THE TOUGH CUSTOMER- Halted Embarqation: Hanging up and going Com-spastic
With Barack Obama gaining the nomination for president this week, not to mention John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin to be his running mate, it seems all things are possible.
That's exactly how I felt recently when I decided to make a final attempt to get Comcast telephone service at my house phone while keeping my existing phone number, currently in the clutches of Embarq.
I had previously written about my unsuccessful efforts to get these two huge companies to coordinate this transfer, and how the bureaucratic inertia of both firms obliterated these attempts like they were mosquitoes colliding with the windshield of a car doing 90mph ["Focus pocus: Information fuzzes at the DMV," July 17].
But most frustrating was the unwillingness of anyone at either company to be held accountable for their inability to accomplish this task, each blaming it, first, on the other company and then on regulations so obscure the companies don't even know what they are.
Optimist that I am, however, my hopes soared when I called Comcast several weeks ago to order, once again, telephone service and spoke with Tanya. She seemed sympathetic to the problems I've had, and she did something none of the previous dozen or so Comcast employees with whom I had spoken regarding this matter had previously done: she gave me her direct dial phone number and said to call her if there was any problem.
Finally, someone was willing to accept personal responsibility.
I set up an appointment for installation for the morning of August 26. On August 25, Comcast called to confirm the appointment, telling my wife they would call first to make sure we were home.
Sigh. Comcast failed to show for the appointment.
On the afternoon of the 26th, I called Tanya. I could not get through to her, so I left a message and was instead connected to another Comcast Customer Service representative.
The representative was helpful. He said he would call the local dispatcher for me. A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was the Comcast installer.
"I missed the appointment this morning," he said. "Are you still interested?"
"Uh, when can you be here?"
Ten minutes later, my phone rang again. It was the Comcast dispatcher for our area. The installer was not coming. She said that Embarq had not yet transferred my number, so there could be no installation that day. She said Embarq would transfer the number three days hence, August 29.
I asked why Comcast did not keep the appointment that morning, or call me to cancel. She said the appointment was for the afternoon, not the morning.
Then she said I'd have to call Comcast again to reschedule the installation.
For those of you keeping score at home, this would have been my fourth installation appointment.
It was the last straw for me. I told her to cancel my order.
It will cost me a little more, but I'm sticking with Embarq.
My only concern now was that since I no longer wanted Comcast to have my number, I was pretty sure it would somehow obtain it, leaving me with no phone service.
So I called Embarq to try to prevent this, but they told me I had to get Comcast to cancel the order. Oy.
It took me more than an hour, comprising two phone calls and two online chat sessions, before I could get Comcast to confirm for me that the order was cancelled.
I subscribe to cable television and broadband from Comcast, and while those services have not been trouble free, Comcast's customer service has been helpful and accessible.
With respect to telephone service, however, they have been, well, the only word for it is Com-spastic.
And most disappointing of all? Tanya, the only person at Comcast I was ever able to find who was willing to accept personal responsibility for doing her job, never returned my call.
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