The Difference Between Comcast’s Corporate and Residential Tech Support

Comcast

Comcast saga continues. I thought this shit was over, but I was wrong. We haven’t had any issues with their service for months and all of a sudden we are back to square one. Since last Monday the connection has been dropping in the afternoons for 15-20 minutes only to come back again. Today it started around 9 am. The connection dropped, then it got back by itself 15 minutes later, dropped again for about 20 minutes at 10am, dropped half past 10, came back at 11, dropped again at a quater to 12, came back at noon… You can see the pattern.

For some unknown reason we are on a cheap residential account so we get the worst outsourced tech support you can find. I call them up around 11 after I figure that this is not one of their daily hiccups but some major issue. After going through the voice menu I get put on hold for 20 minutes. Finally someone picks up:

“Hello?”

WTF? DId I dial the right number? I must have, because I just listened to crappy music and Comcast sales pitch for like half an hour.

Me: Is this Comcast tech support?
Him: Umm… Yeah…

I’m still waiting for the traditional greeting, but I guess it’s not coming. The guy just said “yeah” and got quiet. After making sure I didn’t get disconnected, I explain my problem to him. He asks me for some info, and tells me that he needs 5 minutes to look up my information. 5 minutes? WTF? Is he running a fucking background check on me?

5 minutes pass

10 minutes pass

15 minutes pass

Finally he picks up again:

Comcast High Speed Tech Support, my name is Jeff, how can I help you?

Holly fucking shit! That asshole just punted me to another tech! Jeff is definitely not the guy I talked to before. I breathe deeply and explain my problem again, as calmly as I can. Jeff takes my info, and pulls up my modem information.

Jeff: I can see here that your modem is online, and the signal is strong.
Me: Yes, it came back up while I was on hold. It’s been going up and down all morning.
Jeff: Sorry, but I can’t dispatch a technician if your modem readings don’t show anything wrong. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Ok, at this point I’m pissed. What the fuck? Yes, he can help me with my fucking problem which is not resolved at all! I tell him that if he wants to wait few more minutes the modem will drop connection again. I tell him that I’m not happy and he needs to do something about this problem.

U GOT ROOTER?

Jeff: Hmmm… Hmm…. Uhmmmm…. Are you using a rooter?
Me: A what?
Jeff: A rooter.
Me: A router? Well, yes. Kinda. The modem connects to a Sonicwall firewall, which connects to a Linksys switch, and we have some wireless AP’s which…
Jeff: Ok, this must be a problem with your rooter. You will need to disconnect it and connect the computer directly to the modem.

I think Jeff is trying to get rid of me at this point. I explain that the “rooter” is fine, because my whole LAN is working. I tell him that the problem is the Internet connection. I can actually see it – normally I have bunch of blinkenlights on my modem, but right now I just have one that is pulsing rhythmically indicating a problem.

He puts me on hold.

hold, hold, hold, punt

“This is Comcast, how can I help you?”

No! This is not even fucking funny anymore. I swear, if this guy bounces me to someone else I’m going to track him down and kill his face. Once again, I explain the problem. I also tell him how displeased I am with their service, and ask him not to just randomly bounce me to another tech. The guy pulls up my modem info, confirms it is still up.

Him: “Hmmm… Did you… It got like 126 times.”
Me: “Excuse me? I didn’t catch that”
Him: “126 times”
Me: “126 time what? I’m sorry…”
Him: “Did you restart the modem 126 times?”
Me: “Um… I don’t know… I haven’t been counting… You mean today, or since we got it? Cause we had it for a whi…”
Him: “Never mind… I think you have a problem with your modem. It keeps restarting itself”
Me: “So… Can you send us a new modem?”
Him: “Sorry, we don’t do that.”

He is making shit up. I got the modem replaced like 3 times last year when they could not fucking figure out what was going on with the connection. I tell him that.

Him: “Yes, but I can’t just send you a modem. I can dispatch a technician who can replace it for you, but your modem is working now”
Me: “But you just said my modem is broken!”
Him: “Yes, but it does not reflect that in the readings. I can’t dispatch a technician if you have good signal.”

Apparently my modem is not broken enough. I ask him if he wants to wait on the line for a little bit and wait till it goes down. He tells me he will speak to a manager. I remind him not to bounce me to another tech like the two guys before me. For some reason he doesn’t. He comes back 5 minutes later:

Him: “This is what you can do. If you take your modem to a Comcast store, we can replace it free of charge”
Me: “What is a Comcast store?”
Him: “It’s the location at which you purchased the modem”
Me: “My modem came with the service. I never went to any store. I called you up, someone came and installed it for me.”
Him: “Oh… Well you can still take it to the store…”
Me: “I don’t even know if we have one around here? What is the closest one in my area?”
Him: “Ok, let me look that up… Hmmm…. Ok, I don’t have that information. You will need to locate one on your own”
Me: “How do I do that?”
Him: “Um… Uh…. I guess you can try yellow pages?”

I seriously think that he is just fucking with me. I tell him that I’m not going to look for a store, and that I want a technician to be sent to replace the modem and that I’m not going to accept any other solution, and that if he doesn’t do anything I to fix my problem, I’m going to cancel their service like tonight. He puts me on hold for 20 minutes to consult with a manager. He finally comes back:

Him: “Ok, my manager says I can dispatch a technician to you. Is Tueaday between 1 and 5 ok for you?”
Me: “But today is Thursday!”
Him: “Yes, we are all booked. The closest appointment I can get you is Tuesday”
Me: “So what am I supposed to do till then?”

If he tells me to go to the fucking imaginary Comcast store I will kill him.

Him: “Well… You could go to the Comcast sto…”

This is the part where I slam the phone, and bang my head against the table for 10 minutes.

Time for a plan B. The guy who rents one of the offices here has the business Comcast account. So I get the number from him and call them up. He also had connection problems but was to busy to call them up. I dial the number and surprisingly someone picks up right after the voice menu.

Greg: “Comcast Corporate Tech Support, this is Greg, how can I help you?”

I explain to him my issue, and what the other guy said about the modem.

Greg: “Ok, give me one second and I will dispatch a technician to you. I think we can get someone there in less than 4 hours.”
Me: “Oh, that’s great!”
Greg: “Hmmm… It says here that your account is handled by the residential department…”

Oh fuck! And it was going so nicely!

Me: “Um… I dunno. I talked to like 4 people before you. They kept bouncing me around, and no one can help me.”
Greg: “Hmm… Well, let me see if I can help you here.”

I tell him about my experiences with the residential people. He says he will try to dispatch someone but he is not sure if it will go through because of the different departments. He then to puts me on hold for few minutes. He finally comes back:

Greg: “Luke, I was unable to dispatch anyone for you but I called residential and I have Maria on the line here. She should be able to help you”.
Maria: “Hi Luke. I talked with Greg and he explained your problem to me. I’m sorry to hear about your experience with our tech support. I think we can expedite this issue and send a technician to you today. Will that be ok?”

Hell yeah! Maria is my new favorite person now. Why the hell didn’t I get her on the phone when I called, and had to deal with the Dumb and Dumber crew. Maybe she is 2nd Tier or something? I don’t know, but I’m happy something is getting resolved.

Maria: “Oh, Luke. We have a block in the system here. I can’t dispatch the technician today”

Oh, for the fucking love of God! I can’t win today!

Maria: “I’m looking up the notes right now. It seems that there is a node outage in your area that affects about 50-60% of our subscribers. We have a crew at the location working on it right now. This was reported yesterday at 6PM. I think this was the cause of your connection problems this week.”

Oh! So it’s not just me. It’s this whole area. This means that the modem is fine, and that I just wasted several hours just because Mr. “126 times” and Mr. “Rooter” are idiots. They could have checked for wide area outages, but they were way to busy pissing off the customer, and not helping. Sigh…

I want to emphasize here that when I called the corporate line, my issue was processed in less than 20 minutes – including Greg’s call to another department, and Maria’s dispatch attempt. On the other hand I must have spent over 2 hours on the phone with the residential people, I had to repeat my problem 3 times to 3 different people and didn’t get any help. Which kinda shows whose business do they really care about. If you are residential customer, you are shit out of luck – when your connection goes down, you end up talking to turd-burglars such as Rooter and 126 Times dude.

I do realize that the corporate support is also a luck of the draw thing. Sometimes you get a ass monkey on the line, and sometimes you get a Greg who goes above and beyond to help you out. The problem is that the residential call center seems to be staffed exclusively by ass monkeys.

So this is my story. I really hope this is the end of it, and tomorrow the connection will be rock solid. Btw, you can read the other parts of Comast saga here:

Comcast Saga: Day 5
Comcast Saga Continues
Comcast Saga Update

Update 08/03/2007 11:47:03 AM

It is still not fixed as of right now. They have no clue when it will be fixed, but they still have “engineers” working in the area. Sigh… I hate them.

[tags]comcast, tech support, support, isp, connection, dropped connection, modem, comcast store, rooter, 126 times[/tags]

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19 Responses to The Difference Between Comcast’s Corporate and Residential Tech Support

  1. Wikke BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Man, I’d be really pissed off…

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  2. Ricardo INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    lol
    Man, I’m still laughing on your story. I know it’s awful to deal with this people but all you can do (if not canceling the service) is laugh about it…

    By the way, yes, I left Brazil and I’m in India now… ;-) That’s why the flag changed, obviously.

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  3. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    [quote comment="5513"]Man, I’m still laughing on your story. I know it’s awful to deal with this people but all you can do (if not canceling the service) is laugh about it…[/quote]

    Yeah, that’s why I’m posting this. I get to vent my frustrations. I was actually so angry at them I didn’t even feel like posting this – I was getting frustrated about it. But then I forced myself, and I feel better now. :)

    Btw, how is India?

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  4. Ricardo INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I’ve been here in Bangalore for a week so right now I can only give you my first impressions on this city.

    This is a place of contrasts where some of the wealthiest people in the world live among some of the poorest people. Between pollution, chaotic traffic and dirt, there are enormous and fancy buildings of many big IT companies such as Infosys, HP, Siemens, Wipro and IBM.

    I came here to do my masters on a very prestigious IT institute of India called IIIT-B (www.iiitb.ac.in). This is located on Electronic City in Bangalore, a kind of cluster (such as Silicon Valley) where many IT companies are located. So, this whole Electronics City is amazing! Very clean, organized and rich! It is not like the rest of the city at all!

    That’s a bit of what I know so far. If you are interested in politics, culture, economy, girls, tell me because I may be able to give more details.

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  5. Dax UNITED STATES Opera Windows says:

    Luke, you should send this over to Ben and crew at The Consumerist. I think they’d get a kick out of it.

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  6. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Hey, good idea Dax. Maybe they link to me. :)

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  7. By the way, yes, I left Brazil and I’m in India now… -)

    ^– I don’t know what you do, and i hate to lump all Indians into one group… but if you ever do phone support… can you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be a cool person?
    -Speak Clearly (its not the accent that bugs me its when they try to talk at a normal pace when they don’t understand the language enough.. if these phone support people would slow down a bit, i would be able to piece what they are saying togeather better)
    - Don’t use a fake name – Its like.. I am pretty sure that your name really isn’t Jim Muhaammad you know?

    If not and you know someone who does phone support… pass this to them.

    Yes, I really dislike most phone support.. but if you get a good company who doesn’t outsource… call at about 12 PST (3 EST) and you can just start talking to these people for hours (if you want).. just start asking them questions while they are trying to figure things out… like “so what kind of phone do you have? do you use Cingular too?” thats what i did… in the end the guy wound up sending me a free upgraded phone. I droped my phone in the water but i told them it was stolen… he told me he couldn’t do anything about it because i didn’t have insurance on my phone… but after we started talking he agreed to send me one… then since they didn’t have any of my phone in they upgraded me to a better version of it.

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  8. I came here to do my masters on a very prestigious IT institute of India called IIIT-B (www.iiitb.ac.in). This is located on Electronic City in Bangalore, a kind of cluster (such as Silicon Valley) where many IT companies are located. So, this whole Electronics City is amazing! Very clean, organized and rich! It is not like the rest of the city at all!

    okay some how i missed that. I figured you wern’t normal phone support because, i don’t think you could afford a move from brazil to india to be a phone support person. But maybe you were a higher up? like Bank of Americas personal internal IT support guy or something?
    Point is… if you ever meet a phone support person… tell them my advice, they wont get yelled at as much.

    Have fun with your education

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  9. Ricardo INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Phone support? You got this all wrong Travis! Sorry. I am not doing it (as you noticed) and none of the people around are doing it as well.

    People in India do a lot more than phone support! That’s the tip of the iceberg. They actually develop software and are doing a great job! I know their english is bad but they are trying hard to improve it.

    i hate to lump all Indians into one group…

    Yes but you just did and you shouldn’t. You know, in Brazil, a lot of people criticizes Americans as a whole too. I’ve been to the US two times and I know it’s a great country with many great people!

    What I tell everyone, then, is to study the particular topic they are criticizing so that they can prevent their own embarrassment of being wrong about it.

    The critic, I think, is a very tricky business.

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  10. yeah, i pretty much feel like an ass :)
    I just read a figure somewhere that its like 1/10 people are phone support… and i didn’t think as much YOU did.. but someone you KNOW did.
    Still i feel ashamed i grouped you. :D Probably do alot cooler job then me… err at burger king.

    Ugh, fucking ex/current girlfriends… :D
    My appologies..

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  11. Ricardo INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    fucking ex/current girlfriends…

    lol

    Girls! But how to live without them, right? :D

    Not that it was needed but apologies accepted…

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  12. Well, out of the blue she broke up with me… told me she didn’t love me (although she has recently taken that part back) and said she wanted nothing to do with me… while the night before she was talking about how bad she wanted me there and how much she loved me.. yada yada… after 2 years of this same thing.. i should be used to it.. .but i am not.. and i can’t blog it this time because she will get more pissy that i am spreading our bussniess on the internet. >.

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  13. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Actually, in my experience tech support tends to always be bad when it’s outsourced – whether it’s an Indian company, or domestic one, it doesn’t matter. If the tech support doesn’t have access to the company’s internal tools, access to the high level technicians, and developers then it will suck.

    I read this interesting story recently (I think in 2600) – it was written by a guy who was working for a outsourcing support company. They were fielding calls for some undisclosed ISP. They noticed that some poor guy’s email was hijacked every other week because of some exploitable bug in the ISP’s sofrware. All they could do however was to change his password back, because the ISP did not give them any way to report these sort of things upstream.

    The only way to do tech support the right way is to do it in-house, and not use some idiotic metrics (like time to close a ticket) to measure their performance. This way, worse comes to worse, they can actually escalate your problem to the point when you get the dude that actually wrote, designed or built the actual product on the phone. And that’s the way it should be.

    In my experience, when it comes to sucky support, the Indian guys on average seem to be nicer, and more courteous. Dudes from domestic call centers tend to be as clueless but also sometimes rude.

    Ricardo

    Heh. I guess you need to report on the most important topic on them all. Tell me about the girls. :mrgreen:

    Travis

    Sigh… Sometimes I think that all women are fucking crazy. Some just hide it better than others when you first meet them. lol

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  14. thats my favoite quote (made by me)
    “All women are crazy, so date a hot one, so at least you have something to look at”
    I made this quote after dating a fat chick because she had a fun personality.. and she turned out being the fucking psychopath of the year. :D

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  15. and you should add “teamcoltra” or “travis” to your capatcha, because “fail” didn’t make me feel too much better when i was writing that. :(

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  16. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    LOL Preemptive fails!

    If it makes you feel better, there is also a WIN captcha somewhere in there. ;)

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  17. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    The only way to do tech support the right way is to do it in-house, and not use some idiotic metrics

    I worked the phones for three months in customer service for Primus. A man’s gotta eat, I’m not proud. But I will happily report that I was abused for fixing people’s problems rather than getting them off the phone. I’d field all sorts of calls where the previous phone jockeys didn’t understand what was going on, didn’t leave notes, didn’t look up histories, didn’t escalate where appropriate, and I’d fix them. And leave notes. Those customers wouldn’t call back. And I’d get told off for helping customers instead of disposing of them.

    Hell, customer call-back was such an issue that there was a manager-level guy on our floor whose whole job was studying call-queue phenomenon including call-backs.

    But two things to remember are: call centres are the modern-day factory job. It’s where you work when you can’t work anywhere else. If you believe the promotional photos, you’re kidding yourself. It’s a hard, annoying job, and as a result the only people there are the ones that can’t go anywhere else. The other thing is that you were using residential, which is arse-end class. Your company has made the decision to save money by having you on the phone during incidents like this instead of having a higher class of service.

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  18. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Forgot to add that one of the star performers according to management was a drinking buddy of mine in the next cubicle, who never left notes, transferred people to the wrong queues, and had no idea what he was doing. But he went through customers so fast that his team leader had to ask him to slow down his calls a little. Despite this, he was a ‘star performer’, even though he would be the first to admit he didn’t really know what was going on. :)

    Soul-crushing work.

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  19. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Varci – thanks for the first hand account. This is consistent from what I heard from other sources. I think one of the problems with the call center business is that they are using the wrong metrics to measure performance.

    Sigh…

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