Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I'm so tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you

In light of a recent story regarding a customer that called to have his cable service disconnected, I had my own personal encounter with the omniscient media entity interchangeably known as Comcast Xfinity.

It seems as though Mrs. Pincus and I are only one of a handful of people that still maintain land line telephone service. We need one to work in conjunction with our home burglar alarm system (although I believe that will be changing). Several years ago, we signed up for Comcast's "Triple Play" package. For one ridiculously high monthly fee, we got high-speed internet, cable television (including a shitload of specialty channels no one could possibly be interested in watching) and telephone service. Within a few days of agreeing to our new deal, an independently contracted technician came to our home to install our new phone service. After two minutes in the basement, he cut every wire leading to our burglar alarm box. Of course, the "it's been tampered with" siren was immediately triggered. With our new phone not yet installed, a representative from the alarm monitoring department called on my wife's cellphone, asking if the police should be dispatched. Long story short, the tech didn't know what he was doing and Comcast bought us a new alarm system.

Two weeks ago, our home phone started acting up — static, no dial tone. So we called the infamous Comcast Customer Service. After "pressing 1" and "pressing 2" and listening carefully to all options because "our menu has changed," my wife finally got to speak to a real live human being — not necessarily a smart one — but a human just the same. After identifying himself by first name and badge number, confirming Mrs. P's identity and assuring us that his top priority was our satisfaction, he offered a number of obvious troubleshooting actions, most of which were tried long before we resigned ourselves to making this call. Several "please hold"s and "thank you for your patience"s later, our issue was elevated to the next tier of customer service. The new phone technician requested an entire recap of the problem, starting from the very beginning. My wife impatiently related each problem again — no dial tone, static in the line, intermittent service. An assessment deemed our call be queued to a further tier and a service call was scheduled.

At 7:15 the next morning, a Comcast truck pulled up and blocked our driveway. A technician knocked on the door and, after welcoming him in, the problem was explained (although I would assume that he had a detailed work order, but it's Comcast, so — who the fuck knows?!?) I headed out to the train station to go to work while my wife followed the guy into the basement. When I arrived at my desk a half-hour later, my wife called to tell me that the Comcast guy had left.

"Problem fixed?," I asked.

"No," she replied, "He says Comcast's equipment is working perfectly. It's the burglar alarm that's screwing things up."

"How long was he there?," I continued my line of questioning.

"Twenty minutes. He only checked where the phone line goes into the alarm control box."

"And, based on that, he was able to figure out that it was not a Comcast problem? Wow."

An appointment was made for a representative from ADT Home Security to come to our house the next day. When he arrived, he thoroughly checked all connections to the control box as well as Comcast's equipment, including modular phone jacks on each of three floors of our house (he found no dial tone in any of them). After an exhaustive inspection of wires and connections throughout our house, the ADT tech told us that it was definitely a Comcast problem. Angered and frustrated after being without phone service for nearly two weeks, Mrs. P called Comcast again, now demanding that a technician be dispatched immediately. She was told no one was available until later that evening, perhaps after 7 PM. When I arrived home from work, we sat out on our front porch and waited. And waited. And waited. The sun set. The street lights flickered on and we were still waiting. 7 PM became 7:30 and then became 8:30. The sky opened up and dumped torrents of fierce rain and crackling lightning lit up the clouds. And still we waited. At 9:30, Mrs. P punched Comcast's number into her cellphone and demanded to know when the serviceman was due. She was told that we were given wrong information and that no service calls are ever scheduled after 7 PM. She added, "You should have never been told that." The Comcast phone operator tried to calm my wife's rancor with a heartfelt (if not rehearsed) apology. Another service call was offered and the date was settled on Tuesday the 29th (today). For those of you keeping score, we have now passed the two-week mark without home phone service.

The same Comcast tech from last week arrived at twenty past seven as I was headed out to work. My wife and I briefly expressed our dissatisfaction with his lack of a comprehensive appraisal of the situation. Again, Mrs. P led him to the basement and I went to work. Three hours later (that's more like it!), we, once again, had home phone service. And the trouble....?

If you remember, way back in the bitter winter weather of February, a large branch, from a tree near our driveway, smashed through our living room window. It seems that on its way down, that branch violently yanked our phone wires from their connections at the side of our house. The Comcast guy never thought to check the state of the wiring leading into the house. As a matter of fact, he never thought to check anything other than the alarm box... which isn't even his company's equipment! Actually, this morning, he called another service technician for assistance and that guy found the shredded wires.

So, at the end of the day, our phone service has been restored and we will receive a minimal credit for our inconvenience.

And Comcast still sucks.

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