I just can't take it any more, so I figured I would start here, and then I think it is time to go public with my tale. It's a big one. I know a lot of the consumer blogs would love this story . . . theconsumerist.com maybe?
So I ordered the AnyRoom system months ago. The system features fit perfectly into my lifestyle, my lady and myself really love(d) it when it was working. We have two TV's only, one in the bedroom, one in the living room. For several months the system functioned perfectly . . . FLAWLESSLY!
Then it started. First issue was that my Main Box would freeze up. Sometimes I would get a black screen with sound, sometimes a frozen picture with sound, sometimes a frozen picture and frozen sound. But the worst part was that the only way to stop it was to unplug the box. The remote would not work, the buttons on the machine would not work, nothing.
Writers note: As I am writing this, my box just froze. Sweet irony. I will reset it as i do usually 4 times a day.
So I decide that I will use the comcast chat service to try to fix it. Well that was a huge mistake. it's the same old tired formula, the one that drove me away from Directv, Dell, and other companies that opted to use bad customer service. It is like talking to a robot. It is not a conversation, but more or less a person that no matter how long you try to troubleshoot with them, they always come up with the same thing, reset the box and upgrade the firmware. I am extremely capable with technology, and I don't even call tech support until I have at least reset the box. So after my second round of chatting with a person via the website, I told the tech if I had to contact them a third time, I would want a new box. They said that was fine and would note the account. Okay, I can work with that.
Third time came within 24 hours, explained to the chat person that I had already agreed that it was time for a new box. Interestingly enough, there is no documentation of this on their end. Great. So anyway, I tell my whole story all over again (you will see how many times I will end up retelling this long story, including typing it now). The tech agrees that I should grab a new box. Great. I know there is a place nearby that acts as my local Comcast office and I will go pick it up. Now I know that the AnyRoom system is not your every day system, so i want him/her to confirm there is one in stock since it is not THAT close to where I live. This is where it starts to get fun. They explain to me that not only do they have no way of knowing that, but they cannot contact the office by me. Why? They do not have the phone number. In fact they claim that there is no way to attain the phone number. I say fine, and frustratedly end the chat. I look up the number myself and call the local office (which is a local number). I get a person on the line, I am pushed into telling THE WHOLE STORY (2nd time). I clarify that I am only looking to make sure they have a box in stock for the AnyRoom system. The person explains to me that there is no way to know that as she is located somewhere else in the country. I am confused and ask isn't this the Port Murray NJ office? No. Well can you call them and ask them? No. Why not? They do not have a phone number. What if their loved ones need them? I don't know sir. Okay, well as frustrating as that is, I will take the ride over there (30 miles-ish, roundtrip). I ask again, so I can just pick up an AnyRoom system and bring it home? Yes.
I get to the office. I say I need a new box and hand the lady my AnyRoom DVR. She takes it and hands me a brand new . . . regular box. I say, "this is not what I need." She looks at me like I am crazy. I explain that I just handed her a AnyRoom system. She is rude, which is exactly what I need right now, and tells me she has to send out a tech. My heart drops, and I explain my whole story (that's the third time). She seems about 10% sympathetic and 90% determined to make me look like the fool. I ask her to make me an appointment for a tech, and i will take a regular box in the mean time so I can at least watch TV while I wait for the tech to come (later that week). I beg and plead for her to make sure it is clear that this is for an AnyRoom DVR system. She rudely confirms. I drive home and immediately get on the phone with the number I had previously called for help, and tell my story (#4 if you are playing along at home). I ask to speak to a manager. I explain what just happened, and I want to know what is going to be done to make all of this right.
WRITERS NOTE: I want to stop here and say something, I am extremely patient, I respect people, and I don't take out my frustrations on some poor call center worker. My first job was at an insurance claim center, I know how it is.
Anyway, after spewing my story again, I ask the comcast person what they are going to do about what I have just been through. She proceeds to tell me . . . well, nothing. I ask for at least a refund for the fact that I cannot use my DVR service. I explain that I shouldn't be paying a premium for AnyRoom if it doesn't function. We then get into a logistical nightmare of a conversation. I ask her if she understands how the system works (if the Main Box doesn't work for DVR, the Secondary Box will not either), she has no understanding, and it is at that moment that I ask for a manager. She also explains that she cannot issue a refund until my AnyRoom system is up and working. I explain that makes no sense to me, and I am not concerned with that right now, I just want assurance that I will be taken care of. I also explain I am not going to just blindly pay a bill for a service I cannot get to function correctly. I ask to speak with a manager. She tells me to hold on. Not 20 seconds later, she is back on the phone offering me free HBO for 3 months. I laugh, and say, "It's time for a manager." After TWENTY minutes on hold, I get my manager. Manager is slightly concerned. I am offered $60 in credits and free HBO . . . okay, that takes the edge off I must admit. She sees my appointment, hears my whole story (#5) and gives me assurance I will be called personally by her to follow up after the appointment. I go home and hook up my regular ol' box and feel okay.
Tech time. Tech #1 shows up. Young kid walks in with a box in his hands. I look at it and first question "That isn't an AnyRoom box is it?" Nope. He curses out something (not towards me, obviously frustrated with the situation, and who can blame him) and gets right on the phone. He makes several phone calls and locates a box in Hackettstown, a good 1 hour round trip. I apologize, but he understands and leaves. He gets back in decent time, pops in the new box, makes sure I can watch TV, and is done. I say, "That's it?!" "Why couldn't I just do that?" He shrugs and leaves. Okay. I check the box. No DVR function. I go upstairs, no DVR and no OnDemand. Great. Worse than when we started. I am losing my signature patience. Oh and BTW, no followup from manager #1.
I call Comcast the following Monday. I have gone through a weekend full of same old freezing, glitches, yada yada. I call in and reference my ticket #. I get a manager to call me back. I get another manager, a good one, I tell my new and constantly getting longer story (#6). There is geniune concern from the manager, I am clearly a little perterbed, and it appears that she wants to help. First thing, she schedules a tech, a supervisor. I had explained my first tech, and she said it was probably a contractor. This time I am gonna get the real deal! Okay, I like what I am hearing, and I feel geniunely helped at this point. She gives me assurance that I will be called back immediately following the appointment in a few days to make sure everything is good. She also sees that there appears to be some sort of billing/system setting issue. She fixes that, resets my box, and says it might fix things. It didn't, but the tech is on the way. Fair enough.
Tech comes a few days later, and I can tell he is good. He is a real nice guy, and he has all kinds of equipment, tests, theories, upstairs, downstairs, outside, checking splitters, wall outlets, etc etc. I tell him about my adventures (#7) and he seems confident. He leaves me and says everything is working. Well downstairs that is true, but I go upstairs, no DVR functionality. Wow. I am too frustrated to handle it, and I can watch TV so I will just wait for manager #2 to call me back.
Well she does call me back! Cheers to her! I explain nothing is fixed. She tries to do somethings on her end and thinks she has found something in my account. She tells me to wait about 12 hours, and it should be good. If not, she will call me back either way. Okay, fair enough.
12 hours later, bad news, we are back to square one. I can't even watch TV without resetting my box constantly . . . DVR, eh no. And guess what, she never calls.
I wait about a week, simply because I have this other thing going on called 'the rest of my life.' I call back and reference my ticket. I get a nice guy, he really wants to help after I tell my story (#8 with updates!). He means well, but I explain that he is only trying things that have been done before. He gets me to a new manager #3. New manager at least reads the documentation on the account and decides another tech is in order. Okay. New tech comes out, seems to do all the same things, but adds a few new twists. I will say though, he is not confident. He says that he thinks my DVR is too full. I act shocked, "but it is at 30%!?" He explains that doesn't matter, it is my number of files. I again am shocked after he says he has never seen so many files. AT 30% CAPACITY?! Okay. Needless to say, his fixes did not last.
So here I am. Sitting in front of that frozen screen I mentioned earlier. It has been frozen going on 50 minutes. I can tell because the clock freezes too, so I can compare it to the current time.
To date (estimates):
8 phone calls to Comcast
4 phone calls from Comcast
3 tech visits
3 new boxes
100 hard resets of cable box (conservative estimate)
3 months cumlative non functioning DVR (conservative estimate)
2 months cumlative non functioning OnDemand on secondary system (conservative estimate)
$800 roughly, my payments for comcast services in this time
Everything I have said here is accurate. I wish I had documented everything exactly as it happened, but I did not because I never knew it would get this far. So there is a possibility that details are slightly off, or timelines slightly skewed, but everything here is 99% true. In all honesty, I am just tired of it. I love a good business. I am a loyal customer and a generally very reasonable and patient person. But I am simply tired. I pay this enormous bill every month that is equal to my heat or electric. And I cannot get basic functionality. And although I have had moments where I recognize that the company is trying to help, I am always just left with nothing.
I have already mentioned I am VERY tech capable. I can hook up anything, troubleshoot anything, I know how my gadgets work, etc etc. When the techs are here I can communicate the issues, ask them their theories, and have a generally coherent conversation. But I think about the huge slice of Comcast customers that can do none of this, and I have no idea how they would deal with any of this.
I really am considering just dropping my cable service. And honestly, if I was not a fan of the NFL, it would have already happened. I think that Comcast should be completely embarrassed and ashamed with what has happened here. I am the cautionary tale. I would love if someone could simply take the bull by the horns and take care of this for me. I just don't have the energy any more. There WILL be a day when this company folds and/or is forced to hold itself to the same standards other companies do. But when there is no competition, I guess the consumer is the only one that suffers. At this point, I have decided that my priority is now to see that Comcast will come through and make things right in an honorable way, but I am starting to have my doubts.
Alright Comcast . . . your move. Or it is off to the blogs with this. I am sure whoever (Comcast employee) reads this can surely find the entire sordid documentation of my case. So figure it out or I am leaving. Thanks.