Friday’s blog created a little bit of a stir online, so I figured it deserved a follow-up explaining the incident that sparked the song and letter to Comcast.
I’d been a Comcast subscriber in every apartment I’d had since graduating from college. That didn’t really make me a Comcast fan, however. In general, I’m against any company that holds a monopoly because with no other options, there’s no reason to keep prices low or provide high-quality service.
And there were plenty of times when Comcast royally pissed me off, usually relating to the commonly-held misconception that any woman who calls for help with cable or internet service must have the television on the wrong setting because she can’t possibly understand how these things work.
Which, if they’ve spoken to my grandmother, I understand why they would feel that way.
But because I’m actually fairly tech-savvy, I get annoyed quickly with customer service people who automatically assume that two x-chromosomes make you an idiot. And I had that experience with Comcast on quite a few occasions.
Up until last March, however, I had no other options if I wanted high speed internet and cable tv. My condo rules prevent me from getting a satellite dish, and no other services were available in my building. So even though there were other companies around, Comcast held a de-facto monopoly in my building. Which, through no fault of their own, annoyed me.
So when a FiOS rep came to my door one Sunday afternoon, offering a faster internet, more high definition channels, and lower prices on a different network that was newly available in my building, it sounded like a great deal.
And for the first month, I was thrilled. Sure it took all day to install the new service for no reason that I could understand. And true, my internet didn’t actually seem any faster. And it was annoying to learn a whole new set of channels. But I was out of Comcast’s monopoly! I couldn’t have been happier.
Then my first bill arrived. The FiOS rep who had sold me on FiOS had told me that my total bill, with internet and cable, including a multi-room DVR, HBO and Showtime, would be $99 a month. So I was pretty surprised when my bill was well over $200 a month.
I called FiOS, positive that they had made a mistake. “No,” I was told. It was no mistake. The representative must have made a mistake when he gave me that price. But while they were terribly sorry, there was nothing they could do about it. I had signed a contract and to end that contract early would cost me $360.
I was pissed off, but there wasn’t anything I could do. And as long as my service was working, I wasn’t that unhappy.
The first time my FiOS tv and internet went out completely was in June. I’d gone to see the Gaslight Anthem in NYC, came back very late the same night, and when I woke up the next morning, I realized my service had been out since the previous afternoon. I called FiOS, and they got a repairman out the same day to fix it. I was awed—Comcast had never been that quick. Granted, Comcast almost never needed to send anyone out to fix a problem—most Comcast problems could be fixed with a reset signal. But after that, it worked fine through the whole summer and most of the fall.
Until three weeks ago, when it stopped for no reason.
This time, I was pretty annoyed. There’s no reason for a service person to be sent out twice in six months. It happened on a Wednesday, and after two hours on hold and another forty-five minutes of walking through troubleshooting over the phone, I was told that the earliest anyone could come to fix it would be the following Tuesday. I said that was unacceptable, spoke with a supervisor, and was eventually given a repair date of Friday, between 1 and 5, but as I couldn’t get home until 3, I was assured the repairman would show up after 3.
I didn’t realize that meant 7:30pm. And when I called them to see where the technician was, I was told there was a three-hour grace period. And when the technician DID eventually show up, the problem was that when someone else got FiOS, that tech had pulled my wiring out by mistake.
Three weeks later to the day, the same thing happened. But this time, after speaking to a supervisor, I was told that they could come out Friday between 8am and 8pm, but that I had to be home the whole day to wait.
Which means that they think that a FiOS repairman is more important than a high school teacher.
I made enough of a fuss that they agreed to come after 3 again, because I refused to take off of work for a problem that I hadn’t caused. But of course the technician this time called me at noon to say he was there. I explained that he was just going to have to come back at 3pm, and was not too happy to have to deal with that during a class that I was teaching.
Then, when word of my anti-FiOS internet campaign got around, Verizon Support began tweeting me on Twitter, trying to resolve the problem. Their solution? Log onto their website to register the problem.
I asked the question back on Twitter, how exactly did they expect me to do that when my Verizon internet service wasn’t working? I could tweet from my phone, but really? Wow, way to be out of touch, Verizon!
The technician did show up at 3 that day, ignored me when I told him exactly what the problem had been last time, then seemed surprised when it was the exact problem that I had said it was.
Which means that twice in three weeks, a FiOS technician has screwed up my service and I’ve had to deal with it. They’ve made no effort to adjust my bill for the time that I spent without the services that I’ve paid them for, and no attempt to address the problem with any kind of a real solution.
And on the flip side, Comcast at least showed that they have a sense of humor, by replying to Friday’s blog with a comment saying that they miss me too, forgive me for leaving, and are waiting for me with open arms.
So while I know everyone is exceptionally polarized about which service provider is better, and I know that quite a few Verizon fans would like to argue with me, all I can say at this point is that the next time a FiOS tech messes up my service, I expect to be released from my contract WITHOUT paying the $360 fee. And Comcast, you’ll be getting a call from me as soon as that happens. Which, if the next couple of weeks are anything like the past couple of weeks have been, should be pretty soon.