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Customer Service

We have a vacation condo in Vermont that we started visiting again. We subscribe to Xfinity (Comcast) for telephone, TV, and internet. The Triple Play package had been running $79.99 per month. In July, that went to $105 per month- a 35% increase; breathtaking in these days of low inflation.

In Pennsylvania, we use Verizon. When I see a bump in the monthly pricing, I call Verizon, and usually the Customer Service Representative (CSR) is able to find a promotion program to blunt the increase.

I called the Comcast number, and the automated response suggested that I log on to for best service. In order to do that, I would have to set up an online account – never mind that I already am a customer.  I would have to provide part of my social security number and other sensitive information.  This bothers me; my social security number should be private, only for important matters- banking, health.  So, I could not access our account online.

I called the Comcast number again.  It offered choices, none of which was to speak with a CSR.

There are no alternatives to Comcast service in our area of Vermont.  Nancy called the Vermont Public Utilities Commission, which was helpful, even though they have no authority over internet service providers. They apparently did contact Comcast.

The response reminded me of Red Adair, the famous oil well firefighter parachuting in to put out fires.  We received a call from a dulcet-voiced, empathetic and likeable woman.  After a discussion, we managed to get a $5 discount from the proposed increase.  If we returned the video recorder “box”, for one that does not record, we could get another $10 monthly off our bill.  It was not easy to return the box- we took it to the local Comcast office; a sign on the door said due to Covid, the office was closed to visitors.  Comcast sent us a new, non-recording box, and we returned the one that we had.

Comcast has a lot of Chutzpah asking for that size increase in the midst of an economic slowdown.  On the other hand, as a business person, if they can get it, more power to them.

Along with the new “box”, we received hard copy of a Disclosure Document and Customer Agreement. For any business dealing with the public today, it is smart to make complete disclosure.  The Disclosure and Agreement, in several languages was…100 pages.

Not being able to reach a CSR on the phone is a big negative.  If we were under 40, perhaps we could set up the new “box” without help. A few minutes on the telephone with a knowledgeable person would have made it much easier. Since I couldn’t get someone on the telephone, I filled out an online inquiry form. A few days later, someone did call, but by that time we’d figured it out.

My career has been in banking and hospitality, where you live or die by customer service.  Being great at resolving problems is key to maintaining and gaining customers. Comcast may save labor costs by not offering CSR’s by telephone, but in the long run it will hurt them.  Given the choice of providers, I will go with the one I can get on the telephone.

We had another customer service experience with a shower door we purchased at Home Depot.  Because of the size and weight, we requested that it be shipped.  We were given a 12-hour window for delivery, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Home Depot said that they would call us ½ hour before delivery.  We loitered around most of the day, and did not receive a call.  Around 4 p.m., a truck pulled into the condo parking lot.  It was apparent that the two men were father and son, and that this was a contract firm delivering for Home Depot. They unloaded the door box, and started wheeling it towards our unit, which was the last one on the walkway.  The son wore a mask, while the father had none. I commented “where’s your mask”? He angrily replied that he was outside and he didn’t need one.  At the same time, he turned the cart with the door around, backtracked 20 or 30 feet further away, and unloaded the box as well as a heavy pallet, onto the walkway.   The pallet was used to load the door onto the truck at Home Depot. I asked him to take it away, but he declined.

Normally, delivery people try to accommodate, and I usually give them a tip, but not this pair.  I called Home Depot and got Jeff, the manager on duty. He listened to our story and came out the next day to pick up the pallet.

As a positive example of customer service, we purchased a new mattress after 20 or so years. Mattress Firm arranged a 2-hour delivery window, and offered real time tracking of the truck so we could know when to expect them.  The delivery people, who also appeared to be an outside contractor, wore booties into the house, disassembled and removed the old bed frame, assembled the new one, and were in and out without lots of fuss. I tipped them.


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