Should I vilify this huge corporation, or defend them?

In the end, damnation or salvation came down to one person…


This has turned into a rather lengthy blog-post – I apologize ahead of time. Grab a cup of joe, and settle in. Just when you think it’s over – I guarantee you, it isn’t.


I’ve been truly having a “Comcastic” couple of weeks – But that’s not necessarily a good thing. I’ve got the Customer Service blues – and they’re making me, my whole family, and possibly a couple of strangers just wandering by our home, very angry. As a person who actually taught Customer Service (see? I still capitalize “Customer Service”. It’s a habit), I am furious when people drop the ball.

comcastic

Everyone has problems at one time or another. Things go wrong – It’s Murphy’s Law, after all. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of technology: Can’t load this, can’t copy that, dropped call, missed email. It happens.

In the massive complexity of modern cable television, there are many more “moving parts”, so to speak, than your typical email server (in fact, I’m sure they maintain thousands of those, as well as all the other things that make audio, video, phone and internet run). Usually, though, the troubles are the run of the mill “my box turned off,” or “my voicemail isn’t saving my messages,” or “what happened to my HBO?” Generally straightforward problems have generally straightforward solutions, and most of these things are fixed by the venerable Customer Service Team with a reset of your cable box, or a reboot of your server.

What happens, though, when the problem is out of the ordinary? When things just don’t follow logical steps? That’s what separates the men from the boys.

Then there is the personal toll, as well. Everyone’s problem is an inconvenience, but what happens when the very nature of the problem could grow into an actual emergency?

This is my story. It’s all true. I may add my usual humorous slant, but you will quickly see that it was no laughing matter.


My wife and I were moving out of our current house. We were moving our service to my parent in-law’s home, where we would be joining them to lend a helping hand. They are nearing a time in life where a little help is required. Before officially taking up residence, however, we had some traveling to do, helping my Stepdaughter and her husband with their new baby. What can I say? We’re helpers.

So the idea was to take our Comcast service and move it to the Parents house, canceling their Comcast service – BUT, adding their phone number to our account, so both of our phones, operated by Comcast via their venerable “Triple Play”, would now be at the parent’s house, on my account.

I wanted this to work without a hitch, so I went directly into my local Comcast office to plan the move. We worked on this for about an hour – planning out how it should happen. They recommended that I have a technician there, because we mutually wanted the installation to go smoothly. We made the plan, and set the date for it to be implemented: February 27th, between ten a.m. and noon. All had to be working, after all, because the next day my wife and I get on a plane, bound for our baby-sitting adventure.

I went home victorious, with plans in place to make the move in one week.

Then, the phones disappeared.

Not all together, mind you, but they disappeared from our accounts. I got home from this journey of peace and understanding, this meeting of minds with Comcast, and both of our on-line accounts were now begging us to sign up for Triple Play, because we didn’t have telephone service through Comcast. Yet the phones rang, and we could make calls.

And I’m starting to think I’m in trouble. This first problem, however, is quickly thwarted by a call back to my helper at the Comcast office, and things were pretty much back to normal – except for the feeling of trepidation that was growing in the back of my mind. I set it aside – After all, we had a PLAN.

On “moving day” I grabbed our cable box and the wireless router/telephony box, and headed over to the parents. Sure enough, when the ten o’clock hour rolled around, so did the Comcast technician. An hour and a half later, after a couple of bumps that I’m sure I would have never been able to overcome if I tried a self-install (good suggestion on their part), we had cable, internet, and two working telephones. Job well done. I could get on the plane the next day with pride and confidence, knowing I had properly cared for my elders.

When we got off the plane, I went to my trusty Comcast Connect app to check for any messages and I couldn’t get the app to initialize, I kept getting an error. Checked my account on-line – and my phone number wasn’t there. Only our parent’s number was available to me. I panicked, and called the parents line. They answered. At least, if something had gone wrong, it was happening to me, and not them. They need the phone. They have doctor’s appointments, and need the line for communication, and possibly emergencies. It is imperative that they had a working phone.

It was late, I was tired. I decided to try a chat with a Comcast person on the internet. Never tried the chat before – what could go wrong? Here’s What I told them:

I have recently set up service in my home. It moved from a previous location. I have two phone lines, both working correctly in our home. However, I only see one of them when I go to voice preferences while logged into my account on xfinity.com. The same applies to my Xfinity Connect app – I only see one line, an I am unable to start the Voice2Go service – I keep receiving an error.

I went on to give the account number, and phone numbers in question. I was dutiful. I even saved the above message, so I could paste it again, if needed. The person I was chatting with did what limited things he could do – then referred my account to their technical department, where they try to get things wrapped up an about 24 hours. But that was fine; after all, we still had phone service.

The next day, our phone was dead.

I dialed it to check messages, Got a ‘number out of service error, please try your call again’. I tried my call again, and got the same stupid message. I panicked again and called the parents – thankfully, their line was still working. I Decided to try the chat one more time. I pasted my message from above, with the added info that my line was dead, and waited another 24 hours. My line was still dead. My Wife is a life coach, and we were depending on Xfinity to keep our phone line alive, via their nifty app, so her clients would keep calling the same number as normal – not missing a beat. Now, they probably thought we couldn’t pay the phone bill.

But, darn it – There was a PLAN.

And, after another 24 hours, my parent’s phone line (the only one working) received the following voicemail (copied from the Comcast transcription via my email, with errors corrected):

Hi this is Rochelle with Comcast Cable and I’m calling because we have a ticket open for Vincent Hase that your Call Trace is not working on your phone. I’m calling you back on this ticket to let you know that this feature has been added to your calling features. If you are still having a problem with that, give us a call back and we’ll reset your modem for you. If you’re not, you can just go ahead and disregard this call. Thank you have a good day.

I have not looked up what “Call Trace” is, nor will I ever. Don’t even leave a comment telling me. It wasn’t the problem that I pasted my carefully crafted explanation to two different customer service agents about, and I refuse to EVER know what “Call Trace” is. I just wanted my dead phone-line to work. I’ve had things go wrong with Comcast before. That’s why I went so far with the pre-planning. I didn’t want to be living through what we were now currently living through. At least the parents were fine, but now my wife is in the mix – I literally had to get her a cell phone to keep conducting business. It was getting messy (yes, the Comcast app is THAT cool – when your phone rings at home, it rings on the app – we haven’t needed a cell phone for two years, just a cheap data plan and in iPad).

Now I got on the phone. I talked to two different agents. The first one seemed to know what he was doing, said that the first customer service person definitely put the wrong info on my account, but he had seen this problem before, and would put the right info on my account. In fact, he guaranteed that our phone would be back up in twenty four hours, because he was certain of the exact trouble.

Twenty four hours after those confident words, my phone wasn’t working.

The second person I called said that, indeed, the first person had put the wrong info on my account, the guy who was so certain of himself didn’t seem to put any information on my account, and that she would put the right trouble info on my account, and it should all be wrapped up in around twenty four hours, because the phone people really try to get that stuff handled.

Twenty four hours later, my phone wasn’t working.

I had to try again, of course, but I didn’t want to get the run around. I did some searching. Where could I find the ultimate contact to get something accomplished? I found This Link – It’s a message from the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, Tom Karinshak, and there was a “direct message” link to contact Mr. K’s office. I was hoping that, if I really stated my case to Mr. Karinshak, I might get some appropriate action. So I wrote him the following message via their web-form. Understand, the last time I had a major problem with Comcast, I made the poor operator on the other side of the line cry, and I felt bad – It wasn’t her fault, after all. But Mr. K.? I could give him a little grief:

We moved our Comcast installation to a new location on 2/27. Since 2/28, my primary phone line has not worked. Starting with your chat service, then moving on to phone calls, I have contacted someone about the problem almost every day. It is now 3/5, and the primary phone number STILL does not work. Everyone keeps telling me it will be resolved in 24 hours. That time-frame, obviously, has not been met.

To explain from the beginning: [Edit: You don’t need to read the history again. This post will be long enough as it is – I’m not trying to torture you.]

I have been trying this for a week, now – and I would REALLY LIKE MY PHONE NUMBER TO WORK. I have a new bill on this new account with $123.27 in installation fees, and yet I had to buy my wife and I cell phones to be able to contact people, since my Comcast phone number is dead, and no one seems to be able to figure out the trouble.

In fact, I DID get one call from Comcast technicians the morning of March 4, on [my parent’s number][Edit: Here’s the info about my new “Call Trace”  feature. Remember, Don’t tell me what it is – it’s a secret. And I also mention my actual calls to the last two incompetent customer service agents, Frick and Frack.]

AND… My phone still doesn’t work.

Today, I was tired of calling, and looked around for another way to approach this problem. Chatting with support and calling them has not worked. In fact, I’ve directly left a message on the voicemail of the person who served me in person at the local office, and have not heard back from her. Frankly, I’m stumped. And angry. And without phone service. And the owner of two cell phones that I really didn’t want, or should have needed.

Now, if you try to call me – obviously, DON’T call my Comcast number, as it doesn’t work. And, don’t call my parent’s line, as I don’t want to worry them. Thankfully, their phone line works, and I want to keep it that way.

You may call me at [my cell number]. It’s my shiny new cell phone.

Dear God In Heaven, By All That’s Holy, Could Someone Just Get My Phone Working? I would really appreciate it.

Lo, and behold! The light hath shone and the clouds parted. The next day, I received an email response:

     My name is Betsy and I am one of the agents assisting the Office of Tom Karinshak. I apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced and I will be working to address your concerns.
     I have escalated your concerns to our National Activation, Security and Repair Department. This department specializes in handling unresolved service issues such as yours. I have included your contact number [my cell number] provided in your e-mail, and if additional information is needed, you may be contacted by a representative within 24-72 hours. If you would like to be contacted at an alternate telephone number, please reply directly to this e-mail.

     Mr. Hase, we are grateful to have you as a valued Comcast customer. We appreciate your business and thank you for choosing Comcast as your service provider.

Sincerely

Betsy H.
Office of Tom Karinshak

National Activation, Security and Repair Department? That sounds pretty serious, I like that. Sadly, the last sentence, valuing me as a customer and appreciating my business, was actually pasted into the letter, or automatically generated by their system: It was in a completely different, tiny, insignificant font. They should really get a technician to look into that.

So, I waited. I dialed my phone number periodically, with the cell phone that I basically resented, as it was a direct reminder of my immediate problem, but still, our home number was “out of service”.

Finally, after two more days, there was a positive change – But it was far from perfect. With no other contact info except the reply to me from Betsy , I wrote back:

Well, we’re close…

The formerly missing phone number on my account, [our number], can now both seen both on the Xfinity Connect app, and when I log into my account at Comcast.net. Also, it no longer returns an out of service message when called.

However, it now only goes straight to voicemail. The line does not ring.

I am not certain if work on the account has been completed. I have not yet received a call at the contact number I gave: [My cell number], so I’m currently in the dark about the progress, except for me continually calling my number to see if it is working, or logging into my account to check for changes. The dark is no fun.

I only know that it has been 10 days since my install, and that phone is still not working. While I truly appreciate the efforts being made, I am in the dark and unhappy, as people still cannot directly contact us via phone.

My auto-pay is scheduled to go off in seven days. I’m seriously thinking about turning that off, so I can rethink my billing and charges. What good is this service If I don’t have the functionality I need the most, right now while on vacation? I may have to cut out the phone service (Triple-Play be damned), and return it to the local telephone service provider. I am at my wit’s-end.

The next day, Monday, I received the following:

Dear Mr. Hase,
     My name is Kesha and I am one of the agents assisting with the Office of Tom Karinshak. I will be working to address your concerns.
     I have reviewed the email and the account. I see our National Activation, Security and Repair Department are currently working on the phone issue. I have provided the update the information you provide in your email to the department. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach back out to us for assistance.
     Mr. Hase, I want to thank you again for contacting us here at Comcast. Your satisfaction is our primary goal. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to work toward a resolution.
Sincerely,

Kesha K.
Office of Tom Karinshak

It was at this point, that I tried my phone-line one more time. And it rang. And my father-in-law answered. The problem was, he wasn’t supposed to answer. Our phone wasn’t set to ring. How could he have answered our phone?

Because HIS phone rang instead of ours. Apparently, when Comcast re-set the modem, the two receptacles on the box that we had plugged our phone-lines into – switched at the “main office”. An easy enough fix, right? Just switch the plugs, and all is done. Hooray! We’re saved!

But what I heard next made my blood boil, and made me feel like a total failure – I had let my In-Laws down.  While our line was down, while the technicians were seemingly doing everything except fixing my phone line, My in-law’s line went dead on Friday. Now it was Monday – They had no phone service for four days.

Once again, that’s no so bad, is it? After all, you grab your cell phone to make a quick call, right? Sure. Except we live in the mountains of Washington state. There IS no cell service. My physically challenged father-in-law, who has balance issues, had to grab his walker, get to the car and drive to reach an area of cell service. Every time they needed to make a call. For four days. If there was a true emergency, they would have been toast, I would have never forgiven myself.

I am in a monstrous quandary: Who do I yell at, first? How do I even find a culpable party? Who was actually working my case, and were they even done? Were there more dead phone-lines to come? I had given my cell number numerous times, and I might as well have sent dirty selfies – it was obvious no one was actually looking. The Technician who managed to turn the phones back on, backwards, thought she was talking to me when she called triumphantly and spoke to my father-in-law. The “triumph” that came after four dangerous days of a total communication blackout.

So, with all this boiling in my head, I replied to my only lifeline, The Office of Tom Karinshack:

Could someone please update me on the current status of this ticket? Please remember that I am not currently at the address in question – the contact number is [my cell number. Again].

For the first time in over ten days, I received a call back. From Byron. He let me know that the issue was listed as solved. I told him that it was inconvenient, in fact, dangerous, that my family was without a phone, and that I wasn’t contacted about progress. I explained that there was a five mile drive by a physically challenged naval vet, possibly damaged by agent orange in that terrible conflict that no one will call a ‘war’ in Vietnam, and now he gets spit on again by a ruthless money-grubbing corporation that he loves to forward false emails about, along with the latest “truth” about President Obama, and you could have freaking killed him or my mother-in-law with this carelessness that bordered on absolute negligence (okay, I didn’t say it like that – but the driving, danger and negligence? They were in there). I had charges for installation that I felt were now an insult – why should I pay for the installation of things that I have to keep calling people to fix? We had no phone service collectively for 14 days. Did he understand how terrible this was?

Obviously not. He was either incapable of understanding that, or desperately trying to avoid it. He excused himself, put me on hold and, after a long time, this person who obviously had no authority to do anything for me, except verify that the trouble ticket was solved, came back on the line and asked me if the trouble ticket was solved. I said yes, to avoid further frustration, and we hung up. I got this email later that day:

Dear Mr. Hase,

Thank you for contacting us back with your concerns. My name is Byron and I am one of the agents assisting at the Office of Tom Karinshak. I will be working to address your concerns.

I called you at [my cell number] on March 10, 2015 at 7:15 PM Eastern Time. We discussed your Comcast phone issues and customer service issues. I am pleased we were able to resolve your telephone issues. I apologize that you were not contacted at the correct number once these issue was resolved. Your ticket has been officially closed as of 3/10/15. If you have any other questions or concerns, please reply directly to this e-mail so I may assist you in a timely manner.

Mr. Hase, you are a valued Comcast customer and we truly appreciate your business. Thank you for choosing Comcast.

Sincerely,

Byron D.
Office of Tom Karinshak

So, was this an apology, or a legal document to try to prove that I was satisfied with the resolution? Do they cut and paste this stuff together from a template, or do they have a multiple-choice program they use to compile it? Whatever it was, it was an insult – there was no mention of our time without phone service, no mention of my concerns, or the danger that was caused by this service loss.

So, what’s a writer to do? Well, beat my head against a brick wall and try Mr. K’s office one more time:

I don’t really know who Byron is, or Kesha, or Betsy. But it’s obvious that “agents assisting the office of Tom Karinshak” are simply a sub group that sounds special, but is, frankly, about as close to the ear of Tom Karinshak as I am. Which is nowhere even close to Tom. I wonder if they are actually in the same building, or if they’ve even met him. I certainly haven’t met Tom, nor do I think Tom has even heard of my dilemma.

But he had better. My problem is NOT over. It is NOT resolved. in fact, the last person that I actually spoke with, Byron, ignored the stress of my situation, and my anger at not having a working phone line for over ten days, or the fact that our mobility challenged elder parents, both in their seventies, lost THIER phone line at the same location for four days, and literally had to get into a car to drive for five miles into an area with cell service to make a phone call.

Unacceptable.

I wrote numerous times that my wife and I were not at the home presently, we were on the road, we were without the Xfinity Connect App and the Voice2Go service – we were cut off from your services (and my wife’s clients) because after all my planning with your company to make moving my service to a new location – me actually going out of MY way to verify that the move of service would go smoothly – it was still botched beyond recognition. And after leaving my contact number, no one seemed capable enough to read the ticket notes (or scroll down this email thread). I received no updates – no contact – no warning that our parents were left without services. Nothing.

I could explain the entire situation again – but I won’t. I won’t waste my time writing it down. It’s already in this email thread, and I don’t really think the “agents assisting the office of Tom Karinshak” understand anything beyond “tell me the broken thing so we can try to fix it”.

So – Here is a recap of the results of this mess and what will happen:

– I was without phone service for over 10 days. My parents were without service for four days. that’s 14 days. I don’t care that both phones now ring. It was ridiculous and not acceptable – there will be recompense.
– I have over 120 dollars in “installation charges”. This is an abomination, considering I have been chatting, emailing, and calling almost daily. These charges will be removed from my billing. I will not accept “free whatever” for x amount of months – I’m already subscribed to all the cool channels. Remove the installation charges.
– My parents closing bill is supposed to be $68.03. My Father-In-Law had to get his WALKER to get to his car to drive for 5 miles to get cell service on numerous occasions this last weekend to make important phone calls to doctors and family. They will NOT be paying that closing bill. You will be comping it for the inconvenience, not to mention the danger, of having to get around this unimaginable loss of communication.

I have turned off the auto pay for both my current account, my old account, and my parent’s old account. no money will flow from this well until the above items are taken care of.

Speaking of “taken care of”, MY Xfinity Voice2Go STILL doesn’t work. After deleting and re-installing the program (again and again) it still doesn’t initialize – just gives me an error and tells me to contact Customer Service to get it started. At this moment, that’s a joke. Frankly – if it means resetting the home telephony box again – I don’t WANT you to fix it – my parents CANNOT be without a phone.

To recap:
Remove the installation charges [my account #].
No charge for my parents closing bill [their account #].

Frankly – I have family members lined up to get on the phone and verbally rip someone’s head off. I’m the calm one, and I AM INCENSED at the debacle that has been this move of my services.

Most would ask for much more – and I’m sure if there really IS a Tom Karinshak, he will actually do better than the items above. I taught customer service for a major corporation, and would do the same. Do you realize the lawsuit if something happened to our parents this weekend?

As it is, if no resolution comes, you will find the full story, all emails, voicemail transcripts and more on my blog, http://www.wakingupafterforty.net 

Yes, the phone service is back on – and for that I am thankful – but I can’t seem to get it through anyone’s head at Comcast/Xfinity/NBC, etc. As to what a major Fuck-Up this has been, how we have gone far beyond inconvenience into actual real-world life-threatening shit.

Do I have ANYONE’S attention? Will there be restitution? Where is Tom in all of this?

If you will recall, I have a cell-phone number. It’s [my cell number].

I don’t cuss. It’s not my thing. But I thought that putting the entire message in capitals would have me dismissed as a whack-job nube. I needed something to change the tone, and let them know I was serious – Cuss, it is. And, while the blog post “threat” was rather tacky, it was true – you’re reading it, aren’t you?

Here’s the response (email, mind you) that came later that day:

Dear Mr. Hase,

I apologize that the previous communication did not meet your needs. I appreciate you contacting us back. My name is Lovasie and I look forward to working with you to get your Digital Voice concern resolved to your satisfaction.

I have received your e-mail. I understand that you are still having ongoing issues with your Digital Voice services. I would like to thank you for securing your account with us via e-mail. I also thank you for securing your father-in-law’s account with us via e-mail. You have expressed that your parent’s calls are going straight to voicemail; the phone does not ring, non-functional for 10 days, and you have been charged for installation. I definitely understand your frustration. After carefully reviewing your account I have credited your account of the installation charges. You will be able to see your applied credit on your account in 1-2 billing cycles. Once our system updates within the next 24 hours you will be able to logon to Comcast.com click on Billing and Credits for viewing. As for your parents account their contract expired on 02/27/15; if the account was closed after that date then there will not be an ETF (Early Termination Fee). If their account was closed prior to that date then an ETF will be applied per their contract. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to reply directly back to this e-mail for assistance.

Mr. Hase, we appreciate your business here at Comcast and thank you for allowing us to work towards a resolution for you.

Sincerely,

Lovasie J.
Office of Tom Karinshak

Now, what the hell was that? I suppose this was their capitulation, as garbled and confused as it was. A credit was being issued, after all. I believe the cryptic end to that email might have meant, “yes, I’ll apply a credit for the closing bill, but if they cancelled their plan before the end of the contract, there may be termination fees.” I understand having to mention that, but I would really have preferred better grammar all the way around. Or an ounce of actual care, instead of corporate-driven blathering.

Oh, and I finally DID receive an actual phone call. It came later that day from a real human being at Comcast – It was a nice sounding gentleman wanting to discuss the discount.

However, he called my home phone…


So, do you think the story is over? That all is well? The phones ring, I got some money refunded, and the world is a better place, even though no one from Comcast seemed to truly acknowledge my frustrations and fears? Nope. Not in the least. (Doing my best Stan Lee:) Turn the page, faithful reader, and be amazed…


The final exchange above was march 11th. On the 12th, I tried the Voice2Go app one more time – and by golly, it actually worked. I thought it was rather nice for some unseen human being that I don’t know and can’t thank to continue on and fix that last piece of the puzzle.

Then I looked a bit closer, and the Parent’s phone number had disappeared from my account.

I no longer wanted to thank that faceless person. I wanted to actually remove their face.

I cussed. Loudly. I tried to call the In-Law’s phone, and got a “this number has been disconnected” message. I stormed through the halls of my stepdaughter’s lovely home, where she, her husband and their innocent, adorable, unsullied baby reside, swearing like a sailor. I was beyond furious – there they were, without a phone again. Do I have to call them every day to make sure Comcast can actually keep the phones on? Why offer a service; an important, possibly life-saving service, if you can’t keep up your end of the bargain?

Now I grabbed my sad, unloved cell phone and blindly dialed 1-800-comcast. Whomever was on the other end of the phone had better be the inventor of modern digital telecommunications, or I was going to eat them.

But first – I would have to get past the computerized phone prompts. You see, a large corporation, such as Comcast/Xfinity/NBC/and all the other companies they own that are too numerous to mention, needs to sort out the calls. I totally understand that. But to do this, they have invented a “smart” system that, basically, tries to pawn you off onto their website:

“Did you know that you can find information about your phone service on xfinity.com?”

No, I really can’t get this information on xfinity.com – Quite frankly, I can barely get information about my service from your live human beings, let alone your stupid website. Your stupid website currently thinks I only have one fucking phone, and I’m going to destroy the person who, in just a moment, will wish they had never come to work this morning, or applied to Comcast for a job, or were placed on this planet.

An unlucky woman answered, “Welcome to Comcast, my name is (I forget – I was angry), how may I help you, today?”

You can go back in time, meet your own parents, and shoot them dead. That way, you will not have to deal with me.

I forcefully held back, remembering the last time a made a Comcast person cry, “I am having phone problems,” I understated severely, waiting for one hint of stupidity. One smidgeon of corporate-ease, one false step before I unleashed a verbal barrage that would make Gordon Ramsay proud.

“What seems to be the trouble?”

“One of my two phone lines has disappeared from my account,” I said through clenched teeth, “Again. The line is dead. I have been dealing with this for two weeks.”

“One moment please, let me look up your account.”

She put me on hold. That was wise. Never coming back on the line would be wiser. And, amazingly enough, she didn’t. She must have looked up my account and ran. Someone else got back on the line.

“My name is Martha (no it’s not, but I’m changing the name of this person to protect the innocent), I’m taking over your case.”

She sounded rather self-assured. That’s just fine; I have broken stronger. How would Martha do what no one else has been able to do for two weeks?

“So, tell me what’s happening.” She was hesitant, probably ready for verbal sparring. We were speaking, but dancing, like prize fighters in the ring. Both of our tones were a bit forced, as we sized each other up. I gave Martha points for that, but in the end, it would make no difference, since I was simply going to rip her to shreds. Yes, I would feel bad about it later, but I would revel in the now like one of those Twilight werewolves: I’d wait to do the serious, youthful brooding after it was all over. And possibly flex my pecs.

I told her what was happening through clenched teeth. She listened, then said something that I don’t think a modern, litigation-paranoid huge conglomerate would probably want her to say – but it was absolutely the appropriate thing to say:

“That’s not right. We’re going to fix that right now.” I was taken aback by her candidness. “I’m going to give you my direct phone number, up front, because it’s my goal that you’ll never have to use it again.”

Now do you understand why I’ve changed her name?

She didn’t give me what I have now come to know as the usual Comcast jargon: “I’m sorry to hear that you are having troubles that I will simply not admit are from any wrong-doing by our company, the company currently causing you pain that I am not allowed to acknowledge. Let me see what I can do and remember that you are a valued customer and I’m so glad that you have chosen Comcast, even though we are contractually locked into this region and you can’t get a different cable company, even if you made a deal with satan.”

Nope. She simply told me it wasn’t right.

You know what else she did? She fixed it. In under ten minutes, while we were talking on the phone. “So you say they’ve credited your account?”

“Yes, mine and my Father in-law’s.”

“Well, I see your credit. But I don’t see anything on your father’s account. Here, let me fix that.” And, like a gleeful Willy Wonka, she simply started removing charges. “This is the favorite part of my job,” she said with an almost subversive lilt in her voice, “making people happy.”

When we were done, I explained my frustration at the corporate runaround. At the lack of true concern for the service interruption. She understood. She gave me her working hours, and told me to call if there were ever any needs. She asked me to give her contact information to my in-laws, in case they ran into troubles, “I’ve been here fifteen years, and I’m not going anywhere.”

When I think about “Martha”, I am frightened for her. She is just what Comcast needs, and yet, I am pretty sure she’d be reprimanded for what she did for me: Taking care of my needs without running things up the chain of command. Sympathizing and empathizing, even to the detriment of the company name or position. Making things right.

Do I blame Comcast? Do I dislike them? Yes, I certainly do. It’s a giant corporation that is literally not designed to take care of anything beyond the norm. In an unending race to be better, larger, more capable, they have created an atmosphere within their own company where, truly, the left-hand of Customer Service has no idea what the right-hand of the technicians are capable of, and in turn, the technology-side has no idea what the Customer Service-side is promising. While this is happening, all parties are playing it safe to avoid negativity, thinking that it will keep the image positive, while it actually ticks-off the very Customers that they are supposed to be serving. The emails I received and posted above? Not one time did I find any of the pre-programmed sentiment genuine, and I’m certain you didn’t either. The corporate posture never fools anyone.

But I know there are real people in there. People like Martha. People who actually care about getting it right. You can find them if you try hard enough. Call again, and keep trying. These are people that Comcast needs in droves, but their own system makes it very hard to get to them. Thankfully, I have one such person’s phone number.

And this one person makes that giant corporate mess seem a much more surmountable obstacle. Clicking on the link to the “Senior Vice President of Customer Experience” sent me down an unfathomable labyrinth that left my family hanging for two weeks.

One random call to “Martha” – and things were fixed.

Times are changing, and entertainment options are growing. Comcast, it’s time to re-think your strategy. Perhaps that corporate-laiden moniker of Customer Experience should be brought back to it’s proper roots: Customer SERVICE. Your Customer’s sanity, and your bottom-line, depend on it.

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