The (Current) Comcast Problem

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First, let me say that I don’t think Comcast is a terrible company with intractable customer service.  Their Customer Guarantee is progressive.  My view is they are big and they do things on massive scales that sometimes create customer problems.  My experience is they have differing (i.e., bad at times) customer service representative capabilities.  Good ones will listen, help, and do things within the myriad of solutions available.  Bad ones will make customers feel like they are talking to a rock; nothing happens and infuriation sets in.

My problem stems from a downgrade in service.  I was not notified, in advance or at all, and my bills are the same.  I went weeks without any service.  Poor customer service exasperated the problem.  It is still unresolved.  After seventeen years with this company (and its predecessors) I am seriously thinking it is time to sever the relationship.

The change in service occurred either two or three weeks ago (I am unsure of the number of weeks).  The signal on my large-screen LCD went out–it just said “scrambled.”  I didn’t call Comcast because I assumed customer service would be a nightmare and I really didn’t want people traipsing through my house or yard.  After a couple of days I called and received a recording message saying (approximately) ‘we are aware of outages in your area; you cannot speak with anyone about this; if you like we will call you when service is restored.’  About two hours later I received a call with an automated message indicating service had been restored.  Nothing had changed on my end.

So I called.  The first representative I spoke with had no idea what I was talking about.  She said “There are outages in your area.”  (There have not been any weather problems.)  I asked to speak with a manager or supervisor.  I was on hold for fifteen minutes.  He too (I have his name but am not including it here; I would have to find it) didn’t know anything about my problem.  He said “You have to use a box” (see below).  I said “Please don’t argue with me.  Could someone please look into it and call me back.”  He said ‘sure/fine’ and verified my phone number.  I never heard from anyone.  That was it:  No Comcast response.

After researching the issue, trying to re-set channels, and going for weeks without service I uncovered the problem:  Comcast had scrambled stations going into my home.  Where no set-top box was previously necessary on a TV with a digital tuner now one was needed.  Some three years earlier a Comcast technician in my home (there for a different problem) showed me how to use a digital TV wihout a box.  I had since rearranged my living room (cords, plugs, etc.) and purchased a new TV to utilize this service.  Now it was gone.  I had to figure this out–and now make completely different arrangements–all on my own.

The use of a box–again, Comcast isn’t an entirely unresponsive company, they provide them for free–is really not an option for me for this TV.  There is no outlet to plug it in; the chords are an awful mess; my TV remote doesn’t work; it is nuisance to use two remotes for TV vs. HDMI, frequent picture resizing, muting, etc.; and, basically, up-down channels are useless because there are so many channels in between I don’t receive!  To repeat, many channels are different sizes (they don’t fill the screen).  I cannot tell the picture resolution–it seems worse than before–because it isn’t going through my TV’s tuner.  Now I discovered a new problem:  audio is out of sync on certain channels at times (a problem I never had before).

The problem is A)  I don’t like this new set-up (with a box) at all and B)  I feel dissatisfied and forced into it.  I am paying for it and shouldn’t have to spend hours trying to deal with Comcast representatives to resolve it.

There are solutions.  What will Comcast do?  These could include removing the scrambling to my house, bill credits, “replacement” services, making all the pictures uniform, etc.  Another, ancillary request is provide one person and direct contact information for service for this issue.  Does Comcast want to keep me as a customer?  That is the question now.  What solution will be provided.

THE LESSONS – In a technology-based business product changes and upgrades are necessary for the future and new customers.  A key is how to please and retain current customers.  Notice and choices must be provided.  “Grandfathering,” or similar substitutions should be offered if possible.  In terms of customer service, obviously the ideal is uniform and competent.  Promises must be kept.  If a customer takes the time to call that should be viewed as a required call to action.

EDIT:  COMCAST RESPONSE – They gave me three months credit (free) going forward.