Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Worst Company In America

In case you need telling, it's Comcast.

Several years ago I got so frustrated with Comcast, I cancelled my service and got a new provider. Their customer service and corporate behavior rests smug and profitable at the bottom of the barrel.

The end of my patience with Comcast started about 5 years ago when I began having trouble sending and receiving emails from my Comcast account. In mid-July their “help center” said their corporate policy guaranteed I would get a call from an IT expert within about 3 days. On the 4th day I called again and asked why no one had called me. “(Irritated sigh) Sir, these things take time. You’ll get your call.”

When Comcast, by some freak upending of the laws of free enterprise was successful enough to buy Insight in the spring of 2008, I panicked. All my real estate marketing listed an “” address. “Don’t worry,” a Comcast employee cheerfully told me, “the old address will be active for a year.”

Thirty days later my Insight account was locked and I was forced to transfer to a address. It destroyed years of emails I archive for business liability reasons. I complained to customer service. “A year?” the voice on the other end laughed, “Nobody here would have told you that.”

When a customer service representative calls you a liar, you know you’ve got problems.

Dishonesty toward and disrespect for it’s own customers seems to be company policy at Comcast. And right now, they’re running TV ads claiming they’re living up to “net neutrality.” Net neutrality revolves around the fear that companies like Comcast could bail on neutrality by creating Internet fast lanes for rich companies who can afford to pay for it and slow lanes for everyone else. But there’s something they’re not explaining. They’re bragging about following 2010 rules, but don’t mention their obligation to follow those rules expire in 2018, and they don’t mention what their policy will be at that point.

Oh yeah, and they don’t want to have any of that regulated by the government.

A few years back, just before my email problems, one day all my TV suddenly had pixilated screens.

I stayed home all morning waiting for a technician who eventually came and replaced all our coaxial connectors. I wanted an HDMI cable run from my computer to my cable box, to my TV. He told me to buy my own cable (sounded reasonable), run it through the crawl space (I could do that) and he’d return to hook it up.

He gave me his cell number and told me to call when I was done. Then he showed me a small, high-tech device and said with a flourish of importance, “And when I come back, I’ll bring you one of these, the latest digital tuner from Comcast. Half the size of the old one.”

I ran the cable, called the tech guy and left a voice mail. He didn’t call back. I called everyday for 5 business days. No response.

On the 6th day I called Comcast “customer service” (an apparent oxymoron) and was told to go to the Comcast store to pick up a digital box. Exasperated, I went.

The Comcast store is where dreams go to die. Every customer in line was pissed-off, as was everyone behind the counter. A tired-looking woman (sporting resting bitch-face) pushed a massive, clunky digital box across the counter. It looked like an early 1980s VCR.

“No, no, no, I said gently, “I want one of those new, small digital boxes.”

“What?” she sneered at me, shaking her head. “Nobody has those boxes yet. I haven’t even seen one.”

Over her shoulder, through the chicken wire glass was a warehouse where technicians where loading Comcast trucks with equipment. “Look,” I pointed, “I live two miles from here. The guy who came to my house must have loaded his truck here. You must have those boxes.”

Her lips tightened like she was taking a drag on an invisible cigarette. She abruptly pushed the clunky box a couple inches closer to me and barked, “Do you want the box or not?”

I took the box. I just wanted to solve the problem and move on.

When Comcast bought Insight my bill increased by more than 30%. I called to complain. A customer service rep said, “Oh, somehow your service was transferred from Insight ala cart. We can put it in a package and save you money.” Great. My bill went back to just slightly above where it was with Insight.

Six months later it went back up 30%. I called to complain and was told my introductory rate had expired. I explained what the employee told me 6 months earlier. “Sir, there was never anything wrong with the billing. You were simply given a temporary introductory rate in response to your complaint.” I complained until he lowered my rate again. I soon discovered about 20 channels had disappeared from my service. Six months later my bill went back up again.

Stuffed suites representing this sorry company have been in our nation’s capital lobbying congress this year, trying to get their merger with Time Warner approved. Priceless! The perhaps least ethical company in America, who treat their customers with careless contempt is trying to get bigger and more powerful and they need some help from our congress – you know, our current congress who currently have an 11% approval rating?

What could possibly go wrong?

A month after my 20 channels disappeared, ¾ of the remaining channels disappeared from all TVs in my house. I called and was told I now needed a new box for every TV. They would give me 2 for free, I needed to pay for any others. My ex-wife picked them up and upon returning commented on what a depressing place the Comcast store is. “Everyone there is angry!”

“Tell me something I don’t already know!”

I tried to hook up those new boxes. The moment I connected one to the kitchen TV, all TVs in the house lost their signal and our Internet went down. I called Comcast and was told there was a system outage in our neighborhood. Amazing coincidence.

I finally got 1 box working. I called to get help with the other box. After 20 useless minutes talking to technical support I gave up. That TV remained useless for weeks.

How could a company that’s so utterly inept, who routinely misleads their customers, who provides such spotty, sloppy, hostile service be so successful? Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2010 for crying out loud! And they’re now trying to merge with Time Warner! Is this final proof that the best man doesn’t win?

I eventually did get that call back about my email problem – the call I was originally waiting for. In a foreign accent so thick I could barely understand, a woman (I think) explained that she was calling to help fix my email problems.

The call that was supposed to come in 3 days had taken 3 weeks.  It was way too late. I’d already set up a new email account with another provider.

First time I wrote about my horrible experiences with Comcast several years ago, I actually got a call from one of their public relations representatives who had seen the post. She called to offer an apology from the company. “I’ve forwarded your email to corporate leaders,” she told me sympathetically. “Someone will be contacting you soon to try to make amends for your unfortunate experiences.” She was actually quite nice. She sounded apologetic and sincere. Perhaps they would give me a year of free service! Maybe a refund for past years of poor service!

As you might expect, no one from Comcast ever contacted me, except to tell me when my bill was due.

At least they’re consistent.