Comcast Support: The WTFery.



  • I tried contacting Comcast's customer service today regarding my cable box suddenly ceasing to respond to any remote control input.  Normally, I'd be fine with walking across the room to change channels, but this is one of those new-fangled boxes with no manual inputs.  In other words, no remote control means you are stuck forever with whatever was your last channel (ABC, in this case).

    First, I try the phone. I investigate about 15 different menu options before realizing that everythnig I could find, aside from billing, led to a machine reading me a pre-recorded message.

    So I give the web site a shot.  They first have me fill out a screen-full of forms before I can enter their live chat, including a large text box that asks for a description of the problem.  I spend a few minutes writing out a problem description that hopefuly makes sense while capturing the troubleshooting that I already performed, and click "submit" to enter the queue...

    ...and I get a page with the following error:

     [code] An error occured processing your request please contact the
    administrator or try again. Parameter invalid:
    Kernel::Kernel::sik_short_desc. Error Description:Input is too long. [/code]

     So... no indicated limits on field length, but a hidden one.  So I spend a few more minutes filling out all the fields again, as the back button on my browser blanked them, and type up an abbreviation-laden problem description. I click submit, and...

    ... another error: 

    [code]Queue full (west)[/code]

    ...along with a javascript "back" button that takes me to... ... a blank page.

    gives up and goes to watch ABC



  • You should check out this new game here...

     

     

    It's pretty good, it might even help alleviate the Comcast burdens

     

     

     

    [IMG]http://i480.photobucket.com/albums/rr167/drachenstern/outside_mmorpg.jpg[/IMG]

     

    But in all seriousness, drop Comcast. I did. Of course, now I have no way to enrich my life with pop culture references whenever I feel like it, and I rely on the tubes to give me news, rather than CNN or FoxNews, but at least I can filter my news now ;)

    That, and you gotta love retardedly imposed database field limits, with no description of why or what the limit is. Regardless of Comcast doing it, or anyone else. That may be TRWTF here, as opposed to the inputless (aside from IR) cablebox.



  • I can be completely wrong here but my in-laws have Bell expressVu, and when you have multiple receivers in your house, you can set your box and remote to a different (set of IR codes | frequency -- i dont know which is true)-- but anyway, in a way that prevents one remote from operating the other unit.

    If your STB or remote has something like that, find the manual for the remote and see if it is possible, and what the procedure is to change it.  Maybe you somehow changed it accidentally?  (can it be that simple?)  



  •  In every automated phone system I've been in, pressing 0 drops you out of the menu system and connects you with a real life person. With their increasing proliferation, you'd better believe I use it every opportunity I can. How about phone systems that ask you to key in extensive information before letting you speak with a person, only to apparently do nothing with it? It sure doesn't display that information to the rep, because the first thing they do is ask for it again. I also hate the dumb systems that ask you to speak some stupid information in plain English. My health care provider has a USS-enterprise-like female voice that always asks me to "explain in a few words what you're calling about". I usually scream something like "WEASELS ARE BITING OFF MY CROTCH" just to see what department it tries to connect me to for that problem.

     Only web-based help systems surpass these steaming piles in pure failure.



  • @drachenstern said:

    But in all seriousness, drop Comcast. I did.

    Some of us don't have a choice, if we want more channels than what you can get over-the-air.  I don't think I can even get a Dish or DirecTV signal from my apartment (yay for northeast-facing buildings)!



  • @Heron said:

    @drachenstern said:
    But in all seriousness, drop Comcast. I did.
    Some of us don't have a choice, if we want more channels than what you can get over-the-air.  I don't think I can even get a Dish or DirecTV signal from my apartment (yay for northeast-facing buildings)!
    My apartment does face northeast, tyvm. I had a directv before moving in here. No longer.

    Praytell, what do you need those channels for?



  •  My wife is a stay-at-home mom.  She's already annoyed at how few programs there are on Comcast's basic level of service that are worth watching...  before this we had just OTA television, and she was less than happy.

    FWIW, it's not just that the apartment faces northeast.  It's that we can't put the dish on the south or west sides of the buildings, because those building-faces belong to other people, and we're on the bottom floor, so we can't put one on the roof.  We can't put it out ten feet from our building to catch the signal because that would be considered "out of bounds" for the area of ground we can use (that is, it's public complex ground).  Furthermore, the next apartment over to the east is a pretty big chunk of the sky.



  • @Nether said:

    In every automated phone system I've been in, pressing 0 drops you out of the menu system and connects you with a real life person.

    That works in most telephone automated systems, but not all. In a few automated phone systems, pushing zero doesn't work, instead you have to say "AGENT" or "YOU ARE A IDIOT" to get a real person. However, trying zero first is a good idea. Here where I live, 411 is a speech recognition computer, but pushing zero will get you an operator. After the operator finds the telephone number for you, the computer will speak the number to you and give you an option to push 1 for connecting to that phone number immediately. In the public transit system, pushing zero tells you "zero is not a valid option", so you have to say "AGENT". But in one system I have heard of, it was necessary to say "YOU ARE A IDIOT" to call the operator.



  • @Heron said:

    She's already annoyed at how few programs there are on Comcast's basic level of service that are worth watching...
    Does the number of worthwhile programs actually increase if you add channels?



  • @alapalme said:

    I can be completely wrong here but my in-laws have Bell expressVu, and when you have multiple receivers in your house, you can set your box and remote to a different (set of IR codes | frequency -- i dont know which is true)-- but anyway, in a way that prevents one remote from operating the other unit.

    If your STB or remote has something like that, find the manual for the remote and see if it is possible, and what the procedure is to change it.  Maybe you somehow changed it accidentally?  (can it be that simple?)  

     

    Hi, such a setting is quite common. My DVD-Recorder (a European Panasonic which plays DivX :-)) has this setting and you have to press either 1, 2 or 3 for a couple of seconds. So you might want to try that. Good luck.



  • @zzo38 said:

    @Nether said:

    In every automated phone system I've been in, pressing 0 drops you out of the menu system and connects you with a real life person.

    That works in most telephone automated systems, but not all. In a few automated phone systems, pushing zero doesn't work, instead you have to say "AGENT" or "YOU ARE A IDIOT" to get a real person. However, trying zero first is a good idea. Here where I live, 411 is a speech recognition computer, but pushing zero will get you an operator. After the operator finds the telephone number for you, the computer will speak the number to you and give you an option to push 1 for connecting to that phone number immediately. In the public transit system, pushing zero tells you "zero is not a valid option", so you have to say "AGENT". But in one system I have heard of, it was necessary to say "YOU ARE A IDIOT" to call the operator.

     There's a website called gethuman.com that maintains a database of many customer service numbers, along with what you have to do to get a human on the line. According to them, for Comcast you want to:

    "Press *# at each prompt, ignoring messages. Or - don't press any button
    nor say anything. It will ask but then after 3 'no response's will put
    you through."

     




  • @Nether said:

     In every automated phone system I've been in, pressing 0 drops you out of the menu system and connects you with a real life person.
     

    Increasingly, I've found the first few attempts will be ignored, but the subsequent 3rd or 4th try will get you an operator. They'll try to trick you into thinking the option isn't available by saying "0 isn't valid input" the first couple times. Unless I'm calling about something sufficiently normal (which is unusual), I typically try hitting zero 4 or 5 times right out the gate, and only after that fails go for their stupid automated system.

    FWIW, I've also seen systems where they've changed the number to something else in order to prevent people from skipping the menu. A few use 9 or 8, or require you to say 'agent'. Entering junk does the trick a lot too... like star or pound (or saying something incomprehensible); If you can get the system to choke, you're likely to get the help you need.

    The complete absurdity of all of this just sort of hit me now. Phone support has sure come a long way in the past 10 years.........

    And seriously. WTF is with those stupid systems that ask you verification questions (or to describe problems) and then require reps to ask the same questions again in their script? I could see if it was just one stupid company, but it seems like everybody's doing that now; It's hard to imagine it's anything but intentional. Who's the idiot who thought that up?



  • @Someone You Know said:

    There's a website called gethuman.com that maintains a database of many customer service numbers, along with what you have to do to get a human on the line.
     

    The internet: made for this and porn.



  • @mann_jess said:

    And seriously. WTF is with those stupid systems that ask you verification questions (or to describe problems) and then require reps to ask the same questions again in their script? I could see if it was just one stupid company, but it seems like everybody's doing that now; It's hard to imagine it's anything but intentional. Who's the idiot who thought that up?
     

    Someone took a look at the technical support "Process", and dreamed up improvements. One such improvement is the automating of "Tier 0" functions- Getting the customers name, product, etc. If you can move those items away from the actual people, you can reduce the frustration of the Techs (And thereby reduce turnover, a big problem in call centers) and increase the number of calls they can take a day (They spend less time on each call).

     So they spend lots of money on their Phone menu system, having it collect the info, etc. When the agent answer the phone, the collected information pops up on their screen- Everyone wins!

     Except they do a half assed job of it, push it through before it's ready, and it rarely works, and if it does work is occasionally wrong (Either from system or human error). Techs stop depending on it and go back to asking the customer for information. Customers catch on and press random keys, or spam "0" and "Agent" to cut through the system. Agent and customer frustration increase, increasing agent turnover and decreasing repeat customers.

    But the Six-Sigma Black Belt Super-Process Quality Manager has already collected a fat bonus, and moved on to their next scam. I mean, Project.

     



  • @Heron said:

    Some of us don't have a choice, if we want more channels than what you can get over-the-air.  I don't think I can even get a Dish or DirecTV signal from my apartment (yay for northeast-facing buildings)!

     

    So, your choices are Comcast or nothing.  That sounds like a monopoly to me.  I love how the governments want to go after MS for including a shitty browser in their OS but they do absolutely nothing about the one and only cable network.



  • @amischiefr said:

    @Heron said:

    Some of us don't have a choice, if we want more channels than what you can get over-the-air.  I don't think I can even get a Dish or DirecTV signal from my apartment (yay for northeast-facing buildings)!

     

    So, your choices are Comcast or nothing.  That sounds like a monopoly to me.  I love how the governments want to go after MS for including a shitty browser in their OS but they do absolutely nothing about the one and only cable network.

    It's not like Comcast doesn't have any serious competitors, Heron just has the bad luck living in a place where his options are limited.  If there's exactly one bus line in the part of the town you live in, that doesn't make its operator a monopolist.  I imagine that if the inhabitants of that building got took it upon themselves, they could install a satellite dish or whatever on the roof.



  • @Nether said:

    I usually scream something like "WEASELS ARE BITING OFF MY CROTCH" just to see what department it tries to connect me to for that problem.

    It'd be hilarious if it redirected you to 911. Agree with all you said though.



  • @tdb said:

     It's not like Comcast doesn't have any serious competitors, Heron just has the bad luck living in a place where his options are limited.  If there's exactly one bus line in the part of the town you live in, that doesn't make its operator a monopolist.  I imagine that if the inhabitants of that building got took it upon themselves, they could install a satellite dish or whatever on the roof.

     

    What are it's serious competitors and where?  In Florida and New Mexico it's Comcast or Satelite.  So for digital cable you have only one choice, which is sort of like having only one choice for your phone carrier. 



  •  Replying without quotes because i'm on a slow commuter-train wireless connection and I don't want to wait for things to load a few times just to quote three different posts :P

     Adding channels might increase the number of programs worth watching, depending on the channels added and the person watching.  For example, I wouldn't care about the Food Network, but my wife really, really wants the Food Network; conversely, my wife isn't particularly interested in the Sci-Fi channel, but I'd love to have it.

    Several people in the complex have dishes set up; I just have the bad luck to be in a location where I don't have anywhere available to set up a dish within sight of a signal.  We're not allowed (by the rules of the apartment complex) to put things on the roof.

    Legally, Comcast has competitors in my "area" - for certain definitions of "area".  Verizon FiOS is sort of moving in at a snail's pace; they're advertising like they've only got ten days left to sell before everyone runs out of money.  Too bad it's not available on this side of town "yet".

    Regarding monopolies... a company may have a monopoly on a particular service even if equivalent alternatives are available.  For example, a phone company may have a monopoly even if customers in its area can get VoIP services through their ISP or through some other internet-based company.



  • @amischiefr said:

    So, your choices are Comcast or nothing.  That sounds like a monopoly to me.  I love how the governments want to go after MS for including a shitty browser in their OS but they do absolutely nothing about the one and only cable network.
     

    Unfortunately, cable companies are among the still existent regulated monopoly antipattern we have in this country.  It varies by state, city and in some cases size of apartment complex, but the basic pattern is that because there's an economy of scale in cable provision, the cable companies of the 80s convinced many states and counties to allow only a single cable company.  It would be (as you point out), an illegal monopoly if it weren't regulated as a utility, in principle.

    Sorry to get preachy but that's the main difference between them.

    My parents used the oregon regulators to force comcast to start serving a somewhat far flung area they moved to, which previously hadn't had cable service at all.



  • @arty said:

    @amischiefr said:

    So, your choices are Comcast or nothing.  That sounds like a monopoly to me.  I love how the governments want to go after MS for including a shitty browser in their OS but they do absolutely nothing about the one and only cable network.
     

    Unfortunately, cable companies are among the still existent regulated monopoly antipattern we have in this country.  It varies by state, city and in some cases size of apartment complex, but the basic pattern is that because there's an economy of scale in cable provision, the cable companies of the 80s convinced many states and counties to allow only a single cable company.  It would be (as you point out), an illegal monopoly if it weren't regulated as a utility, in principle.

    Sorry to get preachy but that's the main difference between them.

    My parents used the oregon regulators to force comcast to start serving a somewhat far flung area they moved to, which previously hadn't had cable service at all.

    Correct me if I'm wrong on this, but cable companies aren't held to the full extent of the common-carrier requirements.  Specifically, they don't have to allow competetors to use their network.



  • @North Bus said:

    ..., aside from billing, led to a machine reading me a pre-recorded message.

     

    this is exactly where you go. you complain, they will connect you.

    if not at first, repeat. i never ever got to a billing department that refused more than once or twice. they wantto get rid of you...



  •  @Someone You Know said:

    "Press *# at each prompt, ignoring messages. Or - don't press any button
    nor say anything. It will ask but then after 3 'no response's will put
    you through."

    Well thanks!

     I tried all the standard tricks like pressing 0, pound, and star, as well as waiting for a while (I guess you have to sit through a period of silence first?) but I apparently didn't hit on the magic combination to get me through to a human. 

    My wife did try a different method/phone number and finally did get through to a human being.  However, said human's grasp of English was obviously much less than her grasp of scripted conversation, and so she only was able to tell my wife to either try to reprogram the remotes (which we did multiple times) or return them (because they apparently both magically broke at once).



  • But in all seriousness, drop Comcast. I did. Of course, now I have no
    way to enrich my life with pop culture references whenever I feel like
    it, and I rely on the tubes to give me news, rather than CNN or
    FoxNews, but at least I can filter my news now ;)

    Like Heron, my wife is a stay-at-home mom.  I rarely watch TV, (though I do love Holmes^H^H^H^H^H^H House M.D. and the History Channel), but for her, a full time job taking care of the little ones earns her plenty of time with the tube, in my opinion. 

    Hence, we must bow to the monopoly that is Comcast.



  •  @Heron said:

    Several people in the complex have dishes set up; I just have the bad luck to be in a location where I don't have anywhere available to set up a dish within sight of a signal.  We're not allowed (by the rules of the apartment complex) to put things on the roof.

    Legally, Comcast has competitors in my "area" - for certain definitions of "area".  Verizon FiOS is sort of moving in at a snail's pace; they're advertising like they've only got ten days left to sell before everyone runs out of money.  Too bad it's not available on this side of town "yet".

    Are you sure we don't live in the same apartment? ;-)

    My situation is IDENTICAL to the one you're describing, except my wife is ok (for the time being) to be without cable at home, as she helps her sister a lot with babysitting, so she watches her cable. I imagine if my wife were here she would want the cable, but for now, we're making do without. Also, fwiw, I don't know about your experience, but the box I got from Comcast to do what the DirecTV box was doing was CRAP. Total crap. That was actually one of my motivating factors in the seesaw decision to cut it off.

    As for the others in the thread, you can't usually install a satellite dish to the side of most apartment buildings, because of insurance risks. Or at least, that's ALWAYS been my experience with them. If you want a pole, you have to mount it within 10 feet of the building (normally more like 3 feet, or not at all preferably-for-them) or put the pole in a bucket of concrete (thus it's movable). Therefore, mounting to the roof or the eaves is generally frowned upon. They usually have legalese in the contract that says you agree to be evicted and pay the exorbitant fees if you do mount it to the side of the building, but they may or may not enforce it, depending on the apartment manager. Here in Houston, the legalese is standard amongst most of the apartments, and is maintained as boilerplate by the area's apartment group, sort of like the realtors association, but for apartment owners. I think they call themselves HAAP or something. Therefore, whenever I see that header at the top of the lease agreement, I know that they are operating on the same grounds as everyone else, which means the same set of rules regarding satellites. The apartment I was supposed to move into faced in the right direction, but the front-office people had already leased it before the manager showed it to me, I happened to see it while it was being "cleaned" so, since I really liked the commute (4.4 miles and 8 minutes, on average, which with $5 gas prices, was quite a good idea) I decided to accept a different apartment.

    Anyways, when did I start rambling? Got other things to do, so ... ciao



  • @drachenstern said:

    If you want a pole, you have to mount it within 10 feet of the building (normally more like 3 feet, or not at all preferably-for-them) or put the pole in a bucket of concrete (thus it's movable). Therefore, mounting to the roof or the eaves is generally frowned upon. They usually have legalese in the contract that says you agree to be evicted and pay the exorbitant fees if you do mount it to the side of the building, but they may or may not enforce it, depending on the apartment manager.
    When I rented in Virginia, I had to sign something acknowledging that I had been advised of my right to install a satellite dish on my balcony, so it's not so bad here.  Of course, I don't recall anything about what you could do if your balcony faced the wrong way.



  • @bstorer said:

    When I rented in Virginia, I had to sign something acknowledging that I had been advised of my right to install a satellite dish on my balcony, so it's not so bad here.

    But are you allowed to have a satellite dish on the lawn, held in place by a Negroe slave laborer?

     

    @bstorer said:

    Of course, I don't recall anything about what you could do if your balcony faced the wrong way.

    Secede?



  • @drachenstern said:

    4.4 miles and 8 minutes, on average
    What do you do that you have an average distance to work?  Or did you just mean that the 4.4 miles averaged 8 minutes?



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @drachenstern said:
    4.4 miles and 8 minutes, on average
    What do you do that you have an average distance to work?
     

    Probably not what they meant, but it's not inconceivable.

    Old job I had, on the way home by push-bike, I had an easier 6 miles or a rather harder 4 mile route back home (the 6 mile route missed out one of 2 steep hills that were on the 4 mile route.)

    On the way to work, the 4 mile route was easier that the 6 mile (slopes not to scale)..

     

    <font face="courier new,courier"></font>

    <font face="courier new,courier">6 Mile route
    W__________________ H
    | /
    | /
    | /
    |
    ____________/

    4 Mile route
    W__ H
    \ /\ /
    \ / \ /
    _
    / \ /
    _
    _/

    </font>



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @bstorer said:

    Of course, I don't recall anything about what you could do if your balcony faced the wrong way.

    Secede?

    Actually, this was a mistake on my part.  In Virginia, all balconies face South.  The only things that face North in Virginia are our wary eyes, lest you Yankees start another War of Northern Aggression.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @drachenstern said:

    4.4 miles and 8 minutes, on average
    What do you do that you have an average distance to work?  Or did you just mean that the 4.4 miles averaged 8 minutes?

    TRWTF is my use of commas in the wrong spot. I guess I was trying for a Shatner? I meant the 8 minutes was my average commute. That generally depends on traffic. Ahhh, nothing like burning more fossil fuels in starting the car than in driving it.

    As for why don't I bike to work, well, let's just say that the intervening 4 miles is why I don't live less than 2 miles from the office. That and I don't qualify for Section8 housing (which is in the intervening 4 miles as well), if that gives you an idea what's between the officepark and my apartment block.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @drachenstern said:

    4.4 miles and 8 minutes, on average
    What do you do that you have an average distance to work?  Or did you just mean that the 4.4 miles averaged 8 minutes?


    I'm not the original poster, but I do have an "average distance": the short route home starts with a left turn onto a one-way street, two lane changes in a short block, and a right turn. The long route is four consecutive left turns, adding a quarter-mile to the trip. Sometimes traffic is light enough that I can take the short route, sometimes it isn't.



  • If nobody can possibly help you, then you have to build your own box.



  • @Carnildo said:

    @belgariontheking said:

    @drachenstern said:

    4.4 miles and 8 minutes, on average
    What do you do that you have an average distance to work?  Or did you just mean that the 4.4 miles averaged 8 minutes?


    I'm not the original poster, but I do have an "average distance": the short route home starts with a left turn onto a one-way street, two lane changes in a short block, and a right turn. The long route is four consecutive left turns, adding a quarter-mile to the trip. Sometimes traffic is light enough that I can take the short route, sometimes it isn't.
    One way roads fuck you up.



  • @drachenstern said:

    But in all seriousness, drop Comcast. I did. Of course, now I have no way to enrich my life with pop culture references whenever I feel like it, and I rely on the tubes to give me news, rather than CNN or FoxNews, but at least I can filter my news now ;)

     

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28694



  • @operagost said:

    @drachenstern said:
    But in all seriousness,
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28694
    No but really ...

     

    Humorous link, thankee!


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