Posts tagged “comcast”

Squeaky Tweets Get Grease

This article relates how a Comcast VP started using Twitter to track down and resolve customer problems, after a lot of bad news began appearing on blogs and websites.

But in portraying this as a big success, with social media mavericks working inside the enterprise to really solve customer problems, the article is missing the larger point: these companies (in this case Comcast, but substitute anyone else you like) are so bloated, bureaucratic, inefficient or corporate that the regular system can’t work. This is the problem resolution system that is available to the greatest majority of the customers, those who don’t know what Twitter is, who don’t start anti-Comcast blogs, those vast majority of customers who have either surrendered entirely or who only have access to the resources the company offers them: a toll free number to call. If Comcast (or equivalent) can’t solve problems that come in that way, they shouldn’t be lauded when customers are driven to the brink and complain in other channels that Comcast isn’t really and truly supporting.

While it’s great that there are motivated and creative folks at Comcast that are pushing the envelope of how to reach and support customers, it smacks of elitism to be applauding this thin veneer of problem resolution when what it reveals is the rotting timbers of the support infrastructure.

Out in the boonies

We’ve lived in this area called The Coastside for two years now, and I’m amazed and appalled at the lack of infrastructure. I’m not talking about roads and plumbing (though I’m sure those are issues; I just don’t know enough to complain about them). We don’t have sidewalks and we don’t have home delivery of mail. That may be seen as charming; but it’s getting a bit old for me.

We have no cell coverage. I can’t imagine that will change at any point.

Our Comcast cable television is terrible: image quality is consistently bad (with over-the-air artifacts like ghosting common on some very low channels) and audio is low volume and filled with hiss on higher channels. Recently, channel 3 went out completely. Comcast told many residents who called that they wouldn’t regard it as a real issue until they had reached a minimum number of service complaints that resulted in a scheduled technician visit. In other words, if you called in and told them about the problem, they would treat it as a local-to-you problem that didn’t require any action on their part until someone came and looked at YOUR house and eliminated that as the specific cause. It takes several days to get someone to come out and so it took a few days for Comcast to even acknowledge that they had a problem and to take any action to fix it. We pay the same as everyone else (if not more) for cable, and we get lousy service (both the product itself and the customer service).

Our power goes out many times each winter. For an hour, or for 7 hours. You never know, of course. It’s dangerous, inconvenient, stressful. We aren’t supposed to use the water when the power is out. There’s obviously some non-redundant connection that is very vulnerable to wind, wet soil, trees, or whatever. But PG&E is not investing in any infrastructure to develop a robust solution, so we’re stuck with frequent outages that leave a big section of Montara without power. Our power bills in Montara are ridiculously higher than other places we’ve lived.

Our telephone service is sub-par. Caller-ID information is often not received. A year or so ago I found that I would get a busy signal when calling the voice mail number – and that my own callers would often not be able to leave voice mail; instead having it ring and ring. It took a great deal of effort to get someone at SBC to acknowledge and fix the problem (they were out of circuits or something arcane). Last week we encountered terrible static when calling to Montara from outside of Montara. Calls to either of our home numbers from a cell phone or land line located elsewhere would be at best scratchy and at worst, unlistenable. I have reported this to SBC as have many other local residents. As with the cable, it’s being treated like a problem local to our own service, despite the fact that it’s not, but of course, we can only report our own problem. I was informed by SBC that they’ve checked and everything is fine. It’s not fine; my phone service is only semi-usable (I have to shout at my callers that I’ll return their call), and SBC has decided not to act. Of course, we pay the same fees to SBC that everyone else does.

Can you tell I’m fed up?

A horrific Comcast tale; resolved

A horrific Comcast tale; resolved

An interesting thread about bad customer service on BrandShift. The parts contributed by me are excerpted with edits below:

I had Comcast billing me for someone else’s cable service (it’s complex – it involves me moving and the old account not being properly closed out), and blowing off my first request for help (a few days later I got a phone message with no callback number from someone that says “we understand you are reporting illegal use of your credit card [I was not] – contact your credit card company.”

I finally called again, and contacted Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo was able to stop payment on the most recent charge – but have a response to anything more than six months old (some of this was – yes, I do NOT fine-tooth-comb my bank statement – at least I didn’t). Comcast did finally acknowledge this was an issue, but has not followed up. When I contacted them by email they said they had information but they wouldn’t give it to me until I call.

It has been many many months and they’ve done nothing except stop the erroneous withdrawals. Isn’t this identity theft or fraud or some other horrible buzzword? I don’t know; Comcast isn’t saying much.

I am honestly so stressed out by this – it’s so incredibly frustrating to have a company taking money out of your bank [without permission – I MOVED and signed up for a new billing service at my new address and told them I was moving and they dealt with my old account – just not the autopay] and then neither them nor the bank takes it seriously enough to resolve.

If you make a complaint and are told that they need time to investigate and resolve, wouldn’t it be great if they actually followed up with you?

Anyway, the stress and frustration have led me to avoid calling.

I haven’t even written about it; it reveals too much of my own powerlessness to feel safe in retelling

After posting my tale of woe (the abbreviated version) on BrandShift, intermediary parties brought my message to the attention of a regional Comcast VP who contacted the the credit department.

I had some idea this might have happened but wasn’t sure at all what the deal was until today I got a call from a lively knowledgable Comcast employee who called to let me know he was working on it and would get back to me later today! He knew the whole story, he understood what had happened and why from their side of things such a mistake was made. He called back about 4 hours later and arranged to credit my account for the missing money.

I asked him about how to resolve this more easily in the future – he gave me his direct number and explained how and why the regular 800 number folks wouldn’t be able to handle such a request.

I certainly can’t hold him responsible for the overall company problems, and it’s great that I have a channel to resolve any of my future problems, but in general, what are their customers supposed to do?

I’m struck by the power of high-profile forums like this one to attract the attention of corporate folks who can intervene to politely, intelligently, sincerely and honestly resolve ordinary customer service problems. But how long will this be an effective way of doing it?

Hey, I’m thrilled to have this resolved; it was one of the most stressful customer service problems I’ve experienced in recent years, but the system is still broken.

This is obviously a bigger thought, but anyway, wanted to share the positive results.


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