Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Death of Customer Service

(Note: Customer Service no longer exists because as consumers we now accept what you are about to read as normal. If your first reaction is "Oh, that happens to everyone" then you are beginning to see the problem).

If you're reading this blog, it means that I was able to upload it during one of the "on" periods of my intermittent Internet service. For the past month, my Comcast High Speed Internet Service has been down more than it has been up! When something that has become such an important part of your life goes down on you that often, it had better be a girlfriend, not an Internet service provider!

Since last month, my service has randomly gone down for four-to-eight hours at a time. I reached the point of having to lug my laptop to McDonalds to read my e-mail! Repeated calls to Comcast followed the same pattern: listen to a recorded menu; follow the voice prompts; wait on hold for 20-to-40 minutes; speak to a Level One Technician who, reading from his or her script, tells me to "power cycle" the modem (unplug and replug) and reboot the computer -- all of which I have already done several times while on hold! Then, the Level One Technician (who is not really a technician and whose sole technical knowledge resides on the script she is reading) informs me that the issue will have to be "escalated" to a Level Two Technician (presumably someone who actually knows what he is doing). Why I couldn't speak to this person initially eludes me.

The Level One Tech places me on hold. Ten minutes later, I am disconnected. I call back and get a different Level One Tech; you never get the same person when you call back and they won't transfer you to them. Instead, they insist that they help you themselves and tell you to power cycle your modem. Eventually, they too, put you on hold. Of course, after being on hold for 15 minutes, I find myself transferred to the main menu, where I am prompted to begin the process all over again.

Now I get a recording that says "Due to high caller volume, we are unable to complete your call at this time - please go to our Web site." Obviously, since I am calling because I am unable to connect to the Internet, I cannot visit their Web site! Maybe they wouldn't have such high caller volume if the callers did not have to call back multiple time in attempts to resolve service problems.

Eventually I get another Level One Tech and I ask to speak to a supervisor. Instead, the Level One Tech insist he or she can help me. I insist on speaking with a supervisor and, after some reluctance and rudeness from the tech, I am placed on hold -- for 35 minutes.

Finally, a Level Two Tech comes online and assures me that he can help (don't they have supervisors there? And what are they doing, because it sure isn't supervising the people I'm talking to!) and tries a few more things that do not work. He concludes they must set up an appointment to send a repairman to my home. The earliest appointment is in four business days - always! I've never had a Comcast appointment in less than four days from the time that it was made.

I am also assured that I will receive credit for my downtime. Four days later, the repairman arrives, fiddles with the cables, and tells me that he has fixed it and I should have no further service interruptions. Two days later, my service is down!

I call Comcast. Reread paragraphs 2 through 5 above. When I have finally reached another Level Two Tech, he tells me that he will send out another repairman -- in four business days! And he will issue a credit. I tell him that they already issued a credit but he informs me that there is none showing on my account. Great, the other woman lied to me about the credit!

Two days later, I am about to take a shower. I let the water run for a few minutes to heat up and cover my face with shaving cream in the meantime for a quick shave. The phone rings. It's Comcast. I know from experience that they are calling to confirm the upcoming appointment and that if I do not answer it they will mark me as unavailable and cancel the appointment (although I do not understand why not being available to take a phone call on Tuesday equates to presumed unavailability to be present for a scheduled appointment on Thursday).

Nonethless, I answer the phone. "This is Comcast Cable calling. Please hold for a service technician." "This is Comcast Cable calling. Please hold for a service technician." The recorded message repeated two dozen times. I wiped the shaving cream from my phone. I was gobsmacked that Comcast would drag me out of the shower to have a recording place me on hold! But I got the message: our time is valuable, unlike yours, Mister Customer!

Finally a live Comcast employee came to the line to confirm the appointment. Then he wanted me to tell him what the problem was. I asked if he had log entries on his computer screen showing the 15 time that I had called in during the month. He said that he did. I asked if the entries described the problem. He admitted that they did. I advised him that rather than repeat it a 16th time, he could read them from his screen while I finished my shower.

Update: I am typing this blog as I wait for the repairman...

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