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Crabby Old Lady's Customer Service Success

Last week, Crabby Old Lady's internet and television provider, Comcast, sent a letter with a big bold telephone number and headline asking, Are You Getting the Best Value?

In November, when the company raised her monthly fee again (as they do every year without providing increased service), Crabby had made a mental note to arrange to drop some of her TV services to save a few bucks. The new letter was a good reminder to do so.

PLEASE STAND BY: Any of you pious folks who don't watch television, please keep it to yourself. Crabby does watch television and finds it crucial to understanding the cultural and political zeitgeist of the country just as regularly following internet trends is too.

Moreover, she likes various news and opinion programs that help keep her informed and she relishes the renaissance in original drama series that has taken place over the past few years. The writing and production values are, overall, much better these days than in the majority of feature films.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post:

Before Crabby could explain why she was calling, the Comcast customer service representative launched into a sales pitch for a higher priced service that included a bunch of premium channels like HBO, Showtime, etc.

Crabby explained that she had no interest in those channels and her point with the call was to lower the price, not raise it. She suggested how that might be done.

The woman said (Crabby paraphrases, but it's close): “The only package Comcast is prepared to offer you at this time is the more expensive one I described.”

CRABBY: Do you mean there is no lower-priced package available and the only way I can change my account is to pay more or cancel altogether?

CSR: Yes, this package is all I can offer you.

Crabby found this to be not believable and phoned back to get a different representative who spent 10 minutes trying to pull up Crabby's account on her computer without success.

Because both representatives Crabby spoke with were located somewhere other than Oregon (she could tell because they mispronounced the state's name), Crabby next tracked down a local customer service number for Comcast and tried that.

What a difference. John (not his real name) was smart, well-informed, personable, eager to help and funny too. Crabby had a fine, ol' time laughing and talking with John about television, the internet, old people, high prices for everything, her specific Comcast services and how she might reduce her monthly bill.

In the end, the services Crabby was willing to cancel would not affect the price and she was unwilling to reduce the speed of her internet connection. So John knocked $20 off the bill for the next six months.

Not a whole lot less than the full price, but just enough (they probably do surveys to pinpoint the exact discount that works) to let Crabby feel a little better. She and John were having such a good time that Crabby felt free to tease him a bit. “Oh fine,' she said. “That's nice now but it jumps again come summer.”

John gave Crabby his direct telephone number and told her to call him back then, implying that another adjustment could be made. Because she's an old cynic, Crabby tried the number and behold, it is John's direct line – at least for one day.

So Crabby is guessing that it sometimes helps (a little) with service providers to be persistent and not accept the first answer.

Actually, Crabby had intended to take today off from blogging but it's not often that customer service news is good (sort of) and this didn't take but 10 minutes to write.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, June Calendar: Mistaken Identity


Ronni--Goof for you on perservering. It pays! It also, as you well know, pays to be able to engage the person from whom you wish help in a personal way. Well done!
(And...you've already set a reminder to yourself to call John in six months, haven't you?)


I also have Comcast as my TV and Internet provider and deal with their Customer Service dept.quite a bit.

Over the years of turning it off for the Winter in Pennsylvania and turning it on in Florida, I have had many conversations with a lot of their reps.

The thing I find most fascinating about the Comcast system is that,apparently, each rep makes up the Comcast rules and regs as they go along. No two agents ever tell you the same thing or quote the same price. So, the trick is to keep dialing and holding till you get a rep who gives you what you want and what is fair.

I have often gone through two or three until I get one who agrees that I shouldn't be charged for the time that the system was down for 3 months while I was away.

Then, as soon as they make up what THEY think Comcast should charge you, and you agree, it's all good and you are happy with your service till the next time you have a problem.

Don't throw John's number away,Ronni. If he's not in the Witness Protection Program when you next need him, you may actually get him again.

I’m glad you finally got a hold of a friendly and congenial representative Ronni. I have found Comcast to be one of the more pleasant providers to deal with and for the most part they do seem willing to try and resolve your issue.

Unless of course, if you will recall from one of my past experiences with them, you set your portable phone down for a brief moment but when you start to pick the phone back up you accidently pick up your TV remote instead and then become a bit irate wondering why the representative seems to be giving you the silent treatment or worse – hung up on you!

Congratulations on a 50% rate of satisfying vs. infuriating outcomes from a phone call to customer service. A 50% positive rate is generally higher than we have at this house. I'm certain that when my husband finally goes to his big reward it will come during a session of red-faced apoplexy on the phone with customer service.

Heh, heh - I remember that story, Alan. For others who might have missed it, do check it out here. You'll love it.

I'm pretty sure you must be correct about Comcast reps making it up as they go along. I don't recall specifics, but I do remember wondering, WTF, with all the different answers to my same question.

Thanks for the good advice to always keep trying.

And yes, Cop Car, it's in my calendar for July although I suppose the larger bill that month will be all the alert I need.

Good for you, Ronni! I too have Comcast just for cable tv and while the cost is getting outrageous, my service is always great and when I do need to talk to a rep. they are always courteous and helpful. Go figure!

Now, I also have had a good customer service experience--at the Post Office no less!

The weekend before Christmas I was up early and at the post office to mail my box to family in Minnesota. I was the first in line when they opened up and I sent the package and bought a book of stamps. I then went on my merry way to run my usual errands around 9:15 am. When I was strolling around Target, it dawned on me "what did I do with my stamps?" I stopped and searched my purse...not there. When I got back to my car, I searched the seat and floor--nope not there either. All I can remember is that the clerk handed me the stamps and then the credit slip for me to sign. I put the stamps down to sign the slip. He gave me a receipt and I walked out...without the stamps.

I was so angry with myself. The book of stamps was close to $10.00! By the time I made it back to the post office it was close to noon and the line was at least 20 people deep. I wasn't going to stand in line so I walked up to the clerk and quickly said I was his first customer and bought stamps but now can't find them and did he see my stamps at the counter? (I also showed him my receipt). He shook his head and said no but handed me another book of stamps and said "if you find the ones you lost, just bring these back".

Now some folks will cluck and think "this is why the post office is losing money," but I was thrilled and thanked him profusely!

Congratulations on a positive Comcast customer service experience. I have found it extremely frustrating waiting through canned sales ads and talking to a number of people before getting the right person. I hope that guy is still around this summer. Keep us posted!

Well, good for you. I'll let you know how my attack on my bank goes today. Someone is in foreclosure in this building, and many folks think it's us. I'm going directly to the bank, paid bill in hand, this morning as I refuse to deal with an automated line.

It reminds me of AOL years and years back. They needed large membership numbers to keep their lead so they sure didn't want to lose us (even though their DSL servoce was lousy) so they kept giving us "special" rates so as not to lose us. Eventually I switched to cable (Comcast--they were all there was) Every time I'd cancel a service to lower cost, the price would soon go up on my "basic" so they weren't losing! Then Hubby got involved and every six months or so harangues some rep or another threatening to switch somewhere, and the price stays much the same but we get added service--for six months or a year. What a game! But I think they work like the old AOL and enrollment numbers so they don't want to lose us. One day, when we don't win to our satisfaction we probably will switch. Like I say, it's all a game and luckily Hubby knows how to play it quite well!

Congrats!!!! I finally cancelled my cable because Time-Warner was constantly raising their prices and providing nothing in return.

Glad you were able to win your fight!

I just called Knology to see what it would cost to drop my home phone & get internet only. $65.00!!! For internet...my bill for both is $80.00 (this is with all the taxes & fees added in) so I'm going to the local office & see if an actual person can give me a better deal. Have you noticed that we comment on the few occasions that customer service is helpful & polite when we should be commenting on the times when they aren't? Sad.

Two things about "we only comment when customer service is helpful":

1. That's because is so rarely is helpful

2. The reason Crabby wrote this story today is because she has written innumerable rants in the past about how awful customer service is and she thought she ought to acknowledge the occasional good experience.

There isn't enough space to tell the story of my bad customer service experience with Hewlett Packard over my new PC. I talked to 4 people and will have to do battle again. It was a frustrating experience taking up 4 hours of my time and isn't resolved yet. Grrrrr.

After my daughter leaves I may write a blog on it. It was so frustrating that it almost made me want to leave the digital age and go back to reading and writing longhand. Now that's bad.

I think we ought to write about good customer service. Just maybe it will convince company's to look at this issue. I guess I subscribe to the theory that its better to use honey than vinegar. Great customer service is Nordstroms and Les Scwab's. both NW companies, does that tell you something? bkj

I'm telling you Ronni, you just need to kick the cable habit. You're going to fight them every year over price increases.

I dumped mine, paid about $100 for a nice digital exterior antenna and now get all the free TV I want. If you're located near a broadcast antenna you can get great reception with a cheaper interior digital antenna. (about $30)

I had some withdrawals when I couldn't watch The Daily Show and Bill Maher's Real Time, both cable channels, but I get them delayed on my internet without charge.

I made another investment (about$175) in a Samsung Blue-Ray disc player with wi-fi capabilities and it came with a package deal where you can get apps for movie channels like Netflix, ($8 a month fee) or totally free apps for music (Pandora) and world news (BBC) along with pay per view channels for recently released movies.

I went from about $220 a month for the package deal with phone, TV and internet to just $85 for Internet. I ditched the land line and use only my cell phone now.

The quality of the picture is just like cable and I get all the channels I need "to understanding the cultural and political zeitgeist of the country" and "various news and opinion programs that help keep" me informed.

The selection of course is smaller but I have no regrets while saving myself about $1800 a year and not worrying about negotiating future charges.

Hi Ronni, I posted your article on my Facebook page and have a person asking if you are comfortable disclosing what percentage, approximately, you are saving with the $20 deduction. If you are, great. If not, I understand.

I have my phone, internet, and cable through Comcast, or xfinity as it's calling itself in Denver. A little over a year ago my phone and my internet stopped working. They sent a repairman out and everything worked long enough for the repairman to get out of sight. This went on for about 4 repairmen - every time they sent another one it was to make sure the previous one had checked everything properly.

It was at this point that I called their corporate headquarters expecting to get the corporate version of the local runaround. But lo and behold corporate gave me the direct line to head of service here. It didn't fix the problem immediately, but it made me feel like I had some control over the situation.

It took them over a month from beginning to end to replace the outside line that I needed and that had been diagnosed by about repairman #3.

I particular admire your non-crabby way of dealing with your problem COL. Kudos! I can't say I was as nice during my ordeal as it sounds like you were.

Thanks for this post. I'm ON it now, dialing my provider, Cablevision, even as I write this ....

We dumped Comcast for DirectTV several years ago. Since then, Comcast has sent us at least two mail ads per week trying to get us back. Too bad they didn't put in the same effort to keep us.

Here in San Mateo County in CA, we have good service from the P.O. and the DMV, and the local court system makes being on jury duty as painless as possible. We're pretty lucky.

Shall we start in on Verizon!? Maddening....

tenacity pays!

Following my mother-in-law's death in November, we went to the local Comcast office to cancel her cable.

They advised that they would need to see a copy of the death certficate of the person whose name was on the bill, at which time they would not only be happy to cancel the cable, but give a credit back to the date of death.

We returned with a copy of my father-in-law's death certificate from over a decade ago. His name was on the cable bill.

We just got a check for about a month's worth of cable.

We have a Charter bundle of Internet, cable and phone. Every January they increase the rate. The best deal is always had by driving to the local office. And it is almost like they expect you to do so! Usually they just give us back the old rate. One of these days we may switch to dish but for this January, it is another trip to the local office.

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