Come with me, dear reader, on this tale of woe and ultimate redemption in my dealings today
with Comcast, which I hearby nominate as the planet's worst cable company.
Last week I scheduled a Comcast service call, asking them to bring two CableCARDs to install
in my new Series 3 Tivo. I told them to bring at least two cards because I know of cases
where the installer only brought one, or brought two and one was DOA. I was emphatic
on this point.
The installer arrived this morning within the designated window. As he came in the door, he said he was
there to do an "HD upgrade." I said, "No, actually, you are here to install two CableCARDs into a Tivo." I
wasn't surprised when he didn't know what a Tivo was. I was more alarmed by his seeming lack of
knowledge about CableCARDs. He retreated to his truck to get more information.
When he reappeared, he told me he could install an HD cable box for me. I told him I didn't need
an HD cable box, I needed two CableCARDs. He explained that they don't usually carry CableCARDs
and they are kept at the warehouse. I told him the entire point of the visit was to install two
CableCARDs and that an HD box was not going to work for me. Back to the truck again for
Now he says he can get one CableCARD, or I'll have to reschedule. I tell him I allocated today
for this call, that I need two CableCARDs, and want to get this done today. At this point, he suggests I
go to the Comcast store in the next town, pick up two CableCARDs, and do the installation
myself. I suggest that perhaps he could get two CableCARDs at the store, and then do the
installation that was scheduled. He informs me he is not allowed to go to the store. At this point,
I relent because I'm actually happy to hear about the self-installation option, though I am somewhat surprised
because when I set up the appointment, the rep had told me I needed to have the cards
installed by a technician.
I ask the technician if he is sure there are two CableCARDs in the store right now
that I can pick up. He said yes. I ask if he's absolutely sure. He's 99% sure. I
ask him to call the store and verify they have the cards. He tells me will find the store's number
and call them. Back to the truck again.
He then comes back to the house: Yes, they have the
cards. And, by the way, the store closes at 2pm. It is now a little after noon.
tech leaves after confessing this was all his fault since he didn't actually read
the work order prior to arriving, and didn't realize he was supposed to bring CableCARDs.
While I appreciate his honesty, my appreciation will dim considerably over
the course of the next few hours.
I drive about five miles to the Comcast store. I wait in line, and then put the
digital cable box on the counter (don't need one if you are using CableCARDs), and tell the
man behind the counter that I would like to swap my cable box for two CableCARDs. He
says, "Not here." I say, "Excuse me, what do you mean?" He explains that they never
keep CableCARDs at the store because they must be installed by a technician, not by the
customer. I explain what's happened so far today and he gets satisfyingly irate on my
He puts some notes in their ticket system, which is, with high irony, called WOW. He
notes in the ticket that Comcast has made an error by not bringing the cards,
and then made another error by sending me to the store. He then reschedules a follow-up visit later
today to fix their error. It is now about 12:40. The new service window is from noon to
4pm. I thank him for his help and leave the store. On the way out, I learn that no technician had called the store today
asking about CableCARDs.
I arrive home at 1pm. And, I kid you not, my wife comes out of the house with the
cordless with Comcast on the line. A new person. She informs me that while
it is Comcast policy to come out again the same day and fix a problem if it is their
error, this does not apply to CableCARDs. Why? Because they have to be configured
before they leave the warehouse and once the technicians leave the warehouse
they are not allowed to come back. Once they are dispatched, that's it for the day. She
reschedules my CableCARD installation for Thursday; the best she can do. I remind
her that I just returned
the digital cable box to the store and now don't have cable access. She promises
to roll another technician to my house today to deliver a cable box I can use till
Since the guy at the store really seemed to be on my side and helpful, I decided
to call him to let him know what had happened--that they were not going to
send someone in the new slot he had arranged for me. At this point, I discovered
it is not possible for a customer to call a local Comcast store. ALL calls
to Comcast go to their regional/national Customer Care center. When I try
that number I'm told that due to high volume, unless my problem is
urgent I should try calling them some other time. I decide to drive back
to the store to see if the employee there can help me.
I arrive at the store at 1:30pm. The door is locked. The sign, which I hadn't seen
on my first trip, says they are closed from 1-2pm every day. I look in the window
and there's my buddy behind the counter. He sees me and gives me an emphatic
"V for Victory" sign--actually "V for Come Back at 2pm" sign. Not really counting
at this point, but I think this is strike three for the original technician who told
me the store closed at 2pm. I decide to get some lunch.
After lunch, I return to the store and give him an update. He tells me that the story
about not sending another tech out today because it's a CableCARD problem is "crap."
He suggests I go home, call Customer Care, ask for a supervisor, and get
them to send another technician today.
I go home. I explain the situation to my wife. As I finish, another Comcast
truck rolls up the driveway. It's the second technician with the promised
temporary cable box. I go out and greet him, saying "So, you have a
box for me?"
He says, "Aren't you the customer who was trying to get a
I say, "Yes, I need two CableCARDs."
He says, "I've got two right here." And he holds them up to show me.
I was sure something bad was going to happen at this point. He wouldn't be
allowed to put them in. The cards would be bad. The Tivo wouldn't work
right. None of that happened. This tech knew what he was doing. And the
guy at the head end, in Advanced Tech Support, knew what he was
doing. He even knew what a Series3 Tivo was. We installed and configured
the two cards in under 20 minutes. My Tivo is up and running with no problems,
thanks to these two clueful Comcast employees.
If any Comcast supervisor gives a flying heck about any of this, you can look it
up in your system under WOW ticket number 1926562. I'm sure I'll be hearing
back real soon now from Comcast Customer Care with an apology. Comcast continues to lower
the bar on customer service with each of my interactions. Pretty soon you'll
be as bad as a monopoly. Come to think of it, I don't have a choice in my
area, do I? Why else do you think I put up with this crap? If I could clear-cut the
forest across the street from my house, I'd jump to satellite in
a nanosecond. My only hope is FIOS. Verizon, I hope you're listening...