Aug 18, 2011

Four Months Later, Comcast Does the Right Thing

You may have read my post a few months ago about Comcast and their adorable billing error. In short, my monthly bill was about $170. One month I decided to add their Wireless WAN (Internet2Go), some more HD channels, and get premium channels. Came to about $110 worth of additional services, or $280 a month. But when I got my next bill it was for $410. Needless to say, I was more than a little irritated (if you want to read all the gory details, go nuts).

Well, I am pleased to say Comcast finally did the honorable thing, and it only took four months! Instead of writing another novel about each hurdle, let me just summerize. Maybe this can help someone else in the future. Here’s what I had to do:

  1. Submit (more than one) message via the Comcast customer service website
  2. Getting no response after several days
  3. Posting my complaints on Twitter (Seriously Comcast? Seriously??)
  4. Getting a response within six hours from @ComcastCares telling me they were going to “look into it” and asking me to email some Comcast bigwig my account number (which I did..several times)
  5. (See Step 2)
  6. (See Step 3)
  7. (See Step 4)
  8. (See Step 2)
  9. Filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau
  10. Getting a phone call the next day from a really nice, albeit mostly powerless, woman working as a Comcast “Executive Customer Care” representative.
  11. (See Step 2)
  12. Getting an email from the aforementioned CSR promising to help fix this problem
  13. (See Step 2)
  14. (See Step 12)
  15. Getting a direct email from William "Bill" Gerth, some Comcast blogger dude presumably hired to “connect with today’s hip young people” (and the man behind @ComcastCares) who promised to “have it looked into by our billing specialist”
  16. (See Step 2)
  17. Filing separate complaints with both Washington state Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the Pennsylvania AGO (Comcast corporate headquarters is in Philadelphia)
  18. Spending over four months in email correspondence with the same CSR and getting essentially nowhere (though I must mention again, she was pretty cool)
  19. Getting the issue resolved

What's that you say? Only nineteen easy steps? Yessirree! It's just that simple.

We are Comcast. We love you.
Seriously though, the fact that Comcast provides pretty poor customer service is no secret. There are entire web sites dedicate to little else. I won’t link to them here, but just do Google search for ‘comcastsucks’ (no space) ...good times. But I had been a Comcast customer (off and on) for many years and never really had a problem (well, maybe one other time). But you know how when a baby doesn’t poo for three days? You just know you are gonna get the ‘mother load’ eventually, right? Well Comcast must have saving it up for a while because I hit the jackpoo. This was a massive billing error and I’d be darned if I was going to just roll over pay it. Their initial offer of appeasement was the $100 “courtesy credit” I mentioned in my earlier post. I told them I appreciated to the offer, but I would not be paying my bill until the massive over-billing issue was explained and corrected. I told the CSR:
“ a court of law, paying a merchant is considered to be tacit acknowledgement that the billed amount is correct. Hence, I will withholding payment of the bill pending resolution.”
I had no idea of that was true, but it sounded good and I needed some rationale for not paying the $400+ bill. In any case, I slowly made progress. I think I did a few things that really helped reach a peaceful resolution and while still coming out on top.
Don't Be a Total Jag
If you look like this,
you're doing it wrong.
I made a deliberate point to never become belligerent or combative. That’s the mistake a lot of people make in these types of situations. They blow up and immediately lose the moral high ground. Most professionals will make an extra effort for someone who also behaves professionally. But once you go off the rails with expletives, veiled threats, etc., they're done with you. And speaking of veiled threats, another pitfall I avoided was never playing the “I’m gonna sue!!” card. While I leveraged some legal procedure by involving two AGO’s, I never threatened legal action. I have seen people do that in the past, and it's usually just a fact track to not-getting-what-you-want-ville. Once a lawsuit is threatened, a multi-billion dollar company will likely drop the matter entirely and wait for the lawsuit paperwork to arrive. Now if you happen to have to resources to hire a lawyer and spend a long time trudging through the legal system, sure -- sue the pants of ‘em. But if you are that well-to-do you probably won’t want to spend that much time contesting a couple of hundred bucks. Or maybe you will...I don’t know. The point is, I don’t have that kind of money and had to play it cool.

Avoid Actual Human Interaction

If you look like this,
you're doing it wrong.
Another thing that saved my bacon was using ‘chat support’ when requested most of the new services (I had added the Wireless WAN at the local Comcast office in person). This was purely accidental -- I just didn’t feel like talking with any off-shore, ESL support people that decade. However, having used chat in lieu of a phone call left me with something that turned out to be critical to this situation: chat transcripts. As you may have read in my earlier post, the people I chatted with gave me no less than three different quotes. I had no idea which one was correct, but when I contested my bill, there was no “I am pretty sure I was told...” or “I don’t remember the name of the person I talked to, but...”. This was all spelled out in the transcripts. When I submitted my various official complaints I made sure to attach the transcripts to support my claim. I think those transcripts were the single biggest factor in getting Comcast to give me more than just a ‘gee whiz we’re really sorry’.

But all that said, I was happy with the eventual outcome. Over the four months I received various credits totaling totaling nearly $500 and I was offered discounted service for two years -- if I signed a contract (it will save me $1200 over the contract term, so I figured it was worth it and signed). In all that’s $1700 that I won’t have to pay Comcast. The really sad part is, if they had just taken 10 minutes and corrected the bill, it could have saved them over a thousand dollars and kept me as a happy customer for some time. But, as things went, I seriously doubt I will be using Comcast come 2013.

1 comment:

none said...

I so dig this about you....if tons of people would "stick to their guns" so to speak right to the bitter hard...but rewarding end...then suddenly TONS of people would stop treating others in this manner. When I tried to 'break-up' with AOL many moons ago, they kept me on the phone for 45 mins...mostly on hold...then would offer me deal after deal...over and over. FINALLY, I said, "SIR...I am terminally ill, I have lost my job and my home....I've 6 months to live..."
the voice on the other end of the phone without missing a beat asked "do you live near a library".
Justice sure don't come around as easily or quickly as it should...but, for those few like you that demand it by exercising your rights in an educated, well informed dignified "I'm not going away" manner...usually do finally get their JUSTICE!! Congrats!