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Customer Service Update:

Back in January, I had a post about poor customer service. One example was speakeasy.net, my DSL provider. A salesperson had told me that the company wouldn't hold me to my contract if I moved, but that turned out not be true. When I transfered my service in January, I was told that this would not start a new contract period, but be a continuation of the old one. This also turned out not be true. Fortunately, I learned my lesson and got this in writing (actually, email), and have now forwarded the correspondence to customer service.

Another example of poor customer service was Comcast, which first sent an incompetent to hook up our cable, and then set up two appointments that turned out to be no-shows.

On the bright side of things, I had Verizon Fios internet service hooked up in our new home today. The technician was right on time, was polite and helpful, and otherwise made the whole experience pleasant and trouble-free. I doubt Speakeasy is, or will be, much of a player in the long run, but based on admittedly very limited anecdotal evidence, I wouldn't be surprised if Verizon (which also has Fios tv to compete with cable) eats Comcast's lunch.

Hoya:
You can say that again. I had Verizon Fios installed as soon as it became available in my neighborhood, almost two years ago. There has not been a single moment when I lost internet access. And the installation was hassle-free.
7.27.2007 10:29pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
Comcast screwed me too. They sent some illiterate out who drilled a hole in one of my exterior walls before I made him stop and GTFO. They never fixed the damage either.
7.27.2007 10:32pm
Mark H.:
I've been fortunate through the years with uneventful connectivity via dial-up (400 baud at the outset and it was great at the time vs. the previous nothing!), then DSL, now cable.

However, I am glad to see Verizon making inroads with their Fios service, as the cable monopoly has been old for as long as it has existed. Already the cable company is offering deals that used to be reserved for new customers only and it can only get better for the consumer as Fios expands.
7.27.2007 11:23pm
Jay Solo (mail) (www):
FiOS rocks! Installation went fine. Customer service and reliability are great. No TV yet in Middleboro, apparently because the town takes too seriously its delusion about controlling such things, but we don't use cable TV anyway.

I had just one odd issue with my installation. It's a 3-unit apartment building, where mine is the 2nd floor, in an old building. I was surprised they even deployed it to apartments. From what I'd read, it needed to be plugged into your power, which would imply that part of it being in the apartment proper, but that makes no sense.

Each apartment has a pair of outlets in the cellar. The installation tech never asked me about what to do, and I didn't want to shadow him the whole time. He plugged ours into the power outlet belonging to the then vacant third floor. It was clearly marked. It was way across the cellar from our power.

The landlord, who was paying for the power to the apartment at the time, promptly unplugged it, causing us an outage.

Verizon didn't even understand what I was trying to convey when I told them about the problem, and wouldn't come back to move it, which I was tempted to do myself.

I ended up having to take a long extension cord I'd originally bought for powering a weed whacker and such in the yard when I shared a house, string it across the ceiling, plug the unit into that, and duct tape the connections to make casual unplugging harder.

The latest new tenant on the third floor got FiOS almost the instant they moved in, and I'm amused to see the signs of the Verizon guy arriving and saying WTF to himself when he saw the existing arrangement. He managed to fit their UPS to te beam near mine and labeled everything with large, visible floor numbers.

Other than that, though, it's fantastic. Someday when we move it'll again be interesting, because Verizon will probably have to move it around as they refused to do for me, or the new tenant will have to buy a good extension cord.
7.27.2007 11:43pm
Eric Barrett:
Speakeasy used to be a great ISP, with fantastic customer service. Everything I've heard in the last two years (since I left) says they've done nothing but slide downhill.

Of course, now that Best Buy bought them, we'd expect nothing less!
7.28.2007 12:13am
Bruce:
Maybe the Verizon Fios teams are really good, but I've had horrible experiences with Verizon cell phone, landline, and DSL customer service. As have others:

http://consumerist.com/consumer/verizon/?view=full
7.28.2007 12:48am
Lev:
what is Fios?
7.28.2007 1:04am
Anonymous Hoosier:
After three failed Comcast appointments, I have decided to forego television for the time being. On the final attempt, scheduled between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., an installer arrived at 5:30 p.m. (This was after a series of phone conversations during which the CSRs told me they "could not say" how long it would be, but that an installer would be coming). Naturally, I was no longer home, but the next day I received a followup call berating me for "breaking" the appointment. Uh huh.

Interestingly, Comcast's quarterly financials reported disappointing numbers of cable subscriptions yesterday. Is poor service and the availability of entertainment alternatives catching up?
7.28.2007 1:18am
PJT:
Fios may well put Comcast out of business. I dont have access to Fios yet, but Comcast may well be the worst company Ive ever dealt with. They always send someone to my house when they say they will, but the never fix it. For more than 1 year we got shoddy service. We told them repeatedly the signal wasnt strong enough. When they finally sent out a real technician - I forget their term, but they are different - he told us about his nightmares with the company and suggested we switch to Fios, like he had.
7.28.2007 2:00am
Sarah (mail) (www):
I worked for a subcontractor doing support work for Verizon DSL, and it was obvious to everyone that Verizon was looking forward to FiOS the way an average 4th-grader looks forward to summer vacation. DSL tech support for consumers was inferior to business tech support, but both were sad indeed compared to the FiOS operation. If anyone ever said anything positive about a current or future project, you knew it had to be about either FiOS or Triple Play. And actually, FiOS was supposedly going to completely ensure Triple Play victory for Verizon, so really they were one and the same thing.

Anyway, don't be shocked that FiOS support is practically magical in terms of convenience and ease to the end-user. Especially since tech support usually ends out being so much worse when these companies decide they don't really want to be in a particular line of business anymore (ask anyone who had trouble with Verizon email admin problems after the push to Yahoo and MSN premium services started.) If it's the golden happy new project of the year, even reps in completely unrelated areas end out getting extra training and encouragement and supporting documentation about whatever it is. DSL techs got far more information about FiOS, which we didn't support, than dial-up (which we also didn't really support, but at least some of our customers used it when they went out of town or their DSL died.)

A point of curiosity for FiOS installed customers: did the techs physically remove your copper lines or not? One of the brilliant things about FiOS is that customers won't be told they're just fifty or a hundred feet too far from the Central Office for high-speed service (which is what happens with DSL -- almost all of my friends and family have to use cable for high-speed access, because they were told they're ineligible for DSL.) But, losing the original copper lines worries some people. Especially the ones who have already decided they hate Verizon.
7.28.2007 3:05am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Well, as long as we're discussing it, I'd like to put in a plug for DirecTV, compared to Comcast. I had Comcast for internet and television, but Comcast apparently took to heart the old SNL joke, "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company." It took about one week for DirecTV's customer service to be better.
7.28.2007 3:21am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Another disappointed almost Comcast subscriber here. I tried to sign up three times online with Comcast for broadband service, over a period of maybe a month, and nothing ever seemed to happen. So, I called up Qwest, and I was given the choice of them shipping the modem that day, or picking it up myself. I did the later, and had DSL operational w/i 24 hours of first calling them. About a week later, Comcast called to finally schedule installation. Sorry.

The amazing thing to me is that Qwest came out of this looking efficient and consumer friendly. Comcast is really that bad.

Oh, and I find Comcast's deceptive ads quite humorous. Don't know if they are still running them, but they advertised a rate that is lower than DSL. But then, in the fine print, you find that it only applies to the first, fifth, and maybe eleventh month of service. The rest of the time, their rates were double that. But you only found out about that if you read the very fine print, or when you received your second bill.

I need faster Internet access than my current Qwest DSL. But I refuse to deal with Comcast, and, besides, it appears that here in Colorado, upload may be faster with DSL and Comcast cable (and, yes, I do upload enough that this is relevant).
7.28.2007 4:24am
Porkchop:
Lev: FIOS = Fiber-Optic Service

David,

If you have FIOS internet service, why don't you get FIOS TV, too? It will use your existing coaxial cable in the house. We're in Arlington, and it is working well for us.
7.28.2007 9:31am
Pennywit (mail):
Oh, dear, Comcast is incompetent. I had to have visits from three different techs and spend a chunk of my own money on gadgetry before finally getting something that worked.

Actually, when the third tech came, I informed him he would not leave until my service worked.

--|PW|--
7.28.2007 10:17am
Flighterdoc (mail):
Verizon will offer excellent customer service as long as they're new...once they're established as a FiOS provider, the service will degrade to the absolute CRAP they offer for their landline and wireless services now.
7.28.2007 10:52am
anonVCfan:
Comcast is so bad, I wonder sometimes if it's deliberate.
7.28.2007 11:13am
Jim Miller (mail) (www):
You can find more user experiences at Broadband reports. There's enough variation, even for the same provider in the same area, that they may not make your choice automatic, but they will help you know what to look for and help you identify the real stinkers.

(FWIW, I have been using Verizon DSL in the Seattle area for more than a year, and am generally satisfied. I would be happier if they gave more support to Linux, but that's not an issue for most users.)
7.28.2007 11:51am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Pork, we don't watch t.v., we don't have cable, satellite, etc., though we do watch dvds.
7.28.2007 12:01pm
XXX Fredrik Nyman (mail):
One big word of warning: if you make ANY international calls, sign up for Verizon's $4-per-month, 10-cents-per-minute plan. If you don't, they'll charge you $3 per minute! And no, of course they don't tell you this.
7.28.2007 1:28pm
Porkchop:
David,

I misunderstood your post. Good for you. I hope you are able to maintain that situation as your children mature. There certainly are times when I wish I was still in your position.
7.28.2007 3:46pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I wonder how much future revenue Comcast lost due to this thread?
7.28.2007 4:01pm
Better than cable:
To put it bluntly, Comcast sucks. Two years ago, they stood me up 3 times and I had to take off work to sit around and wait for them. Since I don't watch TV all that often, I decided to forego cable. Now I'm getting FIOS and am really excited b/c my experience so far has been superb. I have been very happy w/Verizon's cell service (and my Treo!) ever since I switched from another poor service company, AT&T/Cingular.

As for long distance calls, I highly recommend SKYPE. It's FREE. Many of my friends overseas have it as well and it's great!
7.28.2007 6:09pm
Walter (mail):
Just to strike a balance: I had a hard time with Comcast, but since Verizon's attempted installation of FIOS TV nine days ago they have set a new record for bad customer service. The worst of many serious offenses was that the installer cut the end off the incoming Comcast coax cable, even though he knew I was paying for a week or so of overlap of the two suppliers. I'm likely to go back to Comcast. The prospect fills me with fear, but not as much as trying to get the FIOS installation to work.
7.29.2007 3:30pm