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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Comcast Rant

Back when I had basic internet service, life was good. Comcast hooked up my modem, I bought a wireless router, and life went on. But then my boyfriend moved in, and he wanted cable TV. Now, although I do not own a television set, I have nothing against tv itself. Just because I have no personal motivation to in front of any screen other than the one on my laptop, I knew that if he was going to stay living with me, we were going to get a television and the cable service (to watch Sunday and Monday night football) to go with it.

As long as he bought the television set and paid for the cable, I had no problem with any of this. I even researched the various cable options for him. Granted, I was a little shocked when I arrived home one day to find a 46” HDTV sitting on the floor in the living room, but seeing as I didn’t have to buy the thing, I was not too perturbed. As expected, once the television arrived, R___ asked me to call and order cable service with the sports package option. Thus, with virtually no idea of how many hours of life were about to be needlessly lost from this simple action, I called Comcast and ordered the service.

Signing up for cable television was simple. The Comcast rep I spoke with told me—no, promised me—that we would get our cable box by Wednesday. I asked several times to be sure, because this seemed like awfully fast service delivery, since I was calling on a Monday; however, I assumed that they must be shipping it FedEx or UPS, and if they used next-day or overnight delivery, then perhaps it really would arrive in two days. Which was crucial, you understand, because the first football game of the season was happening on Thursday—and R___ wanted to watch it.

Tuesday came and went with no cable box. Wednesday passed the same way. By Thursday night, we were still staring at a blank, black television. Thus, I made my first “complaint” call to Comcast. As it turns out, I had been misled. The Comcast rep had actually meant that the cable box would be delivered next Wednesday, in spite of my insistence that the box arrive “in time for the first football of the game of the season.” Consequently, not only did R___ miss the first game of the season, but he missed all of the Sunday and Monday night games, as well. Needless to say, he was not a happy camper.

Finally, the box arrived, and we sat down to set it up. In addition to assuring me it would arrive by Wednesday, the original Comcast rep had convinced me that we would be able to set up the cable box ourselves. “Honestly,” he told me, “it’s senseless for you to pay $25 just to have one of our guys come out there for five minutes.” This sounded logical enough to me, and I’m all in favor of saving $25..

As you may have predicted, many hours and several tangled-up chords later, R___ and I were tired, frustrated, and still without cable. This led to my second night-long telephone call with Comcast. The rep I got this time seemed to barely speak English and, unsurprisingly, failed to successfully walk me through the installation. After issuing me seemingly identical instructions three or four times, she declared that a technician would need to come out and install it for us. Since I had been initially told that we could install it ourselves, I insisted that we not be charged for this visit—to which the rep agreed.

Because one of us had to be home in order to have the technician come install the cable box, we did not get cable service until several days later. When the technician finally arrived and set everything up, he informed us that the reason we weren’t able to get things set up ourselves was that a chord was missing from the materials that had been mailed to us. Furthermore, he informed us that because we have an HDTV, we needed a special HDMI cable box; the standard cable box we had received would only produce grainy, pixilated images. Now, this truly mystifies me. In this day and age, with so many people possessing Blue Ray players and HDTVs, why would cable companies not ask this sort of question when people sign up for service? The HDMI box even costs more, you would think it would be to their advantage!.

Once again, I called Comcast and was told that I would not be able to trade in the cable box by mail; I would need to go to a Comcast Center in order to make the swap. No sooner did I hang up the phone, when the bill arrived, showing charges for a full month of cable service. The technician had only just come one day prior, meaning that we had obviously not had cable service all month. Thus, I rang up Comcast yet again. On this call, I nearly yelled at the representative when she informed me that that we were charged from the day I ordered cable service, rather than from the day we actually began seeing pictures on our television. The rep promised a credit on our next bill, so I paid the current bill in full and began to make plans to trade in the cable box.

Of course, nothing concerning Comcast can be easy, and trading in the cable box was no exception. First of all, the closest Comcast center was over 2 miles away—an easy trip for anyone who has a car or a cheap bicycle. In my case, I was forced to take the light rail (public transportation) and then walk a quarter mile to reach the center. Before I even laid eyes on the entrance, I ran into a line of people that extended down the block. Yes, one person standing in line (or “on line” as they say here in NY and NJ), this is the line for the Comcast center. And yes, the center closes in one hour.

The most appropriate ending to this story would be my getting all the way to the front doors, only to have the closed in my face. Fortunately, I did make it inside and managed to swap my cable box for an HDMI box. Unfortunately, once I brought the thing home and unwrapped all of the chords, I found—lo and behond—there were no instructions. There were plenty of “order this additional service” fliers, but not one helpful word of guidance. Thus, I called Comcast once again.

This time, the rep directed to a manual on the internet (which, mind you, being a resourceful consumer, I had already tried to find myself), and walked me through a number of convoluted steps that were not even detailed on the internet manual. At the end of it all, I was told to leave the television on for 45 minutes, after which all of the channels would magically appear. Thankfully, this is exactly what happened.

As you may have anticipated, however, this is not the end of the story. When the next bill arrived, not only was there no credit for the un-received cable service, there was also a mysterious $14.30 charge for a “converter.” With no footnote indicating what a “converter” was, I called Comcast yet one more time. On this call, I demanded that the rep put apply the credit to my current bill while I waited on the phone line. This seemed failsafe, until I was informed that only one of the credits would go through. The mistaken cable charges were credited successfully, but credit for the $14.30 “converter”—which apparently was the charge for the technician who we were promised would work free of charge—would not go through.

Tired of fighting, I finally chalked the $14.30 up to a “peace of mind” charge, and hung up the phone. However, I recently checked out my next bill online, and guess what I found? Another $14.30 “converter” charge!

Time to start researching Verizon’s services . . . .

4 comments:

Rome said...

I'm sorry Ali. I'm just sorry.

ComcastCares1 said...

I am so sorry for the poor experience. I work for Comcast and I want to make sure that you are being charged correctly. Feel free to contact me at the email provided below if you would like me to look into this.

Mark Casem
Comcast Corp.
National Customer Operations
We_can_help@cable.comcast.com

Anonymous said...

No Comment. You know MY feelings when it comes to this type of "stuff." Ugh!!

K___ D____ said...

Wow. so someone from Comcast even found you here. Have you taken Mark up on his offer? Is that missing money back in your pocket? I'm particularly intrigued by the fact that major corporations are following all this social networking... the world is no longer an anonymous place. Regardless of using A___ instead of calling you out :)