Believe it or not: A happy Comcast customer

Comcast-XfinityI’m sure the euphoria will wear off soon, but I had a very pleasant and rewarding conversation with a Comcast service rep this morning. Yes, Comcast. That Comcast. The company that seems to be universally despised by everyone in America. So much had I feared having to deal with them that today’s call had been postponed for literally years. I just didn’t feel like getting into a contentious conversation where the opposition holds all the cards and I get defensive and tongue-tied. Now, of course, I feel like ten kinds of idiot for not making the call sooner.

I had two reasons for calling them. The first was to ask about getting a new remote control since several buttons on the current one no longer work properly. Of course I encountered their automated answering system which eventually routed me to their automated answer. Yes, I could obtain a new remote by going to the nearest Comcast store at such-and-such an address. I had no desire to do that, since the last time I was down there some years ago it was “take a number and wait your turn” along with a roomful of other people. So I kept saying “service rep” and “operator” and such until the machine finally routed me to a live person.

Justin. A very pleasant, young-sounding man. Certainly, he said, they could ship me a new remote (just as they’d sent a new set-top box a few years ago) and I could return the old device in the same box. So simple. The man was putty in my hands. So I moved on to the serious stuff — the fact that in 11 years with Comcast, my bill for TV and internet has risen from $129 a month to $185 a month. And the only change in all that time has been a switch from a regular to a high def box.

Look, says I, I’m a little old lady on Social Security (yes, I played that card — shamelessly) and it hasn’t gone up nearly as much as your bill. I simply cannot go on with this. Something’s gotta give. Can I cut back on those hundreds of channels I never watch, in those old bundles that you haven’t offered for many years, and just get a basic package?

Well, says he, let me see what I can do.

And by the time we were through talking, he’d whacked $50 off my bill, set me up with a basic package that includes everything I watch and then some (100+ channels), and a faster download speed on my internet (which I hadn’t even mentioned).

By the time I hung up, I was sending mad hugs through the phone. Then I began kicking myself for not having made the call ages ago. That’s a savings of almost a new video game every month, or a new Xbox in 6 months, when a new one just happens to be coming out. Or any number of other things. I’d actually bookmarked several articles with step-by-step instructions on how to approach such a request, what you should say and not say, and that you should tell the service rep who answers first that you’d like to speak to a “retention specialist.” Talk about ready for war. But look what happened. I was nice, he was nice. I got a big cut in my bill and he kept a customer (I understand their customer base is eroding rapidly as millennials find alternatives to cable and “cut the cord”).

While I’m on the subject, I should mention several other pleasant transactions I’ve had with their customer service reps in recent years. On two different occasions, the dog settled into her spot on the couch and in doing so stepped on the remote, pressing lord-only-knows which of several dozen buttons and totally messing up the TV. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t start pressing buttons trying to get back to the original setting. Both times I was forced to call Comcast customer service and beg — sheepishly but desperately — for help. Both times I was quickly connected with very sympathetic women who walked me though what to do. One time it was as simple as pushing one button, one time. (Hey, don’t laugh. It could happen to you. Maybe. If you’re an old fart like me.)

Anyway, as I said at the top, I’m sure the euphoria will wear off soon. But I thought I should document one of the apparently very rare times when Comcast came out smelling like a rose. Take note. It will probably never happen again.



Categories: Internet, Money, Society, television

17 replies

  1. In all seriousness, I am happy with Comcast. Yes, I think they’re overpriced, but then everything is anymore. I’m happy with the service, but primarily the internet speed. When we first set up the account, the speed was 60 Mbps. Since then, and without asking, the speed has crept up. Now the download speed is 120 Mbps and upload is around 10 Mbps. Combined with the power of my computer, I almost never have to wait for anything.

    I have the DVR and I LOVE it! I don’t record a lot, but I use the pause and rewind all the time while watching tv. “What was that he just said?” “Did she say what I think she said?” Gotta put the dog out, put the DVR on pause, etc. You get the point. I don’t have the DVR in my office and it bugs me. I’m continually reaching for the remote to rewind something I just missed and I can’t do that. I’m actually going to call and get this box upgraded to the DVR and I think the DVR in my bedroom is wearing out…. it takes a long time for it to power up. I’ve had it since 2012 so it’s probably time to replace it.

    There is one thing I have noticed, and I think Comcast is pulling a fast one on us. It is the non-HD channels. They are horrible, especially in darker scenes. I think Comcast is degrading the quality of the non-HD signal somehow. The HD is sharp as a tack, but not the non-HD. Honestly, analog broadcast had a sharper, clearer image than the non-HD does. And when I was out of the country in Aruba a few weeks ago, the cable there isn’t the HD channels but the image is crisp and clear. Not quite as nice as the HD here at home, but most definitely better then the non-HD here. I’m almost convinced they’re doing this. Probably hoping that current non-HD customers will upgrade to the HD package.

    Outside of this little unproven scheme, I’ve always been happy with them. When I have had a problem and it couldn’t be fixed over the phone, I schedule for an installer or whatever they are guy to come to my home to look into it. I have zero desire to take any equipment in to exchange it – especially because that may not necessarily be the problem. Sometimes I’m charged for the house call, sometimes not. But I don’t care. Beats going in and standing in that infinite line all day. When I call to upgrade I’m going to schedule the guy to come out.

    Anyway, glad it went well with you. There are a lot of companies people complain about all the time that I’ve not had any problems with.

    • My download speed had been pegged at 15 Mbps, which amazingly enough had been sufficient almost all the time. Notably slow only when downloading massive video games (20-40 GB). Maybe it was a ploy on their part trying to get me to pay for an upgrade. Higher speeds were part of a lot of the new packages they were trying to sell. I just ran a speed check and it’s up to 160 something. Sweet.

      I don’t have a DVR. Figured since I’ve never had it, I could live without it. Not into recording and saving shows or movies or whatever. But what you describe, yes, I can see doing that. Again it’s probably a matter of not missing something I never had. I’m a creature of habit and lazy besides, and tend to think as long as I’m happy with what I’ve got, I don’t want to add to the pile of electronics I already have (that only my son and grandchildren really understand).

      If I do decide to get the DVR I’ll need a tech to bring it out. The box is wired into my TV and Xbox and wifi and all. Not something I’d want to attempt — since even the remote seems beyond my expertise now. Don’t want to ask my son; he hates doing tech support for family once he leaves the office, and I completely understand.

      I don’t know what the deal is with the non-HD. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a gimmick to get people to switch to HD. Or maybe it’s just old technology that they no longer support.

      In any case, I’m a happy camper tonight.

  2. Pity you couldn’t record THAT conversation, Would be something to listen to the next time you call some other organization and get the normal runaround.

  3. Yeah, nice begets nice…a good mantra for us every time we set out to deal with a large company, especially over the phone! I’ve had my share of stomach-grinding conversations with ‘the voice at the end of the line’, and am so glad this turned out for you!

  4. Amazing! (But they are worried about the customers leaving…and ones realizing how much they are not watching as the irritating politics/politcal talks and ads are spilling over everywhere…). We have found “retention agents” do have soemthing to offer if they feel like it. We’ve gotten to a cooperative person by saying “We want to disconnect.”
    We had to get a new remote recently with buttons not working – so glad they happily sent us one and we didn’t have to go get it. We don’t have the expensive fancy equipment either. What we have is enough – and expensive enough.
    Nice to hear a company has noticed they should be nice to customers

    • My understanding is that the cable companies are hemorrhaging customers, losing them to all kinds of download and subscription services. My son is one of them. No cable TV at their house. He marvels at my willingness to put up with all the commercials, rigid schedules, etc. It’s just an old habit that I’m too lazy to break.

      I used to hear that threatening to disconnect gained you nothing because the cable companies didn’t care. They had monopolies on entertainment services in their areas. That’s no longer true.

  5. Speaking for myself, I have had an excellent customer/customer service relationship with Comcast for about as long as I can remember, both through the good times and the bad times. I have their full service to include cable, Internet and phone service. Upgraded to the new Xfinity X1 not long after it came out and love it as it relates to cable TV and recording.

    I’m not saying I believe it will always be this way but I have found attitudes can be effectual in getting one’s issues resolved.

    • I still have my old landline phone from what was the local phone company (now peddling TV and internet as well). Might be cheaper to bundle it with my Comcast account, but I harbor a bit of distrust of voip phone systems for 911 calls. Guess I’m something of a luddite in that regard.

      I agree about attitudes. I don’t think starting out with a confrontational tone is the best (or most polite) thing to do. Even if I felt that way, it’s not in me to act that way.

  6. I should note with regard to Comcast, I had one of my most humorous senior moments when trying to resolve an issue with my cable TV some years ago. I forget the specifics of my cable issue at the time but the Customer Rep had ask me to go in the room where my television was and completely unplug it for a minute or so, then plug it back in. After doing so, I was to get back on the phone and let them know what I was seeing. Simple enought right?

    Well after I had followed their instructions to the letter, I went over to the coffee table and picked up the phone and tried to tell them the deed was done but no one responded. I tried a couple of times to raise someone on the other end but nothing. By this time needless to say my dandruff was up a bit. Had they really just disconnected my call. But then I realized as I glanced down once more at the coffee table my phone was still lying there and I had been trying to talk to Comcast through my remote control. Eerily enough, the remote and my Motorola phone look quite similar.

    Fortunately in the meantime the Comcast Rep had patiently waited on the line of the telephone until my mental seizure had past. If for nothing else, for the next few months it made a great story! 🙂

  7. Always interesting to compare shopping. We pay $110 for Dish Network (satellite) that includes 6 DVR tuners and Netflix. Our high-speed ISP is via Cable One at $68 a month. So, it looks like we are in the same ballpark. I have heard that electronic access in the U.S. is higher than in other countries. It will be interesting to see if some of your international readers will confirm this.

    Netflix, by the way, is very enjoyable. We are currently watching two series on it, one of which is season 4 of House of Cards.

    • My son shares his Netlix family account with me and I can access it from here. He wonders why I use it so rarely, but frankly it just never occurs to me. I did watch all of “Breaking Bad” and am currently in the middle of the latest season of “House of Cards.” Might have watched a couple of movies in the last few years.

      Yep, I’ve heard we pay a lot more for internet service in the US, and get much slower speeds than the rest of the world. That’s what happens when a small number of giant greedy corporations control the access.

  8. I believe it, and so I am happy for you, Pied. Corporation does not always = monolithic devourer.

    • I’m a strong supporter of net neutrality and believe they’d violate that in a second if they could get away with it. They are a monolithic devourer. But still, down on their customer service level, their reps have treated me very well.

"There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees." ~ Michel de Montaigne

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