Penty of people, I know anecdotally and from review sites such as Yelp, are still furious at Comcast about customer service issues, as they were a decade or so ago when I last had service from the company. (This was well before it had begun co-branding itself as Xfinity, which sounds a little like a private channel in a hotel room).
I first considered returning to Comcast 2 1/2 years ago, as I was losing patience with Dish Network service. Dish, I felt, provided a fine HD picture and excellent sound but had virtually no on-demand offerings and was lagging behind in the technology race. Plus, like all such offerings, it got really expensive once the introductory price expired.
So I called Comcast and — presto — a customer service issue! To get its service, I would have to drive to an office in a neighboring town and put down a security deposit. This was told to me by a woman whose tone implied she wasn't going to let me rip her company off. She was not impressed by my suggestion that she check my excellent record with Comcast at the same address in the past, my spotless credit then and now, or the fact that my wife and I had been in the same house and jobs for a dozen years.
So I signed up with DirecTV, another satellite service, for a two-year hitch. Meantime, and here's where Comcast's service improves, a Comcast manager in my area found out about the security deposit fiasco. He called me, told me his colleague had been mistaken and offered to do anything he could to set me up with service. He did not know, as near as I could tell, that I work for the Tribune.
I thanked him for the call, told him I'd already signed with a competitor and promised to keep his number in my contacts list.
Fast forward to two years later, last fall. Introductory rates on DirecTV and my home broadband (through AT&T) had expired. I was paying more than $230 a month for TV, Internet and telephone. At somewhere above $100, depending on specific services, Comcast's widely advertised Triple Play deal, bundling all three services into one price and greatly improving the broadband speed, looked really good.
So it was time for a game of chicken, which providers apparently love to play when your contract expires. DirecTV had a chance to keep me as a customer if it had re-offered good, introductory-level rates. Instead, the customer service rep, apparently lacking the authority to make any kind of deal, did the verbal equivalent of a shoulder shrug.
Only after I left have the offers to win me back, at steep discounts, come pouring in. This strikes me as a kind of boneheaded way to do business, but maybe it's fun for TV and cellphone companies.
So while I've dropped the dish, you can still see it up there on the northwest corner of my roof. I think of it as security against the day when Comcast does something to tick me off, or when it comes time to play chicken with them.