Tag: customer service

The Comcast Saga

I’ve repeated myself a lot today and so please excuse the compactness that following. I’m just trying to bring everyone up-to-speed with a minimum of frustration to myself.

To recap:

  1. I canceled my DirecTV service and signed up with Comcast last week.
  2. Comcast came out Saturday morning to set me up. All went well, except they didn’t have the digital DVR in stock, so they would have to come back later on in the week.
  3. Monday morning I called to arrange a time for Comcast to come out to deliver and install my DVR receiver. They checked the stock and then scheduled a technician to come out on Wednesday (today) between 2 and 5 PM.

Today’s events:

  1. Just before I left work at 11 AM, I got a call from the Comcast tech asking if he could come out now. I told him I wouldn’t be home for a little while. He then asked why he was coming, and I explained. He told me that they didn’t have any DVR receivers in stock. I nearly hit the ceiling, but he said he’d check with the warehouse and call me back.
  2. At about noon, I called Comcast and explained the whole history. I was told they they were auditing the warehouse and I would get a call back. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Very soon,” they told me.
  3. At 4:45 I called to tell them no one has showed up yet. They said they couldn’t do anything until after 5 PM.
  4. At 5:15 I called again. This time, they checked with dispatch. I was told that the tech would be here “very soon”; he was running late from another job.

It’s now 6:10 PM and I haven’t heard from the tech, the warehouse, or customer service as to when this guy is actually going to show up. Meanwhile, since last night, I’ve received 2 phone calls from Comcast reminding me of my appointment today, one automated call, and one voicemail from a real person. I’ve held up my part of the bargain. I can’t say the same for Comcast.

To be continued…

Cable and Internet access is done! (Almost!)

The Comcast guy got here at about 10:30 and it was surprising how easy it was for him to get my cable setup. There were two minor snags, one of which is resolved, the other of which is pending.

I couldn’t get my computers connected to the internet unless I was directly connected to the cable modem. The cable guy “hated” Macs and furthermore, he didn’t know anything about them. He stuck around for about 45 minutes while I tried getting it working, but no luck. He had to go on another call. I spent the next two hours trying myself. I could get a connection if I was directly connected to the modem, but not if I wasn’t. On the other hand, if I plugged the Airport Extreme base station back into the DSL line, it worked fine. I called Comcast tech support. No help there. Finally, on a whim, I thought that perhaps the base station was retaining the mac address assigned by the DSL modem. I performed a manual reset of the base station, reconstructed my network–and everything worked!

I hooked my TiVo up to the new cable box and got it configured for the new channel line up. One nice feature was that all of my Season Passes were updated with the correct channel automatically. TiVo recently provided an upgrade which allows WPA2 encryption, so I was able to convert my wireless network back to WPA2 encryption. That is working great now too.

The final snag was that I was supposed to get a Digital DVR for the bedroom. There were none in the warehouse at the time the service guy went out there. So I have only “basic” cable in my bedroom right now. (That’s fine because I don’t watch much TV in there.) He said he’d keep checking the warehouse today and if they got one in, he’d bring it out. Otherwise, I’ll probably have to wait until next week. Once I have that, however, I’ll have DVR capabilities in both rooms (meaning I can record Gray’s Anatomy and Scrubs since they are on at the same time.)

I was frustrated by the Internet connection issue, but I’m glad that I got it all fixed. On initial glance, I think the cable connection is faster than my DSL. I noticed download speeds of just about 1 MB/second earlier. I’m going to confirm my downloading the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica from the iTunes store. In the past, it takes about an hour to download. We’ll see how it goes over cable.

Final chapter in the DirecTV saga

This morning, I decided to cancel DirecTV without having them try to fix the problem. There were two reasons for this. First, I’m not convinced they would be able to figure it out in one visit. Second, was a matter of cost. Third, was how the problem has dragged on all summer.

I mentioned how Comcast had an offer for current satellite customers. The offer was: cable, internet and phone service for $99/month, plus HBO and Starz service for a year, plus a DVR and DVR service for one year. This morning, I called Comcast and asked some more questions. I don’t need home phone service so I asked them how much the offer would be, per month without the phone service but with the cable, internet and the rest of the package. My monthly bill would be $83. Now my DirecTV monthly bill is $72 and so at first glance, this doesn’t seem like a great deal. However…

I am also paying $57/month for Verizon. About $30 of that is for DSL and the remaining amount are the minimum fees required to maintain a phone line for the DSL. But if I get internet through Comcast, I no longer need these services. Looking at it this way, I currently pay $130/month for cable/internet services. Switching to Comcast, that will drop to $83/month, a savings of $47/month or $564/year!

Since I already have Tivo, I can put the DVR they are giving me on the TV in the bedroom and that means I can record shows on different station, if I so choose. I also asked about what my bill will look like after one year has passed and the offer has ended, assuming I keep the same services I have with DirecTV right now. I was told that the bill will be around $100/month, which is still a savings of $360/year from what I am currently paying. Finally, I checked to make sure that I could still get the MLB package so I could watch baseball games. That’s no problem.

So I made the switch. The Comcast people are coming to my house tomorrow morning between 8 – 11 AM to get everything set up. I canceled my DirecTV service call for tomorrow and I also called to cancel my DirecTV service, which now ends on December 8. They were very nice on the phone and offered me discounts on my service to stay as a customer. But discounts won’t solve my technical problems so I thanked them for the offer, but declined. I have to call Verizon and cancel my phone and DSL service, and I will do that as soon as I am certain that I have Internet access through my cable modem.

I am hopeful that this concludes the months-long saga of my reception problems and I’m looking forward to not having to worry about this problem anymore.

Rescheduled service call

I had to reschedule my DirecTV service call tomorrow because it turns out I have to be in the office for the interview that I am supposed to do. As luck would have it, however, the next available slot that I got was Saturday between 1-5 PM, which works for me.

When I called to reschedule, I had to look up the phone number on the DirecTV website and they had my account information posted. I noted that my bill due in December was just about twice what it normally is. I asked about that and it turns out I was charged $70 for the service call I had back on Halloween when my dish was knocked over. I pointed out that I pay a monthly fee for service protection insurance and that I should not have been charged. The very helpful service girl agreed and corrected the error immediately. Now when I look online, the amount due is correct.

I’ve been a little stressed out about what DirecTV will do to get my problem fixed, but I’ve decided I’m not going to worry about it any more. They are the experts, and they’ve seen these problems countless times, so I’m sure they will know what to do; I won’t have to troubleshoot things for them.

DirecTV problems, take 3

On Sunday, I was having my problem with not getting a signal on certain channels again and I called DirecTV ready to tell them I had it and I was giving up and switching to Comcast. But the tech support person I got, Liz, was very nice and worked methodically through the issues. She was very understanding and when all was said and done, she scheduled a service call for me on Friday afternoon. (She actually said it could be done tomorrow, but I’m in meetings all day long.) So I’m giving DirecTV one more chance to fix the problem.

In the meantime, I am attempting to narrow down the problem myself. The channels go out several times a day and unplugging the co-ax cable and plugging it back in fixes the problem every time. The troubleshooter in my says its either a problem with the cable or a problem with the box. The last DirecTV guy I talked to said, “In the 2-1/2 years I’ve been with DirecTV, I’ve never seen a box fail.” Fine, but it’s a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument. If I can rule out one, I know it’s the other. When I got home from work this evening, I swapped the satellite receivers in the bedroom and living room. If the problem continues to happen in the living room, I know it’s the cable. If it stops happening in the living room, but starts happening in the bedroom, I know it’s the satellite box. In the latter case, at least, I can call the service people and tell them to bring a new box on Friday.

I should know one way or another in a day or so. The problem happens so frequently that if it doesn’t happen in the next day or so, I think I’ve got my answer. In the two hours since I switched things around, so far, so good.

DirecTV problems

Gradually, the signal that I get in the TV in the living room has degraded. Here is what happens: some of the channels (not all) will lose the signal (“searching for satellite”). The TV in the bedroom, receives the same channel just fine. If I unplug the co-axial cable and plug it back in, the signal returns. No big deal, but I have to do this three times a day. And if TiVo is recording something overnight, it’s a crap shoot as to whether it has a signal or not. I suspect the cable or the box.

So I called DirecTV yesterday. Normally, I get great service from them. This time was a little different. First, I navigated their new self-troubleshooting phone tree and then waited 15 minutes to speak to a real person. I explained the problem briefly, but in detail. The first question was that they had no record of my DVR. It took me 10 minutes and a conversation with a supervisor to explain that I didn’t go through DirecTV for my DVR services. I then had to explain why, even though this had nothing to do with the issue (they were going to have me call TiVo to solve the problem, when it has nothing to do with TiVo!) It was finally determined that I have a “stand alone” configuration and that my TiVo was not supported but the DirecTV Samsung unit was. Then, since the problem wasn’t happening at the time I called, there was really nothing they could do about it. I would have to call back when the problem was happening again. It was a wasted 33 minute call.

They say that one negative moment of truth will wipe out 10 positive moments of truth and this experience demonstrated that. The guy I spoke to on the phone did his job, and I understand that, but I don’t have the time to waste on this kind of thing. It has got me seriously considering dropping DirecTV entirely and switching to Comcast cable. I’m going to compare prices and then call Comcast, explain my situation, and see what kind of deal they can offer me for comparable service. If they can offer me someone equal or better to what I am getting, then I will switch. That will be an interesting call to DirecTV.

My TVs are working again

The DirecTV service people got her at about 9:40 AM. They were great. They too suspected it was kids who pulled the dish and pole out of the ground. They said that technically, vandalism isn’t covered by the insurance, but they said as long as they didn’t have to dig or replace the pole, they wouldn’t charge me. It took them 5 minutes to realign the dish with the satellite and pat down the dirt and grass to make sure the pole was stable. Then they came inside and “rebooted” the boxes. And now everything works.

I have always had excellent service from DirecTV on the phone, and today, I had excellent service from them on a service call.

What to do when there is no TV

When there is no TV, it would appear the thing to do is to be on the phone. In the course of the last two hours or so, I’ve had four phone calls. First, I spoke to jen_ashlock who told me all about their trip upstate. Next, I talked to Doug. We hadn’t talked in a little while and ended up spending over an hour on the phone together. From Doug, I got updates on Ruby and Carson, and also found out that this time of year in Seattle, it starts to get dark shortly after the sun rises.

After Doug I called the folks and talked to Mom who told me about the SAP implementation happening at her company. Dad was out for a walk but when he got back, I spoke to him too. He’s had a tough week this week. In the course of the last 7 days, he has managed to break door to the dishwasher; bust the springs in his favorite chair; and accidentally spill laundry detergent all over the floor. I spent some time consoling him about it. I pointed out that these disasters come in “threes” and that he should have nothing to worry about. I suggested, however, that he stay away from the flat panel TV “just in case”.

Finally, I received a call from a robot at DirecTV reminding me that I have a service appointment scheduled for tomorrow and asking me to press 1 to confirm the appointment. I pressed 1. The robot then asked me to press 1 to confirm my appointment. Figuring the robot didn’t hear me the first time, I pressed 1 again. The robot then ushered forth a tsunami’s worth of “fine print”. I mean it went on and on and on. I probably should have hung up, but I was afraid that would somehow cancel my reservation and condemn me forever to long, dark evenings of phone calls.

I know it sounds unbelievable, but this is the excitement that is my life. I should bottle it and sell it on late-night infomercials. Off to bed now. I’m about 450 pages through Lunar Prospector and hoping to get through a little more before I doze off tonight.

DirectTV Protection Plan

I woke up this morning to find that the post with my DirecTV dish had blown over in the winds last night (strong winds). I remounted the post as best I could but it is not aligned properly and so naturally, I’m not getting a satellite signal on my TVs. I pay an extra $6/month for DirecTV’s Protection Plan. I called them up, explained the situation, and they are going to have a technician out here sometime between 8 AM and noon on Tuesday morning to fix the problem. Since I pay for the Protection Plan, this is done at no charge to me, even if the hardware is damaged. I would have liked to get someone out here a little sooner, but now that I think about it, it will probably be good to have no TV for a few days. I can get caught up on all of the reading that I missed this weekend.

When you’re here, you’re family?

I decided to try the new Olive Garden they put in next to the Outback Steakhouse. I headed out for an early dinner, just me and my enormous book. When I got there, around 3:30 PM, it was already packed and I was told the wait was 30-45 minutes. “No problem,” I said. I sat down at the bar and cracked open the book and before I knew it, 30 minutes had gone by and I was being seated at a table. Things went downhill from there:

  • At 4:02, the waiter took my order, which consisted exactly of the bruchetta appetizer, chicken parmesan with salad and bread sticks, and a 22 oz. Bud Light on tap. He then disappeared for more than 20 minutes before I saw him again. When I finally did see him again, he brought bread sticks and promised that the beer was on it’s way.
  • Two minutes later, as if on queue, another waiter arrived with the beer–in a bottle. The other waiter disappeared so quickly that I had to wait several more minutes for my waiter to show up again to get this corrected.
  • Several minutes later, my appetizer and main course showed up at the same time. I hate when this happens, and usually I have them hold the main course, but everyone seemed so overwhelmed that I just accepted what they brought. I reminded the waiter that he still owed me a beer and a salad. Eventually, those arrived as well.
  • When the check finally came, I noticed I was charged for both the bottle of beer and the draft beer. It took another 15 minutes for that to be corrected.

Normally, I leave at least a 20% tip, but this time, on a $23 check I left exactly $3. I was just looking to get out and have a nice dinner and I spent the entire meal wondering what would go wrong next. (I was not the only one either. The people at the table next to me seemed to be having even more trouble than I was.)

But I gave it a shot. I now know to avoid the local Olive Garden. I probably could have figured that out without actually buying a meal.

Strangely enough, I managed to get a terrible stomach ache halfway through the meal. This happened to me yesterday as well, when I went to TGI Friday’s for lunch. It is the first time that I can remember being attacked by a stomach ache at two consecutive restaurant visits and I must say that it was equally annoying each time it happened.

My 10-cents worth…

Down at Au Bon Pain a few minutes ago, I grabbed a bagel and a milk. I paid for the items, was receiveing my change, and noticed something funny about the dime that I got back. I took a quick look at it, and it was a Canadian dime. So I pointed this out to cashier, so that I might get an American dime–and I had the hardest time getting my point across. It seems that the cashier seemed to think she gave me too much change, and I had to communicate, almost in sign language, that she had, in fact, given me currency that does not have any value in U.S. stores. But she finally understood and the next time she opened the register, she gave me a U.S. dime.

Of course, she tossed the Canadian one right back into the dime bin.

The cookie place, redux

Once again, I decided to try the Cookie place in the Mall below my office. There was a different girl there this time, so I figured what the heck.

I got 2 cookies and 2 milks and headed back up to my office. I popped open a milk, took a swig–and it was spoiled. I’d swallowed a little, but spit the rest out in my trashcan. I checked the “Sell By” dates, and sure enough, both had a date of June 3. Now, I realize that the sell-by date does not mean the “goes-bad-on” date. But in this case, it was way beyond.

I went back downstairs to get my money back, which, believe it or not, took some doing. But get it back I did.

Now, I’m gloomy. I don’t know what happens when someone drinks a tiny amount of spoiled milk, but I’m having visions of unsettled stomachs, and who knows what else. I’m trying to drown myself in water and Sprite, but I have no idea if that will do anything, or make matters worse. When you ingest many types of poisons, you are supposed to drink milk because milk is a base and it neutralizes the acid in poison. But what are you supposed to drink when the “poison” is milk?

And now I have to worry about this for the rest of the day. Nice!

UPDATE: I’ve decided that if I listen to my iPod as loudly as possible, it will distract me from the impending destruction my digestive system is about to wreak. So far, I feel fine.