10 Reasons *Not* to Go with Comcast

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

January 8th, 2011 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

1. They don’t use normal phone jacks.
I was not informed ahead of time that Comcast does not use phone jacks for telephones. Instead, they hook up a central electronic box that in turn hooks into a cable outlet. There is a phone jack at the back of the box – meaning anything that needs a phone jack must be right next to that central box, which in turn must be right next to the cable outlet.

2. They lie.
I have an old school phone that simply plugs into a phone outlet. I got it specifically in case of a power outage. So naturally, I was concerned that if my whole phone system revolved around an electronic contraption, I would not be able to make calls in case of a power outage. I was assured that my phone would in fact continue working, because a long-life emergency battery is part of the system.

Not only, however, did my phone go dead during a power outage, but it also went dead a couple other random times, once along with my internet service, once separate from it. In other words, if you have Comcast, and you happen to also have a medical emergency while the system is dead for one reason or another, you just better have a cell phone that’s charged and accessible, or you’re screwed.

3. Their service is inconvenient.
When I got Comcast installed in my first apartment up north, I do not recall the guy looking around the entire unit for a cable outlet. Maybe he did, but didn’t find one, although it seems hard to believe that in a two-bedroom townhouse, there would just be one cable outlet altogether. Regardless, all I know is that he hooked up my internet/phone service to the living room outlet downstairs – the result being that I had to take my printer (heavy) downstairs and back up, whenever I needed to fax documents (frequently). For someone who needs to keep all heavy-lifting activities to a minimum, so as to manage pain, that was a bad setup in every sense of the phrase.

4.   They don’t know what they hell they are doing.
When I moved again, I informed the Comcast representative that I had a concern about the fax issue (above) and that I was thinking about switching to AT&T because I needed normal phone jacks. The representative assured me that Comcast does in fact work from normal phone jacks and that the tech who had gone to my house must have been a douchebag (ok he didn’t use that exact word, but the implication was there).

I clarified the matter two or three times, to make sure I was understanding correctly. Yes, the representative assured me, Comcast does in fact work out of the normal phone jacks – ie, not the cable outlet, but the normal in-the-wall phone jack. And yes, I could hook up my old-school phone into one of those phone jack outlets, and it would work. So I ordered a transfer of service to my new apartment.

When the tech showed up, he told me that the guy on the phone was wrong, that Comcast does not work out of normal phone jacks but only functions from cable outlets. Fortunately, this guy thought to look around my unit and discovered a cable outlet in my office, right near my fax. The drama of going with another company at that point was higher than the annoyance of not having normal phone jacks, so I said fine.

5.   They are impossible to speak with.
So the reason I was super-eager to get my phone service set up in my new apartment is that I’d been without phone service for five days by that point. That’s because Comcast decided to cut my service a few days before my move. I tried talking to them about it, to get my service reinstated, while I was still in my old apartment.

Not only did I have to endure zaps of nerve pain in my hypersensitive ear, as a result of being on the cell phone, but the calls took so damn long (like 30-45 min), with most of that time being spent on hold, that I never actually ended up talking to anyone with any kind of authority to do anything. I asked for call-backs, which were never forthcoming. Then, just for funsies, my internet service went out too, also before my move.

6.   They don’t take accountability for their errors.
In my attempt to get service in my new place, I was also on hold for ridiculously long periods of time, also on my cell phone, as it zapped my ear with nerve pain. So I went to an internet cafe and did live chat. The chat took 90 minutes (90 minutes!) with no resolution. Instead, I circled around and around with various representatives, each apologizing profusely for the inconvenience but then doing the same damn thing – not listening and not taking action to resolve my case. I documented the first 60 min of the conversation in a previous blog post.

7.   The service is unreliable.
Over the first few months, my phone cut in and out on my end – like a cell with a bad connection – just about half the time, so that people had a hard time hearing me. It still cuts in and out, or the sound altogether disappears, about 20% of the time. In addition, my hard-wired internet service and/or my wireless internet service went dead several times in the first six weeks. In one instance, I spent up to 90 min on the phone with tech, without resolution. The tech promised to call me back but never did. Which meant I had to go through Comcast phone call hell again, churning out about another hour of my time. (See #5.)

8.   They are dumb.
After the experience of being ineffectively walked through tech repair for 90 min, with no resolution, I insisted on having a tech come out to repair the wireless himself. The guy didn’t show up.

In previous conversations, I had given Comcast my new home number and told them to call me there. Apparently, however, they thought that the cell phone number they had called a month earlier – when my home phone wasn’t working because they’d shut it off – would be the best number to reach me at and only number to try calling. So they’d left a message on my cell (which I never answer). By the time I called to see where they were, they said I’d missed the appointment and told me I had to reschedule. I did.

I emphasized that they needed to call my home phone, not my cell. I said the number of my home phone. I told them to make sure the tech would call that number. I was assured that yes, they would call my home phone, not my cell. You know what’s coming next: They called my cell. This time, I was on it. When I hadn’t heard from them, I called my cell and picked up their message. I called right away, but again, they said I’d missed the appointment and I’d have to reschedule (despite the fact that there was like 90 min left in my two hour window of schedule time). 

Third time’s a charm. The tech showed up. After spending about 10 min in my office, he came out and said the wireless was working. Hurrah! After he left, I went to my office, with the intention of bringing my computer out to my living room and working there. (I need to move around my apartment, so as to find the quietest area at any given time.) But as I discovered, the reason the wireless was suddenly working was not because it had been fixed, but because he’d plugged in a wire from my computer to the wireless router to the hard-wire box. In other words, my wireless service was not so wireless.

9.   You have to yell and scream to get anything done.
I don’t remember details of the drama that followed, but as I recall, there was some Comcast resistance to getting another tech out. Fortunately, once this tech arrived, he seemed to know what the hell he was doing. He discovered that there was a systemic problem in the internet connection, on the side of my building and apparently affecting other units on the property as well. Why they wouldn’t have that awareness from the get-go is beyond me, but I digress. So he fiddled around with the wiring on the outside and the inside, then informed me that he’d accidentally broken something and that my internet – hard-wired and wireless – was no longer working. At all.

I can’t remember if it was at his behest or mine, but he then spent a lot of time (bless him!) near my living room cable outlet, trying to make the whole system work from there. His manager, meanwhile, audibly yelled at him over the walkie-talkie, telling him that he was taking too long and had to get a move-on. Fortunately my tech ignored the man and finished getting me hooked up. Hurrah! Internet service at last! Forget the fact that once again I’d have to haul my printer into the living room to fax anything. I was told that within the next week or two, the systemic problem would be fixed, and I could have a tech come back out (yay! More quality time hanging out on the phone with Comcast!) to return my phone/internet setup to my office.

10. All of the above.
Then my wireless went out again. Then when I tried to fix the problem by rebooting the system, my hard-wired internet went out. I was told that I needed to do the repair myself, walking through it with the rep on the phone. I patently refused, citing how that had been a complete waste of time before. After some arguments, I got the guy to schedule a tech to come out in about 24 hours. Meaning, either I could not work for those 24 hours, or I had to take my whole setup to an internet café.

When I didn’t get the call that the rep was coming (turned out he’d left the message somewhere, can’t remember if my phone didn’t ring or if he’d called my cell), I got on the horn to Comcast. I went through the automated system assuring me I’d get a call-back in 15 min. Which never happened. Which was not surprising, because it never had happened in the past either.

Not waiting for the call that would never come, I then waded through voicemail/hold hell, so as to speak with a live person. I was assured that a tech was scheduled to come to my unit. I verified this like three times, asking in different ways, before getting off the phone. When there was half an hour left in the window of time, and the tech still hadn’t come, I called back. Again I was told the tech was coming. I told the rep to call the tech and speak with him and get verification from the tech’s mouth that he was on his way.

The rep was resistant, but I was persistent, so he finally did as I had requested. The rep got back on the phone and said the tech was not coming, that he could not come, because the issue was not in my unit, but a global issue on my property. I said that was not true. I explained the whole matter about how the cable outlet in my office was connected to the internet service that wasn’t working, but the cable outlet in my living room was connected to the internet service that was working.

It wasn’t long before I asked to speak with a supervisor. I was informed that nothing could be done until the tech people came out to fix the global issue, and there was no telling when that would be. I was livid. I told the supervisor that I’d like him to stop working for three days without pay, because that was essentially what he was telling me to do. I told him to tell the tech to come. He said he couldn’t do that. I told him to do it anyhow. I also explained the situation a million times. I assured him that the issue was not what they were claiming.

Bottom line: I would not give up. I was like an animal with sharp teeth that had hooked on and was not letting up. Finally, after 45 minutes of intensity, I was told that the tech would come. Lo and behold, the problem was not connected to the global issue, and it was fixed in about 20 minutes.

Now today, I can’t work (I’m writing this offline, because I have nothing else to do at the moment), because Comcast thought that it would be really smart to do their maintenance work right smack in the middle of a work day instead of waiting, oh, until 2:00 am or something. So I have had no phone or internet service for the past four hours. And they’re telling me they don’t know how long it will be before the service comes back on.

I will say two things to their credit: Their service is relatively cheap. And they have erased from my bill all but one charge, when I complained how hands-down crummy their service has been. (Considering I just lost another full day of work, I would like that outstanding charge to be erased as well.) As those of you following my blog know, I’ve been busy hauling myself out from under the avalanche that hit me a few months ago, so money has been tight. Which for now is reason enough to stay. Plus, you know, their insanity makes for good blog fodder.


Steph January 10th, 2011

All of the above and so much more ….you are so right!!
#11  They add random things to your bill, hoping you won’t look at it and just pay it.
#12 The call center and the pay center have different totals for your account month after month, with no explanation what-so-ever!!

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