Tech Tips: Getting good customer service from ATT, Comcast, and others

Sadly, we don’t have a lot of choices when selecting a home TV service, internet, or cell phone service. Often times we find ourselves deliberating over Verizon, ATT, and Comcast.

One of the major problems I see is that they don’t respect customers who have made a long term commitment to them. For example, Comcast and its predecessor companies have been offering high speed internet in CT since 1999. Some of you have had the service since then or signed up a year or 2 later. Granted they have held the line on pricing for you. You were paying $42.95 a month and you may still be paying the same rate or just a couple dollars more. However, your modem rental fee has also gone up from $5 to $7 a month. Here is a big secret: the modems don’t cost any more than they did back then!! It would be so nice if they want back to those of you who’ve had the service for 10 + years and said — we will give you $10 off for the next 12 months. On the contrary, all the discounts are for NEW signups.

So, I want to give you a couple strategies to insure you are getting the best service from these giant telecom companies.

Do you have an offer that you want to sign up for? Make sure that everything you think you are getting is spelled out in writing. Don’t say YES to a phone pitch when you don’t have the facts in front of you. Ask the representative if you can get the offer by e-mail. If you have a printed offer in front of you, make sure you find out what TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY means. As of last fall, I was not a Comcast internet customer. In fact, I did not have any Comcast services. I received a special offer in the mail, promising me their performance internet package for $19.99 for year one and $34.99 for year two. While I think Comcast’s services are good on the technical merits, their offers can be a bit sketchy. The normal price for this internet offering with Comcast is 49.95 per month with other services and 62.95 as an internet only package. I had my offer in writing and I wanted it honored. Three times I called on the phone and could not sign up. Finally, I made a call to a special department — see #3 — and did get my offer honored. I was treated like a VIP, so to speak. From now on I will never deal with a Comcast store or phone service again when I have a major customer service issue.

If you do not have an offer in writing from marketing materials or an e-mail, you can memorialize your offer using one other strategy. Comcast, ATT, and Verizon all have online CHAT support staffed by real people. Surprisingly, the service I’ve received from all three of these companies by chat support has been VERY GOOD. At the end of a chat support session, you have the ability to print the transcript of the conversation or have it e-mailed to you. Do that. You now have your proof of your promises.

When you speak to phone customer service with any of these companies there is a menu option for canceling your service. You may have gotten a very competitive offer from another provider. Make sure you have the specific details in front of you when you attempt to discuss cancellation options with your current provider. Your call will typically be routed to a specific department that deals in "customer retention". It will be a good idea to explain that you’ve really enjoyed the service you’ve been getting but that you have received a competitive offer from __________ which is either giving you a combination of better pricing, equipment, or features (or all of the above). Get specific with them. Allow them a chance to match or beat it before you actually cancel. GET IT IN WRITING.

You can call customer service, and speak to a supervisor, and then a manager and still get no where. Nearly all large companies that sell a product or service to the public have an "executive resolution team". This department is usually not found by a Google search. You have to ask for it. Sometimes, it is as simple as calling the CEO or COO’s office. For the New England states, Comcast’s executive resolution team is based in Berlin, CT. When I had an extremely hard time getting them to honor the 2 year internet offer I received, the Executive Resolution team took care of me and got my equipment shipped out within a day or two. Consider this option, when all else fails.

I hope I’ve added a few tools to your toolbox.