16 11 / 2013

Update, 11/16: I posted this to Twitter on November 15 and received a response from @ComcastOrlando. He refunded mom the $18 and send out prepaid labels to return the equipment to us (something I didn’t ask for, but am very appreciative of.) They also offered to credit her for two months of service to retain her as a customer. We have decided to stick with them, mostly because we don’t have the energy or time to shop around. Our focus is on helping mom get better. I appreciate everyone’s help in getting Comcast to listen.

However, I am still baffled as to why Comcast only provides decent customer support through social media? Why won’t they raise the bar on their phone service as well?

Original Post:

Dear Comcast:

I recently tweeted at you about my mom’s situation and was asked to provide more details, so here you go:

TL;DR: I have been told that even though my 87-year-old mother was forced out of her home by a fire, she is still responsible for paying the rest of her two-year contract with Comcast, unless we immediately move her service to another address. And to add insult to injury she is responsible for paying Comcast an additional $18 for 8 days in which she did not have service, even though her apartment was deemed ‘unsafe’ on November 5 and was finally torn down on November 12. Oh, AND she can’t keep her phone number when she moves to a new apartment.


The full story: My 87 year-old mother’s apartment building caught fire on November 5, 2013, when a couple of pot smokers blew their own apartment to bits. (You can read all about it in this Seattle Times article from November 8. More photos are over here.)

As she was fleeing the apartment at 6:15am , she tripped and fell, cracking her pelvis. Our first concern, naturally, was not her cable service, it was her health. My mom had a lot of bleeding from the injury and had to undergo immediate surgery in the ER. She has been in the hospital since then and we have been scrambling to put her life back together. She is an extremely independent woman and has lived in this apartment since our father passed away two years ago from complications due to Alzheimer’s. We want her support her in remaining independent as long as she can. This is very important to our family.

My sister and I have used up much of our paid time off dealing with the aftermath of the fire. We were able to gain entry to her apartment on Thursday, November 7 and found that most of her furniture, paintings and some other belongings were ruined beyond repair due to water damage. On top of this, someone entered her apartment on the day of the fire and stole her laptop. We were, however, able to salvage many things, including her Comcast cable box and modem. We found her a new place to live, but she won’t be able to move in there until she is out of the hospital and has undergone several weeks of physical therapy. At this point, we’re not even sure when she’ll be out of the hospital, so it could be January before we’re able to move her in.

As you can imagine, we have been kind of busy since November 5th, so it wasn’t until Wednesday, November 13 that I finally got around to calling Comcast about her service.

I spoke with a very nice guy named Brad and I explained what had happened with the fire and that we still had the cable box and modem and would like to return them. I told them that we would eventually reinstate her service for phone and internet, but she wouldn’t be using it until she moved into her new apartment and we wanted to keep her old phone number somehow until then. He explained that if they canceled the service, she would still have to pay for the remainder of her two-year service agreement and that “vacation holds” are only used to stop service temporarily for people who will be gone from their residence for 3 months or more.

I explained that right now, she is effectively homeless until we sign the paperwork for her new apartment and therefore, she does not have any place to PUT the phone and internet service. I was told it would be a lot cheaper and easier if we just moved the service to the new address now and that they would be able to delay the installation by 30 days.

I didn’t have her new apartment number yet, so Brad (he was very nice, but obviously limited by what Comcast would let him do for us) offered to call me back when we had the paperwork signed (the next day). He finally was able to reach me tonight (I’ve been spending most evenings at the hospital) and we finalized setting up the account. At the end of the call, I was told that we would be charged $18 for partial service through November 13 (the day I originally called.) I asked if there was any way they could wave that, seeing as how there was no building to provide service to. I was told that no, they couldn’t wave that fee.

Now remember, the entire reason for keeping her account active was to keep her old phone number. Yet I was told near the end of the process that by moving to the new address, she’d lose her old phone number. Why? I have no idea. Something having to do with regulations.

All told, I spent more than 2.5 hours on the phone dealing with Comcast on this (I won’t even go into the issues I’ve had with MY account, but at least I’m not an 87 year-old who is fighting for her life in the hospital) and that’s about 2 hours and 15 minutes more than I would expect something like this to take.

I’m not even sure where to return her old modem and cable box to or whether we’ll be charged for damage to them from the water in the apartment. (Believe it or not, I was told I could “just plug them back in.” I don’t know about you, but after an electronic device has been sprayed down with water from fighting a fire, I don’t think I’m going to plug it into a wall.)  If you’d like them back, I need to know where to take them to. I will NOT be calling your 1-800 number again because honestly, I can’t deal with it again.

At this point, I’d like to PLEASE just cancel her account. She will have cable service through her new apartment building - it’s included as part of her rent - but I think we’ll switch her to CenturyLink for her phone and internet.