Sunday, September 14, 2008

Comcast - royal screwups or just criminals?

I've heard nothing but bad things about Comcast customer service. I generally haven't had to call them for anything the last few years, so I had no real experience of my own to go on. However, we recently got really tired of having two seperate accounts - one for cable TV and one for internet access (which started way back when it was ATTBI). It wouldn't have been a problem having two accounts, but Comcast's online systems seem incapable of accepting automatic monthly payment when a phone number has two accounts associated with it. We could get on account on auto, but not the other. We just had a simple request - here are our two account numbers that match our phone number and address. Please merge them so that we can automatically pay. Sounds like a 5 minute request, right?

Well - you'd think so anyway. My wife called them and after a few minutes of wading through the phone trees, told me that our internet access would be down for a few "moments". I then heard her let the Comcast agent go. Red Alert! Battle Stations! I told her, "you don't let them off the line until it works because they usually do something wrong and I hear they are clueless." Since I was planning to work from home the next morning, internet access was going to be important. Well, we stopped for dinner and an hour later - no access. We rebooted the cable modem - no access. We could ping Comcast's DNS servers, but not get out to anywhere else. So it was some sort of software block - some blockhead in customer service twiddled the bits wrong.

My wife called them back and got another agent. This agent told her that the people in "billing" went home and there was nothing she could do. We called back. Got a helpful person this time. It took 20 minutes, but he got our access back. Had to refresh the DHCP address in the router - but then it was working. However - open Outlook, and get prompted for a password. Shields Up! Arm Photon Torpedoes! That's right - they deleted all of our accounts as part of this. No more master account (can't logon to to the web pages, can't access email) and all 4 of us had our accounts / access deleted.

Now, we are back on the phone again. The next rep's computer "wasn't working" so she transferred us (it must have been time for her to go home). We are now on the line with YACI (Yet Another Comcast Idiot). I'm sure we will be told that there is nothing they can do and that the people who can do anything just went home. I just can't understand how such an inept company can be in business. It must cost them a bunch to take extra calls (hours now!) when their agents don't handle simple calls without cutting off their customer's accounts. I guess it must just be due to their area monopolies (I am 15,000 feet from a DSL CO). Otherwise, I can't explain it. I'd leave if they weren't the only game in town.

Who knows? I've even heard that you can't get your email addresses back. Maybe I'll end up being after this. In fact, I had a picture of myself on my profile that showed up on this blog. It is now gone - it was hosted at I'm leaning towards criminals.

Update - after that last call the accounts were all restored from backup. So we got our correct email addresses back and even my photo for my profile here on Blogger came back. So, hours later we are back up. A simple request to customer service results in this. I can't even imagine how long we would have been down if we didn't work in technology. For example, if my Mom had this happen - when would she have noticed that her primary account had been deleted and her email didn't work anymore? Maybe the next day or the one after that? I still need to decide the main question though: does Comcast just hate their customers or are they just incompetent? I know, I know, "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity". But still - it makes you wonder...