I tried a week or so ago to start my cable and internet service, now that my landlord has moved out of the upstairs apartment and is going to close his account. I go onto the Comcast website once again, into the New Customer area... fill in my contact info, DOB, and SSN (yes, it's at least nominally a secure site), choose the service package I want (which is on sale right now, yay!), and click on a button that says "Start Live Chat to Set and Confirm Installation Time." Here's what it looks like, with some data redacted...
user Herbert has entered room
HERBERT> Internet and basic cable installation, new service.
analyst Doris has entered room
Doris> Hello Herbert_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Justine Doris. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Doris> While waiting, I would like to inform you that our goal is to provide you with a consistently superior customer experience – that’s our guarantee. Learn more about the Comcast Customer Guarantee at click here : http://www.comcast.com/corporate/Customers/CustomerGuarantee.html?fss=customer guarantee .
Doris> How are you today, Herbert?
Herbert_> Things are good. I'm signing up for the basic cable/internet service, and need a modem as well.
Doris> Oh, so you don't have Comcast account yet, you are trying to set up one, correct?
Doris> Thanks you for choosing Comcast as your Service provider.
Doris> Thank you for providing your information in the chat initiation form. Would you please verify the information below is correct?
First name Herbert
Last name ________
Phone Number ______________
Street Address ____________
Zip Code __________
Herbert_> All correct.
Doris> Can you please provide me with the complete address, including the City and State?
Herbert_> Sure. __________________________________.
Doris> Herbert' just to set proper expectations, we actually have Sales department who can further assist you with setting up new account.
Doris> I'll be providing the information that you gave me.
Doris> Our Sales department will provide you further details about the services available.
Doris> Do you have other concern before I'll transfer this chat?
Herbert_> Nope. Thanks for your help.
Doris> You're welcome!
Doris> I would like to welcome you ahead for being part of Comcast Family.
Doris> Please stay connected to the chat for the next available representative. Thank you for choosing Comcast for your entertainment needs.
Doris> Let me connect you with our Sales team. They have access to the most current promotional offers in your area and can assist you with getting the best option based on your needs. Thank you for choosing Comcast as your entertainment provider.
Doris> Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst
analyst Doris has left room
Bye, Doris. Thanks for escalating me.
Now it’s 11:28. And I got to Doris from the new-customer-offers page, so how I was linked to a technical troubleshooter instead of an installation scheduler, I have no idea.
at 11:34, analyst Ronald arrives.
analyst Ronald has entered room
Ronald> Welcome to Comcast Chat Sales. It's my pleasure to process your order and answer any questions you may have throughout our conversation. Thank you.
Ronald> Hi there, Herbert.
Ronald> Sorry to keep you waiting.
Herbert_> Nice to meet you.
Ronald> I understand that you are interested in our Basic cable and internet. Is this correct?
Herbert_> Correct. However, I doubt I'll be at this address for a full year, so I'd be interested in a plan that doesn't require a 12-month contract.
And now I’ve stumped him. We’re immobile for five minutes. Then at 11:38,
Ronald> Are we still connected?
Herbert_> Yes indeed
Ronald> Okay then.
Ronald> I can check on that for you.
Ronald> Is _________________________ your complete address?
Herbert_> Yes it is.
Ronald> Thank you.
Ronald> Please give me a moment to pull up your address here in our system. Thank you.
A couple of minutes go by.
Ronald> Herbert, may I ask for the exact apartment number?
Herbert_> This is a two family house. My apartment on the first floor has the address XX ____________. The upstairs apartment is XX-A ____________. That's all the unit designations there are.
Ronald> Oh, okay.
Ronald> I can see here active Comcast customers in the two service address, Herbert.
Herbert_> The landlord, who lived upstairs, has just moved out, but has left his service active in that apartment. There should be no active account for mine.
Herbert_> Could be that he had a different account for each. His last name is ____________.
Ronald> Okay, thank you for the information.
Ronald> Let me double check.
Ronald> Yes, I can see here still active Comcast customer under that name, Herbert.
Ronald> No worries though, we can still install Comcast services in your address. However, the process for that is different.
Of course it is... Now it’s 11:48 p.m. I get up and pour myself a cup of tea. It seems that Ronald is probably doing the same. At 11:51:
Ronald> The step would be to verify that you have already taken over the address and also to update your address in the system of our local office.
Ronald> This would be a very important step. This is also for you not to be billed of the amount for which you do not owe. All you need to bring is a Valid ID and a Lease or any proof of residency.
Herbert_> Okay. And where is this office?
Ronald> Sure, I will pull up our Service Center address and number for your references so you can make a call now or anytime at your convenience.
Ronald trudges off to the dusty archives to retrieve the 1994 phone book that has the Comcast street addresses in them. And can I really call NOW, at midnight EDT? (The answer, we shall soon see, is "of COURSE not!")
Ronald> Comcast Service Centers in your area:
Ronald> 1. Somerville. Hours: Monday-Friday: 9:00am-5:00pm (opens at 11:00am on 3rd Tuesday of each month). Saturday: 9:00am-2:00pm. 57 Holland St Somerville, MA 02144. 800-266-2278
Ronald> 2. Malden. Hours: Monday-Friday: 8:30am-6:00pm (opens at 11:00am on 3rd Thursday of each month). Saturday: 9:00am-2:00pm. 300 Commercial St Suite 12 Malden, MA 02148. 800-266-2278
Interesting that they both have the same 800 number. If I were to call it, I'm sure I'd be speaking with someone in Tacoma.
Herbert_> Good. Looks like I’ll be in Somerville tomorrow afternoon.
Ronald> Alright then.
Ronald> I hope you will consider this issue resolved in my end by giving you the steps on how to have Comcast services.
Ronald> Would there be anything else that I can be of assistance?
Herbert_> Nope, I'm all set. Thanks for your help.
Ronald> You are welcome.
Ronald> Thank you for contacting Comcast! We appreciate your business and value you as a customer. 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. Please click on the End Session Button or Exit Chat Button to take the survey now.
Ronald> Goodbye and take care!
Goodnight, Ronald. Sweet dreams.
So at 11:58, an hour after I started, I now go back to square one with a trip to Somerville tomorrow afternoon, lease in hand. Back in the old days, I would have gone to their office in the first place. Nowadays, I have to sit in a chatroom for an hour first before I then get to go to the office. Progress!