Tag Archives: Telcos

Comcast/RCN… my beef with telcos – Part 1

Sorry folks, but I need to vent…

I pride myself on being a minimalist, and look to technology to help support this lifestyle (I do not buy physical books anymore, I’ve scanned all my major documents, all my old CDs have been ripped, my photos are in the process of being scanned, etc…).  I’m such a nerd about it that my wife makes fun of me for it (“oh we can’t even buy a travel book” “of course not… we have smart phones…”).  In any case, that’s not the point of this post… In a demonstration of this minimalism, I pride myself for having ditched my land line in 1999, and have never looked back.  However, in 2011 we bought a new house in the city we live in, and unfortunately our wireless carrier has so-so 3G service in our area.  Yes, we could switch to another carrier, but my wife has complained that the voice quality on a smart-phone is simply not the same as a “regular” phone.  So after a long protracted back and forth, I caved in and agreed that we would get a land line.  That’s when my life went to hell (ok, I’m being a bit dramatic).

We currently have Comcast for internet service (no TV, remember that I’m minimalist, and there’s a whole post I could write about how the communication utility – i.e. Heat, Water, Electricity, Communications as the major utilities is just an absolute rip-off), so our first conclusion was to get Comcast voice. GULP… $50 a month for a landline…  After I got over the sticker shock, and explored other opportunities, I went online to set up the account with Comcast.  At first, the process was painless… At first… As I was wrapping up my transaction, I was asked by the application to talk to one of their representative to confirm the transaction (ok…).  This happens to be over a web based chat, and so we began the transaction.

The person on the other end was nice enough, but basically made me repeat the whole transaction (ok?…).  She found that I could get a better price (which I had seen on the website), but then confirmed that I couldn’t (which is what happened to me on the website when I tried to add it to the cart) because I didn’t have the right contract (ok??…).  At this point, I just wanted to wrap up the transaction, so asked how much longer this was going to take.  She then walked me through the order one more time (ok???…), and told me that there would be an additional charge for the installation and that I had to make sure our house did not have an alarm system (ok????….)  to which I responded that I had checked the box for a self installation, and that it really wasn’t their problem if my house has an alarm system.  She then informed me that I had to get a new modem and return the one that I had (luckily there’s a Comcast service center less than 5 minutes from my house).  I agreed (but ok?????….), and asked whether I was going to get a confirmation email of the transaction so that I could prove that I was not just some random passer by there to pick up or steal something from them.  To which she responded. “Thank you, have a good day, and thanks for contacting us”.  OK?????? By then, more than an hour had gone by, and I was well… fuming…

So I went back online, and spoke with a rep in another chat who confirmed that there was no activity on my account (i.e. nothing went through).  I had a few choice words for the rep (not targeted to him, but clearly targeted to the organization for having such a bad customer service experience).  To which he responded that I should call some 800 number, and to which I responded that if they wanted to keep me as a customer, they would want to contact me as, after all, RCN keeps on promising that they can provide better service and a lower cost (incidentally, I checked online RCN in my area gets 2 stars, Comcast gets 1 star – all out of 5).

Fed up with the whole situation, I went to Vonage.  I remembered Vonage from a few years ago when I considered them for my house in Arlington.  Surprise… the process was flawless, the price was better, and the kit was delivered in 4 days.  Now all I need is a phone to plug into our landline.

We need disruption with these telcos.  I know I’m not the first nor the last, but we really need disruption to provide at the very least a basic customer service experience.  The Comcast experience was absurd to say the least.