When the Internet is about life and death...forget Comcast
It's one thing when your Internet connection is down and you can't shop on eBay. It's quite another when it affects a life and death situation. And it's maddening when you're dealing with Comcast.
Sue works for the state of Massachusetts in child protection. There are times when she'll get a call in the middle of the night and she has to go to an emergency. By emergency, I mean a 911 call where she'll meet the police and there could be alcohol, drugs, and guns involved. When this happens, the first thing she does is map Google the location where she has to go. As you can guess, most of these emergencies don't take place in the best of neighborhoods-- neighborhoods where you don't want to be driving around in the middle of the night asking for directions. Also, if she doesn't pull the location off the Internet, she has to drive to the local police department and get directions, which amounts to a significant loss of response time.
So try explaining this to Comcast.
Friday night that's exactly what happened. She got a call and when she Googled the Internet was down. A woman had been severely beaten and there were four children involved. The situation was so dangerous that at one point the responding officer considered drawing his firearm.
Today is Tuesday, and after about five lengthy phone calls to Comcast's customer service center in South Texas (Loredo) and after guarantees that the service would be fixed in 24 hours, we have is occasional uptime with the Internet that is obvious isn't a result of any work on Comcast's part. Even after I explained that lives were at risk.
All we kept getting were a lot of I'm sorries and I understand your frustration, responses that the customer service reps are taught to say.
What's worse is that the technicians in the Boston area lied about their response. I was told on Saturday night by a supervisor in Loredo that a technician would be at the house between noon and 4 o'clock. It's a Saturday on Labor Day weekend. Sue and I had things to do but we cancelled everything to be at the apartment when the technician arrived. No technician arrived and later than night during the number of phone calls I had with Loredo they said the technician posted that they called us and no one answered. No one called. My phone logs all my calls, both incoming and outgoing, and no one called from Comcast.
During one conversation with Loredo, a customer service rep told me that the Boston center said not to escalate the problem unless the situation changes. In other words, even though I clearly explained a number of times that this could be considered a life and death situation, the Boston office clearly didn't think so.
What Comcast, and I suspect other Internet providers don't understand is the nature of the Internet. Forget Sue's need for it, it is completely entwined in the fabric of people's lives.
Sue and I don't have a television. We get almost all of our news from the Internet. We follow the presidential elections on the Internet. We streamed Obama's speech the other night.
The Internet, for most of us, has replaced the post office, the bank, the telephone company--just about every service you can think of. We email and IM instead of writing letters. It's how we keep in touch. The old AT&T company never let phone connections go down. I can barely think of a time going without phone service unless under emergencies like the Blizzard of '78. The post office delivered mail through rain and sleet and snow. That's the attitude Comcast should take, but they don't.
And I am so opposed to government intervention into anything, but rather than worry about what Roger Clemens shot into his hiney, shouldn't Congress worry more about the business practices of something like Comcast and how it is negatively affecting our lives? There is a side of degregulation that is a wonderful thing. But there is also a part of it that allows organizations (financial institutions and communication companies come to mind) to engage in shoddy and unethical business practices.