Comcast Executive Care Part II

AaronB at Utterz kicked off an interesting discussion about cable providers and their response times and possible processes when their services go down. Now if you are like me you would rather volunteer for human trials to have teeth extracted by an elephant or eat at McDonalds for 90 days straight in order to develop a nice case of acne for the sole purpose of then testing suppository treatments for acne before you ever would want to call a cable providers 800 number and get put through the ringer asking for help.

That said, this discussion could prove enlightening and save you the time and trouble of dealing with them, as the conversation will partially confirm what you, I and the rest of the US already suspect, the phone call is a waste of time! :)

I spoke with Sandy (sp?!) at Comcast executive care tonight. To recap, I suffered a significant outage, Comcast owned up the issue through a comment on my blog, and have been trying to explain themselves ever since.

After returning Sandy's call, she was a bit confused as to why I called, and eventually found her files before addressing my basic questions about why Comcast could not communicate information about their outages before, during or after outages.

Here is a recap of the convo with Sandy today:

* Sandy believes that the IVR is supposed to read the phone number via caller ID, and give me regional outage information. Unfortunately, if you're a triple-play customer, you can't use your home phone to call in. Fortunately, my wife's mobile phone is the number associated with the account -- we called from that number, and only received information that there was an outage "in the area" and were provided no estimate on service restoration. Nothing. In reviewing my case history, Sandy recognized these facts.

* On that last point, when I pressed, Sandy advised that Comcast always encourages customers to talk to a live person about outages. I asked where they provide this advisement -- in the IVR, their site, the online billing site? Sandy said, she was providing the advisement in the call I was participating in, and that's generally where they advise customers... customers without voice or cable services. Yeah, I laughed too.

* After this line of conversation, Sandy contradicted herself and stated that she believes the IVR can't be prompted to give me an update on outages. So, the phone number a customer is provided on the site and via the EPG on the set-top box is useless. That's something everyone should know.

* Sandy says the call center system provides support folks with an outage board and give notes indicating what the issue is if they're available, and Comcast general does not update the IVR regarding regional outages. Sandy explained that most of the time, the outages aren't provided updates from the field. And, again, Comcast is advising that customers call support, talk to a person, who is rarely informed from the field, and not provided updates on specifics of the issue impacting your service. Yeah, I laughed again.

So, at this point, I confirmed with Sandy that she is not provided updates from the field, and the IVR can't be updated with outage info, but that I should call the 800 number and ignore the outage info prompts in the IVR and speak to a support person who is probably not going to have field reports on an outage. Sandy had a cute voice. She giggled in response to my question.

I pressed on, focusing on the subject of planned outages. Sandy shared more nuggets of confusion and humor:

* When there is a planned outage, there is a message provided to customers via the set-top box in the EPG menu under the message tab (WTF?!), and a red light appears on the front of the box to let you know that a new message has arrived. I didn't think to ask, but I wonder if this is the same red light that indicates one of my two tuners is recording a program. Yeah, that message-related red light couldn't be confusing or misinterpreted at all.

* Sand says that a customer is also notifed of planned outages in "most cases" via direct mail to customers, sent as a separate snail mail, aka a letter other than your bill. Sandy was a bit confused about whether or not this was an insert in your bill or a seperate mailing -- she described both instances, but eventually settled on a seperate mailing as the standard. Sorta like the IVR issue, Sandy was a bit confused, and just sorta picked a direction and went with it. I love Sandy.

* So, for everyone that ignores their statement and pays online -- you're not going to know about planned outages, unless you check your messages on your set top box. I asked this question. Sandy confirmed that it is probably that you'll not see the mailings regarding planned outages.

So, to review to this point, as a Triple Play customer, Comcast has your phone number, your email address, and a portal from which to communicate planned outages, or apologize and explain unplanned outages. None of these channels are utilized, according to Sandy in "executive care escalation". Instead, you might get a letter in the mail.

So, I pressed on regarding un-planned outage 00 the descriptor for the outage I experienced. After asking a series of additional qeustions, Sandy began to break down and make a series of revealing confessions. Here they are:

* Even after aknowledging my assertion that someone in NOC probably knows which houses are impacted by an outage, Sandy says that Comcast does not automatically credit customers for an unplanned outage. Instead, they only credit customers after the customer complains.

* Comcast does not snail mail or provide any follow-up with on un-planned outages. Sandy noted that most customers don't even notice that there is an ouage, especially in my case, where the outage was primarily during business hours. Interesting logic.

Ultimately, Sandy gave me a one-week credit ($42.10) at my current Triple Play rate. For her honesty and the credit, I'm eternally grateful.

Early in my career, I worked on WebTV, which was effectively an ISP for a TV-adjacent computer. We sweated outages and product issues, and we answered phone numbers and tried to over-estimate outages so that we didn't take on the additional costs of call-backs. We made light of MSOs (multiple service operators) and their lack of service commitments. As bad as cable was, we always felt that the phone companies were worse than cable companies.

But, tonight, I'm starting to wonder if "Big Old Expensive Phone Company" is better than Comcast. I might just decide to find out.

AaronB's Mobile post sent by brettbum using Utterz. reply-count Replies.

1 Responses:

colon cleanse said...

Very true. There is nothing more annoying than unsolicited advice. If a person isn't asking you for help or advice, it's none of your business to intrude. I totally agree with you.


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