Comcast in the Philippines

I have had my share of joys and troubles with Comcast as my “Triple Play” provider, but I’ve never before experienced a total failure to communicate with a company — as I have this week — in trying to get my voice and cable modem replaced.

When you used to call Comcast customer support, you dialed an 800 number and you were then connected to the regional office that served your area.  Having that sort of local connection was important because, “Jersey Understands Jersey” and you could speak in cultural semaphores that clicked understanding that helped quicken resolutions to any technical or billing problem.

It now appears Comcast have outsourced all their technical support and billing to the Philippines, and that is causing a lot of widespread and furious grief for customers.  There isn’t just a cultural separation between the Philippines and the USA, but, like it or not, there is a language difference that often bears down on not understanding each other because of natural accents.

I realize I’m risking a slippery slope here — Racial and Cultural tensions building on both sides of the communication dyad — but if you cannot understand the person you are speaking with over the phone, then all hope is lost for finding a successful resolution to your problem.  Too much time is lost in failed interpretation.

I won’t bore you with the technical problems I was trying to solve with Comcast, but the wrong equipment was sent that I could not self-install, and the call center in the Philippines were not taking my point or offering any sort of realistic solution.

They told me they understood me, but when I would ask them a question about that understanding, they did not understand what I was asking.  When I mentioned I was having a hard time understanding them, they were hurt and offended, and I don’t blame them for feeling frustrated, too.  I blame Comcast corporate for pushing this communicable misunderstanding on its employees and customers.

In the end, a tech was sent to our place — the $49.00 USD in-person visitation fee was waived — and all of that was a surprise to me because nobody in the Philippines let me know any of that.  I was told everything would be done via a UPS exchange and the next day when the Americanized voice of the female Comcast robo caller told me I was getting a visit from 9-11am, I was stunned.

When the tech arrived, and I shared my Philippines story with him, he grimaced   He nodded his head as he told me even he has to go through the Philippines to get help.  I asked him if he was talking about work or at home, and he said, “both.”

Then he went on to prove his point by calling Comcast tech field support — in the Philippines! — on speakerphone to get the replacement modem programmed.  I could barely understand what the guy on the other end was saying.  When the call was complete, I asked him how he was able to understand what was being said, and the tech told me it didn’t matter what was being said because they’re both following a programming setup that requires steps, so each side already knows what’s going to happen next, so understanding each other is not an issue.

How do you handle language disconnects when you’re trying to get a problem fixed?  Is it enough that one side of the conversation understands while the other may not?  Or must each side of the conversation be fully engaged in complete comprehension to help ensure the problem has been identified and resolved?

Oh, and don’t get me started on how Comcast are now forcing your cable modem to be an open public WiFi hotspot by default — my tech didn’t even know that was happening, but I did — and I immediately turned off the public HotSpot in my account settings. Comcast can set up and manage their own neighborhood WiFi hotspots without involving my electricity bill or home broadband connection.

11 comments

  • As I struggle with my now native Portuguese you have my every sympathy – even with the “English” speakers provided by some of the larger institutions their version of English is very different to the one you and I know. The problems here are that sentences are contracted differently , verbs are not in the same place in sentences , and the same with adjectives and adverbs. We say it is a hot day – they say day is hot …………. etc etc etc ……. the musicality of the languages is different too and I know from my Pinoy friends just how “sing song” their language can be compared to ours.

    As to the public hotspot settings – that is atrocious !

    • Yes, it’s a sad conversation because there’s no polite way to have at it.

      “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble hearing you.”

      “I hear fine.”

      “What did you say? I am having trouble understanding you.”

      “I understand fine.”

      “Is there any way to speak to someone in the USA?”

      “No. I help you.”

      Around and around you go… they clearly didn’t understand my problem any of the five times I had to call… because I never got the right modem or answers or directions… and if they ever told me they were sending a Tech to my home without charge… I have no idea when that happened.

      The HotSpot thing is INFURIATING! I get why they’re doing it, but they should NEVER do it the way they’re doing it. If it’s all great and grand, then make it OPT-IN instead of turning on the HotSpot by default without ever telling you! I know one day they’ll force you to run a public HotSpot as part of your service agreement; turn it off, and they terminate your service.

  • Here’s a Google+ reply from Comcast:

    I’m sorry for the poor experience here, +David W. Boles. We do have service centers state-side, however, our 3rd party assistance is used during off hours and for overflow calls. I’m very sorry for the frustrations we caused. I would like to pull the call for review. Please email me at We_Can_Help@comcast.com with a link to your blog post, your service address, and your best contact number. Our team is here to help if you need us. 

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/111064479190799618329/posts/RzPPhF8wu29

  • yikes! Comcast is my provider (Triple Threat) too. But I have actually been quite happy with service I have received when I had a problem. And my conversations all were “stateside”, unlike many other customer “service” which has been outsourced. What a nightmare for you. I fear this will only continue and ratchet up…

    • Hi Nancy!

      I think you’re pretty lucky Comcast have treated you well. In Jersey City, they’re sort of the cruel monopolist. Verizon gave them a run a bit for FiOS, but that seems to be slowing down now, and Comcast are feeling cocky and comfortable again.

      If you want to upgrade your cable box here, you either have to go stand in line in a bad part of town and hand it in to a “service center” — or they’ll mail you a prepaid box that often never shows up. They don’t “roll a truck” now to pick up or exchange your equipment if you move or cancel service. It’s all on the consumer. Horrible!

  • UPDATE:

    As of September 11, 2013 — your public “Xfinity Hotspot” is now forced “on” and you provide the public with hotspot access to your modem.

    The only way to now turn off the public hotspot is to buy your own modem!

    http://forums.comcast.com/t5/Home-Networking-Router-WiFi/TG862-WiFi-Broadcasting-second-ssid-can-t-disable-2nd-one/td-p/1662677/page/2

  • Pingback: End of the Copper Line « Boles Blogs

  • I have experienced a similar problem and have learned that the way to avoid the problem is to call in the a.m.. Advice given by a Comcast customer rep after I pressed “4” to indicate I’d like to switch services.

  • Hi David!

    With the WiFi Hotspot, You would see a button on top part of it which enables your WiFi to be active without asking for a security key. If it’s turned off then it gives you a secured WiFi password. No worries.

    With regards to tech fee, All charges shall be waived if Comcast finds out that the problem appears to be on their end. In some instances, boxes might be the cause why signals aren’t pushing through or probably poles/lines outside might be root cause. But if the problem appears to be with the inside house wirings, that’s the time their technicians will be telling you beforehand about $30.00-$50.00 USD.

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