This was the tweet I sent this morning after our internet was ONCE AGAIN out. We have been having non-stop issues with it for the entire three months we’ve been here, but usually it doesn’t last very long. Last night we lost it for a little while, but Mark reset the router, and it came back eventually. So this morning, when it went out again, I followed suit and reset it. But it didn’t come back. So after a bit, I unplugged the cords, waited a few moments and then plugged them back in. Still nothing. I finally removed all the cables and waited again before returning them to their respective holes. Nada. Zilch.
The kids were screaming because they wanted to watch Netflix (Dex has recently discovered the awesomeness of Rescue Bots, a Transformers spinoff), and since we have no cable, I had no way of easily distracting them. Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t just plop the kids in front of the TV all day – they get PLENTY of other stimulation. But we do have a fairly good schedule which involves a few episodes of their favorite shows while mommy cleans or gets some writing done. So when there’s no internet, things get a little tense.
I obviously was a little frustrated, and I’m never sure if the issue is with our equipment (Mark bought a top of the line modem and router so we could get the best possible speeds) or with the service itself. So I used my phone to get on and google “Comcast Outage” to see if it was a known issue. Yep. Salt Lake City had reported outages. Not just me, then.
So I waited and waited, and after a couple of hours of trying to distract the kids and get some work done, I sent out the above tweet. Within about five minutes, I had a call come through from an unknown 800 number. I figured it was spam (I get that a lot), but I answered anyway just in case it was something important.
The following is the conversation as best as I can recall it. I’ve never wished to have a taped conversation more than I did after speaking to this guy.
Chad from Comcast: Hi, may I speak to Katie Reed, please?
Me: This is Katie Reed.
CfC: Hi, this is Chad from Comcast. I was calling because you’ve had some problems with your internet.
Me: Ummm… yes…
(At this point, I was HELLA confused because I can’t for the life of me figure out how they got my number.)
CfC: I wanted to find out, have you tried unplugging the modem and plugging it back in?
Me: Uhh. Yes… I have tried that. I’ve also tried resetting it, but it doesn’t work.
CfC: Right. Okay. Well, I want to try to sort you out. So, is there anyone ELSE in the house that has tried unplugging it and plugging it back in?
Me: Well, my husband did it last night when it was down, and that seemed to fix it.
CfC: Okay. Well is your husband there? Can he try unplugging it and replugging it in?
Me: Um. No. He’s not here. And to be honest, I don’t think it would make much difference, as I already tried it.
CfC: Well yes, but it may work better if you get him to do it.
(At this point, I was trying to figure out if I was being punk’d because I could not for the life of me imagine why someone would call me and accuse me of being too stupid to use a plug)
Me: Are you trying to say I’m too stupid to unplug a cord?
CfC: I did not say that, maam. I absolutely am not insinuating anything at all. It’s just that sometimes certain people have better luck using our equipment than others. By your own admission, it worked when your husband did it last night. So he can probably get it to work again.
Me: Seriously? Look, my husband is at work, and I have three kids here who are going crazy not getting to watch their Netflix and…
CfC: (interrupting me) Well Netflix isn’t going to work anyway. We’re in negotiations with Netflix, and so we are throttling their speeds. You need to download HULU. We have a deal with them, so it will work perfectly.
Me: Uhh… Right… well, we have HULU, as well, but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter since… you know… we HAVE NO INTERNET. I can’t even get my work done.
CfC: Wait. You’re working from home?
Me: Well, I’m a writer, and –
CfC: (interrupting me) Well we have you down as a residential account. We need to upgrade you to a business account immediately. Let me just make the change. It’ll cost you more money.
Me: Hang on a second. Why on earth would I have to have a business account??
CfC: It’s against the terms on your contract for you to be working from home on a residential account. I will have to change it immediately.
Me: Look – I’m not “working” from home. I am a writer. I have a BLOG. That is the WORK I was referring to.
CfC: Oh. So you don’t have a REAL job.
Me: No. No I don’t.
CfC: You just stay at home. Your husband works.
Me: … Yah.
CfC: Okay. So can you get your husband to come home and unplug the router and plug it back in?
Me: Look, seriously, it’s not rocket science to unplug a modem. I don’t understand why you think he can somehow magically make it work when I can’t?
CfC: Look, maam, you said yourself your husband got it to work once, and I think he’d be better to get it done. Maybe he can come home on his lunch break?
Me: Okay, look, I realize you think I’m too stupid to work a plug, so I feel like I’m getting nowhere in this conversation. I’m just going to hang up now.
I hung up the phone, absolutely amazed at the conversation I just had. I genuinely was racking my brains trying to figure out who might be prank calling me because I could not for the life of me imagine a company calling me out of the blue just to insult me and make me feel like an idiot. But before I could really think too hard about it, the phone rang again.
I hesitated for a moment. Did I really want to talk to Chad again? Not really. But even though my brain said “ignore it,” my curiosity got the better of me, and I answered the call, wondering what fresh new insult would be thrown my way.
Me: (making sure to infuse as much annoyance into my voice as possible) Hello?
Comcast Manager: Hi this is (annoyingly, I can’t remember his name) from Comcast. I’m Chad’s manager. I was listening on the phone call, and I noticed it clicked off, and I gathered you were rather frustrated and insulted by the conversation.
Me: … Yes, I was.
CM: Well, I wanted to call and apologize and to see if I could help. I’d really like to resolve your issue. I’m going to put in a formal reprimand on Chad’s record, but for now I just want to help you through this.
Me: (giving the benefit of the doubt) Well, I’d quite like my issue resolved, so that’ll be great.
CM: Okay. Now, I understand you’ve unplugged and replugged in the modem. And that your husband did it last night, as well. I was wondering how many times have you been having trouble with the service?
Me: Well we’ve been here three months, and it’s been slow the whole time and goes out occasionally.
CM: Right. Right. Well we don’t like that. We have programs in place to ensure you don’t get charged for down time. We can make sure you are reimbursed for when it goes down. Can you tell me how many times it’s gone down in the last 19 days?
Me: (too tired to count) To be honest, I don’t really know. It’s gone down a few times, but mostly it is just slow. It usually comes back pretty quickly.
CM: Well, do you make sure to report every instance that it goes down?
Me: No. We just deal with it.
CM: Oh, well you REALLY need to report it every time so we can help you better.
CM: Okay, right. So do you know what a circuit breaker is? Do you know where it is in your house?
Me: …. Yes, I know what a circuit breaker is.
CM: Okay, so can you check that your circuits are all one?
Me: Sure. One second. (I go and check) Yep. All on.
CM Okay. Right. And are you in a house or an apartment or what? I can’t see on your account…
Me: I’m in a house.
CM: Okay. And how far are you from the road?
Me: (I look out the window) About 20 feet.
CM: 20 feet? Okay. What is that screeching noise in the background? Is that a fan? It makes it really hard to hear you.
Me: That’s my toddler crying…
CM: Oh. Well can you go to another room and get away from him? It makes it hard to help you.
(Seriously? Did he just tell me to ignore my crying child because it makes his job more difficult?? Astounding. But after making sure Dan was okay (he was just fighting with Dexter) I went into the living room)
Me: I’m as far away as I can get now.
CM: Oh. Well it’s just really loud.
CM: So do you have any other services having problems? Like the telephone line? Or Cable?
Me: We don’t have a telephone line OR cable. Just internet.
CM: Are any of your neighbors with Comcast?
Me: Um I have no idea. We don’t really know our neighbors.
CM: Okay, well how far is your house from the nearest telephone pole?
Me: (Looking out the window) About 40 yards, maybe? That’s the closest one I can see.
CM: Okay, so it’s over 80 feet? See, for us to come out and run a new line can run anywhere from $25 to $2500, and at over 80 feet, it’s closer to the $2500. But don’t worry. With all the issues you have been having, I’m sure we could get you a big discount or write it off all together.
Me: Um. Right. Okay…
CM: So, back to the modem. Have you tried plugging your computer directly into the modem?
Me: Well, no.
CM: With an ethernet cable?
Me: … To be honest, the modem is in the living room, and my computer is all set up in another room, so it’s not that convenient.
CM: Well do you have a laptop?
Me: (sighing) Yes.
CM: Well try hooking the laptop up with an ethernet cable directly into the modem.
Me: I don’t actually have a spare ethernet cable.
CM: Well can you maybe go buy one? Like this afternoon?
Me: (sighing again) I’m sure my husband has one somewhere, I just don’t know where it would be.
CM: Sure. Sure. Of course. I’m sure you’re telling the truth. I didn’t think you were lying at all.
(wait, what?? Seriously, did he just say that? What??)
CM: So do you think you can get your husband to come home and find an ethernet cable and plug it directly into the modem?
Me: Look, I can absolutely have him do that when he gets home. But to be honest, I doubt very much it will work since the actual “Internet” light isn’t on, meaning it is not working…
CM: Okay! So it could be a problem with your modem itself! Have you tried taking it to your local store and exchanging it?
Me: No… I…
CM: (interrupting me) Do you know where your local Comcast is?
Me: No. But to be fair, it’s not a comcast modem. It’s one my husband bought.
CM: OH. Oh I didn’t see that on your account. Oh, I see. Well, if you don’t have a comcast modem then our technical support ends at the pole. We can’t help you. And we won’t be able to offer you any discounts on the service. So, let me see… We can get an engineer out to run a new line. That’ll be $2460.00. Shall I book that in for you?
Me: Uh… NO. I’m not going to pay that amount.
CM: Ah. Well, you see I can understand why my colleague thought it would be better to speak to your husband. I’m sure he will see the logic in getting this fixed. Getting a new line run will mean our internet works so much better and will work with ANY modem you choose.
Me: I can assure you my husband will not agree to paying $2500 to fix this.
CM: Well, I think you ought to have him call us when he gets home. It’ll be better to talk to him.
Me: Yah. Sure.
Now, forgive me for being dense, but what on earth is Comcast teaching its people? How is any part of this conversation okay? Besides the blatant sexism that was thrown my way, trying to make their bad service OUR fault seems rather ridiculous. Surely they should be making sure that wherever they offer service, the lines are in place to make sure it works well. Trying to charge us several thousand dollars to fix their problem is insane!
I’m also rather confused as to how they 1) got my telephone number and 2) knew what account I was associated with. Our internet service is 100% in Mark’s name, and with his number. THEY called ME, I assume because of the tweet I sent, and then proceeded to insult me and demand more money. They were able to view our account details, despite me never giving them any information. As far as I’m aware, from my Twitter account the only thing they should have been able to see was my name and the city I’m in.
Right after I hung up for the second time, I texted Mark to have him call me, and I told him the whole story. He was as amused and appalled as I was. Funnily enough, as I was on the telephone with him, I glanced over at our modem and noticed the Internet light was back on.
When I got off the phone, I went and did a Speed Test to see how it was doing. Bear in mind when I have done these tests in the past (including last night during the time it was having issues) the Download Speed was around 10 Mbps and Upload was less than 1. Miraculously, just now the results are as follows:
Given how crappy our Comcast service has been, you would think we would not hesitate to change providers. But since our only other option is Century Link, and the advertised speeds aren’t very good, we’re going to have to put some thought into this.
And people wonder why Net Neutrality is such a big issue! It’s bad enough that we’re forced to go with providers who have legit monopolies, but to be told flat out by a technician that my kids can’t watch their favorite show on Netflix because they’re in “negotiations” and instead I have to wade through the Pornographic Pool of Filth (not that I”m complaining) that is HULU to find something kid-friendly because Comcast likes them best is decidedly shit.
I can’t wait for Google Fiber to be available everywhere.
** Full disclosure: The above conversations were written in good faith as closely as I could recall them. I would welcome Comcast providing recordings/transcripts if they could, but I won’t hold my breath.