Services Companies

I find it funny how a services based company, that is based on consumer satisfaction, can be so unhelpful to the consumer. Let’s take Comcast for example. It’s a $22.23 billion revenue ($14.2 billion profit [how can I create a company like that?!]) company. Why is it so hard to make customer service decent. Don’t get me wrong, I rarely use it as it is, and normally when I do it is quickly resolved, but today was different.

On Friday we started having problems with the HD stations we get. Everything keeps going pixelated every few seconds or so, and the sound cuts in and out. Basically, the channels are useless. However, the SD channels are fine. Another little annoyance is if you happen to be on an HD channel, the remote seems to stop functioning at all. In all actuality it works, but there is so much latency that it takes a minute or more before your button presses on the remote show up. Hell, even using the buttons on the front of the cable box didn’t do anything.

Needless to say, I finally got around to calling them about this. The first lady I spoke to said she would “send a signal” to the box and everything should be ok. For what ever reason I believed her, hung up and tested it out. Only to my surprise did it not work. So, I called back. This time I was given a guy that seemed very new, or just crazy slow (I’m not sure which yet). He had me do a few things, which completely locked the cable box up, and then said he’d have to schedule a technician to come out.

“The first available time is 10-12 tomorrow. Are you available?” he inquires.

“Do you have anything after 5?” I respond.

“No, we don’t offer appointments after 5, but we do have slots available on the weekends.”

What the hell?! So, I basically have to either take time out of my, already incredibly, busy schedule at work, or waste my free time on the weekend?! I think not. I let him know this seems pretty sleazy as this is a problem on Comcast’s side, but he tells me there’s not much he can do. I ask to speak to his manager, even though I too know there’s nothing this person can do either.

All I can say is, this lady was pro. She’s either been there awhile or has taken a whole lot of classes. I dropped the “moving to satellite” line and she didn’t even flinch. She did mention that she could have someone come out between 4-6 on Friday. I said I’d be here at 5. She said it didn’t have to be me that was in my house. I was tempting to ask her if she would leave anyone in her house just waiting for the cable guy, but I refrained. Finally she conceded and the best she could do was between 4 and 6. I said that was fine, but I wouldn’t be there until 5.

Now, actually, I could’ve been here from 10-12 tomorrow. I guess that’s not the point though, is it? Both support technicians reassured me that this was a problem on their end and that a technician needed to come out (they also dropped the “you won’t be charged for this visit” line, damn straight I won’t!). So why am I forced to bend my schedule or give up my free time just so that they can fix something wrong on their end? Why do the 21.4 million subscribers to Comcast think that it’s ok to play with their schedule for a service they, themselves, pay for? It just doesn’t seem right to me. What makes it even more absurd is that the technicians that come out (at least in Chicago) aren’t even Comcast employees. They’re hired out contractors.  You can not tell me that these people refuse to work after 5.  Give me a break.

Oh, and don’t let this lead you down the path that it’s just Comcast either. This isn’t an excuse to move to satellite or whatever, all large services based companies are like this. I guess that’s why so many people my age are enjoying “internet-based” businesses so much. They feel more like mom and pop stores because of the people that run them, but have the global appeal and size potential because of the internet.

I don’t even really watch TV that much anyways! Personally, I can’t wait till the technician shows up sometime between 4 and 5, while I’m not there, and then I get billed for not being there, even though I staunchly said I wasn’t going to be. Yet another battle because I’m difficult.  *Sigh*  All just to live and be hip in this, the 21st Century.