“Even before I became New To Seattle from California, I received lots of well-meaning advice and warnings about the world awaiting me. Watch out for bicycle groups riding at midnight. Trash pick-up rules will drive me nuts. Avoid at all costs the Fremont Bridge, the country’s most active drawbridge. The list goes on. But there’s one warning I heard more than any other: It will take Comcast numerous visits to get it right.”
I wrote those words in one of my first posts here nearly two years ago under the headline, “Is Comcast located near Lake Woebegon?” The title was mocking the company’s 100% record of keeping me on telephone hold for long periods of time and always blaming a “higher than normal call volume.” That’s a mathematical impossibility like radio humorist Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Woebegon, where everyone thinks their kids are above average.
Judging from an article posted today on the online news site Crosscut, Comcast, or Xfrinity as it is rebranding its cable ops, is still having a big problem with customer service in Seattle.
From the story by Peter Lewis:
In the past five months, the City of Seattle has issued two “notice of violation” letters in an effort to recover more than $48,000 from Comcast for the company’s failure to meet the standards as set forth in its contract. In a February letter, the city told Comcast it owed $17,239 in “liquidated damages” for not answering calls fast enough (the arrangement stipulates that calls be answered within 30 seconds, 90 percent of the time) during the last quarter of 2012. Comcast’s performance was even worse in the first quarter of this year, according to Tony Perez, director of the city’s Office of Cable Communications. So in May, Perez sent a second violation letter seeking an additional $31,032 for, again, failing to answer calls as rapidly as required.
The story also mentioned that Comcast has sharply raised its rates. Since Comcast does have competition in the Seattle market–the Seahawks and Sounders play in CenturyLink Field, a stadium named for one of its main rivals–one might wonder how Comcast gets away with this.
Consumer ignorance and inertia would be my guess.
But I’ll let you in on a secret. If you’re a Comcast/Xfinity customer, credibly threaten to walk and are patient on the phone, the company will cut you a price break. Maybe a big one. It’s simply not the monopoly you think it is. In any event, the company has so much invested in infrastructure, and relatively so little operating costs once the system is up and running, that it makes no business sense for Comcast to let paying customers bolt over a few lousy dollars a month. After all, Comcast needs some way to cover the $29.1 million that CEO Brian Roberts knocked down last year.
Don’t take my word for it. Just Google something like Comcast Negotiate Lower Fee. You’ll find all kinds of stories on how to do this. I’m here to tell you the advice works.
Comcast recently sent me a notice proposing to raise my monthly bill a whopping 25%. I got on the phone and eventually had a pleasant chat with a rep (it’s rarely anyone local; I think this guy was in Denver). I might have mentioned something about watching the Sounders play at CenturyLink; I can’t remember. But the rep quickly caught my drift. But by the end of the call, the 26% rate hike had been canceled, and I had wrangled a 9% rate decrease for the same services. And, oh yes, I didn’t have to agree to a two-year contract.
For all I know, I could have gotten a better deal. But I’m not a greedy fellow, and my time on the phone is worth something, too. I just want a deal that from my perspective is above average.
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