comcast owes me two hours of my life

i just signed up for comcast cable and internet service, for about the 4th time. after a bit of personal debate over whether i should go with at&t instead, i opted for the service i was more familiar with. and, as expected, i got the customer service i was more accustomed to. horrible.

i decided to go with the self installation kit for the cable modem. i’ve done this enough time i ought to be able to do it myself, right? so i get home with the modem and cables and a box full of extra cables and software. i notice on the side of the box the system requirements for mac are os 9 through os 10.3. uh, really? get with the program comcast. the current version is 10.5.

so now i’m wondering if they just gave me an old kit. i plug everything in. the modem boots up fine, i get a typical comcast ip and router address. i try to access the internet and get redirected to comcast.net to download the latest software. so maybe they are on the ball for once. i download it and start the process. the program launches, asks me for my admin approval, then sits in limbo for about 2 minutes. it launches itself again and finally i get the setup wizard. i hit go. it goes through a few checks, then tells me it can’t connect. of course. i double check everything – connections, ip, software, etc. – and prepare for the inevitable… a call to their 24 hour customer service.

anyone who has called comcast customer service recently knows it’s another one of those automated systems that asks you to either select from a menu, or tell it your problems, and it routes your call accordingly. the first time i tried this, i must have responded incorrectly, because it asked me to plug everything in and call back. then it hung up. the automated system hung up on me. wtf?

i called back and attempted to answer everything in such a way that it would have no chance but to hand me over to a human being. it worked, and i get a guy who asks me what my problem is. now, having called earlier in the week to order service, i’ve noticed they now have their phone system setup to detect where you are calling from based on your phone number. i still have my michigan number, so they route me to a michigan call center. so this time i knew enough to ask them to transfer me to chicago. apparently there is no direct number (yeah right) to a regional office, so i have to go through this everytime i call.

once redirected, i get greeted with the same, lovely automated menu. i answer everything, for the 3rd time, and finally get through to another happy worker. i tell him my issues. he then asks a few routine questions, “is the modem plugged in? are the lights flashing? is the cable plugged into your computer?” he checks my account information then tells me the account hasn’t been configured yet. i have to register as a user in their system. so i give him a few options for a username. he tells me it may take a bit to cycle through their system. i’m instructed to shutdown my computer, reboot the modem, and then startup. i go to the kitchen, unpack a few things, get some orange juice and then try again. still no connection.

i sigh and call comcast again. after i get through the first menu and agent, i’m routed over to chicago, go through the menu again and get another agent. i tell him my issues. he checks my info and says my account hasn’t been registered yet. huh? i tell him i just did that almost 45 minutes ago. he assures me nothing has been setup, so i tell him my desired username. this time he gives me a temp password and says everything has been setup. he asks me to repeat the shutdown, reboot, startup routine. this time, it works. or at least temporarily. the lights on the modem aren’t flashing correctly. he asks me to reboot it and i loose the connection. he checks everything again, asks me to reboot it yet again, and finally i have a connection.

i started this whole process at 9:30. i finally had a stable connection at 11:30. what should have taken about 15 minutes has now lasted 2 hours. thanks comcast. i can’t get that time back. i was hoping to unpack some more and make my apartment just a little more livable. now it’s past midnight and i have to work in the morning. maybe next time i’ll try at&t.

UPDATE: i guess i should point out the two areas where i think their system fails.

1) the software that was issued with my installation kit was out of date, and the newer software on the site didn’t prompt me to register my account. that was the majority of the connection hold up.

2) their call system routed me to michigan because of my phone number. this would be somewhat more tolerable (as kevin pointed out) if i didn’t have to go through the same automated menu again and instead went directly to an agent who already new the issues i was having.

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4 Comments

  1. kevin
    Posted July 25, 2008 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Ugh. I’ve been there. Comcast is the second worst customer service I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had to go through the same regional call center tango you had to. “Oh, I’ve got to transfer you to a different call center, we only handle the such-and-such area. So they transfer you, only, they put you at the end of the line at the new call center, even though you already spent 20 minutes on hold. Brilliant.

    AT&T has, surprisingly, been very good. The one time I had to be put on hold for more than 10 minutes, they told me it was going to be a while, and offered to call me back.

    The worst ever was Dell, 20 hours on the phone over 6 days dealing with script-reader after script-reader in indian call center after indian call center and my problem never really got solved. Which is a shame, because I’ve had good luck with their products, but their customer service is atrocious.

    The first sign that your support call is going to go south is when they transfer you to another person and you have re-state the problem you’re having. Hello? You people make a living on phones! Don’t you talk to one another?

  2. Comcastcares1
    Posted July 25, 2008 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I apologize for the experience.

    I will share your experience to my contacts to ensure that we prevent this from happening in the future. What was the Comcast phone number you called to ask for assistance? Also, will you please send me the phone number on the account? I need this information so that we look further into this.

    Thanks again for sharing your feedback.

    Best Regards,

    Mark C.
    Comcast Corp.
    We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com

  3. Posted July 25, 2008 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Not sure if these will help, or if the issue is already resolved, but try:

    866-372-4215

  4. Posted July 25, 2008 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    ^ um, hum….


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