Comcast, you never cease to amaze me

August 18, 2007

To Comcast's credit, everything was working within an hour of the technician leaving my place, and both the tech and his supervisor were very nice, but this story had to be told.

A couple of weeks ago I received my new TiVo HD, but I haven't been able to actually use it until today because I've been waiting on Comcast to install the cablecards. I was under the impression that I could just go to my local Comcast store, pick up the cards and install them myself; I figured my computer engineering degree meant I was qualified to slide what amounts to a PCMCIA card into a slot, but apparently not.

Today was the first day they could pencil me in, two weeks after I received the TiVo. In addition to the half-month the new DVR sat useless on my floor, there was a $16 fee for doing what a monkey would dismiss as boring.

Anyway, here's the play-by-play as it went down today. I actually wrote most of this while the tech was "configuring" the TiVo.

  • My appointment was from 8-12; they won't give you a smaller window.
  • At 11:50, because I was still waiting for someone to arrive, I called Comcast, and was now told someone would be here by 1. On the upside, I was also told that I would be credited $20 for the delay. Fair enough.
  • Someone arrived at 1:30.
  • He walked in and asked me if I was getting cablecards for a TiVo, to which I responded, "Yeah, that's the plan."
  • I asked how long this should take; he bent over and pulled 10-15 minutes out of you know where.
  • He said he needed to go back to his truck.
  • 15 minutes later he returned (was it already working?!?) and walked into my apartment without knocking. I mentioned that he should probably knock in the future.
  • He then called someone to ask for help (before he had done anything), which didn't go very well.
  • He spent 10 minutes writing numbers down and reading a one-page manual.
  • He attempted to insert one of the cablecards into the TiVo, but it just wouldn't fit; I told him that it may work better if he took the cablecard out of its clear, hard, plastic shell (I had a hunch that for this thing to work metal was going to have to come into contact with metal). Could I make this stuff up?
  • At this point he said, "This is my first time installing cablecards," to which I feigned shock and resisted the overwhelming urge to ask about the rigorous training he must have gone through before getting the title of "technician."
  • After finally getting one of the cablecards installed, I explained to him the difference between single-stream and multi-stream cards (you know, something he should probably know if he's going to be installing these things in the future).
  • He called someone again, asked me what that "multi-thing" was I mentioned earlier, and told me that everything would be setup soon.
  • The screen on the TiVo changed (because it was tired of waiting for these guys to actually do something), and I said, "Is it supposed to do that?," to which he responded, "Yeah, Comcast's computer systems are pretty advanced now." WHAT? I nodded affirmatively.
  • He tried to make a call in my apartment, but "couldn't." He went outside for about five minutes and then let himself back in without knocking, again.
  • He went in and out of my place two more times and then finally stayed outside for about 20 minutes.
  • He laid on my floor for a while and talked to the guy on "dispatch," who apparently had no idea what he was doing either. According to my boy, "Dispatch is very busy today" and will call us back. Did I mention that we are installing two of these cards today? Fun!
  • He used my bathroom.
  • He talked to some guy on the phone and walked through every single menu option on the TiVo; he kept returning to Tivo Suggestions for answers (which was empty by the way). I didn't have the heart to tell him that that screen holds suggestions, from TiVo.
  • At this point, I'm kind of, uhh, upset.
  • He got off the phone and called someone else, his "supervisor."
  • He told me that his supervisor told him that it can take up to two hours for the card to "hit" (presumably, that means for it to be activated). They're backed up today, which happens "every two months or so." I'm sure he meant to say "every day," but I didn't correct him.
  • I asked my boy to let me talk to his supervisor. I explained to the supervisor that no one knows what's going on or what they're doing. He told me that they're just backed up, and that there's nothing more his technician can do. I wanted to tell him that there were probably a couple of options on the TiVo the tech hadn't looked at yet (you know, like Amazon Unbox or something), but I refrained. Truthfully, the technician had three more people to see today and needed to get moving.
  • I told the supervisor that the tech couldn't leave just yet because we still needed to install the second card. I guess my boy had told him that he did that already, and for all I know, he probably thought he had, but the card on the floor (still in its plastic case) belied his assessment.
  • He asked some guy on the phone if he is supposed to leave the first cablecard in there while installing the second. It took all of me to keep my mouth shut.
  • He inserted the second card, called someone, rattled off some serial numbers and told me everything would be working in a couple of hours.
  • I knew he was lying, or rather had no idea what he was talking about, but I was cordial nonetheless.

And that folks, is how you eat up seven hours of your day messing with something you could have done yourself in five minutes, and for free. It's a good thing I'm not a busy person or the whole ordeal just might have upset me.

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