Friday, October 19, 2007

The joys of Comcast Cable.

I'm moving.

Yup, I've left Pensacola, FL, and have set up house in Madison, MS. Surprising, I now, but it happens. Of course, with the move, means a new cable company has to be utilized for TV and high-speed internet. Much to my unending annoyance, that particular cable company is Comcast.

The first time I stumbled across Comcast was when one of their Santa Rosa county customers managed to transpose a few digits on their bank account when they were paying their bill. It took me a couple of phone calls, the average of which was three hours, plus two visits to their local office (which was about an hour away from Pensacola) before they even seemed to realize that I didn't have an account with them, that I didn't live in their service area, and that they took money from me without proper authorization. At which point, they told me that I had to deal with the bank about it, despite the fact that the bank was pointing me towards Comcast.

So, it was with that bias, and let me tell you, I was quite irate at Comcast for quite a while for that, that I went into setting up cable access with the move.

Well, the first thing I did was I went to their corporate website and ordered digital cable and highspeed internet. I ground my teeth as their website told me that because I was a new customer, I couldn't connect my highspeed internet myself (after all, it's such a confusing process of plugging a cable cord into the cable modem). Yet, I accepted this blatant desire for more of my hard-earned money, and ordered anyways.

At which point, I discovered that they couldn't find the address in their national database of addresses. Apparently, they don't use Google Maps.

Well, after the incredibly unhelpful Customer Service Rep on their little "Online Chat" thing tells me this news, he then proceeds to tell me that I've to either call their local office or go in person to the local office, because they can't look up anything on Google Maps.

So, with my eye twitching, I filled in their survey, restraining myself from telling them exactly what I was feeling at the moment, punctuated as it would be with various and sundry words that I try my best to not say, and would spank my child for saying, and put ordering cable off, because I had to pack.

Well, today, we closed on our house, and found ourself with a few hours in which to go about doing those tasks we had to do in person. Since I despise with a passion talking to people on the phone, we chose to actually visit the local Comcast office.

Let me reiterate a point here: I HATE talking on the telephone.

I despise it with nigh upon every fiber of my being.

I would rather watch a Law and Order marathon.

Heck, I'd rather have toothpicks shoved under my fingernails.

So, now that I've made my feelings regarding phone conversations clear, let's tell you what I was expecting to see.

The Cox cable local office in Pensacola has a nice, wide lobby. To one side are the payment windows. To the other side, there are this little cubicles for folks setting up service, who have problems, etc. I was expecting something like that.

After all, I'm trying to give these people $120 a month for various services and rentals, and that's before the taxes and fees that the government adds in, so I would expect to be able to talk to a real, live person, in the flesh. I mean, that's customer service.

So, we walk into the Comcast office and this is the sight I am greeted with.
  • Directly ahead, a bank of televisions set into the wall, and a rent-a-cop dozing off on a stool
  • On the wall to the right, a door, next to the rent-a-cop, and a phone, and a table with various papers
  • Looking left, I find three tellers, and those corral things creating lines for the tellers.
My entire body tensed, but I had faith that this company was created by reasonable people, and they knew that folks liked working in person.

Sometimes, my hope in humanity comes out at the worst possible moments.

I walked up to the teller, and nicely tell her, "Hi, I'd like to set up service."

In what can only be in the most bored, and disdainful way possible, she whispers (because I sure couldn't hear what she was supposed to be saying through the plate glass window she was hiding behind) something about that phone on the far wall.

A phone.

I wanted a person! Is that so hard? I had questions about the hardware I wanted to ask. I wanted to know about just why I had to pay that outrageous fee to have someone come out and connect a cable line to a cable modem. That's all he should be doing, because there's no way that I'm allowing them to install any software on my machine. Cable internet should not need software on my machine. If it does that's a problem on their end.

But, is it so hard to get a real, live person?

Not that evil device.

So, I walked over to the phone, my wife trailing after me. In my most happiest voice, the one I save for just these types of situations, I muttered (and amusingly enough, the place had great acoustics, so my mutter echoed), "Cox lets you talk to a real person."

At which point my wife hushed me and picked up the infernal device and started punching in numbers supposedly in order to talk to someone.

After a bit, a voice comes on the line (I'm still not convinced it was a real person on the other end), and the wifey tells them we want service, and gives them our address.

At which point, we're once more told that our address doesn't exist in the national database.

At which point, I was beginning to wish that me and the wife both didn't despise satellite television.

So, we have that all settled, at which point, the voice on the phone asks us to give them directions to the house.

...

I thought they had the internet. Isn't that what Google Maps is for?

My wife stuttered a few times, and then handed me the phone, explaining tot he voice that I was her husband and could probably give directions.

I so wanted to ask them why they couldn't use Google, but I bit my tongue, and reminded myself that I want to give these voices on the phone $120 a month for various services and proceeded to describe in vague details how to get to our new home.

At which point she asks me what color it is.

Apparently, "Brick" isn't a good enough answer to that question.

And I'm also supposed to have counted the number of houses from the corner it was, even though I've only been to the place a dozen times or so.

So, now that I've drawn blood, and gave these directions (though it would have been a smarter choice for her to look it up on Google, because though I know how to get to the house, I'm still not sure how good my directions were), I find out what I'm giving directions for.

It's an inspection to see if they can even bother to schedule an install.

And how long pray tell will this visual inspection of the house take (and by visual inspection, I mean they come out, and literally look at the house to see if it has a cable connection), well, the voice on the phone is "hopeful" that we should hear something back by Monday or Tuesday, but it could possibly take up to five or six business days.

Five or six days to come out and look at the house, so that we can actually talk about having cable installed.

I could feel my eye beginning to twitch.

Do these people not realize that I want to give them $120 a month for various services and products a month for a number of years? We're talking thousands of dollars for my and my family's mindless entertainment. I want to give them money, and they're talking about inspections and cable drops.

And she never even gave me an estimated time to schedule the installation after the inspection, but I came out of the conversation thinking it'd be another five or six days after the inspection.

Two weeks before I can start giving them $120 a month for services rendered.

Two weeks before I can pay an obscene amount of money for someone to come out and screw a cable line into my cable modem.

And all of that is if I happen to have whatever it is that the cable company is coming to look at my house for.

Who knows how long it will be if for whatever reason my house doesn't.

Did I mention that I actually WANT to pay them money for services?

...

I think hence forth, whenever someone asks me if I have lost my mind (which amusingly enough, happens with startlingly regularity), I'll have to reply, "Well, I'm using Comcast, ain't I?"

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