Comcast–Customer Service

Comcast does try to fix things, but they aren’t persistent until the problem is solved.  I have internet and telephone service with Comcast.  Months ago my phone started acting up after many months of perfect use upon switching from AT&T.  I was also experiencing outages with my internet too.  The phone service is voice over IP, so it’s dependent on the internet.  The trouble was the outages were intermittent, the worse kind of technical failures for customer service.

When I’d call Comcast they’d run tests and tell me everything was fine.  I complained enough they sent a tech guy out and he tested stuff.  He checked my lines out to the pole and declared that everything was fine and I should call when the outage was happening so they could run a test.  The trouble is my phone doesn’t work when the outages happen, and my damn cell phone doesn’t work in my house.

Just when I was researching returning to AT&T my phone started working again.  It then worked  without any problems for several months.  I assumed Comcast fixed something in their system and nothing had been wrong at my house.

Well, the problem is back and my friends are again tired of trying to chat with me on the phone.

The outages are fleeting.  I’ll be talking on the phone and I’ll have random moments, seconds or even minutes, when the people I’m talking to can’t hear me.  I can hear them fine, they just can’t hear me.   My wife works out of town, so I like to talk to her, or other friends in town.  But my phone service is so annoying people don’t want to talk to me.

And I just don’t want to go through the same customer service rigmarole as before to get it fixed, when customer service didn’t fix it the last time.

Concurrent with the phone outages my Netflix is giving me trouble – and I’ve become quite addicted on streaming Netflix.  My daily life has become dependent on Comcast technology – for socializing on the Internet, talking on the phone, and watching old TV shows late at night.   I wish I could just pack it in and be content with reading books in the evening and live without the aggravation of fighting with Comcast customer service.  And it’s not that Comcast isn’t pleasant to deal with on the phone, they are very nice, but like I said, they are quick to get rid of me when they don’t have something to work on directly.

I wonder why they don’t build modems that automatically monitor uptime and just inform the central office when their service is out or deteriorating.  There’s no reason why they can’t build self-healing networks.  In fact, they should be able to build networks that notice the trouble, inform the central computer, email me an apologetic note saying there is a problem and they are working on it, and then send the technicians a diagnosis of the problem to be fixed.  Now that would be great customer service.

So what are my options?

  • Install my own monitoring tools and try to decipher the problem myself?  Even if I could provide event logs I doubt if Comcast customer service will want to study them.  It’s out of their work routine.
  • Wait for the system to fix itself like before?
  • Call AT&T and ask them to install U-verse?
  • Split my services so I go back to a AT&T land line but keep Comcast for internet (assuming things get fixed) and not have all my communication needs provided by one supplier?
  • Get a dual WAN router and pay for two internet services hoping one will always back up the other.  I could get a land line and keep the VoIP, so I had dual phone systems too.

Notice, none of my options expects Comcast customer service to solve the problem.  I sent Comcast an email and got a nice email back with several suggestions.  The same tips they give you to try when you talk over the phone.  Because my system works great most of the time, it shouldn’t be my system at all, unless it’s a flaky modem, and they claim they have run tests on it.  The email was much more apologetic than the phone person, but the results are the same.  They are rid of me until I try again.  But I’m tired of calling.  And I’m frustrated I can’t talk on the phone.  And I’m annoyed that Netflix has stopped working like it did.  And I’m depressed that my Rhapsody music stops and starts.

Ah, the woes of internet life.

JWH 12/14/10

JCPenney–Customer Service

The other day I saw a story on the news about how angry people get over customer service.  It was about how unhappy people are over what they feel is a major decline in customer service.  Now I understand that companies and their employees can make simple mistakes, so I’m not talking about how often we get bad service.  What I’m talking about is how companies go about fixing their mistakes once they make them.  How I rate a company’s customer service is by how they solve problems that they caused themselves.

I’m a guy that doesn’t like to shop, so I buy online.  Buying online is convenient unless you have to send something back, and I hate to send things back.  So I try to always order exactly what I want.  I’m not one of those people who order three different digital cameras and send the two back they don’t like.  I especially hate buying something and then discovering it’s a returned item.  When I pay for new I expect new.

If I do take a chance on ordering something sight unseen and I don’t like it, I’ll just give it to Goodwill rather than take it back.  With clothes I tend to find brands and styles that don’t change and order them time and again, expecting that what I buy online will be just like what I’ve bought before.

I like undershirts with long tails, so I buy Stafford Vneck Tees that are X-Large Tall from JCPenney.  I like to get them in a six pack.  Recently I ordered another six pack but I received three tees in a plain plastic bag with a computer label slapped on it.  The three tees looked new, but I was grossed out by the idea that someone probably bought a bag of six and returned them and some flunky in shipping threw the three shirts in a plastic bag without counting and sealed it with a computer label which clearly says Pk6.  There wasn’t even a cardboard photo of a guy modeling a tee shirt like you’d expect with a new package.

You’d think they’d have a law against selling returned underwear?

But anyway, I believe it’s obvious that JCPenney made a mistake.  I called them up and my options are to send the shirts back at my expense or return them to a JCPenney store.  They offered to immediately send out new shirts, but to bill my credit card.  I would only get credit when the others were returned.  I believe that is horrible customer service!

At best I would have been impressed if they had said, sorry, we shouldn’t have sent you returned underwear, so throw those away, and we’ll send you an unopened new package right away.  Next best, because I understand they can’t trust customers not to cheat them, would be to send me shipping bag with automatic postage so I could just leave it for my mailman or UPS guy to pick up.

It’s their mistake, why should I pay for it?

I can understand telling customers to pay for return shipping for items the customer didn’t like.  That’s not JCPenney’s fault.  But when a company makes a mistake they should do everything to fix it at no cost to the customer.  That’s good customer service.  Evidently JCPenney feels that it’s more profitable to have a certain level of customer dissatisfaction over bad customer service than to spend the money for good customer service.

My final choices are:

  • Throw the shirts away and never shop with JCPenney again and lose my money
  • Assume the three shirts are okay and wear them and actually pay twice as much
  • Take them back to a store and get credit and quit shopping at JCPenney

In none of the three options does JCPenney end up paying for its mistake.   I either let JCPenny rip me off, or spend the money and time driving out to the mall to take the shirts back, or wrap them up, drive to the post office and pay to send the shirts back.  I got 90 days, so the easiest thing to do that would get my money back would be to wait until I need to go to Best Buy and then run the shirts back to JCPenney.

JWH – 12/5/10

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