Customer Service

Comcast: Journey Through a Beautifully Broken Business Model

I am sitting here, having a cup of coffee and gearing up to 1) exercise (bleh) and 2) finish this project I have been working on for about a week. So how many people have Comcast? This is my first time doing business with them and it has truly been a trying experience.

How was it “trying”? So glad you asked! Well it is a beautifully broken business model, because everyone I spoke to was so respectful and nice, but the two things I couldn’t do effectively were: establish service and have them bill me accurately.  That sounds like a major glitch in a business system.

Establishing service was a nightmare because of a couple factors.  First, they try to route your call based on your phone number.  I have a Colorado phone number, but I live in Virginia. Yeah, you can imagine how well that went.  I got transferred to Colorado, and their interview process assumes you are there until about 5min in, and then they say, “Oh, you are not in Colorado?”  Magically, I was then transferred to Massachusetts? Yeah, then a couple minutes later, I was transferred to Virginia.  Then after completing the whole process I was told there was someone with service already and I would have to take a copy of my lease to a customer service location and get them to set up the account.  That was a fine use of 45 minutes.

You think this is over? No that was the first of several calls – getting transferred, getting put on hold 3-4 times for over 5min each time, getting different answers from different people.  Finally after a grand total of about 2-3 hours on the phone and some people saying they could fix the problem, ultimately they could not.  The coolest part was when I tried to circumvent the Colorado routing – I put in 703-555-1212.  Guess what? I was directed to the billing information for that phone number.

So the light-bulb went on: I could call FiOS. They won’t care if some already has service and didn’t put in a disconnect notice.  So I went to shop for FiOS and laughed when I realized it would be significantly more money for the same speed.  I just didn’t have the budget for that.

The day I moved into the new place, I figured, surely I can get service now.  It took about 45 minutes on the phone, I was told I needed to pay $50 up front, I was told I could have a technician come out at no charge to hook up the cable since I was willing to pick up the modem myself and complete a self installation. The technician never showed up for the appointment, Comcast had no record of the appointment, but they later billed me for the appointment. And that $50 they forced me to pay? Yeah, they charged $5.99 for the opportunity to force me to pay.

Not only did I pick up my own modem, I had to go buy my own coax cable since their tech never showed up and that was the last piece of the puzzle I needed. Ridiculous. And when I called, they agreed to refund the fee for the installation, but the refused to give me back my $5.99.  When I asked for an escalation path, the CSR said his supervisor already told him no so I couldn’t ask him again.  I was then told there was no other escalation path.

Sure there is! I call it a blog with a “publish” button, and then I call it a URL that gets sent to Comcast’s corporate headquarters.  Maybe then I will get my $5.99 back.

Again, what makes it beautiful was the respect with which I was treated.  I’ll never forget the CSR that told me there was no service call scheduled – she said “sorry, I can’t send anyone out unless you want to schedule another appointment” and then, after not being able to help me at all, she closed with “Thank you for calling Comcast, home of the 100% customer satisfaction guarantee!”  Really? #$%^& REALLY?

Epic Fail, Comcast.

AT&T Caught Offering Good Customer Service

I know it sounds crazy, but it is true! It actually happened…

I called customer service about losing my phone. After kiosks saying I was out of luck until my renewal date, my wife got a hold of Savannah through the call center, who was able to put a small credit in the system to help us out, but we needed more time to find a phone.

Once I found the phone I wanted (the Samsung Mythic), my wife found one person who said the credit wouldn’t work how we wanted and we’d still need to pay $120 – she ended that call and had to rethink the offer. Then we called again, and got someone that put her on hold for 10 minutes and eventually the call disconnected.  On the third call, I got in touch with one of the best AT&T agents I have dealt with in a long time. They know her as:  Vanesa 7094

She was bright and thorough, and very respectful of my time. What ensued was a bit of a roller-coaster ride, caused by what I think is some logical error in AT&T’s fulfillment software.   Vanesa had a relentless “can-do” attitude, she maintained a smile in her voice and she is an exemplary asset to AT&T. If it wasn’t for Vanesa’s attention to detail, my phone would have shown up in Colorado and been worthless to me. Throughout the call I had to be put on hold numerous times, but she always checked in, kept me updated, and thanked me for my patience.

My personal thanks goes out to Savannah, Vanesa, her supervisor and to AT&T’s El Paso call center. This was a tough transaction, handled professionally and handled with true customer service in mind.

Stay tuned, as I will likely post a review of the Samsung Mythic – in case it helps other people decide which phone to get. I chose it over the Backflip because reviews on the Backflip were a bit dicey, the version of Android was outdated, and Mythic doesn’t require a data plan (if you have family messaging, that is all it needs). Ah, more on that when I get to play with it.

As for AT&T, they have a wide variance of agents…and I wish they could understand which ones were really good, so they could have THOSE agents train the ones that create bad press… or something.  Anyway, there is so much bad customer service at large in this world, I think a story with some good news deserved to be posted!

EA Games? Just Say No.


Do you like shelling out your hard-earned money for products that are broken, only to find the outsourced customer service department isn’t going to help you and just runs you in circles pounding friendly-sand up your butt?  OK, if you LIKE that sort of thing, buy an EA Games product. Otherwise, JUST SAY NO TO EA GAMES.


We bought The Sims 3 – for a system trunning XP, it has 3GB of RAM, a Radeon 4350 (pixel shading 4.1, 512MB RAM), on a 2.9Ghx Athalon X2 245.  That is more than enough juice to run this game.  All drivers up to date, BIOS up to date, and even with every service possible stopped and every non-critical process stopped, the game won’t run.  I ran the EA game troubleshooter and sent the file to EA view their help system.  It has been a month, and they still won’t answer our original question… 

First, they started by ignoring the question for almost a week

Second, after sitting in a queue for 30 minutes, I gave them the ticket # and they told us to do all the stuff we already had. Then they asked for a DXDiag report.  I sent that.

Third, they opened a SECOND ticket, and in the first ticket they replied “it looks like you have 2 tickets, you need to close one.”  I kid you not. This REALLY happened. THAT was supposed to be their response!

Fourth, I threaten them with a charge back and demanded a response. They replied the next day asking us to do all the things they’ve already asked us to do (and I had already tried before).  I reply, highly frustrated and ask them:

We've done all that (your link is wrong, fyi - the XP and 2000 list of services are reversed).

The game has never played. The farthest it gets is requesting us to select a neighborhood. After clicking the neighborhood, it loads for a few seconds, then hangs for a few seconds, then the GUI disappears without an error.

* Is there a log file we can send you?
* Did you see anything in the files you've asked us to send (direct x report, or ea game report)?
* Are there any known issues with iPhone, or other specific devices conflicting with the game?
* Are there any known issues with our graphics card (ASUS/Radeon EAH-4350 which supports Pixel Shader ver 4.1 and has 512MB RAM)?

Fifth, I tried twice, waiting over 30 minutes each time, to do the chat thing again – but magically, at the “6-8 minutes left” marker, the chat would switch to “this chat has been disconnected.” 

Sixth, they ignore me, so I flame them, tell them I am doing a charge back and announcing to the world how horrible they are.  I am making good on that with this post!