Comcast is a Four-Letter Word. (No, really.)

We have had three different visits from Comcast techs since late November.  Three.  Two to the insides of our house, which of course requires one of us to wait around during “normal business hours” (read: when we really should be elsewhere) chained to the house so we can let a guy stomp around, twiddle wires, check screens, and finally inform us (again) that the problem is not inside our house. 

The last visit, coming to some unit outside our home, was supposed to fix things once and for all (ha).  Saturday dawned to find us with crippled television service – channel outages, pixellated picture, intermittent sound.  We are familiar with these issues, since they are the ones that caused us to call in the past.

One more unto the breach, dear friends, and fill up the wall with our wasted time on hold.  I finally get one of the two species of Comcast call-center types: the obsequious-to-the-point-of-condescension “The customer is always right, but I’m going to stick it to her anyway” variety.  He informs me that I will need to be home for a visit from a tech. 

“No.”  I say.  “We’ve had two visits from techs within a month, and every time it’s not an issue inside our house.” 

My new friend understands my frustration. He comisserates with me.  He needs to send a tech to my house (Comcast’s motto?  “Returning to Square One is more than a job: it’s a vocation.”).  “No,” I respond again.  “It seemed to be fixed when they did the outside work, but now it’s not working again.  Nothing has changed inside our house, but I can’t say that the same holds for the outside.  Send the techs that work on the outside.” 

My new friend’s sympathy knows no bounds.  He would carry my burdens a thousand miles for me if only he could.  He needs to send a tech to my house.  “No,” I respond again.  “I’m going to be looking into my options with satellite.  I have, in two words, had it.  Goodbye.”

Those who know me well might imagine fire emitting from my nostrils, bringing gentle warmth to the blue air produced by the sounds coming from my mouth.  Not so, say I.  For I remained calm.  Zen, in fact.  Until Sunday.

Sunday dawned cold and rainy.  I was the first one up, and noticed the cable light on the modem emitting an ominous blink, blink.  Oh.  No.  Television outage?  Meh.  We shouldn’t watch so much teevee.  We have DVDs.  We have books.  Inner resources, you might say.  Internet outage?  No, we shall not speak of it.  It is not to be thought of.  I reboot the system completely, hoping my usual tech-fu will answer.

Blink, blink.

I am trying to get past the automatic telephone-bot on the internet side of the Comcast empire when John emerges from the bedroom.  He objects to my patented method of getting past a voice-activated techbot, which consists of saying things like, “nononono, attendant.  f***ing attendant, attendant, attendant.  attendant now, f*** you, you piece of s*** machine.  attendant.”  I believe fervently in the combination of pre-emptive spleen-venting and confusion of the machine and adhere to the faith that it paves a swift path to a human being – or whatever passes for a human being in a Comcast call center (I have some personal theories about feces-flinging baser primates, but they are as yet not completely proven).  John finds it distasteful to be subjected to such a foulmouthed rant before his coffee.  I can only retort that he wasn’t the one who tried to reason with Comcast yesterday, only to find the problem had worsened overnight.  Anyway.  I tone it down a notch.  My machine-confusing-fu yields a nice, helpful, yet completely useless woman who, upon learning that we’re also having TV issues (every single channel boasts Comcast’s version of the Blue Screen of Death, bearing the legend: “Please Stand by.  This channel should be available shortly.”  Ha.), informs me that since we deserve to have expedited service due to our history of issues, she needs to put me through to the TV side of the tech house since TV (but not internet) is considered an “essential service.” 

Excuse me?

On second thought, never mind. 

So,  I put the handset of the phone on speaker and wait.  In the latter half of my 1 hour (no lie) wait, John decides he’ll try to get hold of a manager on the internet side of the house and see if he can jump-start something.  Here’s what we learned while I was on hold and he talked to Mr. Internet Tech Support Supervisor:

  1. They play exactly two songs in the hold queue for tv tech service.  A saxophoney “smooth jazz” rendition of Burt Bacharach’s Look of Love and some Latin-esque tune with a sort of faux paso doble beat.  (Badabadabung… chuggachuggachung… da, da, da, da dumbadumbadumb…)
  2. The internet people are in Canada.  The tv people are local.
  3. The supervisors in Canada don’t have a direct link to the local supervisors. 
  4. You can’t get priority-jumped into a queue, even if you’ve already waited in a different queue.

Here is what the combination of the above three factors leads me to believe: Comcast has constructed an elaborate web of interaction that is designed to drive their customers completely and utterly insane.  An extra-padded cell is waiting if you, the customer, have any musical sensibility at all, for the combination of the two pieces of ersatz music on their hold queue is both random and tasteless, leading to the world’s most mind-bogglingly complex and maddening earworm. 

Finally, a very whiny example of alleged humanity answers and tells me what Mr. Faux-Empathy told me yesterday.  She also holds it against me that I told Mr. Faux-Empathy that I didn’t want a tech to come to the house.

“That was when I at least had internet service,” I growl.  I ask politely for a supervisor.  She tells me that none is available at the moment.  I say, “Okay, then – we’re going to wait until one does come available.”  She objects to this.  I point out that I had to wait on hold for an hour – she has issues with me asking her to wait?  My zen is fading fast.  John takes the phone from me at about this point, probably fearing that I am going to make like Mona Shaw, only possibly upping the ante to power tools.

John extracts a promise from Ms. Whiny that her supervisor will call back.  Said supervisor is allegedly named “Miss Bunny.”


At this point, I insist we get present-wrapping finished and boxes readied for mailing.  It is, after all, the effing Festive Season.  A few hours later, having no call from the mythical Mademoiselle du Lapin, I reaquaint myself with the works of Bacharach and Faux-Doble.  The speaker-handset follows me around the house for another hour as I skein and wash handspun, do laundry, tidy my office, hang myself (okay, not quite that last one).  It’s like having a really annoying and not-at-all cute puppy follow you around the house, requiring a constant, faint vigilence to ensure it doesn’t damage the carpet.

Finally, needing a shower and feeling slightly dazed from puppy-minding, I hand the little bleater off to John, figuring it’s well within the realm of possibility that after an hour of this I can probably get clean and dry and still manage to be the one who deals this time with whatever primate the endless Comcast lottery spits out.  Ah, but no.  John is the lucky one.  He manages to get a supervisor pretty fast, and tells our tale of woe again, not omitting the fact that an unfulfilled promise of a return phone call from someone who has a name which sounds like an exotic dancer doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.  (No, it’s apparently not her real name, but she does exist and that’s what her employees call her.  Again, I say, “Right.”)

Upshot?  A promised visit from a tech this evening, not requiring either of us to take vacation time.  And it only took half our Sunday.  What luck.  Who wants to bet against the chance that the problem is outside?  Anyone?



  1. Yup, I love Comcast… They were a joy to deal with on Boston as well. Not that Cablevision is any better. And I just pound the crap out of the “0” button all the time until I get a human being.

    I noticed that I can now only talk to a human being at Bank of America (who for some reason now outsources their telco center to India…hum…Bank of India?) by reporting my credit card stolen. Then I get to talk to a person who can help me! Or not…

    Outside. My vote is for Outside.

  2. At least you got a funny story out of it and entertained me.

    Two thoughts came to mind as I was reading:

    1) Blame Canada.

    2) Canada is the new India?

  3. Lianne, you haven’t figured out by now that I can at least attempt to create an entertaining story out of anything?

    And at least the Canadian woman attempted to be helpful. Not so for our local guys and gals. Score 1 for Canada.

  4. I must admit this story had me chuckling — but only because we’ve been through it so many times before. We’ve had our share of problems, but I guess we’re fortunate in that we have a local Comcast office here and my husband knows someone pretty high up, so we drop names when we need to. Of course, we’re still getting ghosting and weird sound drops, even after two techs were at our place a couple weeks ago and supposedly fixed the problem with the picture.

    All I can say is that I’m so glad we don’t have Internet service through them, too. I could survive if my TV went out, but take my computer away and I will not be a happy camper.

    My theory about the whole customer [dis]service web is that they just figure you’ll get so frustrated with it you’ll give up and they won’ t actually have to do anything.

  5. Yeesh. That sounds like the go-round I had with the Washington Post for a while. It took four or so weekends before they finally figured out that the paper I was being billed for was being delivered to the address of a total stranger on the other side of town!

    On the happy side, I have learned that my beloved is going to be developing DSL service!

    (This is a typical interaction with them: I call them. A real person picks up (no phone tree!). I tell him my problem. He says, change this part. I do. It works! Or this: I send a message saying I need help. I include my phone number. I get a call back within 30 minutes. Or this: D’s mother is trying to get to her email using another computer, and fails. Later that day, she gets a call saying that she seemed to be having trouble with the email, and did she need help. These people are unreal. For now, it’s still dialup, and it’s Mac-based, but, I’m sticking with them.)

  6. Insert Countrywide Home Mortgage in lieu of Comcast and it’s like we are living a surprisingly similar nightmare. Countrywide LOST two of my mortgage payments … money left the bank, they have it, they don’t know where it is. While we work this out (hours on hold, enragingly non-helpful “customer service” people, and staggering amounts of legwork for Yours Truly), I am getting alarming warning letters about the status of my mortgage.

    Ahhhhhhhhhh… bleepity bleep bleep … Countrywide … A-holes. F$#King jack@$$es. And hey, look at that credit score plummet.

    Shoot me. I beg of you. Someone. Push a bullet into my brain. It would be far less painful.

  7. @librariansti