They claim they are the country’s largest provider of cable services – and one of the leading communication companies. They say they’re focused on broadband cable, commerce, and content. They deliver digital services, provide faster Internet and clearer broadband phone service, and develop and deliver innovative programming.
Those are the first paragraphs of the about section on Comcast’s Web site — they assume of course that we know which country we’re talking about. Since this is a post I file under innovation, I thought it useful to take a look and the current customer conversations with the company.
Note that there is no mention of customers; the focus is broadband cable, commerce, and content. In a presentation at a monthly meeting of the American Marketing Association, a Vice President representing the corporation bragged about their rise in subscription rate for Internet broadband service. That is fantastic until you figure out that in many areas, such as my home, you cannot buy anything else besides dial up.
As we continue reading the about page, we look at the future:
As Comcast evolves, we continue to look to the future – seeking out new communications technology, new opportunities, and more choices. We want to continue to provide people with the communications products and services that connect them to what’s important in their lives.
What’s important in my life? How about my name? Can you spell that right? How about my address? Can you get that corrected?
I signed up with Comcast a little over two months ago after dealing with a dial up connection that had gotten ridiculous in the light of all the work I do online. So I called the new customer phone number ready to buy the Internet broadband service.
The first call was kind of strange. They asked me a lot of questions and tried to sell me cable TV (I never watch TV) and phone service (I used my mobile phone) in a convenient bundle at an incredibly low price of under $100 per month for the initial offer. I wanted just the Internet connection so I was switched back and forth and had to call back to start over.
On my second call I asked about their business packages. The representative I talked to insisted that she needed to transfer me to another person. Some elevator music and I am back on the phone with what seems a completely different company. This service representative has a name; she introduces herself and asks me for my information all over again. Apparently none of what I had dictated to the other person was kept anywhere on a system. I wondered briefly why I spent the good part of 15 minutes giving the information.
After getting that part out of the way, we proceed to talk about my connection. It took me a while to convince the rep. that I did not have cable TV in my home. The next step then became having a survey to determine is my property is eligible for a hook up. Then we talk about pricing. No wonder this seemed another company.
For the pleasure of learning the name of the service representative – that would be $95 per month, plus a one time $250 fee to hook me up, $125 if I sign a 2 year contract. Compare that to the $19.99 plus tax for the first six months on the home service, then $57.95 per month. Amortizing the cost of the hook up for the first year, my cost would be $115 just for Internet broadband, almost double the home rate after the promotional period.
“Essentially,” I said to Dee, “what I buy is insurance in service interruption, right?” The business line advertises 24/7 support and prompt service. She responds, “Yes, with the business class service we help you get back online…,” then she catches herself and adds, “not that we wouldn’t with the home service. It’s only going to take a lot longer.”
My decision ends up on the home service side so I get passed back onto yet another service representative who starts the process all over again. A survey is promised and a few days later someone calls me to say we’re ready to install so we make an appointment for a technician to come on a Saturday between 1 and 4PM and hook me up.
Saturday comes and the technician is reasonably late. He takes a look at my system and says he cannot hook me up. The line needs to be brought to the house. Eyes are now rolling all around – he too knows what’s going on. He kindly volunteers to call it in (he knows whom to call) and he sets the appointment for the connection for me.
The day comes, the connection is hooked up, and I finally log on. Then I get my first bill to “Zalley Maltoni” – who is Zalley? How do you get from a spelled (4 times, mind you) Valeria to Zalley? I send the check in with the correction on the payment slip. While I’m at it, I also correct the address as I had specified I receive my bills at the PO Box. I feel extra generous after looking at my print handwriting and staple a business card.
I get the second bill – nothing has changed, I am still Zalley. Maybe they did not catch it. It’s not like my orange card stapled on top of the address would be noticed. I repeat the exercise. Last night I got my third invoice, guess what? I am still Zalley.
Clearly, just like the service reps who were supposed to put in the call for the survey before the hook up thought it was not their job to make sure it happened, the people processing the invoices and checks at Comcast think it’s not their job to make the correction.
Today, they’re the country’s largest provider of cable services – and one of the world’s leading communications companies. How did they get so large? They have a lot of customers and little competition. As for leading communications, I would beg to differ.
Valeria Maltoni • Conversation Agent • Philadelphia, PA • www.conversationagent.com