Me & Comcast CSRs

Small child, fleeing

I want to get cable, as a little personal perk to my life. It’s indulgent, I know. So I am excited and giddy to get this new toy. My interchange with ComCast trying to buy cable, though, has left me a little sour. I go online and simply order 2 things: basic digital & HD. I expect a credit card payment window. Instead, I get this big pop-up chat page, with miniscule font size (size 1?) (firefox/MacOSX) for me to enter my messages.

CSR (Customer service rep) #1, via chat.
First he asks for my name (this is all so porn meeting room, I expect him to say “what are you wearing”… then he asks for my SSN. I never, ever give out my SSN.
“Why?” I ask. “It’s to protect you,” he says.
Finally after a lot of back and forth he admits a driver’s license will do. So now my panties are in a twist about potential fraud, identity theft, etc. which isn’t so hot since my wallet just got stolen. I’m off to look for an old copy of my DL (that got stolen too) so we amicably disconnect and I find it.

CSR #2, via chat
Going through the same rigamarole, she asks for SSN, I restrain myself and just ask if I can provide a DL instead. That’s fine, she says. Things go on merrily. Then, she admits that she can’t really do anything real for me in this here chat window. Can’t help me buy cable. Tells me to call 1800-comcast like I should have initially. Thanks. But we did have this little interchange.

Scary personal info alert #2: “Onsite technicians only take personal checks.”

Which is funny to me because just the other day I was thinking- my old address is still on my checks. I never write checks. Who takes checks anymore? Certainly no business near me would take a personal check. You would really have to go through some serious eye rolling and pleading to get a business to take a check. But not ComCast! They ONLY take personal check. Like, if I waved cash in front of them they would say, “No, we prefer something written on a paper towel with a non-existent bank stamped somewhere on it, post-dated.”

Me: “What ID is required for that?” (OK I’m just making fun.)
Her: “None, you just have to be over 18.” (Ha ha.)
Me: “Are they employees of Comcast or subcontractors?” (Now I’m getting fully paranoid.)
Her: “Some are.” Oh so mysterious. I let it slide. (Personal data issue #3, letting people in your building that “may or may not” be from Comcast)

CSR #3 on Phone.
So I muddle through the voicemail options. It’s hard because (personal data issue #4) they ask for a phone number and I can’t remember how I signed up before, with my mobile, which I usually use, or if they want my land line to geographically place me somehow. Oh that’s scary.

This guy’s got some accent I can place- but a very definite Russian attitude- like if Nabokov was working the phone line sin Romania for 5$/day. He’s kind of quiet about everything. Long pauses. I don’t have an order number, I don’t have an account. I just want cable. He sighs. Gets my name and address. I tell him what I want. Then, about 20 minutes of silence. I’m not joking. I started reading email and I get engrossed. Then I realize, he hasn’t made a sound. Nothing interrupted my reverie.

Me: “So, what are you doing?”
He: “Copying everything.”
Me: (laughing) “What is there to copy?” (I swear he was reading email or chatting with a girlfriend.)
He: “All of this.” (Or, he hunts & pecks.)
Another 20 mintues. I’m really not exaggerating. Really.

He gets kind of testy when I ask him again what is going on. “I’m almost done.”
Me: “I only want 2 things. And you already typed in my address. Why is this so complicated?”
He get testy again, sighs. Continues silently.

I started at 9:00PM, and now it is 10:30.

Him: “They can come over tomorrow between 2 and 4.”
Me: “And they need a personal check, right?”
Him: “No, we will bill you.” (????)
Me: We haven’t talked money one bit during this call. “Wait, how much will it cost?”
Him: “29.99 for (mumble) 19.99 for (mumble) that is 49.99 (mumble).”

I won’t bore you with it but basically it was like that, me trying to figure out the charges and him being totally illogical. Finally I hang up yelling “Cancel! Cancel! Cancel!”

Then I look around and realize, it’s the only one in town, and even on the Tivo forums they’re telling people to get Comcast. I’m going to call back when the 9-5 good CSRs are around.

I really like John Batelle’s write-up of Comcast DVR vs. Tivo. Gizmondo on the Comcast DVR vs. Tivo. Wow, I have walked into a quagmire- wanting HD, DVR. Yikes.

UPDATE: ordered with a very competent CSR #4, but of course earlier Nabakovian guy never cancelled my order so some Comcast install guy (quite cute) showed up to install the wrong setup. He left, knowing hte ComCast bureaucracy better than me “It will all be invalid. I won’t get paid.” Decided to get DVR- I’ll write a review at some point. I wanted the Tivo 3 (only HD verison) but it’s 800$ and a friend logged on last night at 1am and told me how he would have rewired his entertainment system, and he has the uber one (that I’ve encountered- none of my friends have cable on the whole.)