Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Comcastic Reaming Adventure

I recently moved and had to get Comcast.  Is there any other business entity in the world that is so despised as cable companies?  The RIAA is close, but you are much more likely to deal with cable companies than the prior.  Warning: ranting to follow...

Part I: Ordering

Calling Comcast to order packages found on comcast.com is an exercise in futility.  First, the rep will spend 20 minutes trying to upsell you to their damn $99 triple play bundle.  My favorite part of that experience:  If you tell them you are not interested in the phone service (I am not) and you use the word VOIP, they will correct you: "no, no... it is not *VOIP* sir, it is *secure* voice communication over your cable line".  Ahh... I forgot that Comcast sells magic flippin' fairy dust that makes the IP packets carrying your voice a.) turn magically secure, and b.) not be called IP packets.

I didn't bother correcting her as I realized she was just a script-reading monkey making commissions on selling Triple Play.  After firmly insisting that no, I really didn't want magic non-VOIP, 'secure', VOIP communication, I asked what the price of basic cable was.  I was told it was something like $53 for just basic cable.  Note, you cannot find this price on the website, you can only find the price of bundles.  I tell her that I know for a fact that people can get cable for $20 or so and she tells me, "oh, you want *limited* cable!, yes that's $20".  She then proceeds to tell me that you can either have limited for $20 or what they call the "Digital Starter Pack" for $53.  I tell her that Comcast's website says that there is a package in between called "Basic", and she denies it.  Perhaps they should fix their (censored) website:

 

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So, at this point she is just lying to me and I know it, so I decide to test her a bit.  I ask her about adding internet to the package and bundling the price.  She tells me that is the $53 + $43 or $96 a month and that there is no bundle for that.  She then mentions that the triple play would be a better deal at $99 with more channels (plus phone!!).  I love it when the $8/hr. help tries to treat me like a retarded cave man.

I point out that the a.) the internet is $20/month on the website and b.) internet + cable on the website is only $60 a month there as well.  She tells me that it is a special deal only through the web.  So, I press the point:  "are you telling me that you do not offer a "Double Play" bundle like the website, but you *do* offer the same "Triple Play" bundle as the website?  Do you or do you not sell a Double Play option?"

The truth slowly bubbles to the surface.  It turns out yes, they do offer a internet + cable bundle called "Double Play" she corrects herself, but it is $70 a month, not $60.  I ask her why she told me $96.  She tells me she thought I wanted only basic (Digital Starter cable), while the "Double Play" version she sells includes "Digital Preferred" or Premier, I forget.  So in essence, she was willing to sell me an inferior package for more money than admit there was a bundle that offered more for less money to prove her point that I should be buying the (censored) Triple Play still.  She still won't admit there is a "Basic" cable tier between Limited and Digital Starter either.

I end up telling her that I will order through the website since she can't even sell me the same things that are being offered and she hasn't been entirely forthcoming with me.

Part II:  The Installation

After ordering the $60 Double Play bundle including a nice $45 charge to "install" the cable, I confirm online that I want the HD equipment and 2 boxes for my two HD capable TVs.  The technicians (contractors) show up on Saturday (1 week ago) and guess what they don't bring?  If you said HD boxes... you're right!

After calling support while the contractors were there, the support rep tells me that she will add the HD equipment to the account and that she will call me back.  I tell her I want the fee waived since the install is botched - she agrees to waive the fee (yeah!).  Guess what happens?  If you said, "she won't add the boxes and totally will not call you back and will not waive fee"... you're right!

So, after dickering around a bit, I get the contractors to give me an 'extra' HD box they have in their truck and they call and get it added to my account.  Then, they tell me that I will have to drive to the store to get another HD box and "later man", they are gone.  At no point did they actually test to make sure that I was getting the programming package that I paid for.  So, guess what happens?  If you said, "Ryan won't get any of the channels he paid for"...  you're right!

Part III:  The Cleanup

So, after 1 day I notice that I don't have many channels... in fact I have very few channels.  I start an online chat to get those turned on.  The rep there can't get them on despite "sending a signal to the box".  He schedules a technician visit for me.  I explicitly ask for three things (I have this in a transcript): a.) my channels turned on, b.) the missing HD equipment with firewire output for my media center, and c.) to waive the service charge since this a botched thing on their part.  He agrees on all three things and tells me they will be there tomorrow between 8am and 12pm.

I wake bright and early on Monday in case they decide to show exactly at 8am.  I realize of course that if I am ready at 8am they won't show until 12pm, but if I am not ready at 8am you can bet that will be when they show up according to Murphy's Law.  Around 11:20am I decide to give Comcast a call to confirm the scheduled visit.  Turns out that the previous rep left no notes to why I called and that they were not going to send anyone.  One emergency page later, I have a Comcast technician showing up exactly at 12pm.  He admits he has no idea why he is there however and asks me what he can do.

The only bright part in this entire story is that technician.  He was a nice, competent guy that actually got things done.  He determined that they had just botched configuring the box back at the main office.  A few phone calls later, my box is turned on and channels are fixed.  Next, he happens to have the HD box I need, so he hooks me up there.  He apologizes to me and admits that none of this should have happened and that it could all have been easily fixed on the first attempt.  All in all, I think I am done with this tragedy.

Part IV:  The Lingering Stink

Today, I got my Comcast bill.  Guess what?  If you guessed that I would be charged not only for the first $45 botched install, plus the second $20 install to fix the first and would be facing a $150 cable bill for < 7 days service... you're right!

So, today I decide to email them through the Comcast website and see what gets resolved.  I explain nicely and in detail what has occurred to this point and try to submit.  Of course, nowhere does it explain there is a limit to how much you can email (side note, I forgot that most email systems choke up under 4 paragraphs of text these days).  So, many shortened revisions later, I try to submit my story for resolution and here is what I get:

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My comcastic adventure is just getting better and better.  Naturally, I decide to look up "comcastic" to see what the actual definition is:

comcastic (adj.)

1. A blithe attempt to screw consumers.  "The comcastic enterprise left few consumers happy with the reduced service higher prices, and hidden charges".

2. Lacking follow through or resolve.  "That fat lazy bastard approached his work like he did exercise:  with comcastic resolve."

synonyms: see LIARS, UNRELIABLE, CRAPTACULAR, PRISON SEX

Turns out that is was my fault for not checking the dictionary first when I was told that my experience would be "comcastic".