Comcast and Me: a Twitter tale, in seven (little) acts

July 8th, 2009, by Peter Hirshberg | located in Conversations | No comments yet | trackback

      Comcast has achieved renown for how they respond to customer service problems on Twitter.  An interesting social media case study, until it happened to me. 

    9:45 AM. Internet and phone crash, just before a big client call. I’m a Comcast triple play customer. I got no data, only TV. Fortunately a colleague has a draft of the prezo so I’m able to call in changes from my iPhone and she sends it off before the meeting.

    10:00 AM. Service is back. We start the call.  

    Over-the-next-hour AM Comcast service craps out twice more. Good thing for cell phones. They make everyone (including ISPs) think "land lines, who cares?"

    11:00 AM I call Comcast to complain, asking elegantly "WTF?" Comcast informs me, "We can get to it in 48 hours. If you were a business customer, we could do it sooner. But you’re not."  Worse, until they send the repair guy out to investigate, they can’t have their network people look into whether there is a problem in my neighborhood. 

    My response? "NOOOOOOOO." (Cue SFX: guy throwing a fit)  "That’s a terrible way to run a carrier. Even the phone company of yore was more on the ball." The customer service rep assures me TINMWCD (There Is Nothing More We Can Do. Why does Jarvis get all the nice acronyms?)

    And then it dawns on me:  I am An Empowered Consumer. In the Post Mass Media World. In the wake of the Jarvis Playbook I don’t need to threaten to throw a stink, I already stink! I’ve got 1,132 Twitter followers . So I wonder, if I Tweet, will anything come of it?

    What follows is tweets,  with commentary in red. 

    1. Peter Hirshberg
      hirshbergComcastFAIL: "Since ur a ‘residential’ subscriber, Comcast can’t fix your internet/phone service for 48 hours." I feel so 2nd class!

      1. ComcastBonnie@hirshberg we fix folks based upon the available quota alloted to the techs in your area. not based on type of customer
      2. Yikes That was fast! Less than a minute. And it wasn’t automated, Bonnie was talking to me! But what she said didn’t square at all with what Comcast told me on the phone.

      1. Peter Hirshberg
        hirshberg@ComcastBonnieThanks,but the comcast rep specifically told me, "if you were a business customer, we could get to you faster. But ur not."

  1. Peter Hirshberg
    hirshberg@ComcastBonnie As distressing as the service problem is, i appreciate your rapid attention to my tweet!
  2. I’m torn between their virtual attentiveness and their inattentiveness. I’m just delighted. And unhappy. 
    1. ComcastBonnie@hirshberg most areas have SLA’s in contracts with business accounts, that’s why.
      1. Holy contradiction, phone man! How can you "not distinguish based on type of customer" and simultaneously serve "business accounts" better because they contract for good service? That’s what I’m talking about. I’m feeling distinctly steerage about being a residential customer. Even AT&T didn’t say this to me before I threw them out last year!

      2. Peter Hirshberg
        hirshberg@ComcastBonnie So u do base service on customer type. Residential = no SLA = much slower repair time than AT&T or other LECs
          1. ComcastBonnie@hirshberg o_O my parent’s had verizon, who took three weeks to fix a no dialtone issue on their phone. it happens everywhere. manpower etc.
        1. So in the space of a few tweets we’ve gone from the lofty possibility of customer service in the era of transparency to "Dude, don’t you know, phone service can suck. Just call my mom. Help in today’s world…."

    3. My takeaways: 
    5. 1. Its just amazing you can complain and they are on it so fast! 
    7. 2. Comcast is in a world of hurt about what kind of service they guarantee mere residential customers. Beyond the "we can fix it in 48 hours," silliness there is the fact that residential customers can use only so much high speed data, or else. Or that if you actually transfer data for more than 15 minutes continuously at the maximum speed you signed up for, they’ll put you in the slow lane  
    9. 3. I heart transparency.  Tell me what service level I do or don’t get as a residential customer. When you tell me that triple play is such a deal, let me know that you are the cheap carrier with less service unless I’m a business customer. Tell me what I gotta pay for you not to cap my speed or throughput. 
    11. 4. Of course we do have more transparency than before. When i was a kid in New York in the ’70s both phone lines went out one day and mom had a fit! She looked at me, then outside (at manhattan, mind you)  and yelled, "We’ve lost communication with the outside world!" Back then she had no one to complain to but me and the wall. I was sent down the street to call New York Telephone from a pay phone and then hope they’d show up.  Which may explain why mom, in addition to using the phone more than anyone I know, is so damn curious about twitter. 

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