We’ve been Comcast customers for over 10 years (Technically, we’ve been customers before that as we were AT&T @Home customers that was acquired by Comcast). We recently moved and got Comcast at the new house. Because of Comcast’s “internal systems”, as their customer service people refer to it, this requires that they close the old account and open a new account. To Comcast, I’m both a new customer, who they like, and an ex-customer, who they don’t like. Because they’ve separated the accounts, they don’t realize that those two customers are really the same person. This exposes Comcast’s sucky-ness in three ways…

The billing department sucks. We’ve been on their auto-payment system for years, as long as they’ve offered it. They automatically charge our credit card each month for the bill so we don’t have to deal with it and there’s no chance of a late payment. But when that account was closed and the new one was opened, the auto-payment has to be setup again. What?!? I’m the same exact person, this is stupid, just transfer it over! It gets worse… auto-payments don’t kick-in until the 2nd month. Even their billing people don’t know why this is, they just know that that is how it works and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So our first payment at the new house was not automatically paid, so they charged us a $7.99 late fee. I called to complain that it’s not their fault they can’t keep the auto-payment in place, not my fault, so I shouldn’t have to pay for it. They agreed and refunded me the $7.99 fee.

Their accounting department sucks. Because my old account was closed, every few days I get a call from Comcast telling me that I have Comcast equipment and that I must return it to them or they’ll charge me $100 for it. To return the cable modem, I have to drive 20 minutes north of Seattle to drop it off at their building. Because it’s so inconvenient, I put it off. It’s stupid that I have to take it to them in the first place given that their service people are driving around my neighborhood constantly. You’d think they could pick it up at my house (when they could meet their newest customer). After the second voice mail message, I called them and told them to come and get it if they want it back so badly. They set up a time to pick it up 3 weeks in the future, so I keep getting the harassing phone calls every few days and I assume I will until they finally pick it up.

What’s really dumb about this is that the cable modem is worthless to them. The thing is 5 years old, they’re not going to give it to another customer. And after 5 years of $100/mo internet service, I’ve more than paid off the thing to them. So threatening me with a $100 charge is simply harassment (and poor customer service).

Their installers suck. When their installer showed up, I explained where I want the cable modem installed and showed him how easy it was to run the cable. The drop from the utility pole is behind the house, so once he took the cable from there, all he had to do was run it around the house and into a hole that was already drilled in the foundation. He didn’t have to dig a trench and put it in because I told him that we’d do that when we do the landscaping. Once in the basement, I told them he didn’t even have to secure the cable because I’d do that as I run all the cable through that room. He argued with me that he’d rather drill a hole through the foundation in the back of the house and run the cable through two walls to get it into the room where I wanted it, all so he didn’t have to run cable around the house. I asked him why he wanted to do all that when all he had to do was run it around on the ground to the front of the house. He didn’t say anything, but he must have realized my way would be easier, because the then went and did that.

Most business try to avoid angering customers in the first place, but Comcast’s model is to anger the customer and then work on fixing that later. How does Comcast stay in business?!

To put Comcast in perspective, we also have DirecTV and we had none of these problems. They didn’t close one account and re-open another account. They didn’t make me return the satellite dish or set-top boxes to them. They installed a new dish on the new house for free (although that wasn’t hassle-free). They didn’t make me setup auto-payments again or charge me a fee for missing a payment caused by their stupid system.

We also had Qwest DSL service at the new house during construction because the contractor needed a phone line and internet service (DSL kills those two birds with one stone). I cancelled Qwest altogether and they happily closed the account without a problem. And I still have their DSL modem that they said they’d pick up, not demand that I take it to them, but they never showed up and they haven’t yet made any threatening phone calls to me demanding that I return it. If DSL was any good, I’d drop Comcast in a second and go back to Qwest.

Update Sep 3: I got another call from Comcast telling me to return the cable modem or else. The person who said they’d take care of this and have the calls stop didn’t succeed (I assume didn’t try).

Update Sep 4: A guy in a t-shirt and jeans, not a Comcast logo to be seen, rang our doorbell and said he was here to pick up a cable modem. They weren’t scheduled to pick it up until Sep 9, but earlier is better. I gave it to him and signed the form, so everyone should be happy now. We’ll see if the calls stop.