Tweeting for Help From ComcastBill

We all know I love Comcast — except when I’m rarely hating on them — and we all know I don’t like Twitter even though I use it every day, so what happens when your first beloved betrays you and the second coming of your loathing, meet?  You get a socially swampy, memeingful, mashup as ComcastBill rides to your rescue.  Here’s how the Comcast Crusade began yesterday at 10:11am with this Tweet:


Here is ComcastBill’s side of the conversation…

…and here is mine…

…you need to splice together the back-and-forth, but what ended up happening was me sending this email to ComcastBill in Philadelphia.  I have redacted some of the account information:

Hi Bill –

I’m in Jersey City so we’re close enough to kiss! I appreciate your
direct help. We’re having out a whole “customer service sucks”
discussion on Facebook that was ignited by my Twitter cry for help
against Comcast this morning. …

Three days ago we had a catastrophic Comcast failure in Jersey City.
We all lost premium channels because the “breaker box” in the street
— somewhere — burned out. That’s what customer service told me
anyway.

We have the Triple Play — I’ve reviewed it on my blogs — and we have
three HD boxes and one is an HD DVR.

The DVR is the best behaved of all the boxes but this time, that box
did not come back after the zapping. We have basic channels, put
their HD equivalents, but all the premium channels — even A&E HD –
are “Not Authorized.”

The really strange thing is the Quick Menu on the DVR has reverted to
something that looks 5 years old: No HD or iTV option and there are
up and down arrows and a music option and while I can connect to on
Demand and order a free preview, no preview is ever downloaded. One
of the other boxes looked and behaved like that, too for a day, and
then it updated and is back on track.

In the past when these boxes forget their programming, the secret to
solving it is a “copy a good configuration” from one box to the bad
box and almost instantly the problem is resolved. The problem we’re
having is no one at Comcast appears to understand how to do that
“copy” fix and all they can do is “send a wake up call” to the box
that fails each time.

In my experience, this problem is software and not hardware, and in
the past when a service guy shows up to fix the problem, he won’t swap
a box and blames the central network. I’m trying not to waste that
time waiting for a tech to show up and refuse to do anything when the
solution is in the CO programming.

After plugging and unplugging my problem box at least 15 times the
last 3 days at the request of first line Comcast phone answerers, I
gave up yesterday and accepted a service call yesterday for today
between 3-6.

Today, not trusting Comcast, I called and, sure enough, the tech is
scheduled to show up on Sunday and not today.

That’s when I Tweeted my fury.

I complained to Comcast about the switcheroo and I was given ticket XXXXX and a tech visit tomorrow between 12-3 was set up for me. I
asked for a new DVR box to replace this brand new box, but I was told
I’d “get what you get.”

That attitude infuriates me, especially when I’m paying $300 a month
for services. In the past, because of my customer history, I’ve
always been given priority next day appointments and having to clear
my day today for the tech — only to not have a tech show up — is
what really burned my bones this morning.

One of my readers suggested AT&T U-Verse as a Comcast alternative. He
lives in my area and he said their service is superb and proactive.
He said he’s treated as someone important and not as “someone to be
dealt with.”

I’m not sure what you can do for me now — unless you know the magic
process to copy a good box config to a misbehaving box — but I’ve
been waiting now for two days to make my case to a Supervisor that
there are problems with Comcast, but I can’t get a call back. That
tells me there are either not enough Supervisors or there are too many
service complaints that can’t be handled.

Best,

db

About 15 minutes after I sent that email to ComcastBill, I received a cold and abortive phone call from a Comcast employee on the street using a cellphone.

Then, this email reply arrived from ComcastBill:


I am reaching out to local management to get this resolved as quickly as possible. I also want to apologize for the lack of customer service you received.

I replied to ComcastBill:


Hi my friend!

I just received a brusque and unfriendly call from 201-XXX-XXXX. He
wanted to know “what’s wrong with the box” and when I asked him who he
was and if he was with Comcast and if he was a Supervisor he got all
nasty and snippy with me and refused to answer anything clearly. He
was in a rush and I was bothering him even though he called me.
That’s the sort of rogue Comcast bullying I don’t need.

He didn’t want to hear anything about the technical problem or its
history even though he asked what was wrong. It seems he just wanted
me to say “replace the box” — and when I did — he said someone would
be out today between 3-6 pm and he hung up.

It was bizarre and utterly strange.

db

I never heard back from ComcastBill again — I don’t blame him! — but it seems from his base in Philadelphia, ComcastBill had set invisible plates spinning in my favor and challenged the rest of his colleagues to not let any of them drop.

Ten minutes after I sent that reply, I received a phone call from Preet in the Comcast President’s office in Voorhees, New Jersey — and that was probably the phone call ComcastBill was informing me about in his email to me.

Preet told me he was on the case.  He apologized for the confusion and the delay and he promised me everything would be taken care of and restored by 6pm.  He wanted to hear every detail of the trouble I’d been having and I could hear him taking notes as I spoke.  Preet gave me his direct phone number and told me to call him and that he would call me later to make sure everything was set up correctly.

At 4:30pm my doorbell rang and Comcast Technical Supervisor Josue’ (pronounced “Joshua”) arrived with a brand new HD-DVR in hand along with a technician to do the installation.

In less than 10 minutes the old box was out and the new box was in and programmed.  Josue’ told me this technical failure started on Sunday, not Monday, as I had thought, and that Comcast was still trying to recover from the body blow it had dealt their network.

The technician told Josue’ that two HD-DVR models — the M5 and M7? — were the only boxes that were stuck like mine and refusing to update after the crash.  It seemed Comcast was working to code, and then push, an over-the-air firmware upgrade for those boxes to force them to take the new network programming. 

Josue’ said it would be a nightmare for Comcast to have to visit each home with the broken boxes just to swap out hardware because of an internal software issue. 

Since Comcast knows which boxes are broken, it would be great if they were proactive in contacting affected customers to give them the choice to wait for a software fix or to immediately swap out their bad HD-DVR.

Josue’ gave me his calling card and phone numbers and told me to contact him any time in the future if we ever had a problem and he would come right over and fix it for us.  Now that is the kind of direct, friendly and caring customer support that I have come to know and love from my beloved Comcast. 

Here’s what our new dual-tuner Motorola HD-DVR 6400 looks like.  It is so much better and faster than the previous model we had and Josue’ said there are lots of new features coming because these HD boxes have a lot of capabilities that aren’t enabled yet.  One new feature on its way is the ability to plug in your telephone to the HD box and then carry that phone will you everywhere you went just like a cell phone.

A couple of hours later Preet called to confirm the HD box exchange went well and I profusely thanked him for his help.  Preet also offered his phone number for use in any future problems we might have with out Comcast service.

As I exhaled last night and watched the replay of the Yankees game I missed while dealing with Comcast all day, I couldn’t help but wonder why it takes such extra effort to get basic customer caring in our modern world.

A few years ago you could get a Comcast Supervisor on the phone and they had the power and the interest to muscle the right thing into happening for you.  I understand the first line of defense against frustrated customers is to press them into a queue and try to do a basic fix over the phone and if that fails, you just “roll a truck” — but there needs to be more than that — there needs to be a historical understanding and a context for all customer service employees when it comes to dealing with technology.  It’s a problem for Comcast when I know more about fixing my cable box than the person I’m speaking to on the phone.

I would be happy to pay a $10.00 monthly fee to Comcast to put things back the way they used to be where courtesy and caring were the hallmarks of the day.  Today, you have to punch in so many numbers on you telephone just to get a human voice; and then you’re treated like a criminal when you have to give your entire street address, phone number, email address and “secret PIN” just to get the customer service representative to pretend to listen to your technical issue.

For my $10 a month, I want a direct phone number that is answered by a Comcast human being who already knows who I am based on my phone number and I don’t want the third degree Q&A before they’ll listen to me.  If I am dissatisfied with the answers I’m getting, I want to be transferred to a Supervisor.  I do not want to be given a “ticket number” that I will have to use when I call back to complain the Supervisor never called me back as promised.

There also appears to be no tier two support at Comcast any longer.  If your first line phone answerer can’t solve your problem, then you have to wait for an in-person appointment.  That adds time and frustration to the problem.

Then I wondered if it is fair to pin all the customer support hopes and dreams on Twitter and ComcastBill?  Without his direct intervention, I would not have had anyone at my doorstep until Sunday.  In less than 7 hours yesterday, ComcastBill listened, acted, and had my problem solved.  Is that a miracle or an ordinary expectation?  Can we make ComcastBill the head of Comcast customer service right now today?

I appreciate Preet’s help as well — but should the Comcast President’s Office have to get so deeply involved in what was an ongoing and repetitive loop of disenchantment and non-caring?  There needs to be more surefire circuit breakers that will click into action before people like ComcastBill and Preet are drawn into the fray.

I certainly appreciate ComcastBill’s fortitude and muscle, and I am content in knowing that if I have any future problems, my new best friend Preet is but a phone call away — but what about the rest of the Comcast customers who might find themselves similarly frustrated and ignored?

Will they go all out to fight back as I did yesterday, or will they just be disappointed and resign themselves to the careless re-lowering of their expectation of what a customer care experience has become today in many companies?

My advice for any consumer is to fight back and bite hard if you feel the hand you’re feeding isn’t responding as you expect; and if you don’t get the results you seek, vote with your pocketbook and find another company that values your dollar as much as you do.

6 comments

  • Gordon Davidescu

    Wow.
    Comcast in Seattle was way friendlier. They always knew who I was based on the phone number – after all, I used them for my phone service. They were always willing to do anything to help and stayed with me on the phone for even an hour one time just to get things fixed.

  • Well that’s interesting, Gordon! Yes, our phone is a Comcast phone, too, so they can certainly see I’m calling on a phone number they own. I also don’t think they need to triple verify identification if you’re just reporting a problem. If you’re canceling service or adding or deleting features, okay, ask away — but they won’t even let you speak until they’re “through processing you” and that’s calling the 800 number in their national call center.

  • http://openid.aol.com/htetsuko

    ComcastBill isn’t the only one on the job. ComcastBonnie sorted out a problem for me a few months ago, and she’s given me faster response than the phone menus in the couple of times there’ve been glitches since then. I especially like that I can get the Twitters via text message on my cell phone when the Comcast service has flaked out. I think it’s great that they’ve added Twitter-based support!

  • It looks like ComcastBill and ComcastBonnie are both in Philadelphia! Why is Philly the center of Comcast’s forward-thinking support system?
    I agree it’s much better to use Twitter to call for Comcast help than to pick up a phone and wade through a drowning menu punch system!

  • Pingback: Three More Reasons I Hate Comcast | Urban Semiotic

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