The photo shown above is a small ceramic container in the likeness of a kitty that I keep in the very back of my bookshelf at work. In it is a receipt from three years ago when I returned a cable box to my local Comcast office. For those of you who do not live in the United States, Comcast is a gigantic corporation that provides TV, phone, and internet services to a large number of households; and perhaps the characteristic that Comcast is known for more than anything else is that their customer service is dreadful.
The reason why I, a minimalist who does not enjoy hoarding unnecessary things, have held onto this Comcast receipt for so long is because of this company’s reputation for poor customer service. Over the years, there have been many, many reports of individuals who sent their cable TV equipment back to Comcast, and months or years later they receive a bill for several hundred dollars and a claim that the equipment was never received. I even read one person’s account where he received a bill five years after he cancelled his Comcast service and sent his stuff in.
And what happens when you call Comcast? You go through an elaborate maze of automated menus (designed to frustrate you and encourage you to give up) before finally reaching a live customer service representative who speaks broken English with a thick accent that you can’t understand.
I abhor Comcast, and the day I turned in my equipment and cancelled by service was a glorious day. I will never work with them again.
The company that we use now for our TV and internet service is a local provider, and though they’re a little more expensive than what we were paying with Comcast, their customer service is impeccable, the internet speeds are blazing fast, they don’t do contracts or discounts, and when I call with a problem, I get quick access to a real person living locally who I can understand. Totally worth the extra expense.
Customer service story #2:
Earlier this summer, Mrs. Lite and I spent a few weeks in California visiting friends and family and seeing a few of the national parks. On the morning we were scheduled to leave Yosemite and make the long drive to Death Valley, I discovered that our rental had a front tire than was slowly leaking air. We inflated the tires the night before, and by the time we woke up, that one tire leaked from 35 psi all the down to 15. After checking out of our room early that morning, we drove a few miles to the garage in Yosemite Valley and refilled the tire. I called National’s 1-800 number to figure out how to best deal with this situation, and the plan we all came up with was to attempt the 48 mile drive from Yosemite Valley to a small Enterprise Rent-A-Car (apparently the same company as National) in Oakhurst, California to switch out our car with a new one and hope that the tire doesn’t explode on the way. Well, we made the drive without any unpleasant incidents, got the car changed promptly with a smile and no hassle, and made it to Death Valley with only a modest amount of delay.
Contrast that experience with one I had years earlier with Dollar Rent-A-Car where the sons of bitches refused to give me my car because I declined the expensive and unnecessary insurance and left me stranded at the airport searching for a ride.
I took more risks cheaping out in my younger days when I was broke and in debt, but now that I make a comfortable living, I will always pay extra for the services of a company who provides a good customer service experience. Dealing with incompetence is simply not worth my time anymore.
I will continue holding on to that Comcast receipt, not only because I think there is still a chance they will try to bill me for some bogus reason several years from now, but also as a reminder of the value of solid customer service when deciding who I will do business with.