Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This is Stupid, and You Should Fix it

Three weeks after Christina in "Executive Customer Service" promised me a call back, she called and emailed me today. I couldn't take her call because a week of sinusitis has left me with bad laryngitis, and I can barely speak. The gist of her email is that the name on the account shouldn't have been changed, and I should dispute the charges with my credit card company. She offered to follow up with their collections department on such a dispute if I'd just go look up the dates and amounts. These are dates and amounts which I have already furnished to Comcast.

I'd had enough, so for your enjoyment, here is my response to her. At no point did I actually curse at her, even though I was thinking of a cursing tirade all the while I was composing my response.

The way I have been treated by Comcast disgusts me on a visceral level. I simply cannot begin to express with words just how angry and frustrated I've been with the way I've been abused. I did nothing to deserve this treatment, not that you actually care. If you did, you wouldn't behave with such flippancy, and you'd endeavor for Comcast to learn something from this experience.

Your customer service department simply does not comprehend that while each call might be taking up only 120 seconds of one representative's time, dealing with the problem might be taking up *hours* of the caller's time. They need to own problems and take responsibility for getting them fixed, not just do everything in their power to end the call. This is stupid, and you should fix it.

We changed the account from one name to the other on the advice of someone to whom I spoke at Comcast.

The reason for this is a broken Comcast process: It is impossible to set up a new account at an address until an old account has been completely deactivated. New service can't even be ordered, so there's a minimum one-week service disruption that must occur if the person in whose name the account is held moves out. This is stupid, and you should fix it.

We were told that to circumvent this limitation / broken process, we could change the name on the account by going to a Comcast office in person. This is what we did. We went there in good faith, executing on the process suggested to us by someone representing Comcast. The request was handled by another representative of Comcast.

We did everything we could to try to make the transition smooth and to try to ensure that the outcome was positive. We did the right thing, but Comcast couldn't be bothered to put forth even a minimal amount of effort to ensure that they did the right thing too.

The fact that it took you three weeks to get back to me after you promised me a call back on the same day tells me that Comcast's horrifically abysmal attitude toward its customers and miserably inept customer service in general is something that oozes and dribbles from the top down. This is how Comcast got the well-deserved reputation among its customers for having horrible service. This is stupid, and you should fix it.

I have already disputed the charges your company so incompetently applied to my credit card. They're the charges applied to my card in November and December. Go look them up yourself if you want to know what the amounts are. I'm sick to death of dealing with you cretins.

I don't really expect a response, because I'm fairly sure I'm right in my assessment. Comcast simply does not care that its customer service is the worst in America. Theirs is stupidity with malice.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dear Comcast, Why Are You So Stupid?

Recent dealings with Comcast have convinced me that their reprehensible customer service is no accident. I know one should normally assume incompetence before malice, but now I'm convinced that behind their utter ineptitude lies deliberate hostility toward their customers. They hope that if they tread you badly enough, you'll give up and take up no more of their precious time.

Back in October, I was moving out of my condo into the house my partner and I had purchased. Since I was continuing to rent out the condo to my now-former roommates, and since hitherto I'd been supplying the Internet access, it was necessary to perform some set of steps to get the Comcast service out of my name and into one of theirs.

The first problem is that Comcast is too stupid to do this. They can't start new service at an address until the old service is ordered disconnected (a problem we actually ran into at the new house too, because the former owner hadn't put in a disconnect order by the day the deal closed). They can start new service after the old service is disconnected, but it takes a week to get a technician to visit, even if the equipment is going to be the same and no setup is required. This means no Internet for a week, and it's impossible to coordinate the stopping and starting of service, because the existing service actually has to be switched off before the new service can even be ordered. Dumb, huh?

It turns out there is a workaround. One can physically go to a Comcast office with the soon-to-be-former account holder and the new account holder and have them migrate the account locally. This is what my roommate and I opted to do, to ensure no service disruption.

The problem with this strategy, again, is that Comcast is too stupid to do this right. (In fact, Comcast was even too stupid to figure out which was my roommate's first name and which was his last name: in the course of this nightmare I discovered that they got them backwards on the account. They also randomly removed the extra IPs and greater bandwidth from the account after it was transferred, for no apparent reason. It's like someone received the service order and then just did random things for a while, rather than taking the time to understand what was requested and then to do it.) If there is an opportunity to fail, Comcast will boldly seize the opportunity.

I noticed on my credit card statement today that there was a charge from Comcast for service. This stood out as an anomaly, because the service here is in my partner's name, and we pay for it from our joint account. I made the questionable decision to chat up someone on the Comcast web site to ask for help.

The chat app is kind of a neat idea. It gives the impression that the chat operator can help with billing questions by putting "Billing" in the drop-down for the reason why you need to chat. In actuality, however, the chat operator can only help you with severe constipation, because the conversation you're to have will cause severe bleeding diarrhea.

Then I decided to call. I hate calling Comcast, because every time I call Comcast, something stupid happens. Today was to be no exception. I called and explained to the idiot that they were still charging me even though I had transferred the account to someone else. I wanted them to refund me the incorrect charge and correct the billing information. Seems like a reasonable request, right?

Reasonable, yet utterly impossible. When we tried to get the account transferred from me to him, Comcast managed to migrate the account owner information, but not the billing information. Moreover, they declared that they were completely powerless to do anything about this without the new account holder's name and social security number.

I even got their customer service idiots to acknowledge that they were in fact charging me for someone else's service, but they not only refused to do anything about it, they also didn't feel as though they bore any responsibility. Mind you, this was their screw-up in the first place.

I finally ended up getting the required information from my roommate and spoke to yet another idiot who suggested I cancel automatic payment and get him to pay me back for the service. It was roughly at this point that I completely lost it. Not acceptable, I explained, as this was not my problem to waste my time resolving. This was Comcast's screw-up, and it is for them to fix. The idiot claimed to have submitted a form to have the incorrect charges refunded and also claimed to have removed my name from the account. The latter claim turned out to be false (I checked), so I have my doubts as to whether the former claim was true.

In the end I had to make roughly 9 phone calls over the span of several hours. I had at least 3 customer service idiots either pick up and hang up or pick up and ask how they could help and then hang up. The remainder of the calls were my trying to figure out what was really happening and trying to convince one of their idiots that what they were doing was wrong.

My next step will be to dispute the credit card charges if they are not reversed by Monday.

The degree of stupidity is absolutely overwhelming. It's not that they're just incompetent. They're incompetent with malice. They are trying not to help and to make life as difficult as possible. I hope they get coal in their stockings.

UPDATE, week of 1/4: I contacted Comcast's head of Customer Service via their form and actually got someone to call me back the next day. Unfortunately I was driving so I couldn't completely resolve the situation then and there on the phone. The rep who called me suggested that I dispute the charges through my credit card company (I guess it would have been waaaay too much to expect Comcast to issue a refund for their own screw-up), and promised to call me back after 2 PM the same day. As you might imagine, I have received no return call.

I did dispute the charges with my credit card company. I hope it gives them even a tiny fraction of the frustration that they've given me.

The fact that even their "executive customer service" people won't return phone calls as promised tells me that their problem is systemic from the top down. Comcast does not care one iota about customer service, and never will. Why should they? They have a monopoly in municipalities where they provide service, so why should they care whether you're happy?

The moral of the story is that when a service monopoly screws up its billing, don't even bother trying to correct it with them. Instead, dispute the charges with your credit card company as a FIRST step. Don't waste your time on a company that won't waste its time on you.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

What Held Me Up This Morning

Almost immediately after I got on the freeway this morning, traffic was at a near standstill. My usual 30-minute commute to the office became an hour, because of this:

11:03AM 1039 1141 FOR MC RIDER
11:03AM WIT RHS - SIL BMW 325 - SAG

Translation: a red Pontiac Trans Am hit a motorcyclist and ran, sending the motorcycle's rider flying across all lanes of traffic, ending up on the right-hand shoulder. Someone in a silver BMW witnessed the incident and stopped on the right shoulder to assist.

That explains why the debris I saw in the road as I passed the scene was a single shoe.

What kind of asshole do you have to be to hit someone on a motorcycle, intentionally or not, regardless of fault, and not stop? (I suppose the kind of asshole who drives a Trans Am.)


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mind-Boggling Idiocy

Last week I ordered a monitor. A Dell 2408WFP. I have one at work, and I know it to be a great monitor, so I wanted to get one for home as well. For work, it took roughly 3 days from the time I ordered it until the time it was delivered to my cubicle.

I placed the order with Dell last week, but today it looked like it was seriously stuck in the "in production" phase. What's there to 'produce' anyway? It's just a monitor. There's no customization needed. It just needs to go in a box. So I submitted a web request with Dell Customer Service, which included my name, customer number, order number, home address and so-on. I jokingly asked, "is it being assembled one pixel at a time?"

I got back an automated response telling me that the industry standard for stuck or dead pixels is 5 per screen, and that if I had that many or fewer, I'd just have to live with it. Or if that didn't answer my question, I could reply. I made the mistake of replying.

I say 'mistake' because Dell has outsourced customer service to semi-sentient balls of yarn in India, and what happened next was a colossal waste of my time. The one saving grace is that from a certain perspective, it is a funny waste of my time, especially when the conversation is condensed and all the email headers removed. I shall present the conversation to you now, replacing the Dell representative's name with the word "yarn."

Me: I didn't ask about stuck/dead pixels. I asked why it's taking so long to process my order for a non-customized piece of equipment.

Yarn: To protect your data privacy, we require a Dell identification number. This can be found on any communication you have received regarding this order. A Dell identification number can be an order number, customer number, service tag number, express service code number, case number, or DPS number. In order to resolve your concern I would request you to provide the name on the account as it appears on the original order documents. Please get back in touch with us once you have located this information and we will be glad to assist you.

Me: My name, customer number, order number and address are already in this email if only you would look. What more do you need?

Yarn: In order to resolve your concern I would request you to provide the complete name on the account as it appears on the original order documents.

Me: It's the same name that it's been in all of my emails: Nicklas Johnson.

Yarn: Your order number ######### is currently in production and has an estimated delivery date of 8/8/2008-8/12/2008. You can track the status of your order online by visiting
and entering your order number ######### and customer number ########.

Me: Yes, I already knew all of that. My question is: why is it stuck in the "in production" state for such a long time? It's been "in production" for almost a week. There's nothing to "produce" since the only thing in the order is a monitor. What takes so long?

Yarn: It is just an estimated delivery date, however, the order might be delivered to you before that also. Orders can be delayed for a variety of reasons.

Me: I appreciate that orders can be delayed for a variety of reasons. My question is, what is delaying MY order?

Yarn: Orders can be delayed for a variety of reasons. Please be informed that we will not be able to specify any particular reason.

Me: Who can?

Yarn: Orders can be delayed for a variety of reasons. Please be informed that we will not be able to specify any particular reason.

Me: You already said that. I asked "who can?" As in, "who can read my email and give me a constructive response that addresses my initial question?" or "who can tell me why it is taking such a large amount of time to fulfill a simple order for one item that requires absolutely no customization of any kind?" Who can investigate further and explain why this order is stuck? How do I contact that person or persons?

Yarn: I apologize you are experiencing this delay. Dell is making every effort to ship your order as soon as possible. The most current information we have is that your order number ######### should ship on or before the Estimated Delivery Date of 8/8/2008-8/12/2008.

(It is at this point that I gave up.)

Hey, Dell: you guys are assholes.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Virgin America Update


Today will be my first (and last) trip with VirginVagina America.

On January 10, I sent them snail mail outlining my disgust with the way they had treated me. On their "VA Difference" web site they say things like "Loyalty, it's hard to earn but easy to lose" and "If there ever comes a time when we're not being as Virgin America as we could be, we will work hard to remedy the situation and hopefully bring a smile back to your face."

They claim they will responds to concerns and/or requests within 30 days.

I have received no response to my letter. It's been more than 30 days. Their mailing address is 5 miles from my home address, so it seems unlikely the letter has spent a great deal of time in transit.

Therefore, I conclude:

1. They do not care.
2. They are liars.
3. They do not want my business.

If anyone from VirginVagina America reads this post, answer me this: was it worth it? And if you acknowledge that loyalty is hard to earn and easy to lose, why are you such assholes?

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

My First, and Last Trip with Virgin America

Just three days after I booked a pair of tickets round-trip to LA from San Francisco, Virgin America decided they'd have a sale on fares. The tickets that cost $69 each went to $44 each. $25 difference, times 4 legs ends up $100, nothing to sneeze at.

Most of the major US carriers will issue a credit or a refund if a fare drops within 30 days of purchasing a ticket.

Not Virgin America.

The best they could offer was to charge me $40 per ticket to cancel and then rebook. Since the difference in price per ticket was only $25, this of course made no sense. Plus they'd charge a $5 fee per ticket to rebook over the phone.

So rather than, say, give me a $100 credit to my account, thereby almost assuring I'd use Virgin America again to redeem the credit (or voucher or whatever), instead, they decided to just flat out screw me, thereby assuring I will never book a flight with Virgin America, ever again.

Underneath their cutesy demeanor and mood lighting, Virgin America is just as much an impersonal, consumer-hostile, asshole airline as any other, if not even more so.

Nice move, assholes. Hope you're happy about screwing me out of $100.

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