no less aggravating.
I’ve had a few issues with my office Internet connection in the past and they were solved in short order. Then a more serious problem arrived. On March 25, I called Comcast to let them know our Internet was effectively gone. Google’s bare bone home page took about half a minute to load. Other pages with actual content took minutes to load. In many cases, the pages would only partially load.
The person at Comcast walked me through their script: reset the modem, don’t use wireless connection (I wasn’t), etc. I was told the modem was up and fine. It was something that warranted a technician to come out to our office.
The technician came out and said our cable wiring to the office building’s utility room was inadequate for carrying an Internet signal. He said the proper cable had been cut and someone had patched it by running a narrower cable to the utility room. The problem? We had a strong signal for several months and no one can run a cable to the utility room without gaining permission and entrance to more than a dozen other office suites.
Several days later a Comcast contractor arrives and says he can’t run a new cable without first working with the property manager to provide notification to the adjoining office suites. Then nothing happens. Follow up phone calls get the ball rolling and the original cable contractor who originally installed the cable arrives. He says the narrow cable is fine as he installed an amplifier midway and, as I noted, it worked fine for several months. He tested the line and said it is fine. He said we should request a new modem and start from there. I did just that on April 2. I was told a new modem would arrive before close of business. No one arrived. A follow-up determined no record of my call or my request. I was told that no technician would come out as this was flagged a construction issue and new wire needed to be installed.
On April 4, I called again. I spoke with a nice person. In fact, I can honestly say the people I speak with are usually pleasant. I noticed a pattern. More than two-thirds of the time I was asked how’s the weather in Maryland? I was then told the person I was speaking with was in Louisiana and given a weather report. I’m not sure of the motive. Establish a connection? Let them know you’re speaking with a real person in the U.S.? Regardless, the person spent some time analyzing things and told me that the modem appeared bad. Strange. Four or five visits and nearly two weeks of back-and-forth yields yet a new culprit. He schedules a “lead” technician to come out April 8 to swap out the modem.
On April 8, I receive a call from the office. The “lead” technician is there and wants to know if our gateway uses a static IP. I reply that I don’t know what a gateway is, nor do I know if we use a static IP. I counter that a “lead” technician should perhaps know these things. A new modem is installed. The future will determine if this is the end of the story. Two weeks down over a faulty modem. Fortunately, I had the foresight to have DSL as a backup.
I called billing to request a refund for two weeks of outage at the office. I was told Comcast doesn’t give refunds, just credits. There was attitude on the line. Obviously, billing hasn’t been told to be nice to customers and ask about the weather. After agreeing to accept a credit in lieu of a refund, she says my next bill will show 14 days credit. Comcast knows that I was down. Why do I have to request a refund? I know the reason: some people expect to pay for services they don’t use; quite a few more don’t bother requesting the credit.
At home, I was never able to get Comcast to work. We built a new home three years ago and we could get the television to work but our Internet signal never worked for more than a few hours. After a few dozen visits to our home, I was given lots of excuses why Comcast failed to deliver a reliable Internet signal:
– you’re the last house on the cable run so all problems along the line get to end and echo around
– you have noise on the line and you’re the last house on the line (see above)
– the cable lines going to your pedestal are bad. Unfortunately, if you can get a television signal, Comcast won’t replace your lines.
The last excuse came with the recommendation that I call billing and have Internet taken off my account. When I called and shared my story, the person on the line said she would keep the Internet active in the event the line improves and she lowered my entire cable bill from approximately $160 a month to just $100. Being in a semi-rural area, I turned to a T-1 for my home Internet needs. I forgot about it for a year until I received a bill for more than $160. The honeymoon was over. A call to Comcast got no sympathy this time and no reduction in my bill. Over the past year I had learned from others that the excuses cited by Comcast were not acceptable. I requested a technician to come out and fix my Internet. It took a lot of work but a great technician found multiple issues that the previous technicians never found. We had high-speed cable Internet. It was great. It worked.
Then mid-March, a county worker was tearing up an adjacent road and severed the Comcast line. I knew this was the beginning of the end. He told my wife he had reported the down line. Cable and Internet were affected. This was early morning. I called Comcast and reported it was down and why. I was told by the woman on the phone that my house is the only house down and my problem is not a cut cable. She scheduled a technician to come out in about a week, which was the earliest available. All my home service calls are for four to seven days out. My office service calls are shorter at an average of two days out. Regardless, I check with my neighbors and discover we’re all out. We all call Comcast to report our outage and reason: line cut at road. We are all given individual service appointments.
Finally, after 5pm, I call Comcast again and share my outrage that the cut line hasn’t been fixed and that my neighbors have all called in to report this many hours ago. The person on the phone gets a supervisor and finally a report is given to the proper department to fix the line. It is fixed within two hours. The person I called apologized saying there is no way to note a cut line on their computer systems. That’s why he had to escalate to his supervisor after he looked up our address and found all my neighbors had reported being down. Is Comcast really that bad? Do they not have a system that shows a cluster of outages? Does their computer system not allow you to report a cut line on a street?
Despite service being restored, my Internet wouldn’t hold a connection for very long. Sometimes, it would last a few hours. Only twice has it lasted overnight.
A technician comes out on April 2 after being reported on March 28. He finds nothing wrong. He checks all lines and connections. He says the signal at the pedestal isn’t perfect and he would ask maintenance to take a look later that same day. Since they won’t come to the house, I was told that I may or may not even notice if they come out. In fact, nothing changed. The problem persists. I called Comcast late April 2 and told that a technician would come out and swap the modem as he’s seeing lots of dropped connections, reaffirming what we’re experiencing. No modem comes. I call on April 4 and am told they have no record of a modem to be replaced.
They also say they have no record of maintenance being notified. They again schedule a technician — this time a “lead” technician — to come out at the earliest date of April 8 between the hours of 8am and 11am. Ticket number cr159403455. Delvin (technician #263) arrives at 1pm (just a few hours late) and tests the line. He says all is fine. He’s aware of our repeated dropped connections. He has no answer. I ask him to replace the modem and he refuses, saying it’s fine. He says he will give the work order to Ed, his supervisor as I’ve been having ongoing issues that aren’t being resolved. He says he optimized my modem. I ask what is that? I can restore factory settings with a paperclip and have done that in the past. I can also unplug the modem with olympian strength. He points at the tools on his belt and says it was something else. In my boredom, I missed an important sleight of hand. Delvin says I am the last house on the line, confirming an excuse I’ve previously heard.
Another outage. I call Comcast at 4:30 pm today (April 8th) and tell Nezhat we’re down yet again. She looks up previous tickets and sees that nothing was really done today. I tell her that I requested a new modem just to see if my dropped signals would disappear. A man can hope. That doesn’t seem unreasonable. She warns me that if inside lines are the culprit, I would have to pay all these hourly fees, etc. She sells me inside wiring protection at $1.99 a month. I take it. Maybe the more I spend, the more I can attract problem solving. She says the earliest someone can come out is Sunday morning (April 12) between 8am and 11am. Easter Sunday. Is Comcast testing my faith? Sure, I say, maybe we can eat Easter lunch together with the technician. Breaking of bread. I haven’t tried that approach yet. She gives me ticket number cr160555953. She also tells me that the 8am to 11am window is guaranteed. What? Was today’s 8am to 11am window not guaranteed? He did arrive hours late today. Then Nezhat tells me that if a technician doesn’t arrive by 11am I can call Comcast for an update. That’s not a guarantee. That’s an invitation for not having to meet a scheduled time (like today).
To be continued …
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.