A chat with Comcast… “This is a rare and complicated issue.”


Comcast Remote Mascot Rubber Suit 2011 Festiva...

Comcast Remote Mascot Rubber Suit 2011 Festival of the Arts June 04, 201124 (Photo credit: stevendepolo)

We’ve all called the cable company, right?  We all know the steps in the process; The unplugging, the replugging, the test signals.  It descends into ridiculousness pretty quickly.  So does my chat with technical support.  This was after trying the unplugging/replugging solution, calling the line and getting the automates system to send a test signal to my cable box & tell me to wait a half an hour for it to take effect, and then talking to a real live person who sent the same signal, told me to wait 45 minutes for it to take effect, and managed to advertise their home phone and internet services… on a technical support call.   That’s more annoying that seeing catering advertisements everywhere in Panera & Boston Market.

chat id: a543eaef-97d5-4dbf-b2ad-9222056467f0
Problem: Not all channels are displaying on 2nd cable box s/n:############. Problem has been occurring all week. I have tried the unplug/replug trick, called the 800# 2x, automated sys & operator both sent reset signal to the box to no avail.
Eric > My Issue: Not all channels are displaying on 2nd cable box s/n:############. Problem has been occurring all week. I have tried the unplug/replug trick, called the 800# 2x, automated sys & operator both sent reset signal to the box to no avail.
Jerand > Hello Eric, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Jerand. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Jerand > Oh my, I can’t imagine myself having those equipment issues especially that cable TV is part of my daily routine, no worries, we’ll definitely work on a sure fix to resolve this one way or the other.
Jerand > I’m really sorry that you have experienced this issue.
Jerand > I am seeing here that you have problem in getting channels with your box, correct?
Eric > Thank you Jerand.
Eric > That is correct. Not all channels are displaying on my box.
Eric > For example, the History Channel. (#53 regular, 876 digital.)
Eric > I had a similar issue when I first installed these new HD boxes.
Jerand > Are you able to see history channel in channel 46?
Eric > s/n above was somehow replaced by an emoticon… actual s/n: ############
Jerand > How may boxes do you have, Eric?
Eric > No, I try to see channel 46, and it takes it to 47 (AMC), still no picture.
Eric > We have 2 boxes. The other one is working perfectly fine. Watching H2 right now in HD.
Jerand > So you have 2 HD boxes, correct?
Eric > Yes, that is correct.
Jerand > Thanks for clarifying that.
Jerand > I am going to perform a diagnostic check of your services and equipment. This “Health Check” verifies the current status of your equipment and you services. It should only take a minute or two for the results. Would you mind staying on the chat?
Eric > No problem, Jerand. I would like this issue to be resolved tonight if possible.
Jerand > Thanks for clarifying that.
Jerand > I appreciate your cooperation.
Jerand > Thank you.
Jerand > By the way, let me share with you a very entertaining Comcast feature. Did you know you can watch many of your favorite TV shows and movies online at no additional cost with Comcast. Check out http://www.xfinitytv.com to watch the latest TV shows, relive a favorite television moment, or just relax with a movie. All you need to do is to open a browser, type http://www.xfinitytv.com and you can start to witness thousands of fascinating titles and TV shows.
Eric > Thanks for your help, I look forward to the “Health Check” results.
Eric > That sounds interesting, but I don’t watch much TV on my computer.
Jerand > Thank you for patiently waiting. I apologize for it being longer than you expected.
Jerand > I don’t see anything on your account or any outage in your area that would be causing this issue.
Jerand > Can you please check on your box and see if there is any progress.
Eric > Thanks Jerand. Our working cable box did cut out & come back on…but the box that’s not working is still not working.
Jerand > Is that with the same box, correct?
Eric > Yes, that is correct. Box ############ is still not working correctly.
Jerand > Please bare with me.
Eric > No problem.
Jerand > Would you allow me 2-3 minutes to check on this again?
Eric > Yes, be my guest. Thank you!
Jerand > You are most welcome.
Jerand > While waiting I want to introduce to you comcast.com, Comcast.com has an extensive series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that cover all of our products. Customers do not have to sign in to access the FAQs. Quick steps to do it. Open a web browser window and go to http://customer.comcast.com/Pages/HelpNFC.aspx?id=Comcast-Help-and-Support-Cable-TV On the home page, the navigation menus are on the left side of the window and click on Customers then Help and Support.
Jerand > Oh, by the way.
Jerand > Are you having skipping channel issues?
Eric > I’m trying chat because both of my phone calls to 1-800-XFINITY amount to being as helpful as asking my wall to fix the cable box. I’m not sure what you mean by skipping channels?
Jerand > Can you please tell me what channels are you trying to watch?
Eric > Thank you for informing me about the FAQ. You may want to tell your managers/superiors that it’s quite annoying to have Comcast features or other services advertised to you while you’re on chat (or on a phone line) trying to resolve a technical issue. I understand that you’re just doing your job… so I can’t get mad at you. It’s a goofy idea.
Eric > I am trying to watch the History Channel. Either 53 regular definition or 875 HD.
Eric > Actually, the box that WAS working fine… now has “To Be Announced” in every time slot in the guide menu.
Jerand > Sorry about the the advertisement.
Jerand > When you access channel 53 and 758, TCM and HISTORY HD, what can you see on the screen?
Eric > Again, I understand it’s not your fault or decision, Jerand. You are trying your best to help me out.
Eric > I see a black screen (with a temporary blue info box at the bottom) when I try 53 & 758. Those aren’t the correct channels for my area.
Eric > 53 is the History Channel here.
Eric > The menu shows that American Pickers should be on right now, but it’s a black screen.
Eric > No sound.
Jerand > Thanks for clarifying that.
Jerand > Hold on a minute please.
Jerand > This is a rare and complicated issue.
Jerand > This could be a box problem.
Eric > No problem.
Eric > Is there a way that I can get a new box to install?
Jerand > May I know the type of connector that you are using to connect the cable box to your TV? i,e. RCA(yellow, white, red), Component(blue, green, red), Coax(the same wire used to connect the box to the wall).
Jerand > Correct! It is really possible. You can swap your box at your nearest local office.
Eric > Component.
Jerand > Do you have an HDMI wire?
Eric > The TV that I’m connecting to doesn’t have an HDMI input. It’s an older flat screen with only DVI, component, & coax inputs.
Eric > I am able to see some channels with no issues. 802 (local KDKA channel 2 for example) is displaying properly.
Jerand > Can we follow these steps please:
Jerand > 1. Locate one of the following buttons on your TV remote- Input, TV/VCR, Source. Press whichever is available. 2. Select the correct input. Please take note of the following. ***If you are using HDMI cable wire to connect the box to the TV, make sure your TV is on HDMI input. *** If coax cable, it should be on channel 3 or 4. *** If component cables (colored wires), on Video or Aux.
Eric > Yes, I have the component cable connected, and the TV is on the input setting for the correct connection.
Eric > Jerand, I’m really really not an idiot. I’m actually quite technically savvy.
Jerand > I’ve reviewed our systems and we’ve performed the necessary troubleshooting. Obviously there is still an issue so I feel the best method is to open a ticket to report this to our technician team.
Jerand > I believe this is a defective box.
Jerand > You can swap this box at your nearest local office, Eric.
Eric > That would be awesome, but I work on the road & don’t have time to wait at home during the day for a cable technician to visit. Can I get a box in the mail & send one back? That’s how I got the HD boxes before.
Jerand > Sure! I would be glad to do that for you.
Eric > I have no idea where the local Comcast office is, or if I can even get there during their operating hours.
Eric > Jerand, you are a saint. Thank you for your time and persistence.
Jerand > Please give me a minute to process your request.
Eric > When you tell your manager/supervisor that the advertisements are annoying to customers, tell them that you need a raise.
Jerand > Acknowledge, Eric. I am sorry.
Eric > I think we may have a bit of a language barrier here. English isn’t your first language, is it? No matter. We’re arriving at an agreeable solution, my friend.
Jerand > Acknowledged*
Jerand > I am sorry for the typo, I am handling 4 customers now.
Jerand > But you are my first priority.
Eric > Wow, that’s a lot to handle! Thank you for your time.
Jerand > There would be a $9.95 fee for shipping the box, I will do credit this amount for an inconvenience.
Jerand > In order for me to validate this shipping transaction, I need to verify the account completely. For verification purposes, may I please have your account number?
Eric > Thank you, sounds like a plan.
Eric > Sure: ______________
Jerand > I am almost done, please give me 1 more minute.
Eric > Anything for you, my friend.
Jerand > Thank you for patiently waiting. I apologize for it being longer than you expected.
Eric > This is the best customer service I have ever received from Comcast.
Jerand > Here is your order # ______________.
Jerand > You will be receiving the HD box within 3-5 business days.
Eric > The people I talked to on the phone might has well have been robots.
Eric > Thank you, Jerand. Good luck with your other 3 customers! Don’t forget to tell your boss that you deserve a raise. (…and that in-support advertisements are more annoying than nails on a chalkboard.)
Jerand > You are most welcome.
Jerand > Just a quick recap, we have check the input on your box, connections, and since we have detected that this a problem with the box we prefer to change to box. We shipped and I already credited the $9.95 shipping fee.
Jerand > Just to let you know, at the end of this chat there will be a short survey. I would appreciate it if you would take a moment to complete it so we can continue to improve the service we provide to you.
Jerand > Is there anything else I can help you with? I am glad to assist you further.
Eric > Nope, that’s all tonight. I understand that a box is coming to my house, I will be credited the shipping charge, and that I know how to connect the box to my TV and select the correct input with the remote control. I also understand that there will be a survey. Will I get a credit on my cable bill for all the TV that I will miss in the next 3 to 5 business days while I wait for this box?
Jerand > Sure, I will also make sure you will not be billed for the interval where you had no service, so no worries, this is as good as fixed.
Jerand > Yes, you will be receiving that with 3-5 business days.
Eric > Dude, that RULES.
Eric > Thank you for your time & assistance.
Jerand > You are most welcome.
Jerand > Thank you for your patience and understanding as well.
Jerand > Is there anything else I can help you with? I am glad to assist you further.
Eric > Nope that’s all this evening, sir.
Jerand > I would greatly appreciate it if you can spare a few seconds to take the survey. Your favorable answer will inspire us to continue improving our service. Once you click on “EXIT CHAT” it is located on the upper-right corner of the chat box, you can now “TAKE SURVEY” highlighted in red. I am glad that I was able to Resolved your issue, there is no additional steps needed. Your feedback would mean alot to me.
Eric > Rock n’ roll! \m/ I’ll give you high scores on the feedback.
Jerand > You are most welcome.
Jerand > I appreciate your cooperation.
Jerand > Take care of yourself for me.
Jerand > Don’t forget the survey!
Jerand > Thank you for contacting Comcast! We appreciate your business and value you as a customer! If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us through Live Chat or E-mail (available 24 hours a day, 7days a week). Comcast also offers great FAQ and Help forums located at http://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/ to help you solve many issues on your own. You can also reach us through our Hotline 1-800-9346489 or 1-800-XFINITY. To close the chat, please click the exit chat or end session button now. You take good care always and have a wonderful night!
Eric > You too, my friend, you too!
Outsourced (film)

Outsourced (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently being a smartass can save you a couple of bucks off of your cable bill.  It never hurts to ask, right?  I could break down so many of those responses & analyze them… but I thought it was a fun conversation as a whole.

I took a survey afterwards, & left this in the comment box:

I had to call 1-800-XFINITY twice, then do a chat to get a resolution.  Jerand who was the last to chat with me was an exemplary employee… despite what I perceived as a slight language barrier.  Your tech support shouldn’t pretend they’re in the US when they’re not.  Jerand is the man.  Give him a raise.

Also…  STOP WITH THE ADVERTISEMENTS WHILE I’M TRYING TO GET A TECHNICAL ISSUE RESOLVED.  It’s annoying, insulting, and aggravating.  Why would I want to order more services form a company that can’t provide me with ONE service that works properly?

Hope that dude gets some recognition.  Ha ha.

Netflix: “Oops”.


A Netflix envelope picture taken by BlueMint.

Image via Wikipedia

Searched for this after some buzz on Twitter:

“We underestimated the appeal of the single web site and a single service,” Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman, said in a telephone interview. He quickly added: “We greatly underestimated it.”

You think?  Apparently a lot of people thought the same things that I did about the whole plan.  The whole article is interesting, and can be found here: Netflix Abandons Plan to Rent DVDs on Qwikster

Maybe now they can work on deals to stream more new movies… and a better back-catalog of older movies.  (Like the entire Star Trek movie series?)

I still love that Oatmeal cartoon.  I hope they do another one.

Qwikster is quite possibly the dumbest idea ever.


Image representing Reed Hastings as depicted i...

Reed Hastings is Absolutely Insane

Not only is it a dumb name, but separating the two services is ridiculous.  It had to be the answer to the question “What’s the worst possible thing we could do for business right now?”

Sorry.  I’m getting ahead of myself.  We all heard about Netflix recently separating their streaming and DVD services into two categories.  I thought I was in the minority, & while slightly tweaked at the price hike… kept with the two now individual plans.  I mean, I like access to the latest movies which are only available on DVD/Blu-ray.  I also like being able to go watch some older films in an instant without any planning whatsoever, and the cool TV shows available like the BBC’s Robin Hood that I would have normally never seen.

I’m sure there are people out there who think the streaming plan is useless, have no idea what Blu-ray is, and just want their DVD’s.  I’m sure there are people who want streaming movies… and probably can’t fathom why anyone would want physical media mailed to them.

I’m guessing that the same people who need a shelf full of 30 different kinds of peanut butter or an entire aisle full of bread varieties at the grocery store like to have options.  We also like things that help us get organized.

Having an online queue of movies that I’d like to watch is pretty cool.  Knowing that the same movie is available for streaming is also pretty cool.  The lack of this will be the opposite of cool, and I don’t understand how Netflix doesn’t see this.

This is also one of the strangest emails ever…

From: “Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix” <info@netflix.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2011 3:25 AM
Subject: An Explanation and Some Reflections

Dear Eric,

I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

So here is what we are doing and why.

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the Qwikster.com website is up and ready.

For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

I want to acknowledge and thank you for sticking with us, and to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.

Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.

Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.

This message was mailed to [me] by Netflix.
SRC: 1578.0.US.en-US
Use of the Netflix service and website constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
(c) 2011 Netflix, Inc. 100 Winchester Circle, Los Gatos, CA 95032, U.S.A.

This is Charlie Sheen level insanity here.  This may be even Gary Busey level crazy.  (By the way, why is he in those creepy local Kia commercials?) 

This long-form is even crazier: An Explanation and Some Reflections …along with this.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that none of your customers think this is a good idea.  Let me break it down for you:

  • The price increase for the base plan was dumb.  You realize that now.  Why not fix that?
  • A streaming-only service would be awesome… IF THERE WAS MORE CONTENT.
    • Streaming newer movies would obviously be the biggest draw.  Work out that licensing.  I know it’s not simple.  Figure it out.
    • Streaming more content & more current movies would make me buy new hardware.  Currently we stream Netflix through the Wii.  If I could get more new movies… I’d upgrade to a Bluray player that does streaming at a better quality or something like the Roku 2 player.
    • Old movies that are part of a series… only some are available.  You can stream The Wrath of Kahn but not the entire Star Trek series?  Dumb.
    • Special episodes/bonus content of DVD’s not available for streaming.  A minor annoyance, but still… Dumb.
  • I don’t want two distinct services where there was once one all-encompassing service.
    • One site to manage two queues is quite convenient.
    • I don’t want 2 separate charges for 2 separate services where there once was one.  I’m guessing no one else does either.
    • I don’t want to figure out for myself what’s available for streaming & what’s available on DVD.  Especially if I’m paying twice the price for the service.

Imagine going to your local pizza shop and they decide that they’re only going to do pizza because they do dough, sauce, & cheese really well.   If you want any toppings, subs, bread-sticks, drinks, or a salad… you need to go across the street and buy them.  Oh, now the place across the street sells wings too!  They have separate menus… but it’s just across the street, so no big deal, right?  Does this sound like a great idea, Reed Hastings?

Ridiculous.

[Woah – The Oatmeal read my mind!]