Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Comcast Experience

People have always told me how much they hate Comcast. Terrible customer service, constant outages, and ever increasing bills. I would respond that I never really had any issues with them. My service pretty much always worked, and when it didn't, they came out and fixed it. I couldn't recount any terrible customer service anecdotes, and although they did hike the bill on at least a yearly basis, you could call and complain and they would re-promo you. Annoying, sure, but it was just business as far as I was concerned. Yesterday, I got to experience the full Comcast experience that epitomizes why everyone you ask probably hates Comcast.

I work for an ISP, and there is a promotion that I was sure would save one of my friends money over Comcast. We went into the local Comcast office to find out, and it appears that dropping internet and phone service would save her at least $60/month and she would get faster internet speed. She doesn't use the phone, so it was time to cancel Comcast, but first we signed up for the other internet service to ensure she wouldn't be without internet.

Now that her new internet is working, she went back to Comcast to return the equipment. The person there told her that she would need to bring back her DVR box as well, because it won't work without their internet service. No one mentioned this to us when we asked about dropping internet the first time. She asked me to go back with her and talk to them.

When we went back, we were again told that the X1 platform requires Xfinity internet to work. She can get a different DVR, but she can't use that one anymore. Since that's the one with the voice remote and the interface she likes, this new information is unwelcome. I asked if the box would work with another internet service, but they said they were just customer service and did not know. So we went to call the technical support people before we made any changes.

On the phone, the technician told us that the X1 platform has many features that do require internet, and they require Xfinity internet specifically. The box uses the internet through Comcast's network, but charges it against your internet data cap, and it has no way to connect to a different internet service. He did say that the DVR, the voice remote, and the on demand would still work. We asked what else is there that requires Internet. He told us there are apps you can add to the box, and those wouldn't work, but he couldn't tell us much about them as he was an internet specialist, not an X1 platform specialist. He went to get more information from an X1 specialist, but when he returned, he said he was informed that everyone up to that point had been wrong. The X1 box does not require Internet of any kind, and that all features of X1 will work with or without Xfinity or any other internet service. Since it seemed we had an answer that suited us from a source that should be authoritative, it was once again time to cancel Comcast internet service. So he transferred us to a customer service person.

The customer service person tried to upsell us on everything Comcast has, but as I had my answer, I listened politely to her pitch before saying no. She then told us the price would be $20 higher than what we had been quoted in the office 30 minutes ago. I told her that, and she said that she didn't have that price, and that sometimes different offices have different promotions. I asked why Comcast service agents signing me up would give me different prices. She didn't have an answer for this. I told her that felt dishonest to me, but ended the call amicably and returned to the local office.

Talking to the sixth person about this same thing over the course of a week involving at least 3 hours today alone, I was more than a little annoyed by this point. I fully acknowledge that I came off a little adversarial when I approached the next customer service rep. Due to my approach, she was pretty defensive and rude. However, I take full responsibility; I set the stage and her actions were understandable. It's not okay to take out your bad day on a customer service rep. Fortunately, I came to my senses and apologized for my behavior.

The next part is unclear to me. She either told me the price was higher than it was when I talked to the other person, or added in a fee that I knew about, but didn't understand she was adding in, or I misheard her, or...I don't know what. I was upset about the price and feeling that I'd been lied to by Comcast AGAIN, but after discussing it a few more times, we clarified that it was the price that we were clear on originally. She told us that the X1 box would stop working. We told her what the technician said, and she said that's not the way she understood it to work. We told her we'd take that risk and come back if it didn't. She cancelled the services and we went to see what the result was.

The result was that...the box stopped working. It had a generic error message and a code and an instruction to call Xfinity. I made the call and the automated system sent a reset signal. It said it might take a half hour for everything to come back up. We waited the half hour, and no change. So I called them back and talked to a real person. He said the box had been deactivated on our account somehow. Customer service revenge for my rudeness, unhappy coincidence, or honest mistake; I suppose I'll never know. He reactivated the box and it came back to TV immediately. It looked like everything was working; the voice remote, the On Demand, the DVR...but not Netflix. I guess that's one of those internet apps that requires their internet service. Oh well, she has a chromecast, so she decided to save the $60/month for now and maybe just cancel Netflix anyways.

So now I have my very own long rambling rage inducing story to tell whenever someone says they hate Comcast. Welcome to the club I hear them all laughing...

So now I need to go find a replacement for the X1 box. Voice control, on demand, and easy TV channel changing is a must. I wonder if a Fire TV Stick would work...


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