Recently, I was made to believe, by a customer service representative at Comcast Cable, that rather than make a complaint to his supervisor, I should send an email to a VP. Now, of course this 'complaint letter to a VP' is actually a 'suggestion' tool on the Comcast website, and I was obviously batted away, like a fly, so that this individual could continue not being of ANY help to anybody; but I decided to take up his suggestion and write to the person whose name appears at the top of the 'suggestion box' of the website. The following is that correspondence, and by all means, forward it around to your friends, Comcast if you have an email, the Better Business Bureau, or your congressman if you have a mind. And above all....enjoy as I give you:
A Strongly Worded Letter of Complaint to Comcast Cable
by: A Disgruntled Customer
Brought to you by Cous’n Hemp’n Entertainment!
Cous’n Hemp’n Entertainment: Oh boy, we’re staying outta this one.
Good morning Tom,
I’m a long time Comcast customer whose experience with your customer service team has, at times, brought me to the brink of tears. Now, I’m a man—it takes a lot to make me cry—but in the case of dealing with Comcast customer service, those near-tears are the overwhelming result of my impotence at having no other legal recourse with which to vent my frustration; in other words, you have all the cards Tom. Oh sure, I can and HAVE gone out on my balcony and screamed with a Hulk-like rage into the trees behind my apartment after being lied to, slandered, and talked down to by your agents. Simply put, your monopolous company is a beast who has wantonly trampled my spirit and made it hard for me to feel like anything other than a rabbit, ripped to shreds in Comcast’s slathering maw.
Before I get into it, I’d like to preface my complaint by telling you a little about my background. I’ve been in customer service since 1987. In that time I was an employee at a comic book store, I was a manager of a book store, I was a manager for RadioShack, and I was a Customer Service Representative for ComEd. Of all those experiences, you’ll find that the last is the well from which I draw a majority of my indignation at your company’s treatment of its customers. Today I work for the State of Illinois, and you should be thankful Tom, that I do not work in its Better Business Bureau or I would make it my unflinching business to take your company to task.
Further, I want you to know that I went into this letter with the full intention of not cursing. Although my writing elsewhere is littered with the frequent ‘f’ bomb, I endeavored to keep it from this communication so that I could attempt to express myself more succinctly and in a language you may be more likely to respond to. Some people may believe that cursing is used by those who cannot form coherent sentences and don’t have a grasp of the well placed adjective, I believe myself to be neither of those. I curse well and I curse plenty, and I believe curse words are just words used in everyday life, words used to express one’s frustration, anger, or incalculable unbelief in a flawed company, whose tireless and ceaseless lack of common courtesy towards the people who use its services sits at the very BOTTOM of the customer service industry. Be that as it may, I have DILIGENTLY edited myself down to only the barest minimum of, what I believe, are NEEDED words of indignation.
This is the Cat Who Ate the Mouse That Lived in the House that Jack Built
Today, being the 20th of February, 2016, I was called a liar, for the second time by one of your customer service representatives when calling to make an inquiry regarding my bill. Now at this point, you’re either depositing this email into your delete folder or harrumphing with a, “Another one of THEEEESE…” looks on your face. And that’s fine, but you can also catch this correspondence on my blog because I’m tired of feeling powerless at my inability to get your company to SIMPLY honor the agreement I signed, in good faith, several months ago; you see, words are the only recourse at my disposal. If you have elected to read on, let me explain from the beginning.
Last year, I signed a two year contract with Comcast that I saw as a good deal for us both. Today I found out that contract was written in lies, and signed by misrepresentation. Let me apologize to you, Tom, before I begin, as before this contract was presented to me, I was a poor customer; meaning that I was late paying my bill on a consistent basis. At some point, I found myself getting behind by one month, and as my bill was between one hundred and sixty to one hundred and eighty dollars, I found it difficult to pay the three hundred and twenty dollars to three hundred and sixty dollars needed to catch up. I never blamed Comcast for this and I never balked at the ten dollar late fee imposed on me each month. However, I was overjoyed last year, when I was finally able to catch up, and I decided to see what kind of deals Comcast had available in order to get my bill down to a more manageable monthly amount.
As I said, my plan at the time was between one hundred and sixty to one hundred and eighty dollars per month, for x-finity Triple Play, and NO premium channels. That’s essentially basic cable for a hundred and eighty dollars a month. My goal, when calling in June of 2015, was to get a six month deal for around a hundred and fifty dollars, WITH the premium channels (HBO, Starz, Cinemax, Showtime.) Thus began my venture into the forest at night.
Let me start by stating the obvious…your automated voice system is the worst thing that’s happened to customer service ever. It is unbelievable to me that you don’t know this. My belief is that YOU postulate that this disembodied voice will frustrate people, who are ALREADY frustrated, SO much that they will hang up, thus freeing up your representatives to sell rather than field complaints. Now, I’m sure that you’ll “p-shaw” this belief as if I’m a crazy conspiracy theorist, but that is the exact effect it has on all who call you with a complaint.
This voice does not recognize answers, it frequently directs you to places you did not request, and most frustratingly, it wastes time by asking you for information that is used in NO discernable fashion. As an example, when being directed to a billing agent, your customer service voice asks for my phone number and the last four digits of my social security number, then, after waiting the required 10-45 minutes for a live agent to pick up, that person asks for the same information that I so recently had to expound in order to move forward in the quagmire and mud of your customer service line. After spending ten minutes explaining my issue, which is normally regarding my bill, to a customer service agent who is indifferent at best, I’m told that this live person is NOT a billing agent, and then I’m put on hold. Seven out of ten times while on hold, I’m ‘disconnected’ on your side.
A normal call, in which an attempt at satisfaction is sought, will last twenty five to forty five minutes, with NO satisfaction being given. A call in which the result I seek, as a customer, IS positive, can last upwards of two hours. Now, you have notes there on your computers which will allow you to corroborate the facts as I’m about to explain them, although I will not vouch for the veracity of said notes as I’ve been lied to time and again by your agents. That being said, with them written down, you can speak better than I as to the actual times, dates, and customer service representatives involved. For the purposes of this letter however, please know that I don’t recall exact dates or the names of most of these representatives, though I gather real names are not given in many instances anyway; nor do I recall each of the many instances on which I’ve occasioned to call. However, in a majority of these cases, I did write down notes as to the length of calls. My point in telling you this is that I hope to not be called a liar by your company, as I just was, in regards to the content of our conversations. It is INEXCUSABLE and REPREHENSIBLE to treat another human being like that, much less one who deems your services of such value as to be paid for.
Now, as I was saying, in June of last year I called Comcast with the intent of getting my bill down to around 150 dollars a month, for the x-finity triple play WITH ALL premium channels. I repeat: ALL PREMIUM CHANNELS. I spoke with several customer service agents, who were not only unable, but unwilling to even consider such a feat. Most of time, when feeling I was hitting a wall with your agents, I just hung up and dared the automated voice to suffer my rage as I called back to attempt the result I was seeking. Finally, I was given a number by a very nice woman—and I wish I had the cognitive abilities to recall her name so that perhaps you could give her some recognition OR promote her to trainer so that others in your company may learn to harbor their sass—to a different Comcast customer service number than the one I’d been calling up to that point. I dialed this number, and spoke with a very nice woman again, who finally made me the offer I was seeking.
I was told that for 6 months, she would give me all of the premium channels and the triple play for around 120 dollars AFTER taxes. She also informed me of the new X-1 DVR boxes, which I’d heard about and was eager to have. I agreed to the 120 dollars over the phone, and was told that I could pick up my new X-1 boxes at the Comcast store near my house.
After looking up the Comcast store hours on the internet, which informed me the store in my area was open from 9AM-5PM Monday through Friday, I stopped there on my way home from work that Friday afternoon at 4:30PM. The sign on the door read “Friday: 9:00A.M.-5:00P.M.” with the 5 crossed out in pen and a number 4 written in. I ventured back for another pass on Saturday.
I waited in the dimly lit and over-crowded office for what seemed like an eternity. I had all of my Comcast information written down and was ready for a quick execution of my pre-ordained transaction. After an hour, I was finally called to one of the 3 counters (2 of which were unoccupied by customer service agents, although 3 were milling about conversing with each other in the back ground while another 20 people waited behind me), and was asked for my account number by an agent whose predilection towards loudly smacking her gum would have dulled her speech, had her attitude not so sharpened it.
Me: “Hi, I was told…”
Her: “NAME!” No eye contact, staring intently at her computer screen like I was interrupting delicate Intramedullary Spinal Cord Tumor removal surgery.
Me: “Um, Mike, I’m just here to….”
Her: Still staring straight ahead “ACCOUNT NUMBER!” Not a question.
After giving her all of the relevant information, she finally, and with bother, looked up at me, tilted her head to one side and, no shit said to me “What do you want?” with all of the attitude in the world weighing upon her expression.
At this point, I was still calm, more from disbelief than any self-restraint, and told her that I was there to pick up one X-1 DVR and one X-1 non-DVR box. I also explained to her that I was told that same purpose would be written in the notes on my account, at which point she glanced at her screen and said “It don’t say that here. We don’t carry those boxes in the service centers anyways, you have to order those.”
Me: “Can you order them for me then?”
At which point she let the air out of a monster truck tire with a put upon sigh so exasperating that I feared she misinterpreted my request as being from her high school English teacher asking that she put more effort into her studies.
She then turned back to her computer, typed for a few moments and said, “You’ll have them by Wednesday, NEXT!”
I gave a half-hearted thank you and left dejected, but I was eager to watch Game of Thrones when I got home. However, this was not to be either. Saturday and Sunday came and went with none of the agreed upon channels being available on my, then regular HD service boxes. On Monday, I spent 45 minutes from work, being hung up on or placed on hold by your customer service representatives, when I finally reached the right department who would field my question regarding the missing channels. I explained the agreement I made on the phone, and that I was waiting for my X-1 boxes. I was told that the agreement wouldn’t take effect until I received those boxes, so having NO satisfaction whatsoever again and wasting an hour of time that I should have been working, I reserved to wait…again.
Let me pause here to say, it’s unbelievable that your customer service center is not open during hours that are more suited to the working individuals you rely upon to pay for your services.
Wednesday came, and I rushed home with anticipation to unwrap my promised packages like a child on Christmas morning. As someone who values technology, I have to admit that your products stand above all. It’s the getting them that is at issue here and as you may have expected…nothing was delivered. I figured this must be an issue with the mail, so giving Comcast the benefit of the doubt, I waited another day. Still, no packages arrived on Thursday. On Friday, once again from work, I called that dreaded nuisance of a disembodied voice. After an unapologetic dip in this pool of automated misrepresentation, I was put through to the wrong department again, put on hold, disconnected from, and repeated this process for thirty seven minutes until I was finally able to speak with a human being in customer service. I inquired as to the whereabouts of my X-1 boxes and was told she would have to transfer me to another department. I was put on hold for twenty two minutes, and was finally disconnected from AGAIN, having to call back and repeat this process. When I finally got someone on the phone, I’d now been attempting to find the whereabouts of my ordered equipment for over two hours…at work, because it could NOT be done after work due to the fact that your customer service hours are in service of NO one.
After having explained everything to this person, again…I was told that there were no X-1 boxes ordered for me...let’s pause here for me to calm down, because just talking about this all these months later, is elevating my blood pressure to peaks that would look down on Mount Everest...and although she would be happy to put an order in for me, it may be some time before I receive them as they were out of stock and on back order. Nearly 3 hours for me to, once again, get no satisfaction from a call to Comcast customer service.
“What about my premium channels?” I inquired, “Can I have them on my current boxes while I wait for the new?”
“I’ll put them on for you right now.” She told me.
Well, at least that will take some of the sting out of it. Or would it? You guessed it, when I got home, no premium channels. Mighty Casey had struck out. So I suffered to call again. The customer service center was closed.
On Saturday morning, after checking my channel line-up and finding the promised channels still absent, I called the dreaded customer service center. After thirty-three minutes a representative answered. I explained everything once again, and was told that wasn’t her department, she’d have to transfer me to billing. Thirteen minutes later billing picked up. I explained everything to the billing agent, who told me that wasn’t his department that was customer service. Twenty seven minutes later, I was explaining the situation again, when I was told the following, and I was told it as if I were lying: “You don’t HAVE any premium channels. There’s nothing here that sais you SHOULD have them.” I hung up the phone and melted into the floor like ice cream on the sidewalk.
Every time I’ve called Comcast and had to explain something to a customer service representative, my explanation gets longer and longer. It’s like that old nursery rhyme: This is the house that Jack built; this is the mouse that lived in the house that Jack built; this is the cat that ate the mouse that lived in the house that jack built. By the time I called Comcast back on Monday, while at work again, I was up to a staggering fifteen minute up-to-the-call recounting of my tale. Luckily, although it took me twenty seven minutes to get to her, I found the most helpful customer service representative to date. This woman was SO nice in fact that her own impatience at witnessing my confounded treatment, made her frustrated with a co-worker.
After explaining things to this woman, who I’ll call Sarah as she was from the south and that’s a very southern lady-like name, she actually took the time to read the notes on my account, and found that I WAS told, by the initial woman I spoke with, that I could have the triple play and ALL premium channels for 120 dollars, after tax, per month. Unfortunately, Sarah explained to me, this deal did not exist. It seems that the first woman I spoke with either flat out lied to me, and then was stupid enough to record her lie in the notes attached to my account, OR she just didn’t know her own product. In any case Sarah saw that this agreement was written down, and endeavored to call a supervisor, on my behalf, in order that a satisfactory conclusion be reached in my favor.
After Sarah AND I waited on hold for a staggering forty two minutes, a woman with a thick accent answered the phone and announced herself as Jennifer. Jennifer my ass. I don’t care WHAT a person’s name might be; in fact I enjoy calling people by their proper name, so it’s frustrating to me when customer service representatives start the conversation on a lie. However, I was not surprised to see that Comcast customer service representatives even lie to each other as well. As my advocate, and knowing my frustration, Sarah explained the situation to ‘Jennifer’, who agreed to help. Sometime later, an agreement was reached in which I would pay 135 or so a month, for the deal I was offered before. Fine, as long as it was at or under 150 dollars. When Sarah was placed on hold by ‘Jennifer’, I asked her if she would make sure, BEFORE she hung up the phone, that that deal included all of the premium channels. This is where Sarah ran into a brick wall. ‘Jennifer’ came back on the phone and pronounced that the deal had been put through, I would get the same thing I was offered before. To which Sarah inquired “Including all the premium channels, correct? That’s what he was offered before.”
A pause hung in the air like a wet fart on a humid day. “Yes, he will get everything he had before.”
It seemed that she wasn’t answering the right question. Sarah asked again: “The triple play, PLUS the premium channels, right?” she asked.
“That is right, he will get the same channels he had before.” ‘Jennifer’ repeated.
Sarah pressed on, in order that my question be answered to her satisfaction: “But he didn’t have the premium channels before, and this deal is for the triple play PLUS the premium channels.”
“Oh, yes, he will get the triple play for one hundred and thirty five dollars a month.” Same answer, different wording.
NOW Sarah was getting angry, she was starting to feel MY annoyance at her OWN co-worker. “DOES THAT 135 DOLLARS INCLUDE HBO, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, AND STARS AS WAS PROMISED?”
“OH, THOSE channels? Oh my no, HBO is fifteen dollars a month, and the others are ten. Shall I add those to this package for your customer?” I couldn’t believe it. ‘Jennifer’ had no idea I was on the line, and SHE just tried to PUNK her own customer service representative. HOW CAN I EVER EXPECT TO BE TREATED FAIRLY AS A CUSTOMER TOM, WHEN YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVES CANNOT WORK ON A RATIONAL LEVEL WITH EACH OTHER?
Sarah was flabbergasted. She put the supervisor on hold to confer with me. I told her I wanted to talk to the supervisor’s supervisor. ‘Jennifer’ was not only reticent to do this, she was flat out unwilling. Speaking hurriedly and angrily, she told Sarah this was the best she could do and there was no point in speaking with her supervisor. A heated argument erupted between the two women until Sarah was finally put on hold, where the two of sat, as strangers in a lifeboat drifting on the open ocean, for fifty three minutes. After this duration, Sarah talked to another supervisor, without me listening in this time, for twenty minutes. She then came back on the line and told me that she was sure this man could help, and that I would not need to tell the story from the beginning. A very nice gentleman, who called himself ‘Ken’ came on the phone, and Sarah hung up after I thanked her profusely.
After speaking with ‘Ken’ for a few minutes, I learned that he was in Malaysia and Sarah was right, he was not only willing, but very capable of seeing to my needs. ‘Ken’ told me, and I believed him, that with the Triple Play, X-1 Boxes, ALL premium channels (and I made him SAY ‘HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz’) taxes and fees, he would be able to bring my bill to $155.88 per month, but ONLY if I signed a 2 year contract. FINE! PERFECT! If it stays at that price, I’ll sign a TEN year contract, I told him.
“The only thing is,” Ken caveated, “I can only give you the premium channels free for six months. You’ll have to call to have another six months added for free, but I’ll put that in the notes so you’ll have no problem.”
Guess what today is? Six months from that call! Since that initial deal was struck and the 2 year agreement was signed, my bill was 155.88 TWICE. Every other month I had to call and go through this WHOLE rigmarole again to get a five dollar credit here or even to have my bill RAISED. That’s right, one month my bill was $153.84 and I called to have them ADD $2.04 so that it would be uniform. Now twice it has been $165.34, that’s my fault for being late the previous month. Nine dollars and change seems a bit high of a late charge for a few days, but whatever, I’ll take responsibility for that. Last month my bill was $160.55, and this month it’s $172.08. I’m not using any extra internet or ordering movies, so there is NO reason why my bill should be MORE that the amount I agreed upon…$155.88.
SO, after receiving my bill of $172.08 today, I decided to set aside my whole fucking day AGAIN, to get it set back to its agreed upon amount of $155.88. Thirty two minutes…I waited thirty two minutes to speak with a billing agent, who ACTUALLY argued with me. Lawrence was his name, or close enough to it, and he wouldn’t even let me tell him my customer service history nursery rhyme, so much as he made every effort to speak over me by yelling “SIR IF YOU’D LET ME EXPLAIN YOUR BILL TO YOU!” as if I’m a third grader in need of tutoring in the fields of math.
I received a full fucking scholarship to an Aviation and Flight Management program at Lewis University based on my fucking MATH AND ENGLISH SAT SCORES, so DON’T attempt to explain my fucking bill to me mother fucker.
Without so much profanity, I tried to tell Lawrence that I understand my bill because I’ve had so much god-damned experience deciphering its cryptographic antagonisms, and that the bill wasn’t what was in question here. What was in question was the agreement I signed several months ago and, the following of that agreement to the letter, that I expected; THAT was the point of having a 2 year contract. When I asked to speak with Lawrence’s supervisor, he continued to argue with me that he “knows the company” and “They won’t do anything either,” until I finally just hung up on him and called back.
Forty two FUCKING minutes later, after bypassing the NEXT customer service representative and immediately requesting a supervisor, I was once again set upon by a Comcast agent. After explaining everything to THIS supervisor (and the rhyme goes on), I was told that SHE couldn’t do anything and was even told that SHE DIDN’T BELIEVE ANOTHER SUPERVISOR WOULD GIVE ME THE DEAL THAT I WAS GIVEN. That’s right, Tom, YOUR customer service SUPERVISOR…called me a liar. I hung up, and regrouped for thirty minutes before calling back. Only seventeen minutes this time, before I got on the phone with a nice lady who told me her name was Gladys. “How are you doing today I asked her?”
Gladys chuckled and said “To be honest with you, not too well; I wish I hadn’t gotten out of bed today.” On what planet is it ok to for a customer service representative to say this to a customer? But you know what, at LEAST she was honest, so I explained it all again, to her. Here’s what this nice HONEST lady, Gladys told me.
- Customer service representatives don’t put ‘promised’ deals in the notes because they aren’t allowed to promise future deals; so, they’ll OFTEN tell a customer something and then let ANOTHER rep deal with it when that customer calls back. THIS means Ken from Malaysia, flat out lied to me about putting my ‘premium channels for free’ every 6 months in the notes.
- The only thing I signed for in my contract was Triple play for 109.99 a month for 2 years; which is what I was paying for triple play BEFORE, without a contract. Comcast can change the price of EVERYTHING else on the bill anytime they want. Meaning that they can raise the price of premium channels, fees, or equipment to whatever they want, whenever they want. The ONLY side who benefits from a contract with Comcast, is fucking COMCAST. The normally mutually beneficial aspect of a contract, is completely one sided in this case. In other words, Ken from Malaysia flat out lied to me a SECOND time, as he assured me that my bill, NOT my triple play, would remain at 155.88 a month for two years. AND because he did not record his lie, I’M made to look the liar.
I thanked Gladys for her honesty, and telling her it was no fault of hers, I wished to speak with a supervisor. She put me through to one in under 5 minutes, to which I am forever grateful. THIS guy…this guy…y’know what? Gimme a minute here…I’m so god damned tired from this aggravation right now…this supervisor who called himself Albert, told me in a fairly aggressive and short tone, that he COULD give me the premium channels free for another six months, but because it wasn’t written in the notes, he wouldn’t; his reason being that he couldn’t justify it.
When I challenged that logic by asking him: “Isn’t customer service enough justification?” Albert ACTUALLY said to me “If it’s not written in the notes, it’s hard for me to believe you were offered a deal that no other customer has.”
Albert called me a liar. I asked for HIS supervisor, to which he let out an exasperated puff and told me that because it was Saturday, HE was the only supervisor available, but I was welcome to write a letter to the VP of Comcast cable” That’s right, the idea for this correspondence regurgitated from one of YOUR customer service supervisors condescending to me, in hopes of placating my complaints so he could get me off his fucking phone.
I can’t feature why your CSR’s must have this combative relationship with your customers. Believe me, I KNOW customers yell, customers scream, they can be irrational and even threatening at times…but a CSR’s JOB, the very reason they are paid, is to put up with that. They are there to represent the company and uphold its values in furtherance of that company’s interest. This is a point that seems to neither be taught NOR monitored to any degree in your customer service representatives. I find it inconceivable that a company who NEEDS to do business to survive, would allow this attitude to foster.