Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Letter to Comcast

For those that have followed this blog for a while, you know that a little over 2 years ago Lori and I switched from Comcast to DirecTV. It was one of the best decisions we have made. When we moved to Baltimore, however, we are unable to get reception for DirecTV. Our only option for TV is Comcast. Begrudgingly, I called them. They blew off the installation appointment and we have now decided to wait until Verizon installs FIOS in our area (starting next week) to get TV service. With that said, I decided it was time to write a letter to Comcast.

Mr. __________________
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Comcast Corporation
One Comcast Center
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Dear Mr. _____________,

A little over two years ago, I was a faithful Comcast subscriber (Morgantown, WV) who would never have thought to look elsewhere for paid television service despite all the prodding I received from family and friends. Today, I will never subscribe to a Comcast service again.

Comcast first lost me when, more than two years ago, I called to upgrade my existing service. I was a current Comcast customer with the very basic cable service. When I began experiencing a pixelized picture with greater frequency, I assumed it was because everything was being switched to digitial and I was still subscribing to the non-digital service. I called Comcast to upgrade to digital cable and scheduled the installation of my upgrade for a few days later between 2 PM and 5 PM. I took that afternoon off work and waited for a technician who never arrived and never called. At 7 PM that evening, I called to find out why the technician never arrived. I was told by the customer service representative that the technician never picked up the work order to install my upgrade. That meant that I not only missed a half day's work, but that I would have to miss another half day's work for the return appointment. When I explained my frustrations to the customer service representative, I was suprised by the response. Yes, the customer service representative apologized for my inconvenience, but she did so in a tone that said "I don't really care" and did not try to make any ammends for the inconvenience. When I told her that I would cancel my service and go with DirecTV, her attitude remained the same as if to say "we don't need you as a customer anyway." It was only when I followed through with switching to DirecTV that I got any sort of real concern from Comcast. It was almost like the customer service representative didn't think I (or anyone else) would actually leave Comcast. Needless to say, I was very happy with my DirecTV and DirecTV was very happy to have my business.

A couple of weeks ago, I moved to an area (Baltimore, MD) where satellite reception is not good. To my dismay I had to cancel my DirecTV service. DirecTV did everything they could to try to keep me as a customer, exactly the way a company should respond when they are losing a valued customer. To add to my dismay, the only option for paid television service at my new home was Comcast. Verizon FIOS is coming to the area, but it is still a few months away. So I contacted Comcast through their website and scheduled to have Comcast's Triple Play (TV/Phone/Internet) installed. Because we live in a gated community, I left specific instructions for the installer to contact the leasing office when he arrived at the gate. Since Comcast was installing our phone service, we did not a phone coneccted to the gate to let him in ourselves. I also explained very specifically that we did not get any cellular phone service inside our apartment, but that I would be home the entire day. Again, contacting the leasing office would have allowed the technician to complete the installation as scheduled.

You can imagine my ire when I received a voice mail on my cellular phone that the technician had arrived at the gate of our community and because he could not get inside the gate, I would have to reschedule. Understand that rescheduling would not have solved the problem. Without the phone service that Comcast was suppose to install that day, I would never be able to open the gate for the technician and the technician would still have to contact the leasing office to get into the complex. Just as my original instructions had stated.

My ire increased when I called Comcast back and tried to get the installer to return. I was told that a request would be put in and I would hear back in 15 - 20 minutes. Two hours later, I called back. I was told that because I missed the scheduled appointment, I would need to reschedule. I MISSED THE APPOINTMENT????? I was at my apartment the whole time. The technician is the one who didn't follow the instructions. This time, I missed a full day's work and would miss another day's work for the return visit. I told the customer service representative that I did not need reschedule my appointment, but that I needed to cancel my installation. I informed her that I would have Verizon install my service. The customer service rep apologized for the inconvenience with the same lack of concern as the rep two years ago. Once again I was left with the feeling that my money was not good enough for Comcast and that Comcast didn't need me as a customer.

May I ask how Comcast expects to stay in business if they treat customers like they have so little value? Companies are built on their customer base. A satisfied customer will tell one other person about their experience, but a dissatisfied customer will tell many more. (I personally have already told more than 75 people about my experience with Comcast through Facebook and will be posting this letter to my oline blog.) To treat a customer, or potential customer, as though they don't really matter is a very poor business model.

Needless to say, my eperience with Comcast has led me to never do business with Comcast again. Two different Comcast locations in two different states two years apart and I received the same lack of concern both times. If in the future I should move again and I am faced with the choice of Comcast or doing without, I will happily do without.

James Risk

P.S. - Could you please remove my name and address from the mailing list used to recruit new customers? Seems kind of pointless to keep killing trees since Comcast apparently doesn't need me as a customer anyway.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Life Without the Internet

Many people look forward to the days when they can get away from it all and just forget technology altogether. That is not the case for us, at least not at this moment. Since moving to Baltimore, we have struggled to get everything done while continuing to work and study full-time. Neither of us has really taken any "time off". So needless to say, getting internet setup at our new home has been put off until we could get some semblence of what was even going on. This is one of the reasons we have not updated this blog, James' scrapbook, or our facebook pages on a regular basis.

Although, getting internet has been put off, it has also been one of the most importnat things we need. Research for school papers, checking emails for our contract jobs with WVU, and arranging for utilities to be hooked up (including the internet) at the new home.

What this means is that life without the internet has been very difficult. In order to accomplish these things, we have had to resort to some pretty creative ways of getting internet service. All have cost us a great deal of time and money. While the internet access has been "free", there are costs associated with it - time, gas, and the feeling of obligation to buy something from the establishment that is offering the free wi-fi access.

The nearest spot is the local Dunkin Donuts, which I have visited on several occasions. Although it is only a few blocks from the house, it takes about 30 minutes to pack everything up, drive there and unpack everything to get set up (including the return home). Time is money. If we had internet at home, we could be saving a lot of time, and thus a lot of money. Luckily for use, the Dunkin Donuts is open 24 hours. But then that brings up another cost - the feeling of obligation to buy something. I've spent roughly $3-$5 everyday at the Dunkin Donuts on a juice/water and a donut or two. That $3-$5 adds up and quickly. Especially when you have to go almost daily.

Other places that have free internet are the public library and the UMBC campus. The library is nice because it is close and quiet, but it closes at 9 PM and you have to pay to park. Parking can cost anywhere from $1-$8 depending on how long you are there. The UMBC campus has free access and free parking, but with traffic, it can be upto 45 minutes away. Again, time is money.

So with all of this strugle to access the internet, we finally were able to get our internet service scheduled for hookup. Yesterday, Comcast had an appointment to install our phone, internet, and cable between 12 Noon - 3 PM. However, in the typical Comcast fashion, the technician blew off the appointment and customer service acted like it was no big deal. (That will actually be my next post.) Needless to say, we have cancelled our install with Comcast and gone with Verizon. Verizon will have our phone and internet (but no TV) installed at the end of next week, meaning we have another week to wait for internet service.

Frustrating! Rest assured, once our internet is hooked up, we will do our best to update all of our family and friends through our blogs, scrapbooks, and Facebook pages.