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?


My Childhood Nightmare

This thing would send me screaming from the room.  Damn you, Children’s Television Workshop!

Dear Ms. T:

Ms. Jill S, late of North P______, MD, currently of South Dimwittery, tenderly made the sweater pictured within. She crafted it with all deliberate speed, congratulating herself on the fact that she finished in plenty of time to post it northwards to be there for the party at your parents’ home. She did not count on a severe case of Whatdayisit, onset of symptoms coinciding with the beginning of the reasonable window for wrapping, taking to Post Office, and mailing said item.

Upon realizing that this unfortunate attack had put her outside the window for posting said gift, she has granted Power of Attorney to Ms. Carole S, late of H____, NH, currently of East Savetheday to somewhat remedy the situation by delivering this missive.

Ms. S should be back in North P______ as soon as she has finished applying her forehead to solid objects with some degree of force (this may take some time, as there are many inviting objects to be put to this purpose in South Dimwittery). The item in question is also in North P______, from whence it may shortly be delivered to your home in V_____, VA for keeping baby warm.

Much love, Jill S

(Transcribed by Wince N. Dolt, M.D., Les Dullards Infirmary, South Dimwittery)