My Recent Experience with Comcast

I recently subscribed to cable television and internet service with Comcast. I don't watch a lot of TV, so haven't had cable TV in years, but with the transition to digital TV from analog, and the poor reception I get over the air, I decided it was time to get cable again.

Another reason for my subscription was due to my absolute loathing of Verizon. I've had DSL with them for years, and phone service with them since 1998. The phone line has never worked well, and every time I'd call, Verizon would blame it on wiring inside the house. Whenever it would rain heavily, the phone would go out altogether, which didn't sound like an in-the-house issue to me. After the last time a technician came out and found no problem, I traced the lines from the box and found that one of them was seriously frayed. I wish their professional technician would've noticed this. I ended up making the repair myself, and I'm not a professional phone technician. If it weren't for my home's security system which requires a phone line, I'd ditch the landline altogether. So moving to Comcast for internet was something I did not only to get faster speeds, but to give my money to someone other than Verizon.

Comcast has a pretty bad reputation for customer service, and I hate to say that so far, I have not been pleased with the customer service I've received. The process for ordering the service, which included a live chat over the internet to confirm my order, was lengthy -- it took over an hour. The Comcast rep did not have all of the information she needed to complete my order in a timely manner (she spent a lot of time looking for a code she needed to submit it), but she was friendly.

I had the service installed about two weeks ago. The technician was supposed to call 15 minutes prior to showing up, but never did. Instead, I answered the door to find him already on his cell phone, talking to someone else. Also, he was not a Comcast employee, but rather a subcontractor.

The first thing he said was "So, you're getting one cable modem and one TV box." Unfortunately, I had ordered two TV boxes -- one HD and one SD. He then explained that he only had HD boxes, and he suggested giving me two of those instead. I was fine with that, but suspected (rightly so) that Comcast would then bill me for two HD boxes. Why he didn't have the correct equipment that I ordered, I don't know.

I took him around the exterior and interior of the house to show him where the cable needed to be run. I ordered a new installation, even though the previous owners had an existing, poorly done installation (the existing cables were in bad shape, and were run through window molding -- I wanted it done right). The technician was not very friendly, but not rude. The work he did inside the house looks good (I haven't thoroughly inspected the outside work yet).

Everything worked fine when he left, but the next day On Demand wouldn't work on either of the TVs. And after previewing my first bill online, I noticed I was, of course, being billed for 2 HD boxes. So I communicated with a support representative via online chat to inquire about correcting this and getting an SD box to replace the other HD one. I remained polite, but was informed that I would need to return the box myself, because they would charge me to have someone come out to do it.

So let me get this straight: their technician showed up at my house with the wrong equipment, and they would bill me to have someone come out to correct their error?

Rather than fight with them, I returned the extra HD box myself and exchanged it for the SD one I was supposed to get. As for getting the billing taken care of, I got the runaround: the online chat representative told me I'd need to talk to my local Comcast office, who, in turn, told me I'd need to call the toll-free Comcast number or chat online to get it taken care of.

And what about my no-longer-functioning On Demand? Well, I called and spoke to a not-so-friendly service rep (at the same time I was trying to get my billing issue taken care of), but was disconnected during the call. I then initiated an online chat and found out that On Demand was not part of my plan -- even though it worked the first day. But that's fine, if it's not part of what I'm paying for, that's okay.

Fast forward a few months. The TV service has been fine, and the internet usually is as well -- until this weekend. Friday night, our internet connection started going. We'd intermittently lose the connection, and our upload speed was non-existent. I powercycled the modem and also plugged the modem directly into a PC, bypassing the router, but the problem kept happening. I called tech support, who had me...powercycle the modem and plug directly into a PC to bypass the router. During this time, we had a connection (as I said, the connectivity issue was intermittent), but still had no upload capability. The tech support guy told me to try it out for a few hours. I asked if they were having any problems on their end and was told they were not. When things didn't improve, I called back later in the day and spoke to another rep, not only to schedule a service call, but also to inquire about my modem -- specifically, did I get the new modem I paid for (I bought a modem from Comcast instead of renting one from them), or did I receive a previously used one? Why would I ask this? Because the modem has a "Property of Comcast" sticker on the bottom of it, because the technician showed up at my house without all of the equipment I ordered, and because I'm having internet trouble and it might be the modem.

The service rep told me that I was renting a modem. I said no, I bought it. She told me I was being charge modem rental fees, so I logged in (very slowly I might add) and viewed my current bill summary. I didn't see the modem rental fee and when I asked what bill she was looking at, she tersely replied "The same one you're looking at." How she knew what bill I was looking at, I don't know (and, it turns out, she wasn't looking at the same thing). I brought up the PDF version of my latest bill, and sure enough, there was the rental fee. Lesson learned: pay more attention to my cable bill (especially considering my earlier issue!). She then went back through my billing history, found the bill where I was charged for a modem purchase, and then put me on hold while she straightened this mess out and credited my account. When she got back on the phone, we set up an appointment to have a tech come out and check on my internet service.

The next day, still wondering what the cause of the problem could be, I decided to take the internal wiring and all of the splitters out of the equation by taking the cable modem outside and connecting it directly to the line into the house (this also ruled out the router as being a possible cause). I unscrewed the cable from the splitter we have outside, connected the modem, powered it up, then connected the ethernet cable to a laptop and turned it on...and got the exact same results. So it's either the modem or the cable running to the house.

This brings us to this morning. I decided to call my local Comcast office to inquire about the status of the modem (new vs. used) as they seem to have more info on the actual equipment than the call center does. So I called, only to find out that our local office now routes all of their calls to the toll-free call center number (a few months ago, I called the local number and was actually connected to the local office, so I guess this is a relatively recent change for them). I asked the service rep about the modem, explaining the whole story. She told me I should take it back to the local office and exchange it, prompting me to ask "But will they exchange the modem if I own it?" She replied "That's a good question." Yes, yes it is: that's why I asked it! But it's the same kind of response I've gotten a lot from Comcast tech support -- responses along the lines of "I'm not sure", "I don't know", and "Well, that should be the case, I'm guessing."

Before getting off the phone, the service rep said "Oh, I just noticed, there's a Level 1 outage in your area. It was reported nine minutes ago." I have to wonder if this has been the problem the whole weekend.

The tech is scheduled to arrive Wednesday evening. Hopefully, the problem is related to this outage and will be resolved before then so I can cancel the call.


Ed said…
Is everything working now?

Just a heads up, after you have been with them a few months, call up and ask if they can lower your bill in any way. The more services (phone,internet,cable,dvr...) you have with them the easier it is to wheel and deal with them.
The trick is to get through to their retention dept.
(basically just call the 1-800 number and choose the option to cut some of your service.)

I have lowered my bill several times and every so often get thrown into a 6month or year long promotion deal for free service (DVR,HBO,Showtime etc...)

It doesn't hurt to try.
MyLifeAndCode said…
Yeah, it's all working now -- started working the night before they were supposed to come out. Also, On Demand is working on one of the boxes, ironically enough.

I've heard the same thing about getting them to lower costs/give promotional deals, and will definitely go that route. Like you said, it doesn't hurt to try. Also, when the internet service is working, it's very fast, much better than the DSL service I had from Verizon. Comcast just needs to get their customer service issues resolved, but good luck with that.

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