A Strange Story Of Customer Disservice From Comcast

Even though three Comcast technicians have visited Sheldon Masel's house, they still can't install a working phone. What now?

Question: Comcast has tried three times to switch my phone service from AT&T to Comcast. Each time, the technicians play with the phone jack wiring but are unable to install a phone. Even so, they have each marked their work order "completed."

The technicians have all been contract workers and so far, Comcast has been unable to send a staff repair person.

I don't have a working phone. Can you help? -- Sheldon Masel, Aventura, Fla.

Answer: Comcast should have installed your phone correctly the first time. It doesn't matter that the company uses technicians that aren't employed by Comcast. A lot of companies do that, and they -- and you -- should be able to hold them to the same high standards as you would hold the company.

Comcast implies that you'll get a phone that works. Its values statement promises to shape "a world that uses technology and media to improve lives in unexpected ways" and to inspire you to "reach your full potential." It did neither for you. Specific to your phone, Comcast, made a list of promises, including quick fixes for your problems and credits, which it also apparently failed to do.

I have to admit, this is one of the stranger tales of customer disservice I've come across recently. How hard can it be to install a phone? And how is it possible that three technicians couldn't fix the wiring in your home? I'm no expert on phone installation, but shouldn't there be a three-strikes-and-you're-out rule when it comes to installing a working phone?

This should have been easy to clear up with a call or email. Instead, it took three visits by technicians, all of which failed. At that point, I would have recommended an appeal to one of Comcast's senior customer service managers. I list their names, numbers and emails on my consumer advocacy site.

Comcast is trying to recover a badly damaged reputation for customer service. Its latest score by the authoritative American Customer Satisfaction Index is a below-average 62 out of a possible 100, which is a 15 percent increase from last year, but still makes it a basement-dweller in the service department. Put differently, if you have another choice in phone service providers, you may want to consider them.

Nevertheless, you deserved a working phone. I contacted the company on your behalf. Comcast sent another technician, who replaced the wiring in your home. It offered no reason why the first three technicians were unsuccessful. Everything is now working to your satisfaction.

Christopher Elliott specializes in solving intractable consumer problems. Contact him with your questions on his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google or sign up for his newsletter.