Friday, February 23, 2007


February 27, 2007

If you don't live in a part of the world where you are subjected to a daily barrage of advertisements telling you about the fabulous service provided by Comcast (the giant telecommunications company that used to be AT&T before it was Illinois Bell but after it was bought out by Sprint just before they sold them to Qwest but after they were purchased by GE and NBC, but prior to being owned by a Japanese media mogul) then perhaps you haven't heard the expression "It's Comcastic!" These ads would be annoying on a good day but when you are in a constant state of man versus technology warfare with the company they are enough to provoke violence from even the mildest mannered self-righteous housewife.

Around here (Chicago area) EVERYONE has a Comcastic nightmare to share. The moral of all the stories is this--never, ever, ever, even if they promise you free service and a lifetime supply of home massages, should you EVER attempt to CHANGE anything with your phone service. Even if the change is within the company, Comcast will punish you. Like a spurned lover they will find nasty and creative ways to mess with you. And since, unlike a spurned lover, they have the ability to turn off your phone and internet and cable service, you do not want to piss them off.

So, here is my latest Comcast story. I have more, but this one is most recent and pretty typical.

Phone rings, caller ID says "Comcast". As I live in fear that they will punish me if I ignore them, I foolishly answer the call.

Me: Hello

Comcast Sales Hack: Yes this is your Comcast company and we have a fabulous upgrade available to you that will lower your combined cable/internet/phone service to 75cents a month with unlimited phone calls and all the porn channels you would ever want.

Me: Really? How can that be?

C: We come to your house and install a magic box and then that's it!

Me: But I already have digital phone, how is this different?

C: It just is! And it's really, really cheap.

Me: Umm, okay, I guess.

The day before the scheduled installation I tell Jeff about it. "Uh oh! That means extended interrupted phone service."

"Maybe this time it will be different," I muse.

The next day a very nice man appears at my door with a modem under his arm.

Me: Hold on there pardner, are you hear to install INTERNET phone service? (Now I'm terrified, I had two friends who switched to this service and their phones NEVER work. They have basically fallen off the face of the earth as no one can ever reach them).

Comcast: Yes ma'am.

Me: Umm, I don't think I want that. The salesman was very vague about this service and not once used the word 'internet'.

Comcast: (Sighs) Yes, I'm afraid they may be over-selling this.

Me: I don't want it. I'm sorry.

Comcast: No problem. I understand. Let me just call to cancel the order. (He does that) Okay, you're all set, now just call this number to officially cancel the order.

I do as I'm told. I've learned not to take anything for granted with them. Three days later I get a call from Comcast. "Ma'am we see you've cancelled your order for phone service with us. Is that correct?" Yes, I say, I do not want internet phone service.

Now I have pissed them off and they move to punish me. I notice it first when people start telling me they got a message when they called that said my phone is no longer in service. "But it is," I say to my friends, "I just called from this phone."

Oh dear, now I will have to call Comcast service otherwise known as the third level of hell. After three calls in which I am cut off (not kidding here) I get a technician. I explain that my phone works but if I'm on it when people call they get a message that says it is diconnected. She checks her records. "Well, I show here that you've been dropped from our service."

Now I put the phone down and scream. My children look at each other knowingly and nod. My eldest says, "She's talking to Comcast."

I come back on the phone, "Please do not take this personally, but you people. Drive. Me. Crazy." I say. I explain to her the whole situation. She says I have to talk to a supervisor to get reconnected. I do not point out to her that I have never been disconnected (technical note here--they cannot just disconnect you if you do not have another service hooked up --this is a law--what they do though is drop you from their books and for all appearances you have NO service. I have learned all this from another similar situation in which I got free service for six months because they kept saying I was not their customer)

She transfers me to a supervisor. I wait another 12 minutes on hold in which time I am told in both English and French to please wait. I do not know where this supervisor must be. Quebec? France? French Guyana?

At last the supervisor comes on. I tell her my sad, sad story. She explains that I have to sign back up for my original service (which I never cancelled) and I go through an annoying time consuming process to do that. If she told me I had to hop on one leg and squawk like a chicken I would have done it because they have the power to disconnect me from EVERYTHING.

All so I could keep my phone service which I had never cancelled.

So if you call me in the next few days and get a message that says my phone has been disconnected--don't believe it--It's not disconnected it's just Comcasticked.

Can you hear me now?

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