Having spent a lot of time with Comcast business folks I have a huge amount of respect for their skills and intelligence. So I have to ask the obvious question as to why it makes sense to have such lousy customer service since I assume there is a economic reason for doing so.
I recently ordered digital cable, HBO, DVR, HD and high speed internet services from Comcast - that's about $150 a month, probably worth about $5,000 in life time value to Comcast. I get a 4 hour service window from 12-4 (why that makes sense in today's environment, no one knows since it was obvious I was the last customer of the day) - after 3 hours, I start getting nervous and I call them, where they tell me the installer will definitely be there before 4PM. At 4:15 with no word from anyone and no installer, I call again, where after being first put on hold for multiple minutes while they search for the dispatcher in SF, I am told that the installer will probably be there sometime after 5PM, but "that I would get a $20 credit for my problems". With that humorous statement in mind, I spent the next few minutes explaining how that wasn't going to work, but there didn't seem to be any way to reach a person with any authority, even after repeated attempts. So after leaving messages, having my call dropped, and speaking with at least 6 different Comcast reps, I cancelled the order and will continue with my DSL and satellite providers.
What I don't understand is the yield management issue here. In a highly competitive video and data environment, with 2-3 providers in each area (plus emerging Internet options), one would think that Comcast would go out of its way to make sure the initial experience for a new premium video & data customer would be a good one rather than rehashing the old "Cable Guy" horror movie. I realize everyone has to make their operating numbers and that installers cost money ($50/hour?), but my guess is that Comcast SF is running a little too lean on installers, or they need a better prioritization plan, since their inability to deliver service cost them a new customer who would pay $150 a month. Just mystifying to me.