Are you being served? Comcast chat from hell

Are you being served? Comcast chat from hell

Summary: Jason Perlow needed to know just one thing: Was his address serviceable? More than one hour of call center sales talk later, he got his answer.


Late last night, I decided to find out if I could get Xfinity Internet and Comcast cable at my residence in Florida, which I moved into one year ago. I was unable to get it back then, but maybe they could tell me fairly quickly whether the situation had improved.


I used Comcast's web-based chat to talk to a customer support representative, which took me over an hour. Was I able to get cable and high-speed Xfinity broadband? Let's find out.

Chris: Hi, I'm a live Comcast product specialist. Would you like my help checking out?

Chris: Just type your question below.
You: Well, I would like to confirm my address is serviceable.
Chris: Please wait while a secure chat connection is established.
You: we have had issues in our immediate area with getting XFINITY.
Chris: I will be more than willing to help you check if we do service your area. Chris: Do you mind if I ask a few questions to make sure I give you accurate information?
You: sure You: go ahead
Chris: Thank you for letting me ask questions. Chris: Just to check before we move on, are you a current Comcast customer or have you had Comcast service in your nam within the last 120 days?
You: no
Chris: Thank you for considering Comcast! What services are you interested in?
You: XFINITY Burst + internet and also HD DVR service with all premium channels
Chris: Great! Going back, yes we do have service in your area.
You: well, I know we have it in the town, but we may have issues with my specific development
Chris: May I know what do you mean?
You: well, the subdivision that I live in currently uses U-Verse and also a Comcast reseller called Advanced Cable Internet which may have an exclusive contract. The reseller does not offer XFINITY speeds.
You: the last time I checked to see if XFINITY was avaliable was 1 year ago when I moved into this residence.
Chris: I understand that. We can verify that on the last step of the order. Chris: The plan that you have selected is really fantastic! To make sure it meets all your entertainment needs, may I ask you a few questions?
You: sure
Chris: May I ask what channels are essential to you to assist in finding the best package for your house hold?
You: I would like HBO, Showtime, Starz + Cinemax You: all the premiums offered You: do not need sports packages You: do not need on demand services
Chris: Any other channels?
You: no other premiums but I would like all the basic offerings (discovery/history/comedy/scifi/etc) plus broadcast HDs.
Chris: Great! How many TVs do you own and how many are HD?
You: 3 and all are HD.
Chris: Excellent! What types of things do you do online?
You: I require the fastest connection possible.
Chris: Excellent! Do you watch streaming videos, play online games and/or download music online?
You: I require the highest level of service because I do a lot of video conferencing. You: so the 50mbps offering or higher.
Chris: Perfect! How many computers or gaming devices do you connect to the internet? Are any of them laptops?
You: I do not require additional network equipment. You: I require whatever the minimum equipment is needed for you to install a basic connection the the internet. I have my own routers and switches.
Chris: How about Phone service. How often do you call long distance?
You: I have a 3rd party that provides me phone service.
Chris: I know you are considering specific services; however, right now we have Triple Play Bundles for as little as $99/month that may save you even more money! I'd be happy to give you more information on those.
You: do not need triple play. You: I only need internet service and television.
Chris: I understand your concern. Chris: Based on the information you told me I highly recommend our Digital Premier & Performance Internet. It has Over 200 digital channels including HBO®, STARZ®, Cinemax® and SHOWTIME®. It also has XFINITY On Demand™ – more ways to get more entertainment. Enjoy the best selection of current TV shows and hit movies on any screen. It has a download speeds up to 25 Mbps and upload up to 5 Mbps! However you can upgrade it to the 50 Mbps plan in the last step of the order. Chris: It is only for $119.99 per month for the first 12 months with 2-year agreement. How does that sound?
You: Ok. Let's go with that and upgrade to the higher level bandwidth.
Chris: Great! Do you have any other questions before we proceed with the order?
You: no.
Chris: Great! Let's go ahead and get you started! Chris: Please remove the plan from your cart and add the Digital Premier & Performance Internet to your cart. Chris: How are things coming along?
You: okay. You: this has been done.
Chris: At the "Customize My Order" page you will see several customization options! Chris: This page of the order process will allow you to customize your order. Please let me know if you have any questions. Chris: When you are ready to continue please click on the yellow "Continue" button to get to the next page of the order process.
You: ok. I am at the service address page. You: Should I fill that in?
Chris: On this page please enter the information required, it will be used to create your account and verify your identity. The information entered will not be shared with anyone, it is completely confidential and secure.
Chris: Please note, the e-mail address entered on this page will be the login user name for your online account. Chris: Please click on the yellow continue button located under your order summary when you are ready to continue. Chris: On the Installation page you will have the available installation option(s) that are available to you. Chris: Please choose installation date and time and click on next to continue.
You: ok, on the final page, I do not see the bandwidth upgrade option
Chris: I will connect you with our specialist on the last step to help you upgrade. Chris: Please go back to the review order page (last step) so I can connect you with our specialist. Chris: How are things coming along?
You: we are back at the last page now. Does this include the Anyroom DVR?
Chris: I see you are on the last step of the order. Chris: I apologize but it does not.
You: do you offer this?
Chris: Do you have any other questions before I connect you with our specialist? Chris: Yes we do offer it.
You: well, I would like to add it.
Chris: You can add it on the last step as well.
You: ok.
Chris: Great! Do you have any other questions before I connect you with our specialist?
You: no
Chris: Please click here to be connected to our Order Entry team Chris: A representative will assist you in completing your order and will answer any questions you may have.-- Chris: How are things coming along? Chris: Have you successfully connected with the Order Entry Specialist? You: it is connected now.
Chris: Congratulations on making the right choice by going with Comcast today! Are there any other questions that I can answer for you before you go ahead and chat with our Order Entry Specialist?
You: no, we're good.
Chris: Did you know that XFINITY now offers the total home security and home control solution? Chris: It's called XFINITY Home, and it lets you easily and remotely manage your security system, monitor your home, and control your lights and thermostat. Chris: XFINITY Home keeps you more connected to your home and family – wherever you are. To learn more about Xfinity Home and speak with one of our Xfinity Home specialist, go to or call 855-709-1196. Chris: Thank you for choosing Comcast. It has been a pleasure assisting you. Chris: Have a great evening. Pradeep: Hello Jason, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Pradeep. Please give me one moment to review your information. analyst Pradeep has entered room Pradeep: I see you are interested in adding Comcast services. It's my pleasure to process your order and answer any questions you may have. How are you doing today? Jason: Ok. I hope my area is serviced. Pradeep: Let me start by verifying the serviceability of your address; then I'll be asking you a few questions to make sure we get you the best deal. After I complete your order, we will go over all of the charges and the installation process to make sure you don't have any questions.Will this be ok? Jason: that's fine Pradeep: Jason, I see that you are interested in our Digital Premier & Performance Internet with 2-year agreement at [REDACTED], is this correct?
Pradeep: I'm afraid I am unable to locate this address in my system. Would you please confirm the address I have is correct? Jason: that is correct. Pradeep: Thank you for the confirmation. Pradeep: I have double checked in my system, and I am still unable to find a match for this address. It could be that the address never had our services and has not been registered with us yet. Was this address recently constructed or renovated? Jason: No. The house and the development was built in 1993. Jason: The address is in a gated development. Pradeep: Okay. Pradeep: Do you happen to know if your neighbors have Comcast services? Jason: I do not believe any of them do as I cannot see any "XFINITY" SSIDs broadcast near my house. Pradeep: Alright! Pradeep: Unfortunately, I am unable to add an account at this address. I am submitting a request to verify if Comcast is the service provider for this address. To assist our technician in locating your address, would you please provide the street names for the nearest intersection? Jason: That would be [REDACTED]. Pradeep: Thank you. Pradeep: This request can take up to 7-10 business days if a field technician needs to visit the site, but typically only take about 5 business days. We will contact you once the investigation is complete. May I please have your email address and the best contact number and time to reach you? Jason: that would be [REDACTED]. Pradeep: Thank you providing all the details. Pradeep: I have successfully submitted the serviceability request for your address. I am saddened that we cannot sign you up right away for Comcast services. However, you may expect a call from our higher fix department once the investigation has been completed. Jason: Okay, let's hope for the best.

Topics: Broadband, Networking, Telcos


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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    A simple "NO" is impossible for them.
  • Real hell starts after the installation

    It's your fault your cable is out *again*. You need to pay us to rewire your house. You need to pay us for a service call. You don't have the right to expect uninterrupted service. Your internet connection is UP TO the advertised speed - it's not our fault if everyone else in your neighborhood is streaming Netflix video and you only get 5MB download speed.
    • I needed a rewire about 4 years ago

      and I didn't pay 1 cent for it. They admitted the existing wiring was substandard for HD and internet combined and did everything for free.
      Michael Kelly
  • The real Problem

    "You: well, the subdivision that I live in currently uses U-Verse and also a Comcast reseller called Advanced Cable Internet which may have an exclusive contract. The reseller does not offer XFINITY speeds."

    I stay away for any exclusive third party reseller, once these rats get the contact from an ignorant developer or HOA they care less about improving service . HOA and exclusive contracts are a deal breaker for me. My apartment had a similar exclusive contract (no digital or cable internet ) until Comcast bought them out. (a good lesson for all the completion anti cable corporation shills, not every small competitor is a deal for us the consumer. Often such regulation works against the consumer)
  • your first mistake

    was allowing them to ask you questions first.

    Tech knowledge != Tech support knowledge
  • Hellish?

    What's "hellish" about this?

    Person 1 is a sales bot who helps you pick a service package based on their offerings.

    Person 2 is an analyst who can't find your address so he's going to actually send someone out to make sure you can be serviced instead of just closing the deal and waiting for the installer to give you any bad news.

    Don't think this qualifies as "hellish", in fact it barely qualifies as "not so good".
    • What's missing is that it would be better to verify

      that service can be actually be provided prior to going through the order process. If service cannot be provided, then it is pointless which channels or how fast the internet speeds are.
    • Hellish

      Hellish is taking an hour and half to answer a yes/no question. Well either hellish or political!
  • been there, done that

    I had a similar upsell and runaround experience with Comcast trying to get information about cable packages at my new address. The main issue was that the current tenants use Xfinity so without a disconnect order in their system they could not give me any actual quotes for products. So when I asked for general information I had a conversation much like yours. And ironically ended up higher than any of their competition, so that paired with them being unhelpful I decided to go with someone else.
  • Our sincere apologies...

    Jason - I work for Comcast and I have shared your experience with our local leaders. They are currently looking into this incident so that we can prevent any recurrence in the future. I decided to leave a note here to extend my sincere apologies for the experience. I appreciate your interest in obtaining Comcast services and we hope to serve your area in the near future. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

    Best regards,

    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations
    • And if Jason didn't work for ZDNET

      and made this public you wouldn't have done a thing about it. Companies should cut with the sales pitches and just provide the service we ask for. The best way to get me to NOT continue being a customer is to pester me after I've said "no thank you".
      • How can you berate him for an assumption you made?

        "And if Jason didn't work for ZDNET and made this public you wouldn't have done a thing about it."
        William Farrel
  • Pretty much hate them all...

    I currently have Time Warner cable internet and dish network satellite DVR at one address and Xfinity Internet + Over The Air + NetFlix + Apple TV w/Selective iTunes purchases at a second residence that my wife and I will be retiring to. With an attic antenna at the second residence, we have better-than-cable-or-satellite picture quality (it's uncompressed hi-def) for ABC, NBC, CBS, WB, Fox and PBS. After almost 20 years of satellite with ever-increasing cost and reading similar stories about cable TV, we made the decision we did at the second residence. We estimate our annual cost, even after purchasing a ten or so iTunes TV series per year will be less than 50% of our current cost with satellite. I'm also going to add a magnavox DVR (not TIVO$$) so that we can record over-the-air broadcasts and skip advertisements.

    The only problem with this arrangement is sports. Right now, ESPN is in bed with the satellite and cable companies so that the only way you can watch sports online is if you have an account with a cable or satellite company. As more and more people leave cable and satellite I expect this to change. In the meantime I'll console myself with the cost savings.

    And Jason...when we signed up for Xfinity internet, we went through exactly the same thing. It was a new home. In our case, Xfinity was available. But I understand the two layers of people you have to talk to.

    FWIW, the REAL problem with Comcast is that they own NBC. I have issues with cable and satellite providers owning content providers. I've read that Comcast has technology in the works that will allow advertisers a type of commercial that cannot be skipped if you're a Comcast customer. Obviously, that type of commercial will sell for a lot more.

    I'm a big believer in the iTunes/Apple TV model.
    • Technology in the works? It's already here

      If you watch something On Demand, a show you missed earlier that week, the commercials are still in the show, and if you try to fast forward past them, the little "no" circle with the line through it appears, and nothing happens, just continues to plays the commercial.
      William Farrel
  • Dealing with an issue myself

    WE called the local cable company and setup for internet and phones for our business. I asked if they need to do a site survey and they said no its determined you are all set. Fast forward to install day, "sorry cant install need to do construction, it will be like 2-3 weeks. Then they hold up the phone numbers that were being ported, and i could not even get them back to go with the original carrier so we could get something for a temporary fix. I told them from now on if I have to use your company, you WILL do a site survey for every location we have, I dont care if the comcast headquarters is right next door. This could have been avoided and should not have been like this.
  • Almost all cable service providers are local monopolies.

    In every town I have lived in, there was only one licensed cable service provider at a time, and the contracts with the municipalities typically were exclusive and for terms of 10 years. Therefore, customer service was usually a complete joke, because after all, where else are you gonna go? Verizon is not moving very quickly with FIOS, and satellite only works when you have perfect clear weather, no sunspot activity, and not a tree taller than ten feet in your neighborhood. Let's face it, the average cable consumer is screwed, and the cable companies know it. Get used to it.
  • The pre-emptive solution to this universal problem... long as one thinks only the US is the universe:

    "Captive Audience" by Susan Crawford

    'nuff said!