Attempting to transfer Xfinity service has been the worst part of our move

On Tuesday Geoff and I moved into a house in San Francisco. The move itself went incredibly smoothly – shout out to Delancey Street Movers for their awesome service and great price. Wednesday we went back to the old place to clean it up for the buyers, and were done ahead of schedule. On the way home we stopped by Best Buy where I got a $130 microwave for $30 thanks to a sale and a bonus reward redemption. All in all, a good two days.

Then came Thursday morning: our scheduled Comcast appointment. The fact that I’m posting this from Starbucks and not the comfort of my living room should tip you off to how that turned out. (Hint: this story plays out nothing like those Xfinity Movers Edge commercials.)

Let’s back up three weeks. On October 2, Geoff called Comcast to schedule the transfer of our Xfinity service, which we use for phone, internet, and cable TV. He told the rep that our new house doesn’t have a cable line, so a bucket truck would be needed to string the line to the house. Sure, no problem, they’ll be there on the 22nd between 8:00 and 10:00.

Yesterday at around 9:30 a Comcast contractor showed up in a van, took one look at the house, and said to Geoff, “I can’t do anything for you, there’s no cable line running to the house.”

“Right,” Geoff says, “where’s the bucket truck?”

Ohhh, the bucket truck. The one he mentioned they’d need to send when he set up the appointment three weeks ago. “I’m going to call my supervisor,” the contractor said. “You’ll get a call within 24 to 48 hours.”

“To let me know when they’ll come to string the cable to the house?” Geoff asks.

“No, to let you know when someone can stop by to confirm that a bucket truck is really needed.”

Of course, because it’s not like they had three weeks to drop by and verify that a bucket truck would be needed, and it’s not like they have a database that would show this house has never had Comcast service, ever.

This morning—24 hours after our scheduled appointment, without a peep from Comcast—Geoff calls to make sure that waiting by the phone for the supervisor to call is truly our only course of action. The first person he talked to transferred him to a department that didn’t answer. The second person said that the moving department had opened a ticket with the field escalation department yesterday at 2:16 (in spite of the fact that this all went down ~9:30) and if he hadn’t received a call by 2:16 today he should call back again.

Guess who never called.

So now it’s Friday afternoon. Geoff calls back and tells the story again only to be told again that he has no choice but to sit and wait by the phone. Because this is apparently how a Comcast transfer of service works when you’re moving to a house that has never had cable before: you call well in advance to set up your move, on the appointed day Comcast sends out a guy in a van even though they’ve been told that there is currently no cable line to the house, the guy in the van takes one look at the house and calls the supervisor to say a bucket truck is needed for installation, the supervisor calls (in theory) whenever he gets around to it to schedule a look-and-see, and after all this an appointment can finally be set up to get the cable installed. None of the multiple people Geoff’s spoken to at Comcast have been able to give us an idea of when this process might all be complete. (If only they’d had a little advance notice!) Meanwhile we have no home phone, internet, or TV… the internet in particular being just a tad inconvenient since I work from home. We’re not just talking about Netflix and The Good Wife and the final episode of Life Is Strange here, this could actually result in lost income for me.

At least the guy he spoke to this afternoon—in the repairs department, which is the department that deals with a cable line falling down in your driveway, NOT the department that deals with transferring service to a new house—has opened a new ticket and claims we’ll get a call tomorrow (Saturday) for someone to schedule a time to come drop the line next week. The ticket is for a “line burial” (e.g. running the cable line underground) because he wasn’t able to place a ticket for an aerial drop, but he put in the comments that it’s really for an aerial drop AND THEY NEED TO SEND A BUCKET TRUCK. After that happens, we get to make another appointment to have an installer come and connect the cable inside the house.

It’s funny how Comcast has us locked into a two-year contract so we don’t have any choice but to wait around for a phone call…

Update, Saturday night: Comcast didn’t call us today. (Surprise!) Geoff called them again this afternoon around 3:00pm and was told that our ticket has been assigned which meant we would get a call within two hours. Nope.

Update, Sunday morning: Geoff spent about 45 minutes on the phone with different people at Comcast (he called them). Apparently our first “field escalation” ticket has been closed because it was escalated to a supervisor (who never called) and our second “repair” ticket is likely to be closed because a line burial and the request for a bucket truck don’t go together. The final person he talked to this morning set up a new installation appointment for Wednesday morning (the first available slot — six days after our original appointment) with “notes all over it” that a bucket truck is required. I have zero faith that this won’t just restart the whole vicious cycle.

Update, Monday morning: And the fun times continue. Through this ordeal, we have been at least able to access free Xfinity hotspots using our account login — a benefit included in our account. The connection was horrible, but it was enough for me to check email and send a few tweets to Comcast’s customer service account (none of those have been answered, either). But yesterday afternoon we started getting this error message. Injury, meet insult.

Then last night, walking from the restaurant where we ate dinner to the bar where we planned to drink all night — because, y’know, we didn’t have the internet or TV to entertain us — Geoff got a phone call from Xfinity! NOT from the supervisor we’ve been waiting to hear from since Thursday, but from someone in the “line burial” department, who saw the line burial + bucket truck request we’d been told would probably be canceled and thought “huh, that’s weird” and picked up the phone.

So Geoff told the whole story again and that guy (a supervisor) said that even though our installation appointment had been rescheduled for Wednesday with “notes all over it” that a bucket truck was needed, whoever dispatches someone for that appointment probably won’t be capable of sending a bucket truck and we’d end up in the same situation as last time. He said we needed to issue a separate ticket for an aerial drop, but he couldn’t do it so he transferred Geoff back to the “repair” department. The next rep insisted no, we actually needed to talk to the “new customer department” EVEN THOUGH WE’RE NOT NEW CUSTOMERS, and explain which services we plan to get (um, the ones we already do get?) before we could schedule the bucket truck. Transfer occurs. After five minutes on hold someone answers with “I’m transferring you back to repairs, just tell the next person who answers you want to schedule an aerial line drop.” Right, because it’s that simple!

At this point he’d been on the phone for forty minutes and we were loitering in the Cliff House lobby. I ordered drinks (we needed them!) as Geoff related the story again to someone in the repair department named Kevin. This was the fourth or fifth person he’s spoken to in this department and the first who actually said “I’m going to figure out how to schedule an aerial drop for you.” Minutes go by. Kevin calls someone else over to his desk to help him. More minutes go by. Kevin comes back on the line and says the guy he called over to help is going to go get a supervisor to help them in person. The phone call lasted over an hour (thanks, Cliff House, for letting us loiter and lending us a pen!) but the end result is that we theoretically have an appointment for a bucket truck to come TODAY to string the line so our cable can be installed on Wednesday. Today’s appointment window is between 8:00am and 8:00pm and hadn’t happened yet when I left the house at 10:30 so I could go online and work (Geoff’s still there, waiting around). Kevin’s supposed to call midday to see if they’ve showed up and if not he’s going to call someone to check on it, or something like that.

So… maybe we’re going to finally get cable?

One last thing — before the wifi hotspots stopped working I did a little searching on Xfinity’s forums and found several threads like this and this that tell basically the same sad story as ours, in other parts of the country. So this is not a “San Francisco’s Comcast office can’t get its act together” thing, it’s a “Comcast’s departments don’t know how to talk to each other” thing. An honest to god training issue. I’ve worked in customer service. I know sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture. But come on, Comcast — this is insanity.

(Those threads and others on the Xfinity forum give an email address to try if you’re having this problem: we_can_help@cable.comcast.com. That’s easier said than done when you don’t have internet, but I tried it before they unceremoniously cut off my hotspot access. 24 hours later I got an email response telling me to expect a phone call within 24-72 hours from a “special team that is dedicated to handling service issues such as yours.” Hahahahaha. Oh, man. That special team will be getting an earful… if they actually do call.)

Update, Monday afternoon: At around 3:30pm — after Geoff spent all day waiting around for him — a Comcast guy shows up in a bucket truck, takes one look at the house, and says “I can’t do anything for you until the installer comes to prep the installation.”

I could not make this shit up.

According to this guy, who’s a Comcast employee and not a subcontractor like the person who came on Thursday to do the install, 1) it’s “unfortunate” that we got a subcontractor and not a Comcast tech because then none of this would have happened, 2) we shouldn’t have let the contractor leave without getting his supervisor on the phone to reschedule an appointment with a Comcast tech + bucket truck, and 3) we should have made the contractor do all the prep work before he left. And we were supposed to know this how? The subcontractor told us waiting 24-48 hours for a call back was standard, and multiple people in the Comcast call center have now told us that the installer can’t do any prep work until the cable is strung to the house.

“Don’t worry,” the bucket truck guy tells us, “we’ll be back on Wednesday during your appointment window.”

“You’re going to do the install – the whole thing?” we ask.

“No, the installer will do the install. But if you get a Comcast tech instead of a subcontractor, they’ll know to call us to come with the bucket truck.”

“But what if we get a subcontractor again?”

“Hopefully that won’t happen.”

Hopefully? No. There is no hope in this situation. It isn’t just going to work itself out. THIS IS BULLSHIT.

To his credit, the bucket truck guy stayed calm while we both went a little bit nuts on him (our new neighbors think we’re crazy people now), and he called his supervisor to discuss the situation, and he gave us his own number to call on Wednesday morning if the bucket truck doesn’t show up. He will not be driving the bucket truck that day, but claims he can contact the guy who is. He told us what to tell the installer to do to prep the install if the guy tries to shrug off the lack of a cable connection and leave, like last time. He told us to make the installer stay until the bucket truck shows up — “don’t let him leave.”

And how exactly are we supposed to do that? Tie him up with cable?

Earlier today Geoff actually got a call from the “executive customer relations” department — the special team I emailed yesterday. That guy was going to make sure the aerial line drop happened today and handhold us through the rest of the installation. After the bucket truck drove away, Geoff tried calling him and got voice mail. Then he checked email on his phone and saw this:

Oh, Graham Tutton. You’ll be hearing from me.

Update, Wednesday: WE HAVE CABLE!

Our appointment window this morning was from 8-10. A tech (Comcast employee, not contractor) showed up in a van at around 9:30. Geoff started to ask about the bucket truck and he replied, “Don’t worry, it’s coming. Our whole office has heard your story…”

The install took about three hours during which time not one, but TWO bucket trucks appeared. Apparently the first guy who was scheduled to come couldn’t find his keys so a second truck came out instead. Then the first guy found his keys and came too. The two of them worked together to string the line to the house.

The rest of it was pretty uneventful. All three of the Comcast employees who were here this morning were friendly and professional. If only they had been dispatched out here last Thursday in the first place.

Kevin, the guy in repairs who said he would call us back Monday to check on the bucket truck, actually did. Disappointingly, the “executive customer relations” rep who said he’d handhold us through the rest of the process DID NOT call back, even after Geoff left two voice mails after Monday’s bucket truck fail. (Edit: The “executive customer relations” guy called to check in an hour after I posted this.)

Some fun stats from this experience:

    Days without Xfinity service: 7
    Hours spent on the phone with Comcast: 4+
    Tweets sent to the @ComcastCares customer service account: 6
    Hours spent waiting at home for Comcast to arrive for appointments: 10+
    Hours spent waiting for the original supervisor to call us back to schedule a bucket truck (was supposed to be 24-48): 150 and counting


  1. Kathy

    HOW FRUSTRATING! Sounds like they have you right where they want you. Not good for PR, I would think. Good luck!

  2. Elizabeth

    I feel your pain. Been there. Done that. Got the stupid tee shirt. At one point I stood outside screaming I HATE COMCAST. So… It’s not just you!

  3. Kelly

    Hi, Emily, this is long after your post, but the same thing basically happened to me. In 2008, I moved into a trailer that hadn’t had cable before and if it hadn’t been so frustrating , it would have been funny. Long story short:

    I FINALLY get a cable guy out to my trailer. We have 3 ways to bring up the cable wire: 1) run it up from the third trailer down the line, where it was stopped 2) bring in cable from the pole next to the trailer right above mine or 3) bring it in under a main road in front of my trailer.

    So they can’t bring it up from the third trailer because in the intervening years, someone has put a roof over the carports which surround the telephone poles now. So they say they’ll do the next best thing: dig up the main road and bring it in from under there.

    After the county laughed themselves sick before saying no, I spent days trying to get hold of Comcast again. Finally, one old guy comes out and says, “Shoo, I can bring that wire in from the trailer above you in 5 minutes flat,” and does so. End of story? Not quite.

    He brings over the line to the telephone pole between me and my neighbor to the left, who has never had cable to his trailer, either. The neighbor calls to get cable since, since he now has a line. Two weeks pass.

    My cable is running really slow and his TV wigs out all the time. We compare notes, get together and call Comcast. After many calls (from both of us, some not so civil) trying to get someone out there and promises of expedited service (three weeks to them is expedited) AND telling them to bring a bucket truck, one lone ranger appears. He tells us he needs a bucket truck and leaves.

    I had to work that day, so I have no idea what my neighbor said over the phone, but I imagine it was something that would have gotten him arrested in any bank or airport, because the next day TWO bucket trucks were there.

    Problem diagnosis: when my neighbor called to get cable, instead of running a separate line down the pole for his trailer, they put a splitter on my line and while each of use paid our full share for cable to Comcast, they had us sharing one service.
    They shouldn’t have told us that because my neighbor then went ballistic and I saw a refund on next month’s cable bill. Amazing.

    The upshot was that two months after calling for cable I finally got cable and three months later it was working the way it should have been.

    I know this was long and you can delete it if you want, but I just had to share.

    • Emily

      Wow, I can’t believe they did that with the splitter! Well, unfortunately I can believe it, but still. That’s crazy. They probably thought you’d never even notice. :o

      We happen to be in the process of switching from Comcast to Sonic (our Comcast contract was up and they didn’t offer us an incentive to stay so we switched). Sonic just brought high speed fiber to our neighborhood and 1-2 months ago they had the bucket truck out running lines to the early adopters’ houses. Since we weren’t in at that time, I expected it to take forever for them to get us hooked up. Amazingly the bucket truck came out the day after we ordered. Now we’re waiting for it to get turned on, should happen tomorrow. When they came with the bucket truck, they asked if we wanted them to remove the cable line and put the new fiber line into the house through the same hole where the cable had been. No thank you! After the pain of getting that line in the first time, we’re holding onto it just in case we ever switch back!

  4. Carrie

    Just lurking on your Blog, and came across this post…While reading your story, my head started to throb…We have Cox communications and it comes in from a pole (It’s a crap shoot on windy days) Anyway the fact that they have communications in their name is an oxymoron….Let’s just say the Cox title is apropos only it is misspelled!

  5. Annette Rice-Stadelhofer

    Sadly, Comcast failed to make my move and transfer of service smooth, easy or hassle free. I have a very similar experience just recently. Comcast managed to frustrate me so much it brought me to tears. I had to ask myself if paying for cable t.v, phone and internet justified being treated badly.

    Comcast was notified of my move 2 weeks beforehand when I called to give address update and coordinate transfer of services. I spent so much time setting up the services with this guy, verified no new equipment needed, time and date a tech would be here, etc, etc…

    Long storyshort, the property manager loses the keys to the new residence.
    I have to cancelmy appointment with the technician. Very nice technician, he is understanding. “No problem, just take your equipment with you. We can see if a call to Tech Support can get you online.” I am confident I can get online by that Friday evening.
    I call customer support that Friday evening. Spend an hour unplugging modem…he is shooting signals. Nothing.
    He says i need a rep to come out. Next appointment is Sunday, 3 to 5. That Sunday comes and the tech calls. He is at my home. No…I’m here at my home. He is at the old address. I tell him I’m across the street, and give the new address.
    Tech tells me to call customer care. Hangs up on me. I keep getting Comcast automated robo calls about the technician being on his way. I somehow get stuck in an automated phone hell. My number is no longer associated with my account and the address for my account is now wrong.

    No, you cannot make this shit up!

    I spend another hour and a half on the phone with 3 separate customer service agents. I have at this point gone 3 days without internet or cable. This has brought me to tears at this point.

    Trying to get me an appointment the next Monday morning was hard and just as frustrating. I was told by every agent that the next appointment available was Wednesday. Further, the Tech that showed up Sunday didn’t just cancel my appointment, he canceled everything! No reference to what new services I was getting. I had to go through this all over again.

    It is the following Tuesday and I wake to no internet or cable…because the services at the new address were terminated and continuing at the old address. Mixed up again. Yes, another hour on the phone. I miss my morning class and am unable to get online for work until 3 hours later.

    Its beyond my worst nightmare.

    • Emily

      I’m sorry I missed this comment for so long! What a horrible experience. I hope you got it straightened out eventually!

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