In our quest to lower our bills, I’ve tried several options for basic services to our house. Clear Internet was cheaper, but slow and greatly limited (despite their “unlimited” claims). DSL in our neighborhood is also slow and prohibitively expensive due to there being only one company that offers it (Embarq). Cable television is much the same (Comcast), but we did at least have the option to get DirectTV satellite, which we’re currently using.
Due to the complete lack of other viable internet options in our area, I swallowed the bile in my throat and, with great reservation, called up Comcast to scheduled an install. The next available appointment was a week from the time I called. Funny, DirectTV had technicians out the next day. This should have been my first warning.
After waiting a week without internet (because I didn’t expect to have to schedule an install so far in advance, and had already cancelled our service with Clear), the technician came. He took a look at the spot on the side of our house where all the cabling came in, and said there was a problem.
He told me that because of something the DirectTV installers did, he couldn’t use the existing lines in the ground and would have to run another line. I asked him if there were any other options, and he said no. I told him to do what he had to, trusting that he would know what he was doing.
When he was done, I looked over our yard and checked the DirectTV in the living room, and all seemed to be undamaged. I signed the work order and sent him on his way. This would have been the end of it, except for one thing: I neglected to check the other satellite receiver in the kitchen, which is connected via its own separate cable line.
Sure enough, I got an annoyed call from my wife one afternoon that the receiver in the kitchen couldn’t get a signal. We called DirectTV, and they sent out a tech. The DirectTV tech checked the box itself, the line in the attic, and then finally the line going to the kitchen. The culprit was a sliced underground line, probably (in his opinion) done when the internet line was laid.
Had Comcast not charged us what they did for the installation, this would have been a moot issue. Mistakes happen. I don’t hold it against a company as long as they’re willing to own up to it and offer some reasonable compensation.
Our first bill for Comcast came. I was charged a $29.95 reconnect fee (which is silly, but I expected it) and a $99.99 installation fee, discounted to $49.99 (what a deal?). Although I disagree with the necessity of either of these fees, I recognize that these things have to be paid.
I called Comcast customer service and explained the technician’s mistake. I told the operator that all I really wanted them to do was waive the installation fee. I think that’s a reasonable bit of compensation for the time and effort we lost by having to get someone to patch the job.
She told me there was nothing she could do about the charges. When I asked for a supervisor, she told me these installation charges were “just what they charge” and that no one would be able to waive them. When I told her that I thought it was ridiculous to pay for an installation that broke our existing service, she said the only option was to file a claim. I was put on hold while she “gathered the information.”
Let me just reiterate here that I don’t disagree with the idea of paying my bill. What I disagree with is the fact that I’m being told there’s no way to waive the installation fee when the technician botched the install job, causing us to have to call our OTHER service provider to come and fix it.
To their credit, DirecTV was very quick to come and repair the sliced line and didn’t charge us anything even though technically it was our fault for using Comcast.
When the Comcast operator came back, I was given a claim number and told that “someone from the claims department” would contact me in “up to 24 business hours”, meaning any time in the next three days.
I called again. This time I got Angela, who was part of our local billing department office. I explained my situation, mentioned that the line had already been fixed (requiring no physical action on Comcast’s part) and that I simply wanted compensation for the tech’s mistake in the form of waiving the installation fee.
Angela was more helpful, telling me that she’d need manager approval (but not that it couldn’t be done, as the first operator said). She said her manager was in a meeting but either she or the manager would call me back before the end of the business day.
So now, I wait. I’ll post back when I get word.
UPDATE: Reader Andy posted a comment on the original article for the Comcast corporate office, which can be reached at (215) 665-1700. They resolved my problem the same day. Many thanks to Andy!