Comcast Hammer Granny

Monashaw As a customer just coming out the tail end of a week-long ordeal with Comcast and their army of incompetent technicians and telephone bank operators, I feel more than a twinge of sympathy for Mona Shaw, a 75-year old woman, frustrated to the point of insanity by Comcast’s “customer support,” who walked into the local Comcast office and started smashing computers with a hammer. Washington Post:

Shaw’s opinion of Comcast? “What a bunch of sub-moronic imbeciles,” she says. This was after the company had scheduled installation of its much ballyhooed “Triple Play” service, which combines phone, cable and Internet services, in Shaw’s brick home in nearby Bristow. But Shaw said they failed to show up on the appointed day, Monday, Aug. 13. They came two days later but left with the job half done. On Friday morning, they cut off all service.

My situation: A seemingly simple request to upgrade to digital cable with HD channels, and to have a dual-tuner cable card installed in a Series 3 Tivo. Long story short: Installation tech appears, says he’s never worked with a Tivo before. Installs card, checks out a couple of channels, and leaves, thinking he’s done. I realize that night that we’re only getting 10% of the channels we’re supposed to be getting – and far fewer than we got before the upgrade. Each attempt to call for support earlier than midnight results in being put on the call-back system, my calls being returned at least 90 minutes later. The two times I was put on hold, got disconnected after 20 minutes. Empty promises that they could fix it by sending “a special signal” to the cable card to “wake it up” (electroshock therapy?) They asked me to wait three days for that to happen, then to call back if no change. Waited, no change.

Tried to schedule another house visit and was told there wasn’t a tech available for two weeks. Raised hell and, magically, an appointment opened up for the next morning. The tech never showed. Called in, waited for callback, and was told the visit was actually scheduled for the next day (bull – we were going camping that day). Finally was able to schedule a visit during the work week, between 10 and 2. Should I work from home that day or not? Yep – tech didn’t arrive until 1. Armed with an array of multi-stream and single-stream cards, she babbled at length, placed endless calls to her own tech support system, tried to mix single- and dual-stream cards, placed them in the unit in the wrong order… She finally got a single-stream card working and got up to leave. “You’re going to leave me with a single tuner?,” I asked. “You have another tuner in the Tivo.” “But not one that’s connected to your service.” “Why do you need two tuners anyway?” She places another call to her tech support to confirm that I’m not lying to her. Kid you not. Issue finally resolved after two hours of in-house visits, uncountable time on the phone, and bottomless frustration. And oh yeah – at every turn, operators tried to get me to bolt the Comcast phone service onto my order. Right, I’m going to put our phone service into the hands of a company this clueless, brand new to the phone game. I won’t be walking in to the local Comcast branch with a hammer, but it’s not hard to see where the impulse comes from.

So was Mona Shaw a crazy lady?

From what we can tell, Mona Shaw is not, actually, a raving lunatic armed with construction tools. She is a nice lady who lives in a nice house. She and Don are both retired from the Air Force (she was a registered nurse). They have been married 45 years. She is secretary of the local AARP, secretary of a square-dancing club and takes in strays for the local animal shelter (they have seven dogs at the moment). The couple attend a Unitarian Universalist church.

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Tip: Comcast lookups for seldom-visited sites going slow? Reconfig your router with DNS servers from OpenDNS.

Music: Sonny Rollins :: Strode Rode