Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bye, Bye Comcast; 21 Year Customer and Stockholder Kicks Telecom to the Curb

As readers of this know, I recently ran - unsuccessfully - for Pike Township School Board. When I get involved in such ventures, my hectic work schedule becomes even more hectic. Working full-time during the day and working on the race at night and on the weekends as well as continuing to teach, I tend to let a few things slide. My neighbors will attest to my overgrown yard. One thing I also missed was sitting down at the computer to pay my bills on-line. It turns out one of those bills I missed paying was my Comcast bill.

I have had one Comcast service or another since I moved into my current house back in 1989. Over the years I was impressed by their service. On the rare occasions I had service problems, I used to be able to pick up the phone 24 hours a day/7 days a week and almost immediately be speaking to an easy-to-understand representative who would patiently try to fix the problem. One New Years Eve, a Sunday, I stayed in and ordered a movie. I somehow managed to hit the wrong tab on a menu and ended up with my pay-per-view movie in Spanish. It was 10 o'clock in the evening. I called Comcast's service department at about 10 pm, thinking there is no way they'd be open on New Year's Eve. They were and a representative patiently walked me through the problem.

I also tell the story about how I'd been having problem with water in my cable lines. A Comcast representative came out to my house. Instead of just fixing the area of the problem, he rewired the entire house, spending hours in my damp crawl space. Another time, a service technician came out to fix my television service. I mentioned I also was having performance problems with my computer. (The internet service was also provided by Comcast.) He sat down at my computer and worked on getting my computer operating faster, even though the performance problem wasn't Comcast's fault.

I was so impressed by how the company was operated, I even bought stock in the company.

The last few years though I have heard how Comcast's customer service had taken a nosedive. Frankly, though I hadn't had any maintenance issues for a few years with either the high speed internet or cable. So I hadn't had reason to call ...until this week, that is.

Last Wednesday, I noticed my high definition and DVR suddenly went out. Thinking it was a service issue, I tried to call Comcast's service department. Instead, I was routed to the payment center. They told me I had missed a payment and demanded I make a payment through Comcast. When I told them I had an electronic check already scheduled to go out in a few days, that wasn't good enough for them. When I pointed out that I had been a customer for 21 years and paying my Comcast bills for those two decades, they didn't care. The representatives refused to let me talk to their service department unless I immediately made a payment through them. Later I found out they were deliberately misleading me - there never was any service issue, that Comcast had in fact disconnected my high speed and DVR service, while not disconnecting the other services.

All my attempts to get around the re-routing to the Comcast payment center proved unsuccessful, except for one. I decided to talk to the sales department thinking the people who work there would understand the importance of the keeping a 20 year plus customer. I did talk to a Comcast sales representative who did understand and worked hard to convince his supervisor to help me out. No dice.

By this point, I had become so fed up with how Comcast was treating me that I decided to terminate all my Comcast services. Or I should say I tried. When I called Comcast, the representatives refused to connect me with the department that would terminate my service. Instead I continued to get routed back to Comcast account representatives who demanded I make a payment with them. Finally a representative explained that Comcast doesn't allow people to terminate their services over the phone. You have to have a face-to-face meeting with an account representative and turn in all your equipment before they will terminate the service. I have no problem turning in my equipment. I do though doubt the legality of Comcast's practice of refusing to terminate your service (and stop charging you for it) until you have a face-to-face meeting with a customer service representative at the company's office.

So I went by Comcast's westside office this morning thinking the company had to have some Saturday hours. Nope. The offices are only open 9-6, Monday through Friday. So now I have to take off work to cancel my Comcast service. Real inconvenient and I'm sure intentionally so.

To any Comcast representative out there: Is this any way to treat a loyal, 21 year customer?


Doug said...

An innovation I'm sure we'll never see: one-click subscription termination.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Paul, My building got fed up with paying the high cost of Internet from AT&T & Brighthouse. We installed WiFi for the building and purchased a single line for the building for about $120 a month. This allowed each homeowner to get rid of a $50 a month bill for Internet. Brighthouse tried to tell me I couldn't keep using my e-mail account until I argued with them that we were entitled to e-mail accounts with the line for our building. Reluctantly, they allowed me to keep my e-mail account. We've considered dumping Brighthouse altogether for our building and going with DirectTV. For a few thousand dollar investment, we could deliver more channels to our residents for about $20 a month. AT&T still doesn't offer U-Verse for our area, and it's not any cheaper than Brighthouse. I unplugged the damn digital box Brighthouse gave me months ago because it kept losing its signal. I'm about ready to drop my telephone line at home and rely exclusively on my cell phone. Not worth $45 a month to make a few phone calls a month on it.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I heard very favorable things about U-verse but I've been a bit frustrated trying to get information. I want to talk to a human being, not just look at options on a website. But it's very difficult finding the phone number and then you call and their sales department has very limited hours, none outside of regular working hours that would make it convenient for people to call and talk options.

I'm thinking of getting rid of the landline. I like Vonage, but frankly I'm using it less and less. My cell phone quality is bad though. I have trouble hearing often on a cell.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I would add that I tried DirectTV for one year and was not happy. It goes out a lot during approaching storms and their service department is horrible. As far as being cheaper than cable, it's not that much cheaper. I'm just not a fan of satelite TV.

Jon said...

We decided to drop "Comcash" because of their move to all digital tv and "Comcash" continues to drop channels from their basic cable package. We have tv in four rooms and that would require a digital converter in each room. There is an additional monthly charge for 3 of those converters which I believe is 5 bucks per converter. Naturally we were reluctant to increase our bill another 15 dollars per month and because we also weren't happy with the increased cost of basic cable coupled with fewer channels and so we dropped "Comcash". BTW as part of their franchise agreement they are required to provide free cable tv to schools. "Comcash" is now telling schools that they must have a digital converter on each of the school tvs and pay the monthly rental on those converters. So if you have 600 tvs times 5 dollars times 12 months that comes out to 36000 per year. That sure isn't free tv in my book.
When we dropped "Comcash" we choose AT&T and U-verse. We now have 4 digital converters, any of which can record or playback tv, internet service similar to "Comcash" at similar rates, bundled our long distance to AT&T and pay almost the same rate we formerly paid "Comcash". The installation tech ftom AT&T setup all four tvs and our internet connectivity in 2 or 3 hours using our existing coax as we had requested. So far we have had zero issues with U-Verse.
We too have been "Comcash" users for 20+ years but finally tired of their constant push to increase their revenue by forcing users to purchase more converters, change from basic service etc.
When I first started using "Comcash" as my ISP I owned my own cable modem and paid 10 bucks less per month because I didn't rent their modem. They later increased my bill to the rental price even though I've never rented their equipment.
Most of "Comcash" overhead costs haven't increased at the rate of the increase we have seen for basic cable. The original cost of basic cable was about 6.95 or 7.95 and now 20 years later it is 54.95. Say the original cost was 8 per month and is now 55 per month, that works out to about 700% increase. Now you know why I call them "Comcash"

Downtown Indy said...

I have patiently been waiting for an alternative (most probably AT&T Uverse) to become available.

My 'hates Comcast' story began about 1991. Service went out one Thursday when the Comcast tech disconnected the neighbor who was moving. They disconnected me instead. I could not catch the driver who was gone in seconds. When I called in, they said they could have someone there next week to reconnect. Have the tech turn around and come back? Don't be absurd! They have appointments to keep, you know.

They had a complete monopoly at my address until around 1993 when DirecTV came along.

I dropped Comcast like the stinky turd they are. The first person who wanted to try and resolve my problem was the lady at the turn-in-your-equipment desk. I told her it was too late to do that, but thanks.

Then highspeed internet came to pass. After waiting and waiting for DSL from AT&T I caved and resigned with Comcast despite having vowed never to deal with them again. As ever, they were the only option open to me.

2 1/2 years ago AT&T was 'about 2 months' away from having Uverse available to me.

Yep, still waiting for it. AT&T even promised to find out a real date for availability and call me back. That was 2 months ago and still no word.

Meanwhile I routinely have Comcast internet dropouts and this forces me to deal with their Customer Annoyance Dept on a regular basis. I hate it! They have gone to the same voice-driven menu that AT&T uses, where a computer tries (in as many guess as possible) to get you to say what your problem is.

But the diagnosis is always the same. "I" have a problem, they do not. It always starts working again, mysteriously, a short while after these conversations end.

I wish I could consolidate the cable internet and satellite TV, drop the landline phone, add the cellphone and have one source and one bill for it all.

I don't think it will ever happen.

patriot paul said...

I had comcast for years and had to pay a premium for the package containing Fox News. I have friends who've had accounting issues with Comcast and won't go back to them. Rates escalated and switched to Direct TV. Their rates also escalated coupled with ocassional atmospheric interruptions or when I had to chip ice away from the outside dish. They did work with me to discount the rate when I complained about rate increases but only for a one time deal and later I switched to AT&T U-Verse. Not bad at all, so far. (Direct Tv recontacted me to offer a discount to get the biz back but too late)

Blog Admin said...

I remember a number of years ago there was a bill floating around in Congress to incentivize providers like AT&T and Comcast to offer channel specific packages rather than basic, premium, etc...

Doesn't that make the most sense? Why should I pay for 60 channels when I only watch 40 of them?

Melyssa said...

I refuse to buy cable TV. I do use cable internet and installed wireless. It's a bargain. And so is my Netflix account.

I think cable news is propaganda mind control. They spin what ever they are supposed to spin to keep their elite masters happy. I think we have very few real journalists anymore except for the blogs. Fox News is as bad as CNN and MSNBC.

Marycatherine Barton said...

I absolutely agree with Melyssa's denouncement of the state of journalism today, and often, as President Kennedy did, about why the First Amendment is not more honored. I just learned that it is a known fact that Bill Moyers, at the bequest of President Johnson, removed hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribe/hush/campaign funds from a safe in the WhiteHouse (from one individual whose name I can't recollect}, and delivered it elsewhere.