Rogue Ink

August 17, 2008

Customer Service: Its Existence is a Very, Very Good Idea

Filed under: Writing — Tei @ 9:33 pm
Tags: , ,

I do not profess to understand how the internets work. When Senator Ted Stevens called them ‘a series of tubes’, this made about as much sense as I ever expected the World Web Web to make. I laughed at the Senator, because come on, people being stupid in high office is funny. But I sympathized a teeny bit, because I don’t get it either. It’s all good, Senator. Some of us have jobs in industries that don’t require us to know how the internets work, and that is fortunate for us. Unfortunately, you were voting on legislation about the internets at the time, which had to be embarrassing. Shake it off, Senator. Come on over and I will tell you my analogy for how they work. It can be summed up thusly: ‘magic.’

However. I do know one thing about the internets. And this is that the system of who gets to GIVE the internets to you is kind of screwy.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, some internet provider has a claim on you. Your house belongs to them. If you have, let’s just say, MY address, you get wireless from Comcast. My neighbor three doors down gets his from Wispertel. It is seemingly totally random and has to do with the way wireless signals bounce off of pigeons or something. Whatever. So if I want internet, I HAVE to deal with Comcast. This is a pretty sweet deal for Comcast.

Which is, apparently, why they feel they can make me work my ass off to get my internet from them.

Comcast has a 1-800 number. Because someone was apparently smart way back in the days when Comcast first got a 1-800 number, that number is 1-800-COMCAST. Awesome. I didn’t even have to waste a dime calling information. I go through the usual rigamarole of choosing English, giving them my area code, yada ya. And then something amazing happens. The little electronic voice on the phone says, ‘for wireless internet, please press two.’ Sweet. That’s what I’m looking for. Obeying these instructions to the letter (or number), I press two.

Nothing happens.

I call five more times and try many other options before I figure out that the complete and utter silence that ensues is Comcast’s way of putting me on hold. Now, come on. Give me a sign that I am on hold. Not a big sign. Jesus doesn’t have to descend from the heavens or anything. You certainly don’t have to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D over your annoying, tinny sound system. A little voice saying ‘please hold’ would do it. I can hold. I can even hold POLITELY. I know how to follow instructions. I pressed TWO, just like you told me to. I have PROVEN my ability to follow instructions. Why the silence?

I wait through the silence. Because I don’t have a choice. I need the wireless, and Comcast has it. After five full minutes of silence, I get the following message: “We are unable to connect you right now. Please hang up and try again later.”

That wasn’t the operator. That was Comcast’s little automated phone system. Telling me to fuck off and come back later when they weren’t too busy to deal with me. Comcast was basically saying, “Look, go away, I’m eating my ham sandwich right now. Why are you so goddamn annoying with your phone calls during my lunch hour?” And being as I am not Comcast’s office bitch, this pissed me off.

Usually, if a company treats me this badly, I find another goddamn company. Screw that. I am trying to GIVE YOU MONEY. If you make my money-giving difficult, I will take my money and stick it into the G-string of the very next stripper I see, just to show you what’s what.

Except that I need the wireless. And Comcast is the ONLY one who can give it to me.

Now, this is very clever of Comcast. Ha-ha, they are thinking, we can treat you like a punk little bitch because you have nowhere else to go! Bend over and take it! And call back later!

They think they can get away with it, too. I’m sure some clever guy in a marketing department somewhere said it was totally cool for all the phone operators to fuck off at the same time for lunch because they know I have to get wireless from them.

But now I’m pissed at them, and when I am pissed, I am resourceful. Also, usually, a little inebriated, but that’s neither here nor there. So I expend every ounce of my not-inconsiderable Googling skills to find out if there is any other possible way I could get internet. It turns out, there is, if I want to get dial-up instead of wireless.

Here’s the thing. I hate dial-up. I don’t want to plug my laptop in. I want to get internet in my bedroom and my bathroom and on my frickin’ roof. Wireless is an awesome invention. So is the SPEEDINESS of wireless through a cable instead of through a dial-up modem.

However. I will FOREGO my love of cable wireless because my HATRED of Comcast has gotten to be that deep. It is so deep right now, it is quoting Nietzsche and advocating perfect oneness with the universe. SIMULTANEOUSLY. Except that it contends perfect oneness with the universe does not extend to forgiveness of Comcast, because the hatred knows from whence it got its deepness.

Moral of the story: Even if you are the ONLY option, if your customers hate you enough they WILL find some other way to get what they need. They may even settle for something that is less than what you offer, if you provoke their hatred enough. Also, they may blog about you in an unflattering fashion. And wouldn’t that just suck for you?

ADDENDUM: Comcast has, as you can see below, taken it upon itself to resolve my customer service issues online. That, I must confess, is pretty cool, and goes a long way toward dissipating my hatred. Mental note: apparently, customer service now dwells online. Unfortunate that in order to get online, I have to deal with telephonic customer service. That said, much appreciated, Comcast. I’m responding to your query in the comments below.

Subscribe. My hard-fought for internets arrive tomorrow.


  1. It kind of sucks that there are ISP monopolies in certain places. Where I live I can’t even get typical high-speed except through satellite, which is more a limitation of telephone technology than an attempt to deprive me.

    Oh and technically, you aren’t ordering “wireless” from your ISP. Your internet comes through a wire and then you get to buy your own wireless router from whoever you want and that router will work with any high-speed internet connection.

    Comment by MT — August 17, 2008 @ 11:16 pm | Reply

  2. MAN!! I totally sympathize. I had the WORST experience ever trying to pay someone with PayPal. PayPal pissed me off so much I actually shed hot tears. I couldn’t even post about it because I was reduced to single words and dashes; I became a stuttering fool because I just couldn’t believe how frustrating and impossible everything was. I don’t think it was only because I’m Canadian, either, but that did have a great deal to do with it. BAH.

    So dial-up, huh? Crap. How’s that gonna work with the freelancing thing? I understand your hatred, but I think I would have channelled it to demanding some top-notch service asap. When I did that with PayPal, I got 47 uninterrupted and very patient minutes as the very nice guy (the third or fourth rep I’d dealt with) on the other end of speaker phone walked me through everything and fielded all of my questions. HAHHH. I was so happy with him I emailed them and said so.

    Comment by Steph — August 17, 2008 @ 11:27 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I will be sure to involve the appropriate team to look into this. I would also like to know where you were calling from. Will you please let me know? This information will help us to better understand the incident.

    I apologize for the unacceptable experience. We will make sure that this is corrected.


    Mark C.
    Comcast Corp.

    Comment by ComcastCares1 — August 18, 2008 @ 2:24 am | Reply

  4. With phone systems, I pretty much start pressing “0” as soon as I connect. I’d rather get shunted around by live people instead of by the system. Some companies, however, are sneaky and don’t give you an operator option. You have to choose one of the menu options, even if what you want to do doesn’t fit within the menu.

    Over the years I’ve had some pretty frustrating experiences with telecoms – most notably Bell Canada. If I ever moved back to Canada, I’d do everything in my power to never use them. Almost every time I called I’d have to start saying “so how are you going to fix this and compensate me?” over and over until someone with the right clearance level would do just that.

    Comment by Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome — August 18, 2008 @ 5:39 am | Reply

  5. MT: See, what you just explained there? I totally didn’t follow it. For me, when I talk to someone on customer service, I tend to have to describe the physical manifestation of what I’m looking for. “I need it to go through the cable, and have a router, and have wireless that doesn’t have to plug into my computer, and I want other people to be able to use the wireless too. What do I need to buy from you?” I am a pain in the ass. My ignorance makes me annoying, I’m sure.

    Steph: I have had lousy experiences with PayPal too. And with Washington Mutual. I’m going local as much as I can these days.

    Mark C.: Hey, much appreciated for you to show up and apologize. Seriously, that’s fantastic, and it’s great, and I even put an addendum in the post noting it. I was calling from Boulder, Colorado, and my phone number is in the 303 area code. Since you are obviously in the On Top of Their Shit Branch of Comcast Customer Service, please do tell those phone people I said you know what’s up, and that they should take orders from you henceforth.

    Alex: Oh, I KNOW. Here’s actually what happens – they make you get a certain level into the system before the operator option shows up. Very crafty. For WaMu, it’s like three steps in. I have no idea what it is for Comcast. It was apparently a level somewhere after the ‘choose your service’ buttons.

    I just keep asking for the next guy up. Eventually, you’ll get to someone who was actually involved in the stupid policy making process to begin with. I always apologize to the low guy on the totem pole for being upset, too. It’s not his fault that someone had a dumb policy, and I know that. He’s just dealing with the backlash. So I encourage him to not deal with the backlash, and send me to the guy whose fault it actually is, so I can bitch HIM out. This works a treat.

    Comment by Tei — August 18, 2008 @ 4:48 pm | Reply

  6. Tei,
    Oh my…half way through I had to scroll up just to be sure I wasn’t reading Naomi’s blog instead of yours. I can feel your frustration oozing out of my screen. My sympathies. I will send them evil cursing thoughts on your behalf.

    I despise being held hostage by companies who think they have you by the…um…toenails.It makes me really really angry.

    Comment by Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations — August 18, 2008 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  7. Wow! A response from Comcast. That must have happened while or right after I was writing my response. OK, I’ll stop sending out nasty Comcast thoughts then. Good to know there are Comcast good guys.

    Comment by Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations — August 18, 2008 @ 5:01 pm | Reply

  8. It sounds like the Comcast debacle is over. If it isn’t, e-mail me, Tei. My sister works for Comcast and they have a resource where employees can send their friends —where you can cut through some red tape.
    So glad you are back!

    Comment by Muffy — August 18, 2008 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

  9. Cool! Wow! Responding on your blog! Now that’s service!

    Have you the internets now, free of problems?

    Comment by Steph — August 18, 2008 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

  10. yes… we had dial up in boulder, but it went into that little wireless transmitter thing (which had its own slew of problems so don’t necessarily buy the super cheap one) and Voila! wireless showed up in almost every nook and cranny of the house.

    Miss you loveliness.

    Comment by MonstersMama — August 18, 2008 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

  11. Tei, I was a Comcast customer who went from utter and complete hatred to really pleased with service but left for better pricing (and because a new kid with whiz bang technology busted their monopoly in my hood and I am all about free enterprise). Now I must tell you that Comcast is totally on top of responding to issues online. They even tweet and will fix issues lickety split. So, they may just win you over. I may even tweet them myself to make sure you’re online and posting, because shucks, I miss you!

    Comment by Karen Swim — August 18, 2008 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

  12. OMG, Bell Canada. My husband and I actually met while working for Bell ExpressVu, the satellite component (and YES, he was officially my boss, and NO, I don’t want to talk about it.) When we moved to London, he got transfered back to regular old phone service Bell Canada. He was so shocked by the all around badness of the service that he quit his job AND we dropped our Bell services, just because it sucked so much. The suckage quotient was very, very high.

    Comment by Naomi Dunford — August 19, 2008 @ 3:15 am | Reply

  13. In your dealings with Comcast, were you ever able to determine with certainty just who IS their office bitch?

    Comment by Jim — August 22, 2008 @ 9:57 pm | Reply

  14. […] 9.  Taylor Lindstrom […]

    Pingback by They Say It’s Your Birthday! | Maximum Customer Experience Blog — November 17, 2008 @ 10:13 am | Reply

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