Thursday, March 18, 2010

Comcast Triple Play: Inefficiency, Incomprehensibility, Insanity!

Moving generates mountains of paper and endless to-do lists, along with requiring a redo of all one's basic systems. Since we had Comcast Triple Play (internet, cable TV, and digital phone) in our old house, you'd think transferring our account to the new place, just 5 blocks away, would be simple. But you'd be wrong.

First, the inefficiency of their customer service system. There are long waits - typically 15 minutes or so - to talk to a customer service rep. The system is set up so you never talk to the same person, so each time it's an endless repetition of the latest set of problems. The reps are unfailingly polite, and that fooled me. Seemed like at least half the time the next series of steps they assured me would happen had nothing to do with how Comcast actually proceeds. Big waste of Comcast time, and mine too.
Then there's the incomprehensibility of their protocols. We had already opened an account at the new house, since one is required for a burglar alarm. That meant we couldn't TRANSFER our account. Instead they closed our account. Closing accounts generates a whole slew of problems that transferring would have solved. For example: it knocked out our automatic credit card payments without notification. Naturally I stuck the first new bill in my credit card file. A few weeks later I started receiving hostile overdue payment notices. Seems like Billing could have looked at our many years of credit card payment history and figured this out, rather than sending harrassing letters.
Then there's their irrational behaviors. We set up a time to install the new service - that side of Comcast works very well. What they didn't mention is that they charge for all the equipment from our old house. While their technicians blithely installed new boxes et al, Comcast threatened to turn off our new service for non-payment for this old equipment - to the tune of $950.00. Our problem was that our old cable boxes were packed away in one of about 75 stacked cartons. You'd think that if they know customers are moving, they'd instruct them to carefully move the equipment to the new place, or risk this charge. We paid.
In the meantime, a lovely Comcast equipment recovery specialist phoned us to try to pick up our old stuff. Each time another piece of equipment surfaced, we called and he'd be here within the hour. He assured me they'd be credited to my account. Ultimately we returned $1000 worth of equipment. At the same time they were threatening to turn off our service, they had both our $950 plus the $1000 in equipment. When I pointed this out, they said to expect the refund check, not an account credit, in 4-6 weeks. I gave up talking to them at that point. A few days later the refund check came. Seemed like no one had really given any thought to this system.
Some of these issues could have been resolved online. Except that I could never manage - despite the fact that I bank my mail and successfully execute 100's of transaction electronically - to access my account. I finally talked to them about this obstacle and a customer disservice rep explained the problem was that I was using my normal email, not the email that Comcast had assigned me. So - they assign you a unique email address, don't tell you, and then have customer service reps go through this with you. Insanity!
That said, their products work very well....

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