mm411: Comcast rant no. 3,219,586,773,089,246,129,6…

MUDGE’s Musings

In the 3-1/2 weeks since our previous Comcast disappointment, our monopoly ISP has been behaving itself. Of course, we were away during most of the past week (if you somehow missed our Boston coverage, here’s the most recent), but it only took less than 36 hours since returning for a really pernicious issue to appear, for the first time in this grizzled veteran’s experience.

It’s an intermittent phenomenon: suddenly the modem loses connection, then slowly reconnects. Stays connected for about 90 seconds; then the cycle repeats.

For hours.

It’s really impossible to conduct any activity at all on the Internet when one’s connection interrupts for a minute, every 90 seconds.

Contacted support. Found the same bipolar experience as previously experienced. The first person I talked to, after about a 15-minute wait (always a good indicator of system wide issues!) had absolutely nothing to offer except scheduling a technician visit. No diagnostics. No word of any system issues. Nothing. Concluded the call in disgust, without scheduling a visit.

Two minutes later, re-contacted support. Waited even longer this time (tell me that there weren’t systemic problems, with the call queue so busy at 11:00am Sunday!), and reached Karen, an absolutely 180° different and positive experience.

Calm, well-spoken (and both callers were U.S. citizens, so the first person’s maladroitness was not foreign language related), full of diagnostic suggestions, which of course were pointless, but this was not her fault.

She reported that there were no issues in my area (if technician visits were any measure), but scheduled a visit for Wednesday morning with little fuss. Sometimes people scheduling such visits insist on account numbers being read to them; that’s just nasty for the sake of being unpleasant. They know who they’re talking to. But none of that nonsense from Karen. Just professional, if limited by her corporate policy.

It’s as if the first call center was staffed by first-week trainees; the second one by the trainers. As I’ve reported, this occurs every incident. If you reach the wrong person, not only will your problem not be resolved, but you’ll find yourself terribly frustrated by the experience of the call, on top of the annoyance about the service issue itself.

The first law of customer service: First, do no (further) harm.

But, the only outcome of the Karen call was scheduling a technician visit. In my experience that’s necessary only about 10% of the time. Usually it’s Comcast’s system issues.

That’s right. They seldom cop to system issues; they would rather set up a very costly (to them, and to customers who lose time away from work to accommodate the visit) technician visit than admit systemic problems.

Only a monopoly (i.e., careless if not purposefully malignant about customer satisfaction, because really, what choice do you have in my town if you want cable bandwidth?) could get away with the easy, several hundred dollar choice, rather than spending initially to have granular, timely information about the state of the network.

Much less frustrating to your customers, Comcast (and in my bitter experience I know you absolutely don’t care about us as long as we pay our outsize statements on time), to simply admit temporary issues in the network (“we apologize: we’re working on it and service should be restored shortly”), as opposed to your policy of insisting that a technician be dispatched who will, 90% of the time in my experience, find nothing at all amiss on the customer’s side.

So, to continue the narrative, while unconnected I set up (on a trial basis) a dial-up account, to get connected somehow; that connection was irredeemably slow of course, and similarly inconsistent. When I tried to move away from that ISP’s home page, connection was variable, not to say impossible. It’s just a broadband world.

After a couple of hours, cable Internet mysteriously returned (without that technician visit, still 68 hours away, who would have believed it!), which return has persisted for the past hour or so, enabling me to reach out to you to tell my story.

Hopping back on line, I promptly went out to my friends at AT&T, who have always furnished my land-line telephone service, to sign up for DSL, which as we’ve discussed previously, is only available at entry level speed due to our distance from the central office.

It’s remarkable that this same inadequate condition persists 10 or more years after first discovered, 10 years where broadband has become the rule, not the exception as it was when I first reached out to them. Remarkably disappointing.

At this point, my plan is to have DSL in reserve. My hope is that DSL will be slower than I’m used to by far, but at least not impossibly slow as is dial-up (which I couldn’t even use to access AT&T to sign up). At $19.95/month, DSL would be insurance against future, but almost certainly guaranteed, Comcast misbehavior.

Honestly folks, if I thought there was another way to diminish the gut-churning (not to speak of professionally injurious) frustrations of doing business with our local cable monopoly, I am still waiting to find it.

Hope your day has been a better one than mine! If it has been, I’ll wager that Comcast is an organization that you read about in the abstract, not depend upon.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

MUDGE
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4 Responses to mm411: Comcast rant no. 3,219,586,773,089,246,129,6…

  1. Faith says:

    I had the same problem that you are describing. It went on for years, especially in warm weather. Turns out they needed to rewire the cable that runs into the house. But, getting them to do it wasn’t so easy. Check this out:
    http://realityrollcall.com/index.php/2008/06/07/
    the-sporadic-updates-on-this-site-are-brought-to-you-by-comcast/

    you may have to paste the link into your browser, but it’s worth it.

  2. Mudge,
    You have my Comcastic sympathy and my Battle of the Blogs vote tonight…Comcast bought little Patriot Media a few months back, and it has been nothing but torture for me since they started their “transition” (read: constant interruption of service…have you tried re-starting your modem?). The other day it got so bad that I started searching out satellites to put on my roof (or, if possible, on my head in a little propeller-beanie). If I find one that makes sense, I will let you know.

    Roxy

  3. […] mid-month obligations, something I might have done when fresher yesterday, had my good friends at Comcast cooperated and left me with a connection I could depend upon while accessing my on-line banking […]

  4. mudge says:

    My Comcast rant struck a nerve, and actually elicited comments: unusual and therefore most precious in this space. Please click on the commenters’ links to see what they’re about. Each different, and eloquent, in totally different ways. I love the ‘Sphere!

    Roxy: Thanks for the kind words, and the vote. My record is appalling in Battles of the Blogs at BlogExplosion, and I actually won today. I’m sure your vote tipped it in.

    Faith: I appreciate your comments; I guess misery does love company! At least you heard from that mythical public affairs guy that supposedly monitors the ‘Sphere looking for bad press. Anything good happen?

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