Comcast and Living like it’s 1950


I’ve been connected to the Internet since the early nineties—like 1991. I used QModem with a 300bp modem. I thought a 2400 was screaming fast. Screaming, I tell you. I had to make decisions every day, telephone or Internet? I used AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve. I was excited about Verizon’s new-fangled DSL; it was so fast! My system and connection were always cutting edge. Always. Hell, I got my first cell phone in 1998—when they were still “cellular devices.”

Yes, I did.

People would describe me as connected, plugged in. So, when Comcast came along with newer, faster cable Internet, it seemed a logical choice. It took them three months, and more snide, frustrated, and angry phone calls than I care to recall before they ran the line from the pole in my yard to the house. No, I’m not interested in cable TV, thank you, just Internet. Three months.

I am Irish, not patient.

Later, phone service became a choice. We all have cell phones, so I declined. I have a handy-dandy Airave from Sprint. Cool device. It is a small modem-like box that hardwires into the actual modem and provides cell phone service to people who live in dead zones. We live in such a zone (although it has gotten better over the years). I had no need for Comcast phone services. Nor did I need cable TV. I have had a Netflix account since Netflix started. Watching what I wanted when I wanted, discs delivered right to my door. Thank you very much.

But then my connection slowed. Pages loaded ever so slowly. I called Comcast. “Oh, yes ma’am, we have a newer, faster connection. But you have to have triple play.”

But I won’t use the other services.

It’s the only way to speed up your connection.

Hmm. Ok. So, I have triple play. I have a phone, no clue what the number is because we all have cell phones. I have a cable box, with a DVR. I watch Doctor Who. Both seem extravagant, frivolous. But my Internet screams.

Then came spring 2016, Noah’s spring. Deluge after deluge. Rain for twenty-two days straight. More rain than anyone could remember. And we started rebooting the modem more often. Internet and phone (house and cellular) dropped. We suddenly had no way to contact the outside world.

I called Comcast. Drove places to sit in my car and talk to them.

After a 55-minute wait on hold, I was asked, “Did you reboot the modem?”

After remarks that may have been…edgy…it was decided I should replace the modem. They’d ship one right out.

Cool.

It arrived and Jamie swapped it out and returned the old one to the local Comcast store. This was in early June.

But no joy.

The new modem did—does—exactly what the old one did. It would randomly stop connecting and then reboot itself. It did this at random times, such as in the middle of posting grades, or writing a blog post. At that one critical moment during which a connection drop meant you lost work. Oddly, the cable TV has remained constant throughout.

As previously mentioned, patience is not a virtue my ancestors possessed. It’s not part of my DNA. I possess none. So, I turned to Jamie, please call Comcast, have them send a little man out to fix the Internet connection. She did that. But because of our schedules, we didn’t see each other after she made these arrangements.

So, on Thursday, June 23, at 7:20 AM, while I was drinking coffee and preparing to go to work, I have an early class on Thursdays, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, so I ignored it. I looked out the window at the driving rain. It rang again, so I answered.

Mrs. Jones?

Ms. Jones, yes.

Mrs. Jones, I’m somebody-or-other from Comcast, is your Internet working?

Yes.

Oh, good. Then I don’t have to come.

 

Wait, what? No if my daughter made an appointment for you to come, you shoud do that. My Internet is intermittent. It is working right this minute—but could stop at any moment.

Right, but it’s working now, so it’s fine.

Do you know what intermittent means? You need to come to my house and fix my Internet.

Ma’am, what do you want me to do?

Your job?

But, ma’am…

At that point, I handed the phone to Jamie, who made arrangements with the not-so-bright-clearly-didn’t-want-to-work-in-the-rain Comcast technician. Dude, if you don’t want to do your job, find a new one!

I left as he was pulling into the driveway. He parked behind Jamie’s running car. She too was going to work, leaving JL and Ryan to handle said Comcast technician…

Two hours later, I called Ryan and was met with dead air. Why? Because without that Internet connection, without that Airave, we have no cell service. I found the house number in my contacts, called, right to voicemail.

I tried again at noon and connected. So, says I to Ryan, what did the cable guy do?

He rebooted the modem and left.

What?

He rebooted the modem, looked at the wires that connect to the house, and then he left.

Rebooted the modem? Like we hadn’t thought to do that! Like the problem wasn’t that that was the problem—the modem randomly rebooting itself 10, 20, 50 times a day!

Now, if you have ever heard the term—go all Irish on your ass… Comcast was about to discover exactly what that meant. Exactly.

I called—from work—and was told my wait for a customer service agent would be 45 minutes. That’s not service! Fists and jaw clenched in frustration, I sent Jamie a text: call Comcast, they need to send someone with a brain, perhaps someone who would do his job to fix the internet and reintroduce us to the twenty-first century.

I might have been snippy. But as I said, I’m connected, plugged in. Without my Internet connection at my home here in rural Virginia, I’m living in 1950.

Television? Nope, because of crazy work schedules we stream. Scheduled TV doesn’t work for us. Netflix streaming (which I subscribed to the DAY it became available); YouTube through the PlayStation or Roku; Amazon Prime video the same way; or perhaps through the iPad that connects to the TV through an HDMI cable. Only one TV in the house gets reception through an antenna – all three available stations are fuzzy, and in bad weather, not there.

Phone service? Nope. Comcast phone service is dependent upon my Internet connection, it goes through the same modem, uses the same cables. And so does the Airave. So, in an emergency situation, I would have to grab my cell phone (which would likely be dying because it is spending its time and energy looking for service) and drive a mile east for service and call 911. Which then, obviously, would not note my location correctly. I would have to give directions to the emergency. Anything could happen in that amount of time. Anything.

No internet service means I have no TV or phone service – but it also means I have no email, no news, no access to grade books, no ability to download reading materials to my kindle, I can’t blog, submit to literary journals, check the weather, Red Sox scores. It removes my ability to communicate with the outside world. For a writer, this is cataclysmic. The two iPads, the Samsung tablet, the Kindle Fire, my laptop, both of my cell phones – and everyone else’s dies in their never-ending quest to connect and have service…

It’s a problem.

A serious problem. I may have ranted.

Jamie called Comcast and they sent another technician, that Saturday. He rebooted the modem, played with all the wires outside and announced that the wires had water in and around them, he’d done his best. Call if the problem persisted.

And I would have called except—I had no fucking Internet! I called whilst in my car, from work, at every opportunity, whenever I had service. Wait times varied from 45 to 90 minutes. WTF? I took to Twitter every time I left the house explaining to @comcastcares that I was fairly well convinced that they didn’t care.

By Saturday, I was done. I called and a Comcast robot greeted me, press or say 1 for yes, What is your phone number, press or say. What type of problem are you experiencing?

Internet.

Are you having connections issues?

Yes.
Comcast robot: Go online to…

Really? Because if I could go online, I wouldn’t be having connection issues, would I? Representative.

The Comcast robot continued as though I had said nothing: I can reboot your modem from here tell me when you are ready.

Representative.

Comcast robot: I see you would like to speak to an agent, I will connect you now…

At this point, a new Comcast robot announces, the number you have reached has been disconnected.

WTF? Redial.

Comcast robot: welcome to Comcast. I immediately begin pressing the zero.

Comcast ro…

0000

Comcas…

000000000000000000000

Comcast robot: I will connect you to an agent…

The first Comcast agent was from the billing department. She listened to my whole story without telling me that. Told me that Comcast cares and then transferred the call to a technician. The first technician, also listened to the problem, then told me he dealt with cable TV, but he would be happy to transfer my call to an Internet tech…

This is how modern Americans like to spend a Saturday night.

Finally, some 60 minutes later, a Comcast agent, sounding like English was not her first language (which is fine, but when dealing with frustrated, English speaking, Internet-less Comcast customers, at 9:30 on the Saturday night of a holiday weekend, it’s a step too far) asks, What seems to be your issue, Mrs.?

It’s Ms. My Internet is intermittent.

I can fix that for you; let me reboot the modem…

No that won’t wor…

…And reboot…. call drops, because it is dependent upon the modem…

10 minutes later—because that’s how long it takes the modem to cycle—the Comcast agent called back, Somehow we were disconnected.

Really?

We are doing everything we can to resolve your issue, I promise Mrs.—Mel, may I call you Mel?

No, you may not. And clearly, you are not doing everything. Do you people not have notes in your system? Several complaints and two service calls later, you’d think someone would have noted that the problem is the modem is rebooting itself—and that my phone service is dependent upon my modem. Welcome to the twenty-first century – read the notes in the system. And fix my goddamned Internet service – I pay you $200 a month, I expect service for that.

Mel, I will give you an authorization number so you can call billing, and they will credit your account.

I already have three such numbers. Are you going to pay me my hourly rate to sit on hold? Probably for an hour?  Probably not. Why do your systems not communicate? You are a fucking communication company!

To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. I tried to get a supervisor on the phone. No joy. The young Asian woman kept assuring me that Comcast was doing everything it could to ensure I was happy with my service, someone would be calling me back “within the day” to arrange an appointment. Within the day is not the same as within a day. She didn’t know that. But the conversation had become circular and redundant, so I hung up and awaited a call from the service tech, because when I asked will he be calling today, she responded with “within the day.”

At 11PM, when no service tech had called, I called back, hit zero until billing answered, told them I needed to talk to a tech, told the TV guy, I needed an Internet tech…

Who told me a service request had been added to my account in June, but was never followed up on. No shit, Sherlock! He told me he had to cancel the service call, thus deleting the notes – that no one read anyway – and start over. My head hurt.

The people at @Comcastcares, responded to my fourteen tweets, from Saturday, about how I had no Internet saying, DM us, we’re here to help, on Tuesday. Tuesday. Not helpful.

And today, between 5 and 7PM some sad, unsuspecting, Comcast technician is coming to my home, to reboot my modem. He will then file a service request to have someone come and replace the wires outside… because the modem isn’t the issue. I will not be here; I will be at work. This was the first available appointment. Not so customer oriented. Everyone in the house has been informed that the technician is not to leave without telling us exactly when someone is coming to fix the wires – when will I be able to rejoin the twenty-first century? When will I be getting my $200 a month worth of Internet?

And now, I must wait for the modem to finish its boot cycle so I might have Internet to post this blog. I cannot even count the ways that I hate Comcast; I long for Fios…

 

 

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