Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Open Letter to Comcast

Dear Mr. Stephen B. Burke,

As Chief Operating Officer at Comcast, I am writing to point out to you that Comcast isn't operating very well, at least from this customer's perspective. After trying everything humanly possible through all open customer service channels available to me, I am turning to the Internet in hopes that protecting your reputation will bring someone to action at your huge bureaucratic monstrosity of a company.

As a public relations and marketing practitioner, I can't begin to tell you how much protecting your reputation is going to mean to you in the new media era. All the press releases, advertising and community giving in the world will not be able to cover up the fact that your customer service (at least in the Atlanta area) sucks. Where we used to just talk about it to our neighbors, now and in the future, we'll rant about you on Myspace and Facebook, and upload videos about how much you suck on YouTube. When someone does a Google search on Comcast, they'll find customers ranting about how bad you are, instead of the items you want us to find on comcast.com. One day, we'll all march on Washington and demand total deregulation, so that we no longer have to wait at home for no one to show up and help us, and you'll lose that last bastion of marketplace protection you enjoy. Basically in the future, your customers will control your reputation, not your hired PR agencies. So what you should learn very soon is that you need to keep your customers happy, or it could cost you many more customers, and much more money, down the road.

I'm sure while earning your undergraduate degree at Colgate, before going on to get your MBA at the prestigious Harvard School of Business, you probably heard this old adage: the customer is always right. Well, I know that they sometimes aren't, but I think what this old saying is probably trying to convey is this: respect your customer, because they are the ones that pay your bills and allow you to put nutritious food on your table for those hungry five kids of yours.

Here's my latest Comcast story, Stephen: After quitting Comcast two years ago (will go into that later), my husband and I have decided to "ditch the dish" and rejoin the Comcast family. We want to give you a lot of money, say around $145 a month. And that's just the first year when you're giving me a bundling discount. Here's a list of the services I've ordered: Digital Voice, Cable Modem for Internet Access, Digital high definition package with extra channels and HBO. And, I want your DVR, plus I'm renting two boxes from you as well as a modem. I think as far as a residential customer profile is concerned, that you could not ask for more. With me, you're defeating the dish providers and conquering Ma Bell. It's the kind of stuff a good business plan depends on.

So here we are on Tuesday, November 13. Techs are supposed to be at my house from 11-2. I rush home by 10:45 a.m., just to make sure I don't miss them. At 1:45 p.m., someone from Comcast calls me to tell me my tech is running late. No problem, I say. I'm here. I find it refreshing that someone calls me to say they are late, unlike my last Comcastic experience. At 3:05, my techs show up.

The techs seem like nice guys. Clean cut and soft spoken, they ask me to show them the areas I need hooked up. I give them a tour. In their crisp gray Comcast shirts, they walk through my house and inspect it. Then they go outside and begin running a new wire from the cable box in my front yard to the back of my house.

Here's where it gets interesting. As soon as they begin working on my cable, one of my neighbors comes outside and asks them if they have accidentally cut his cable. They tell him no. Then, they come in my house and say "looks like the cable is out in your area, so we can't complete your installation. Call 800-comcast to reschedule." Then they leave, wires still hanging from my house and snaking across my front yard (see photos for proof, Stephen).

I go to see my neighbor. He says that his cable was off, but now it is back on. Less than 10 minutes has ticked off the clock at this point, so I'm stil hopeful. I call 404-comcast to tell them to send back the techs. because they can finish my installation now. My CSR sends a "where's my tech?" e-mail and tells me to wait for a call from dispatch. I ask her how long, she says no more than 30 minutes. Ok, I say. And then I wait.

So Stephen, after 45 minutes, I'm beginning to lose my temper. I call back again. This time Phillip is my CSR, and I have to say, I'm not happy with his repoir. It's not our fault, he says, you'll just have to reschedule. He offers me November 23 between 11-2. No can do, I tell him. I want someone today, because all of my old service is schedule to be terminated tomorrow. Plus, I have been sitting here ALL DAY instead of working at my job. Sorry he says, but he doesn't sound sincere. I ask for a supervisor, but after waiting for 15 minutes, I hang up and call again.

This time I get Cathy. Not sure if it is with a C or a K, so I'm going to say C. She's better. At least seems sincere, but also seems helpless to assist me. Cathy explains to me that the only thing she can do is send another "where's my tech?" e-mail asking dispatch to call me again. They can't call dispatch directly. I tell her to go ahead, and to please note that I'm still waiting on a call from the first "where's my tech?" e-mail. And here's a sidenote, Stephen. How sad is it that you have such an issue with technicians missing appointments that a system called "where's my tech?" has had to be created within Comcast? After Cathy sends my e-mail, she transfers me to a supervisor. Very nice lady, but at this point I'm irate and I don't catch her name. I can tell she deals with angry people all the time. She again tells me that unless I want to reschedule for late November, I'm pretty much at the mercy of the mysterious dispatch department to call me back.

So here I sit Stephen, at 8:03 p.m. I've literally been at this now for more than nine hours, and still no cable, no digital voice, no high-speed internet, no On Demand. Nothing but frazzled nerves and lots of misguided energy that I'm now pouring into this blog. My latest update (from my call, still haven't heard from dispatch) is that Anthony at 404-COMCAST says that someone will be here either tonight or Thursday morning between 8-11 a.m. God only knows what I will write in this blog if no one shows up then.


Grummul said...

Everything you wrote sounds accurate, however its bollocks at the same time. Comcast hires sub contractors as technicians and service techs. They wear the logo but ultimately run proprietary. Keeps cost low as bottom line expenses such as wages and salaries can be reserved for terrible customer service centers.

Don't knock the guy for obtaining a good education...it won't make you feel any better in the long run as he is smarter than we ever will be and when you realize he runs a multi million dollar company and bathes in champagne, you'll look at the blog you just posted about a few hours of your time and a $150 comcast bill.

Be more pissed that comcast doesnt alert you to when that wonderful bundle runs out and they dont inform you. I just got a 200 dollar bill from them...canceled that HBO thing 4 months ago and just realized I have been paying for it. Fun...

I hate comcast too. Be more pissed at them for sucking your life away slowly through bad TV though then bad service techs that answer to Juan regardless of their name and never even speak directly to someone AT comcast. They just look at a blackberry...it says drive...they put in key...turn...go...is what we all do any different?

Servano said...

I know this is an old post, and I will try to come back later and check for the follow up blog... But as far as the "Bad Programing" you attacked, Comcast does not make movies or sitcoms. Comcast shows you what the network sends them, unedited. More later.