Comcast Fined For Being Too Slow At Answering Customer Calls

from the what-a-concept dept

This one should make anyone who's experienced being on hold for way too long smile. Comcast has now been fined $12,281.84 in Montgomery County, Maryland, for being too slow to answer customer service calls. This shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, even Comcast's own technicians have been known to fall asleep waiting for support to answer a call. Apparently, Montgomery County is cracking down on cable service providers who treat customers terribly and is trying to hold them to a minimum service level (we assume that they can do this as part of the franchise agreements they give out for cable providers). Normally, a competitive market would force companies to serve customers better, but we all know that there still isn't much of a competitive market when it comes to cable services. There is some concern that the fines are too small to make Comcast care -- which may be true. It seems like a better solution might just be to try to increase the number of competitors in the market, and then publicize average hold times, so that customers know these things when they choose who provides their cable and broadband services. But, for now, that's probably just a pipe (or tube?) dream.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 2:21pm

    One time I was on hold with my cable provider (Adelphia, before it became Time-Warner) for so long that when I finally reached a representative, I told hime to hold on a sec and made myself a sandwich.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 2:29pm

      Re: Please Hold while I make a sandwich

      That actually reminds me of a tactic you can use against telemarketers. Just ask them to hold, put the phone down, and walk away.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 6:57pm

      Re:

      I used to do tech support. The company I did tech support for, AT&T SBC Yahoo! DSL (try and say that about 190 times a day), had a minimum service agreement with us. 90% of all calls were answered within 2 minutes, average, or my company didnt get paid. Most of the time the calls came through and you had a tech instantly. One time I had someone ask me to wait and they never came back. We were trained to wait 5 minutes and then ask the customer if he/she was there a few times, inform them that we were going to disconnect the call, do our closing ceremony, and end the call. I loved it when customers would give me a few minutes of break time.

       

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      Bob, Feb 7th, 2007 @ 11:47am

      Re:

      Well, I am one of the lucky ones. I have a local cable company that services only our town and is not affiliated with the big boys. I call a LOCAL number, enter a phone menu that has three choices, and, it is likely that some I know will answer on the second ring.
      Oh, and if my modem or cable box goes bad, I just drop it off at the MAIN OFFICE down the road.
      My entire bill for CATV, and broadband is $60 a month.
      I's been this way forever. I hope it lasts.

       

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    Jeff, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 3:06pm

    Actually

    My experience with Comcast (in the Portland, OR area) has been the opposite. I've had to call them a couple times over the last 5 years for either tv or internet access related issues. In all cases, the response and resolution was fast, fair, and accurate. YMMV, I guess....

    I do agree that we need to open these priviledged markets and do it fairly....

     

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    Tyshaun, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 3:07pm

    A step in the right direction...

    Hey, it may not be a perfect solution, but at least it has some teeth to it. I'm sure if Comcast gets enough little fines they will eventually do a better job. I say extend it to any "utility like" agency. When I call for an appointment I shouldn't have to choose between a 4 hour block in the morning or a 4 hour block in the afternoon. Why should I have to take off at least a half day of work to get cable installed because they can't schedule adequate staff to handle surge capacity and redundant coverage issues?

    OK, I'm done with my soapbox!

     

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    Iain, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 3:14pm

    Nice

    I have some co-workers who are Comcast customers in Montgomery County and this makes them happy.

     

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    Elusion, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 3:28pm

    montgomery country

    is that a new wine country or a new district within the union of the united states....

     

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    Disgruntled Consumer, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 3:42pm

    heh

    What's the big deal? Sometimes I stand in line at Wal-Mart for hours, and that's just to cash out!
    Just forget about it if you are looking for someone to help you find anything there by the way.
    Now if they want to start laying down fines for slow CS now that's where they should start.

     

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      Bob, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 6:28pm

      Re: heh

      Disgruntled Customer, The difference is if you dont like waiting 2 hours at WalMart you dont have to go there. If you dont like your cable service you have no option besides not watching TV. Long lines and poor service are one of the many reasons I refuse to go to WalMart. Other reasons are the cheap Chinese garbage they sell, Associates who dont seem to care about their job at all. and dirty stores among others. So therefore I have about 250 other places to buy stuff. I dont have 250 choices for premium TV service.

       

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      TX CHL Instructor (profile), Feb 6th, 2007 @ 7:55pm

      Re: heh

      About two years ago, I stood in line for more than a half-hour at WalMart, then gave up. I took my full cart to the service desk and explained LOUDLY to the lady there that since they couldn't hire enough checkers, they could just put all those groceries back for me, because I was going to Kroger. And walked out (I think I heard some muffled cheers). And I went to Kroger, where I was pleasantly surprised to be able to get my grocery shopping done and checked out in less time than I spent waiting in line at WalMart.

      I may have started a trend, because I noticed the last several times I went to that WalMart that there were enough checkers that I didn't have to stand in line more than a few minutes.

      But I still do most of my shopping at Kroger. Even with slightly higher prices, the service is enough better to make it worth it. And I've discovered some items there that I like, that aren't available at WalMart. Competition is a wonderful thing.

       

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    Anonymous, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 4:19pm

    Get Over It

    Cable is a "WANT" not a "NEED", and sometimes you wait for the things you WANT. If you don't want WANT it,...Don't get it.

     

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      Tyshaun, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 5:49pm

      Re: Get Over It

      Cable is a "WANT" not a "NEED", and sometimes you wait for the things you WANT. If you don't want WANT it,...Don't get it.

      Why do people insist on grafting their value systems on others without thinking first. For you cable is a want, for me, since I work from home as a developer and web designer a lot of the time, high speed internet (through, gasp, my cable company) is a requirement, not a want.

      Think before you write you are on a tech blog for goodness sakes!

       

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        Thomas, Feb 7th, 2007 @ 4:49am

        Re: Re: Get Over It

        I'm sure you have a buisness class service at home then. Since there is a que only for said service.

        Want not need.

         

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        Reader, Feb 7th, 2007 @ 6:09am

        Re: Re: Get Over It

        Here, here, I agree with you. My business like many others have to use the internet. As a State Licensed individual if my customer service were that slow I too would risk complaints and possible fines or worse lose my customer base!
        We're not all online to chat, download music, and play games...

         

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        B Real, Feb 7th, 2007 @ 7:48pm

        Re: Re: Get Over It

        For the record, you are buying a residential class of internet service. It's not designed for "business or commercial" use. The fact that your lively hood depends on it, and if you want to call yourself a "business" then why don't you buy service like actual and real businesses do. It's called Business class service with a SLA.

        The fact that you want to use the excuse that you run a business from home is not their problem. It doesn't excuse the slow call hold times, but if you don't like it, don't buy from them. And, if you are running a "business" as you say, then go get an office and BE a business... really, stop calling yourself a business because you sit at home on your computer making websites. That's as silly as saying you are a business because you sell on eBay like many do...

        So sorry to say, .. you like many others like to pretend you are something you are not. If your service is SOOO important to you, then get a service that IS in fact reliable.. residential service is never meant to be "reliable" the way business needs it to be.

        Nice try... I hate to tell you, the OP was thinking.. you're not. I hope you tell your clients how much effort you put into your reliability. The next time you're late getting your work out, maybe you should compensate your customers for your own irresponsibility.

         

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      a customer, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 7:02pm

      Re: Get Over It

      Your kidding yourself...Cable is a want until you get it and pay for it. then it is a service. you pay for your car don't you. And if it broke you would want it fixed right as soon as possible. i work in retail and your work at breakneck speeds to satisfy those people who pay your paycheck."The Customers". So next time your internet goes out, don't pick up the phone and call adelphia or comcast. Just sit and wait? yeah right. Your paying for it

       

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    # 9, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 4:34pm

    This is silly

    Considering the fact that comcast sales are so high, and they acnt train people fast enough, one would expect something like this to last a short time.

    Forget about phone hold time, and 4 hr windows... Verizon makes you wait days for service and there is a 6 hr window!

    If comcast is some big monster no one likes then why are you calling them in the first place, and why can't anyone compete?

     

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      Tyshaun, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 5:46pm

      Re: This is silly

      Considering the fact that comcast sales are so high, and they acnt train people fast enough, one would expect something like this to last a short time. Forget about phone hold time, and 4 hr windows... Verizon makes you wait days for service and there is a 6 hr window! If comcast is some big monster no one likes then why are you calling them in the first place, and why can't anyone compete?

      No one competes with cable companies because the cost of entry is so high. Cable is an example of an old school company where infrastructure and equipment are very expensive and there isn't a whole lot of economy of scale. These conditions lend themselves to a monopoly.

      As per wait windows, I still contend that in light of the monopolistic tendancies of cable providers and municipalities (and the lack of competition created by said monopoly) I am in complete agreement that the municipality should expect and enforce reasonable (not what's accepted as normal for the industry) levels of service.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 7:23pm

      Re: This is silly

      because in MG county (and the rest of the state i think) the providers have monopoly contracts. so there is no competition.

       

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    Ryan, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 4:41pm

    heh...

    how long before we see the "fine recovery fee" show up on our Comcast bills?

    Honestly.. my bill goes up every month. 1 year ago it was at 74.77... now it's at 90.88 ... it goes up like 20-30 cents every bill.

    Would they really think twice about charging the customer for this fee?

     

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    Anonymous hero, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 5:01pm

    Surprise!

    I was fortunate enough to be put on hold with a local organization. After waiting about 20 minutes, I was fed up. I hopped in my car, drove to their office, and walked in. The phone was still sitting, off the hook, in the corner, while the technicians were having extremely important personal conversations on the other side of the room. I leaned on the counter, and answered the curt "May we help you?" with "Yup - you can hang up the phone. I'm not on it anymore."

     

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    NoverNetSBandit, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 5:10pm

    why pay them at all

    I still dont pay for my comcast services internet ect. i like the 10 meg up and 10 meg down service its gr8. i would never pay comcast for there poor service they have given me in the past.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 6:42pm

    SO does this mean someone should sue newegg? Seriously I paid the rush processing fee, 2 days ago and the item still haven't shipped... Assholes!

     

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    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Feb 6th, 2007 @ 7:41pm

    Bye, bye Comcast

    When Verizon FiOS came into my neighborhood, I dropped Comcast immediately. Now, I don't even have to keep a backup dial-up account anymore, so my total cost of broadband service is actually lower, as well as actually being broadband. Back when I had Comcast, I ended up using the dial-up about twice a month, because Comcast was either down, or was slower than dial-up -- and I still had a business to run. And, every time I called their excuse for tech support, I had to (after being on hold from 15 to 30 minutes) explain to the barely-intelligible Indian on the other end that I didn't want to play the "let's reset the modem" game, because I had more networking experience than he did, and I already checked out the hardware on my end, and I was JUST CALLING TO TELL THEM THAT THEIR NETWORK WAS DOWN AGAIN, dammit. Usually, about the forth time I repeated that, I could get the almost-English-speaking 'tech' to actually check the status, and admit that there was a problem on the network in my area, but he would never have a ETR. Then, a few days later, I would check, and it would be up again -- for a few weeks.

    When I canceled the service, all of a sudden, customer service called ME to ask why, and try to talk me out of it. When I told the lady I was switching to FiOS, she said "oh..." and hung up. Probably the 200th time she had heard that in the last couple of days.

    Comcast service was crappy enough right from the start that I never used the email address that they provided. I'm glad I didn't, because it meant that I didn't have to notify anybody that my email address was changed (because it wasn't). I highly recommend not using your ISP-provided email, because it's a pain in the ass if you ever change ISPs (or move to a location where you can't get your old ISP anymore).
    --
    Texas Concealed Handgun License Training, evening classes in Plano

     

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      B real, Feb 7th, 2007 @ 7:57pm

      Re: Bye, bye Comcast

      If you are going to post a comment, please be honest. Last time I checked, there wasn't a large population of India representatives up in Canada.

      Owned? I think so.

      I will say that a Fiber service is more reliable.. so with that, I hope you don't have to call Verizon's 'poor excuse for tech support' either.. because it's just as bad.

      And finally... it must be nice to say what actually would go down on your service. It really shows how much you actually know. I wonder if what was causing your issues were inside wiring, your own router, or the computer as well. It more times turns out to be localized than it does the over all "network"....

      Can't wait until you are back to complain about the next guy..

      again,... at least be honest when you rant.

       

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      starcad, Feb 9th, 2007 @ 8:18am

      Re: Bye, bye Comcast

      Sorry dude but Comcast internet tech support in in the States and not in India. You must have smoking something else in that pipe than tobacco and called one of those other companies that think it is cheaper to "Go over seas" with there tech support. Oh, can you find the start button on your desktop? Some people in the world shouldn't be allowed to even touch a computer.

       

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    Comcast to Time Warner, Feb 7th, 2007 @ 6:15am

    I have personally had this experience. Comcast was good at picking up the phone with prompt service, after Timewarner took over, I literally was on hold for 30-45 minutes on 3 seperate occassions before someone answered. Try going online to get online help, it loops you back to the same phone number to call

     

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    Anonymous, Feb 8th, 2007 @ 5:06pm

    kudos to B Real

    90% of the time, the problems in a cable system are from Cable Customers who THINK that that they are a cable guy! If the stuff they sold at stores was actually any good!,.....why would there be any need for cable techs!?

     

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      Anonymous II, Feb 19th, 2007 @ 6:02am

      Re: kudos to B Real

      I do computer support and 90% of the problems I see are related to Comcast itself. A client called the other day about no connectivity in their office. I spent over an hour on the phone with support because they couldn't figure out why the account had been turned off. It took an entire day to get it turned back on again.

      I did a new install in a business last week and couldn't get past the walled garden. I spent ***4 1/2*** hours on the phone getting bounced back and forth from business to residential support (because they would put me on hold and loose me) and no one could decide what the problem was. The last person I talked with discovered after all that time that the MAC recorded for the account had 6 leading zeroes in it but they couldn't fix it and it would take 24 hours. I called 24 hours later and they still didn't fix it.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2007 @ 7:02am

    Haha

    Lovely! I actually work in the centre that handles Montgomery County (and I had no idea where it was, except in my headphones in the form of a disembodied voice saying "Comcast Montgomery County" just before I take the call). Nobody told us about this. Actually, I think they started hiring a lot of new people right around February or March, this article would explain why...

     

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    Joey Clarke, Mar 21st, 2008 @ 5:03pm

    Death penalty

    Aol's too slow environment has been deemed unacceptable, as my holy cross was broken. But the invincible trash of a cosmic force is so much more operable, if you believe in magic.
    12000 dollars does not justify being slow, but if one were quick, she'd accept my novelty money being real, because that is what I have bought with fabulous money, evidence that there is a heaven bank note & I am within it's confines like puppets on string, and as seductive as a queen's hand. Read Death penalty explained by Gumby Aphex Lotus Eater treater unfrozen in a 69

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 4:10pm

    I have been on hold for 1 hour and 20 min and still going

     

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    becca, Jan 29th, 2011 @ 3:33pm

    hold times

    omg I have been holding for 25 min and still no answer. damn!

     

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