Comcast Took My House, or How the FCC is Your Friend

I don’t usually like to use my blog as a forum for my grievances, but I’ll make an exception this time as it also applies to my travels abroad.

First, a little background. My lease had come to an end last May and I decided it was time for a new apartment. My roommate at the time, Chris, decided to stay and take on a new roommate. My roommate-to-be ended up falling through on me and I was left without a place to live. I stayed with friends while looking for a new apartment but finally decided it was time for that trip to Thailand I had always wanted to take.

Before leaving, I made sure all of my accounts were in order. I set up my student loans to autopay, and made sure I no longer had any bills in my name. This included Comcast. Prior to moving out, I had told Chris I would transfer the Comcast account to his name instead of canceling it and forcing him to pay another install fee as well as endure the lack of internet until they were able to come out and hook him up.

Transferring accounts isn’t too tough; I had to give Chris my account number so he could call Comcast and have it transferred to his name. There was some delay on his part and I ended up having to pay for the few months I was couch surfing (he reimbursed me). I had to hound him a bit, but he finally transferred the account about a week or two before I left the country. There was a $120.04 bill at the time.

I called Comcast to double check that the transfer went through, and to make sure I didn’t owe any money. I gave the woman on the phone my name, address, and last four digits of my social. She said I was in the clear. Great! Unfortunately I have no documentation for this, but as we’ll see soon, there would have been no way to get this anyway. I decided to triple check by logging onto my account at comcast.com, but was unable to. My access had been eliminated. I decided they wouldn’t kill my access if I still owed money, so I must have a zero balance and, because the account was transferred, have no reason to login. That makes sense right? Sure. I decided I was in the clear. I left for Thailand and had a great time.

The End.

Wait, no it wasn’t. I returned to San Francisco and found a new apartment at the beginning of January. At that time, I signed up for a new Comcast account without a hitch, and even only had to wait 2 days for the technician to come out and hook up the new place.

Chris had been kind enough to store a few boxes for me while I was gone, but it took a few weeks to reconnect with him, and another few to set up a time for me to come get my stuff. I picked up my boxes and Chris gave me a bundle of mail that had accumulated in my absence. I had forwarded everything important like bank statements, etc. to my mother’s house in Wisconsin, so most of it was credit card offers, coupons, and other junk mail of that nature. Imagine my surprise when I opened a rather plain envelope to discover a creditor’s notice for the amount of – drum roll please – $120.04!

Oh, hey look! Another envelope. And another! Five notices had piled up in my absence. How the hell had this happened! Needless to say, I was upset. I tried calling the collection company, but of course, all I got was an automated assistant and preset options. I chose, I think, option 1, 2, 1, 3, “contest a claim”, or something like that. The robot lady on the other end said they would halt notices until they cleared the issue up with the client, or plaintiff, or whatever generic term they use.

I called Comcast the next day to try to get some answers. I talked to a nice guy named Francisco, but he was only as helpful as he was trained to be. Here’s how it went down (paraphrased):

Me: “Hi, I had a few questions about my account.”

Francisco: “Sure, let me get your name and address.”

Me: “Dan, or maybe Daniel, Walsh. W-A-L-S-H. 555 5th Ave, San Francisco. Zip: 94118.”

Francisco: “And for security reasons, can I have the last four digits of your social security number?”

I gave them to him as well.

Francisco: “Thank you Mr. Walsh. What Can I help you with?”

Me: “Well, I left the country awhile back, and before I left I made sure to transfer my Comcast account to my then roommate. After doing so, I called Comcast to make sure the account had transferred. The woman on the phone looked me up using my name, address, and social. She said I didn’t have a balance anymore, let alone an account. I also tried to sign on to comcast.com and was unable to do so. When I got back from my trip I had collections notices from Comcast. I’m just trying to straighten this all out.”

Francisco: “Did you live at 83 Beaumont Ave.?”

Me: “Yes.”

Francisco: “It shows here you still owe $120.04 from that address.”

Me: “Really? It shows that? That easily? Why didn’t it show up when she looked me up before?”

Francisco: “I’m not sure.”

Me: “I gave her my name and social. How could she not find me?”

Francisco: “We don’t look people up by their social security numbers. We only store the last four digits for security reasons.”

Me: “Then you found me using just my name and address? How much information do you store?”

Francisco: “Name, address, telephone number, and last four digits of your social.”

Me: “Ok, then she should have been able to find me. Unfortunately I don’t have any documentation to prove what we discussed. Are there any notes in the account?”

Francisco: “No there aren’t, but it does show that the account was transferred to a Chris-”

Me: “-Yeah, Chris. Why wasn’t the balance transferred as well?”

Francisco: “Balances are never transferred.”

Me: “Why not?”

Francisco: “Because when accounts are ‘transferred’ the original account is canceled and a new one is created at that same address. They’re not really transferred.”

Me: “So because my account was canceled, actually, my online access was cut off as well?”

Francisco: “Yes.”

Me: “Obviously mail notification didn’t work because I moved, but why didn’t anyone call to tell me I had a past due if my telephone number is one of the things you store?”

Francisco: “We sometimes make courtesy calls for active accounts with past dues.”

Me: “Sometimes or always?”

Francisco: “Usually.”

Me: “But because my account was effectively canceled, no one decided to give me a ring? Do you ever call people with canceled accounts?”

Francisco: “No, only people with open accounts.”

Me: “Um… ok. Then why didn’t anyone tell me I had a balance when I signed up for a new account? Same name. Same telephone number. Same social. I had an active account, shouldn’t I have gotten a call? Actually, wait, shouldn’t I have had to pay my past due before I was eligible for new service?”

Francisco: “The accounts aren’t connected like that.”

Me: “They’re not connected? So what’s the point then? Are you telling me I could sign up at one address, rack up a – oh, I don’t know – $300 bill, cancel the account, move to a new address, sign up again, rack up another $300 bill, move, rack up $300, move, $300, move, $300, until I got tired of it?”

Francisco: “I guess so.”

Me: “So I could get free cable for the rest of my life if I didn’t care about my credit score?”

Francisco: “Sir, it’s obvious there’s been a huge mistake. I’m really sorry. Would you like me to transfer the balance?”

Francisco’s getting nervous, and I get irate.

Me: “No, I don’t want you to transfer the balance! I can pay the balance! I want my credit score fixed. I’m trying to buy a house this summer! Are you telling me that Comcast closed my account, didn’t transfer the balance, sent bills to my old address even though I said I moved, disabled my online access, effectively cutting off any way I had to check and pay my account from any where other than my old address, and then wouldn’t even call me before they sicked their flying monkeys on me because my account was closed? And I was allowed to sign up for a new account?”

Francisco: “It appears so.”

Me: “Fantastic! Well, aside from the fact your company is seriously flawed, who do I talk to about getting this straightened out?”

He put me on hold, then gave me a number to call: 888-225-5322

Me: “Thanks Francisco. Can you send me an email confirmation about this call?”

Francisco: “Um, what kind of email?”

Me: “Just something paraphrasing what we talked about. That there was a problem with the account transfers and that we actually discussed it. I don’t have any documentation from the last time I called, and it’s obviously screwing me. You’ve been great, I just want a paper trail to protect myself.”

Francisco: “I actually don’t have access to that.”

Me: “To email?”

Francisco: “No.”

Me: “You don’t have access to email?!”

Francisco: “No.”

I was tired of fighting at this point.

Me: “Oh my god. Ok.. Can you put a note in my account then?”

Francisco: “Which one?”

Me: “Both of them I guess.”

He did, I thanked him again, and then hung up.

I called the number. Turns out they shirked me off to the FCC. The nice lady on the phone directed me to this complaint form.

I’d prefer to get an open dialog with someone at Comcast who could actually help me, but in this wonderful world of outsourcing, it turns out they’d rather have the FCC handle their complaints than cheap call centers in India. I guess it makes sense. As cheap as India is, it still can’t compare to the US Government handling your customer service issues for FREE. Kudos Comcast. Kudos. I suppose I should be happy I ended up with someone who’s native language is English, but somehow it’s not much of a salve at this point.

My credit score was 725 before I left for Thailand. I know this because of the numerous apartment applications I had filled out. I checked it today: 618.

That’s 107 points!!! The report said my credit score is only higher than 15% of the population. 15?! In one fell swoop, Comcast has negated years of effort diligently maintaining a copasetic credit history.

There goes that house! Maybe, if I’m lucky, I can still get something in the ghettos of Oakland.

-Disgruntled Dan-

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2 Comments on “Comcast Took My House, or How the FCC is Your Friend”

  1. Melissa M. Says:

    Hello, Dan!

    I saw that you’ve been having a problem coming to a resolution with your final Comcast balance and your credit report. If you’d like my assistance in clearing this up, please email me with your account information and I’ll get in touch with my contacts in Executive Support.

    Regards,
    Melissa M.
    Digital Media Outreach
    Comcast National Customer Operations

  2. danwalsh Says:

    I thought an update was warranted.
    Melissa was great. She put me in touch with Lola who was really good at breaking down my billing cycles, but unfortunately wasn’t any help with the real issue: Comcast is broken.

    As I wrote, when I called before my trip the woman on the other end couldn’t find my account. As such, there obviously weren’t any notes placed on it. Lola informed me that because there weren’t any notes on the account, I was SOL. She apologized for everything and even admitted that some of their practices were ridiculous. I believe her apology was sincere, but that still doesn’t fix my credit.

    Thanks Comcast. Really gives a whole new meaning to their slogan “get more”.


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