Why Cable, Internet and TV Customer Service Sucks

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Comments

C. Echevarria

Subject: Internet, Phone, And Cable Prices

As far as I am concerned the price of Internet, Phone, and TV services are 20 to 30 times more expensive than they should be.

The way I see it none of those services should be priced higher than US $9.95 per month. At the most $19.95. While the price of TVs, Computers, and Cell phones go down, the prices for services go up and up...

It appears as our industries in these areas have lost their ability to innovate, and they punish their customers for their failures.

Eric Swolley

Subject: You don't understand how things work..

You really think TV could be cheaper, you have to understand, that the price of TV is dictated by the network redistribution fees, not the cable providers, for instance, ESPN costs Comcast close to $8 per customer, now that covers all of the ESPN channels, but it still comes out to about $2 per channel, on top of that, ESPN's contract with cable providers requires that the channel be included in specific channel packages, so the cost applies to as many of the cable companies customers as possible. And while most networks charge in the 25-30 cent range, the package contracts ensure that most basic cable packages cost the cable provider anywhere from $80 to $95, and that is before you factor in line maintenance, field support payroll, city franchise fees, taxes or anything else. It's easy to blame the cable provider, because they are who you pay, but the fact is, that they couldn't provide you the service without paying the networks first and various government agencies first.

jean cason

Subject: ATT

I must be one of the most disappointed and frustrating senior in America. I live in a place where cell phone is very spotty, I cant receive any TV signal no matter what, and the cable ends about a thousand feet from me where it was ran 20 years ago and has not expanded one inch. So I am a captive of satellite. The prices have now sky rocketed to where I cant pay. My disabled son and I had Uverse (we split the bill) from $163 to $176 while still under the past 2 year contract which was to end April 4th. I called 6 months earlier when my son died and they would not allow me to stop the contract. So I stuck it out. I called April 1st to change the package for a smaller deal, basic without all the movie channels. I was told to go to the small package they would have to change it to Direct TV but billed through them. But they would not be able to be here till the 18th. Then the bill came for $247 and I hit the ceiling. By this time, Direct TV guy shows up, and cant find a space where he can hit the signal without running over 50 feet of line. Have to listen to him complain he wont get paid cause he cant do the work, no dish, no cables to run it to the house, and that is supposed to me my fault? What dish installer has nothing in his van to do any work? Then another call to ATT and another customer rep says I can go back to basic without changing company, just a few buttons at the office and they said they would credit $75 so I could pay the bill this month with the ability to buy a few groceries. So I am still trapped like an animal in their clutches. What a sorry monopoly ATT has turned out to be.

Debra K Dove

Subject: Serious phone and internet issues

Problem..... We have no other provider in our area at all, and cell phone service does not work here. The company we are with has extremely slow internet when it works at all, we are in congested area, also phone is out multiple times, we have been to public commission, been to attorney general, finally they recommended we sue. We are disabled and poor. Any advice would be great, We have multiple medical issues and we definately need better service in case of emergencies.
We have always paid our bill before the due date, but now I am seriously considering no payment until we get service.
But that could lead to no service at all and make it look like my fault. I am not sure what we can do, but after 14 years of this,
the Attorney General after a successful lawsuit gave them SEVEN more years to fix the problems.

Saural Mekstone

Subject: I got rid of cable 10 years ago. Cell phone is next...

I got rid of cable 10 years ago based only on the quality of content to cost ratio, which was to wide to tolerate. It seems the ratio has grown, so I am still pleased with my choice. The new disappointment in my life is the cell phone. Expensive, burdensome, low battery life. I feel used and suckered for having it. Time to think about chucking it.

Express

Subject: cable and internet are SCUM company' and the people that work fo

The thing is cable company knows people are suckers and don't want to give up the cable so that's why they charge so much, if everyone says no to cable like i did there wont be these high prices presently, i have antenna TV which i get the same channels that i was paying 25$ per month for FREE. basic TV that's all i need the american people are just weak and lazy just to put up an TV antenna and are too accustomed to stupid shows that have no redeeming values ..and wine they have to pay these BIG monthly bills to these scum company's

Stephanie

Subject: Cable TV, Phone, & Internet

I was recently scammed by our local Cable company. I was told by their representative that because I was a college student that if for whatever reason that I needed to cancel they would waive the early termination fee. I called multiple times that I was unable to connect to their internet service. After three visits from a technician and the last one said that the unit itself was missing components, I had papers and assignments due that day! So, I told them to cancel. Second month came and I received a bill so I called again and they tried to offer this that and the other trying to get me to keep the service and I told them politely again to cancel the service. I got yet another monthly bill so for the third month in a row I called again and this time was angry and told them to cancel the service. We went through the same rigamarole of whats wrong with the service can we fix it to where I would keep the service. I finally lost my temper and they asked me to not be rude and asked me to drop off the unit at a local FED EX store which is one of their designated sites to which I promptly complied. I got a bill for almost $600. When I called they stated that they never received the receiver box and that their representative was incorrect about the way the early termination clause worked even though I was very specific and asked if there was a time limit involved with the cancellation policy. I wouldn't recommend them to anyone. If you decide to go with a local cable company for a bundled service, be sure to call the company to ensure every aspect of the contract don't just trust that the "recruiter" they send to your house to sign you up knows what they are talking about. Keep a log when you call them, be sure to include the date, time, and the person you talked to, and what the conversation was about as well as what was promised to resolve the issue. It will save you a lot of headache and money later.

Eustathios Stratis

Subject: How frustrating

Your situation is infuriating. These companies seem to turn us into a bunch of mini benefactors only we are just ordinary people with relatively small incomes compared to the people who are really the benefactors

ljhays

Subject: Cable companies

My solution to aggravation with cable television was simply to stop watching TV. I couldn't justify paying for channels I never watched and commercials. Now I have more time available for more enjoyable activities and be relieved that I don't have the irritations and expenses cited by other commentators.

Real Deal

Subject: Good customer service is not giving you what you want all the ti

I have been working in customer service for the last couple of years. Good customer service is what you make of it. While you may have time to sit on the phone and whine for a hour remember that the person handling your issue over the phone doesn't. Don't assume that the person answering the phone is an expert and knows everything. While some customer service reps may know more than others , remember they receive very little training. That would explain why you get different answers when you call in. Usually the people that can answer your questions or help with your issues are the ones that don't take phone calls. As for billing disputes, you as a customer are responsible for your bill. Charges should not sit on your bill for months without you knowing and then you call customer service and want the bill retro adjusted. When you call in hollering and using profanity, remember that the person on the phone will and can do everything in their knowledge and power to help. Nothing constitutes getting upset over something that is probably your mistake to begin with. Keeping a calm demeanor , will get you anything you want. Believe me , supervisors are not always available. They call in sick too. A back up is not always available either. Don't assume that the person you spoke with left remarks on the account. Most call centers have calls that come in back to back to back non stop for hours on end. So rushing off the phone makes it difficult to note your account as a another call comes in immediately afterwards. Explain your issue clearly. If you don't know , more than likely the person on the phone wont be able to help you. Lastly , if you are having problems with your cell service and you call from the device. What can we do for you ? You don't go and get your car serviced while your driving it do you ?

A Real Customer Service Rep

Subject: Customer Service

By your ignorant response it's evident you shouldn't be in customer service. I've been in cs for 6 years and what cs is about is integrity and resolving all concerns to build a long lasting relationship. The company I worked at told us we could never tell a customer "I don't know." We had to find an answer. You don't have time to listen to their "whining"? They are PAYING you their hard earned money for a service and when you are welching them it's called a racket. If a customer is confused then it's YOUR fault for not clarifying it for them. When people call in they ARE calm, they don't become angry until they talk to rude, flaky service agents like yourself. I recomend working on your social skills.

NVveridical

Subject: Maybe your bosses and your

Maybe your bosses and your bosses' bosses should spend a lil of that bonus money they give to themselves on hiring more people and training them better :D

ex ATT Slave

Subject: Why ATT, Verizon, T Mobile etc stinks

These companies are subsidized 20,000 dollars for each new employee they train. They go through employees like water because the companies are subsidized to forever hire and train.

And then they treat their tele-reps like utter garbage. It's all about numbers numbers numbers, metrics. If you work hard and miss the metric by 1% you might get some micromanaging idiot standing on your desk screaming at you.

If you have to pee, tough luck. You're treated like you're in kindergarten.

If you're 20 seconds late back to your desk, tough luck, you get a point deducted.

Calls are misdirected to the wrong departments all the time and those calls go against the reps all-important metrics and can be cause for termination.

They're asinine corporations with rules for 5 year olds and a revolving door subsidized by the federal government. What could possibly go wrong?

Vanessa D

Subject: How refreshing to read a

How refreshing to read a comment from a person who actually is able to write the English language correctly and has an IQ above that of a potato. When I read most of the comments, I become much too aware of how our so-called Education System is failing in its task. It's appalling that so many individuals are unable to spell and/or use grammar correctly. This is not to say that their complaints are not justified; that's a whole different topic. But sloppy writing comes from sloppy thinking, and it's possible that sloppy thinking--e.g., not reading their contracts carefully before signing them--is part of what has led them into the problems they have encountered.

Donald Price

Subject: Customer Service

I have studied Customer Service issues for nearly 20 years and here is what I found out. Lousy customer service starts at the top. It is a clear and concise corporate strategy. The reason being is that sure we may loose some customers, but in the end we probably did not want them as customers in the first place. CEO's and senior executives will deny this but I have seen it in action. When I was hired to help a large insurance company improve it's customer service, I told the senior leadership that they would have to be involved everyday...they wanted nothing to do with it. When I asked them if anyone in the room was involved in customer service, no one raised their hand. I turned to the CEO and said he needed to fire everyone in the room, because if you are not involved in customer service, you are of no value to the company. Point made

Jeff

Subject: People are Ignorant

These companies only get poor ratings because the customers do not understand how any of it works or understand how to use it properly. If your internet is slow its probably because you have spyware and viruses all over your network. If your TV signal is poor is probably because you have 10 splitters in your basement running all over the place. If there is a bad storm there is a good chance you may lose service get over it.

If you live out in the middle of nowhere your cell coverage will not be very good and why would the provider spend all that money for a tower for 3 people?

Lynn G

Subject: Internet

The best comments here addressed old infrastruture and RF signals. I have a home network with 6 wireless capable PC's and other devices. My neighborhood is an old neighborhood but it is so connected when you look out back every home or neighboring businesses have roof top satellite dishes, hardwire cable and phone connections, wireless utility metering. My alley way looks like some place in India or Mexico, wires strung every where. I eventually had to upgrade to commercial grade AOSS in my house to communicate with all my devices. It let me know retail routers are like top-shelf whiskey after pours. Now I can see all the wireless crap surrounding my house.

njskydiver

Subject: Poor Service with Telcom

I think most of the bad service is in direct correlation to the lack of training the customer representatives receive from their companies. These are mostly lower salaried, young individuals who don't stay in their jobs very long. I could never understand why a company would pay such poor wages to those on their front lines, but they almost always do. If you are lucky enough to actually speak to a technician, then you may get your problem solved, or someone on a management level for a billing issue. Then of course, most folks out there simply don't know how to use the equipment they have, and will complain because of it. Communications technology isn't a perfect science, and things go wrong. It is equally incumbent on the user to know how to use what they purchase. Customers are often wrong too!

joe dokes

Subject: CABLE & TV S.AERVICE

TV sucks also. Not really worth paying for. Best thing now is to use an antenna to bring in local HD stations and get streaming movies off the internet. That's all ya need.

Whatcnido

Subject: You are totally right, Joe.

You are totally right, Joe. That is what we do in my house and it works out just great. A wire from a second older computer to the TV and I can watch almost anything I want for very little cost. (I only pay for Netflix) Try it people. You really don't need all those channels.

Mike

Subject: The worst customer service I

The worst customer service I've had is from Verizon: could not keep same phone number (FCC violation), not getting credit for returned equipment, billing problems, and more. The Verizon representative told us, " it's not my problem". Being on hold for 45 minutes to 2 hours was typical. I filled complaints with the FCC, and the BBB in New Jersey with no luck. Finally we joined a class action lawsuit, and WON. This is back in 2005, and Verizon is still trying to collect the termination fees!

george himes

Subject: Sevice(where has it gone}

The one that I hate to call is at&t the company really need to look at this problem,if you get someone overseas better take the phone and get into bed,once I was on four hours about my bill finally got a lady from the good old USA and got a answer. Lets get these jobs back home .regards buffention2

GG

Subject: Let consumers really use their power and see companies respond

I think the only way to guarantee that these companies respond to consumers fast an accurately, it to let each sede (consumer & client) use their strengths. Yes, the companies, can have their contracts, but every contract should have the following caveats:
1. For each reported issue that the company cannot or will not fix within 24hrs, customers are allowed to dock $5-$10 from that month's bill (nothing gets a company to respond faster than threatening the bottom line!)
2. For non-performance, not performing as advertised, or for more than five reported issues within a two month period, customers are allowed to opt out of the contract after 3months. That give the company enough time to correct the reported issues, and the consumer gets some fair timeline they when they can bank on either getting their issues addressed, or being able to get good service elsewhere
3. Companies cannot raise rates for consumers already in contract. New rates only affect new incoming consumers
4. Pay for what you use: Companies are very happy to charge you if you go one minute/KB over your service plan. Fine, but the reverse should also be true. For whatever you don't use this month, consumers should also have the remaining minutes/data allowances carried over to the next month, or service plan cost reduced for the month.

Failing to implement these or substantially similar common sense consumer protections, consumer will continue getting a raw deal ad perpetuum. And yes, companies will still continue to make gobs of money every month. If they charged consumers just $10 per month for all services combined, they would still do very well. I know this for a fact, being a Telecom engineer for the last 12 years, from planning, design, installation, and test & turn-up.

What say you, Angie's list? Willing to flex your lobbying muscle to try getting some of these adopted by the Internet/Phone/Cable companies? :)

C. P

Subject: Let Consumers really use their power ... response

On the reverse, let companies charge customers the amount it cost for the company to investigate each reported issue that is determined not to be caused by said company but customer's ignorance. Companies would be rich.

Echoes

Subject: This piece completely misses

This piece completely misses the real reasons why you get poor customer service while calling for help. That's OK though, you wouldn't truly understand unless you actually worked in that industry as I did.

First off, a big part of why you get poor service because the wages and working conditions in call centers are terrible. At one point, the pay was actually decent for the work performed, but hourly wages have actually fallen lower than where they were in 2000 for the average worker.

Back then, you could expect to make about $10/hour. Today, get a job at one of the BPOs that companies turn to for their customer service needs and they only want to pay you around $8/hour, which hardly even pays the bills given how much prices have gone up on just about everything. If I'm working 40 hour weeks and still having to sell off or pawn my own property for gas money, then you are not going to be dealing with someone who has any desire to go the extra mile to help you figure out some toy you just bought that costs more money than I made in a week. Acting shocked that I don't own the latest iWhatever won't help.

Diseases spread around call centers rapidly due to shared workstations, close proximity to other workers, and attendance policies that refuse to allow employees to take the time off to recover from illnesses.

Think you like dealing with anyone while being sick? Try dealing with rude, uneducated customers that scream at you for crap that is NOT your fault for 8 hours a day while you are coughing up blood and your supervisors are more concerned with keeping bodies in the seats so the numbers look good to the client than the health of the employees working under them. Think you can just take the day off because some know-it-all doctor tells you that you should? Sure, try it. It's a great way to guarantee that you will never be considered for advancement within the company, and HR will still fire you even with a doctor stating in writing that you are contagious and unable to work.

Of course, that assumes that you can even go see the doctor. One local call center that handles AT&T's DSL tech support does not hire it's employees directly, but instead adds a staffing agency between them and the employee. This staffing agency does not offer adequate health care coverage, and what it does offer costs $70/week, which is their way of saying "We don't want you to have health insurance so we're going to make it impossible to afford". I actually had to quit and go on medicare in order to be able to have surgery to deal with health problems CAUSED by the working conditions in this call center.

Of course, only part of the blame can be placed on the sweat shop like conditions that one must endure while working in these hellholes. Another rather large part of the blame falls on you. Customers are abusive, rude and stupid for the most part, blaming their ISP for every single thing that goes wrong with their computer even though once you get the truth out of them it's blatantly obvious that they caused the problem to begin with.

Maybe if companies at least started treating their workers like human beings and customers dropped the attitude where they think every rep they interact with is a verbal punching bag then the customer service you get wouldn't "suck" so much. Nobody will ever be getting any help out of me again though, I simply refuse to work in that industry ever again.

KenF

Subject: No Complaints With DirecTV and Vonage

I don't bundle my services, so I pay more, but I demand quality.

I've had DirecTV for television for five years and it has worked like a charm. Not a single service call for repair. I have the whole home system and most of the latest equipment. The picture and programming are excellent. My only calls to customer service have been to upgrade equipment or occasionally reset a receiver that has not been turned on for a while. Now I can do the reset on the internet.

I've had Time Warner Cable and they are terrible. Everyone on my street, except for one neighbor, has satellite and the neighbor who has Time Warner has had 8-10 service calls since I moved here five years ago.The repair truck is always over there. Plus, TW blocks copying of HD shows on their DVR. You cannot transfer to your DVD recorder from the TW Moxie box.

I've had two phone lines with Vonage (voice, fax) for about six years. No complaints there, either. Only equipment failure was the Vonage router failed after five years and I had to go buy a new one at Best Buy.. Vonage credited me for this purchase on my bill. The only frustrating thing about Vonage is their tech support is obviously in India and although they give good technical answers, they are extremely difficult to understand. I had to ask several of them to repeat themselves multiple times because I couldn't understand what they were saying because of their thick accent. When you call sales, you get an American.

I still use Time Warner for broadband internet, because it's the best available in our area. The only other choice is AT + T fiber. TW offers up to 50/10 speeds and AT+T only goes up to 24/5. Plus, you have to purchase the AT+T equipment and pay for install for $250.00 total and sign a one year contract. No contract with TW and the install was free. Only complaints are they take two days or more to send a tech out and they continue to harass me by phone about adding cable TV. Only two significant outages since I moved here, but a bunch of short term bounces in between.

I wish we had Verizon FIOS here for internet, but we're not wired yet for it. I may consider a cheaper VOIP like OOMA or Magicjack Plus if the quality and features compare.

The one thing that Vonage has that others don't seem to have is a flat rate global calling plan. They let you use up to about 60 hours per month before they squawk about abusing the plan.

Robert

Subject: ALL Broadband In The USA Is A Scam . . .

Presently, Korean broadband is at LEAST 4 times faster than ours and costs around HALF as much! By the end of this year, Koreans will have internet 10 times faster than ours. 200 times as fast as your typical 5 Mbps DSL connection sold in the U.S.

There is a reason for this. It's called GREED!

#1: South Korea: Average Internet Connection Speed: 17.5 Mbps
#2: Japan Average: Internet Connection Speed: 9.1 Mbps
#3: Hong Kong: Average Internet Connection Speed: 9.1 Mbps
#4: Netherlands: Average Internet Connection Speed: 8.2 Mbps
#5: Latvia: Average Internet Connection Speed: 7.8 Mbps
#6: Switzerland: Average Internet Connection Speed: 7.3 Mbps
#7: Ireland: Average Internet Connection Speed: 6.8 Mbps
#8: Czech Republic: Average Internet Connection Speed: 6.7 Mbps
#9: Romania: Average Internet Connection Speed: 6.4 Mbps

#26 USA: 5,812 Kbps Average Internet Connection speed

bo khatib

Subject: AT&T SUCKS

If you want to test how manipulative and frustrating AT&T's tactics are, try to discontinue one of the services in a bundle (TV), or try to discontinue the whole bundle. They make it impossible. First, after asking you the usual identification questions, they put you on hold. Then, after ten or more minutes (due to unusually large number of calls!), someone actually speaks with you, asking the exact questions you've already answered to the first operator; then they place you on-hold, again. Then they make you wait another ten or more minutes, only to repeat the whole process of asking the same questions and placing you on hold, again. Then suddenly the call is dropped, and you have to start all over again.

After seven attempts, and months later, I decided to wait it out, no matter how long it takes. I was determined to drop AT&T like a bad habit. And so I suffered through the delays, elevator music, and repeated questioning for 45 minutes. When I finally spoke with a supervisor and asked for the service to be discontinued, the supervisor asked to place me on hold, again, until she connected me to the "right" department (disconnection department?). By now my blood was boiling. So I asked the supervisor if I can ask her something, and she said sure. Her's what I said: Please note that this is a formal request to discontinue my TV service as of today, May 26, 2012, then I hung up.

Well, AT&T continued to charge me for the full service, and a few days later (NOT on the due date of autopay), AT&T charged me for a full service for 68 days of service, including 49 days of future service. This is outragous!

MJ

Subject: interesting...

I didn't know AT&T oiffered cable TV services. But then again, why would I? With the lack of choice that others have pointed out, there's no point in knowing. Consumers need stronger laws to deal with these companies.

Gustavo Barros

Subject: FCC

Please send a compleint to the FCC , is free and that will help others, the same hapen to me , and I send a compleint to FCC.

Hankster

Subject: Service and choice...what a joke

Customer service is a joke when it comes to large call center environments. You're paying high school graduates $8/hour to rack up as many calls and turn the stats up for their supervisors to show management how many calls were handled in an hour. These kids could care less. Between calls they are trying to "text" their Facebook pals and can't keep track and discern what the customer is trying to tell them. Since originally subscribing to internet service three years ago (only two choices least AT&T be one of them) my service charge has gone from $43/mo to $58/mo and keeps climbing each billing by cents on the dollar without any explanation. Now I have at least two outages each week with the new provider TimeWarner. All about the almighty dollar. As many have stated...I'm stuck and have no other choice. I will NEVER go back to AT&T.

LGgeek

Subject: we don't have a choice

"Yet despite the issues, we continue to go back for more. According to the Federal Communications Commission,"

We "go back for more" because we don't have a choice. How many cable companies do people get to choose from , ONE. And the FCC just keeps rubber stamping this monopolized system.

oilseed

Subject: YOU got that right!

Finally, the one person here (on all the comments) that has it right! well done LGgeek.
This is EXACTLY what it is, a MONOPOLY! we have NO choice. Only 1 cable provider
in my service area. if I don't like the service, I pound sand. (getting satellite and DSL is not
a viable option). so I'm stuck and they know it.
so, the other question is... why are they so vague and shifty on their websites? they provide
Little to No info, and the info they do provide does not really address the questions.
why don't they list the services and associated costs (like AMAZON selling an item)? why
do they just keep telling you "please call our service reps for more info" BULL.
I don't want to speak to someone that is slinging me a sales pitch, I just want to read about a
service or feature, and BUY IT. why can't I do that?

bj speeg

Subject: customer service

I couldn't even read much of the article or the comments.....it's stressful to have a computer, cell phone (I choose not to have cable, thank you).

Just scanning the article and reasons why customer service sux and then a bit of the comments. Yes, it's all awful.

Plain and simply awful.

Kevin C

Subject: It doesn't

My cable company is awesome. They set appointments and keep them. They call me before they show up at the door and they are always professional. What does suck is the spoiled mindset that says the cable company has to figure out the problems with the wiring someone else likely put in your house. Crappy cable splices done by amateurs and multiple splitters tend to degrade cable signals.

On top of those already ridiculous assumptions, you have internet service with 99.5 plus availability. When the internet goes down for many possible reasons, you have instantly angry consumers who insist that their service be restored yesterday.

This article should have been about airlines or anachronistic home phone services that seek to charge you ridiculous amounts for simple services such as caller ID. I called the phone service that services my mother's house to change the name on the bill from my deceased father to that of my still-living mother. It had been left in his name for 4 years after his death, so I figured it was time to get it fixed.

The phone company told me it would cost $46 to change the name on the account. I told them to leave it as is. I then asked what it would cost to add caller ID; something my mother wanted. The reply was $8 per month. I was stunned at both the total lack of realistic pricing and the lack of compassion for a senior citizen on a fixed income who lost her husband. Leave the cable tv/internet companies alone. They may be overpriced but at least they treat their customers with respect.

Louise Jenkins

Subject: Cable, satellite or any other company that offers Tv service

I don't have any type of service for my TV just rabbit ears. Soon I am hoping to have an outside antenna. I will not have those companies because what they offer is so unfair. In order to get the programs you want you have to get even more that you don't want. I think a consumer should be able to choose the programs that they want and pay a reasonable price for them. I don't watch sports, most popular movies, extra news stations. I have just a few programs that I enjoy. Why should I have to pay for programs that I would not watch even if I had them. I think it is about time consumers had rights to choose for themselves and not have to take a block of stations that they do not want. I am a senior citizen and just don't have money to waste on things that have no value for me.

Benton Virtus

Subject: Kick the cat, then.

A vendor's product and service offerings are one thing, their customer service is another. Complaining about bad customer service because you don't like the product offerings is like kicking the dog because the cat climbed the curtains.

I've been an AT&T customer for a long time. Originally as our long-distance land-line provider and then as our mobile provider for the past 12 years or so (we no longer have a land-line). The few times we've had to call customer service, the experience has been outstanding. Sure, there are things about AT&T Mobile offerings that annoy me, like requiring expensive data plans for certain phones when I won't use internet access. But that's not Customer Service's fault.

Sherry Roell

Subject: Quality of service!

Speaking as a former employee at every level of the communications business with 14 yrs of experience with 1 of the businesses mentioned in your article and a cable co as well I found that the reason for continued poor service in most instances is that upper mgmt rarely lets go of the offending employees that hang up on customers and commit other offenses as well. They do not have a genuine desire to assist the customers and are just there for a paycheck. As a mgr, when coaching, mentoring and following the steps for performance reviews there is always an excuse as to why we should not retire an employee even though there is consistant documentation of their negative behavior. They are more concerned with how they are viewed by the co as to the number of employees that are fired and other factors as well. Also when you truly care about the customers as a mgr, it is unrealistic to assume all of your employees will feel the same way.

Cathy

Subject: Customer Service

Those on the the customer service front lines, who actually answer the first calls, are not formal employees of the companies they represent. They are temp workers who get an hourly wage but do not get the company's benefits like good health care, sick days, overtime, etc. Service reps are a subclass group, working hard for but not a genuine part of the businesses they represent. Training is minimal. The emphasis is on fast turn-around times above all. It would be so refreshing if the executives who save their pennies by using call centers had to work in one for a while...

Customer Service Employee

Subject: Why it's so hard to get good customer service...

I've been working in the customer service industry for 14 years now and it's a tough industry. A lot of customer service level jobs are going over-seas because of the money that companies save in hiring low-level help over there. Employees are graded on their overall "handle time" for their calls. The pressure is extremely high to get people off the phone quickly and often quality suffers the most because of it. I've worked front line with service providers and it's brutal. Customers who call in usually have a laundry list of issues when they do finally call in and then get frustrated and sometimes even yell and curse at who's trying to help them

I worked high level escalations for a cell phone service provider for a while and I remember one instance where one of the low level care reps in Costa Rica had totally bungled up this lady's account. By the time she had gotten to me, she had already spoken to 8 different people, 2 of which were supervisors. I spent over an hour fixing all of the problems this lady had. A couple of days later the lady had gotten a random customer care survey and had understandably given the company poor ratings. That survey though had come back to me and I was given a written reprimand for it even though I had been the one to fix all of her problems. I ended up getting a poor performance review because of that reprimand even though the original problem wasn't my fault, it ended up costing me a raise. And to beat all, that customer had given me kudos to my direct supervisor for all of my help, I ended up leaving that department shortly thereafter because of that incident.

Good customer care is often very thankless by the company and the customerd and burnout is very, very high. Service industries have a stunningly high turnover rate because of the pressures by the company for the employees to perform. Some tips to get good customer service: maintain your composure, be nice...you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Don't wait until you have 7 or 8 issues piled up to call, remember that the rep needs to get your issue resolved and get you off the phone as quickly as possible. Have all of your information like account numbers, who you've previously spoken with, etc readily available to give the rep. When you do get quality service, feel free to give the rep some kudos by telling their supervisor what a great job they did and believe me, the rep will pay it forward the rest of their day..

b

Subject: Customer service

To the customer service's comment on not batching issues - if customers didn't have long wait times and got their one or two issues actually resolved, having a laundry list would not be so prevalent. Either the customer doesn't get to the a live person or doesn't get it resolved. Thus the list begins. Having "wasted their time, the issues wait until they reach a pain threshold, normally when a new issue emerges, thereby creating a longer list. Your story is unfortunately more the rule rather than the exception when dealing with customer service. Plus add in the times where phone calls are dropped and customer service is "unable" to call the customer back or they cannot provide a direct call back number to that service rep....and then the customer has to spend additional minutes and hours on hold only to have to repeat their situation. This causes plenty of angst and anger. Also if the customer surveys are written based on an understanding of the reality, those questions would address service at various levels and you might have been the recipient of the kudos while those on the way to you would have received the lower rating. I get the customer service rep's name each time and try to work it out with them. However they have limits to assist...and getting to a supervisor is a challenge all to on itself. The the supervisor espouses corporate policy of why they cannot, which lowers the probablity of achieving resolution. This naturally leads to a frustrated customer who becomes irratated and possibly emotional.

Remo "Uzi" Gwaldabi

Subject: customer service and corporations

The really sad thing about customer service is the people who answer your calls are the lowest paid persons outside fast food. They are for the most part unfamiliar with corporate rules and frequently have poor command of grammar and impulse control. Turnover rate is over 30% a month. The job is thankless and brutal. Why do the corporations do this is the question. This is the face of the company for the vast majority of people yet they can't possibly buy into the company indoctrination being literally abused on an hourly basis. Some of the largest and most profitable companies on earth persist in what could be discerned as sweat shop conditions for these workers. Don't ever expect better. Do business with them or don't. The corporations simply don't care...why should they. You continue to patronize them.

Chuck

Subject: Poor Customer Service

I'm 61 years old. I remember when there was only one telephone Company, and that was AT&T. The phones themselves always worked (my father is still using one--even though my siblings and I used it as home plate playing baseball in the back yard). When you dialed "0", you always got an operator. I remember coming back to the US after 4 years overseas and I couldn't remember how to place long distance calls to my parents and my wife's after we got off the plane at Ft. Dix. I recall that the operator placed the calls, and after I hung up I said "Thank God for Ma Bell". That was because the phone company in Germany was part of the Post Office, and both were Government run.

Now we have dozens of companies trying to sell us plans that even a tax lawyer or a Patent attorney could understand---it clearly is time to re-regulate the phone service in the US, and give us back a phone system that works and we can understand what we are paying for.

The same thing goes with the airline industry--we used to have the Civil Aeronautics Boards which functioned as a public utilities commission, controlling the routes airlines were allowed to run, and the fares they were allowed to charge. Back then, all airlines had only one price for coach from "A" to "B", and the differences were only in the food each airline served. The airlines got a reasonable profit, there was no incentive to cut costs by scrimping on safety. In 1970 there were ten airlines that flew from Minneapolis to Chicago--the price for a seat was the same on all ten, and the CAB made sure that the smaller cities with airline service, could not simply be cut off from airline service. (How--CAB let them make a profit on longer routes, and that subsidized the smaller markets. The airlines need to be re-regulated!

rocinante3d

Subject: Poor customer service

I am not as old as you, but I do remember when Ma Bell was the queen. We had a Princess phone. Now Ma Bell is just a handmaiden. Modern contrivances such as the Internet, cell phones and satellite phones existed during Ma Bell's time. Ma Bell just sat on them because she just didn't see the need for them.

I can pick up a phone and call Poland, Hungary or Japan right now. I can send an email to my cousin in Okinawa and she can Skype me. Those are the good points. The bad points of very poor customer service, lack of understanding of a phone bill are all due to enormous amounts of governmental regulations. The companies have to make company to survive and they scrimp where they can and gouge when they can get away with it. If it was a free market then they would have to listen to the customer. Unfortunately that is not going to happen anytime soon.

Kirk Bready

Subject: Poor Customer Service

Chuck, I agree with you 100%. I'm 70 and recall a time when government was by and for the people. That produced regulatory agencies that prevented parasitic abuse of consumers, enforced contractual obligations and promoted an atmosphere of fair play. Contrary to the anti-regulation propaganda, corporations tended to be quite profitable but much more stable. They actually cultivated a desire for a lifetime career among their employees. I recall a1960's course in business management in which the most important job of top management was defined as setting and maintaining a moral code that would preserve the integrity of the company both internally and in society. That's gone - replaced with the credo of every man for himself and sucker beware. This is not the first great society to take things for granted, forget the old rule that people get the government they deserve, and then wake up one morning with empty pockets and no hope for the future. I think it will take a generation smarter than mine to wake up and fix this mess.

Robert Anderson

Subject: "Issues" - yuck!

Yes! and nothing affects anything any more, it Impacts it. Sales are now all Events, people are Assets, and sex (as in male-female) is now Gender (a linguistic term)., except in reference to categorizing young chickens.

Jon

Subject: Comcast still has yet to

Comcast still has yet to "properly" train their customer service personnel. We have had their new Xfinity digital cable for the past 7 or 8 months, and about every two weeks we get an error message, preventing us from watching anything for the rest of the day. Every time we call it's always the same: "Ok, sir. I'll send a refresh signal to your box. Did that work? No? Ok, I'll schedule a technician to come out next week." No explanation of what the message means, or why it occurred. They just pawn us off on a technician that comes an hour late, if at all!

carlo

Subject: comcast

I can tell you that part of the problem is they outsource a lot. And when you are only a branch on a tree things constantly go wrong.
Too many people stirring the pot when you have to call 3-4 times for one issue. Even tech jobs get outsourced they are contractors
who slap a magnet on their truck

Clinton J Wooton

Subject: Return Path Issue

From your description, your cable boxes are losing their IP address or having upstream problems. In cable, systems upstream is the return RF path used to communicate, which allows you to order movies, etc. When you experience the problem again ask the technician to check the MERS / BERS and look for errors on the upstream return path. You also want the technician to disconnect your home from the serving pedestal or pole and test looking back into your home. In this case, the technician is testing for Ingress, which is licensed Radio Frequency (RF) that is coming into your home. They also want to test for Egress, which is RF escaping from your home wiring or drop. Ingress and Egress are almost always caused by bad connectors or a splitter that does not meet company specifications. The key here is having a technician use the expensive tools they have to troubleshoot your issue.

harroll morris

Subject: It sucks because ...

Your service sucks because of the quality of the wires or infrastructure of the company in the area you live in is lower quality than it needs to be to provide top quality service. It will remain that way until the company or companies involved decide it make more financial sense to upgrade their infrastructure in your area than it does to allow things to remain the way they are currently. The other main cause for issues with TV, internet, and phone service is the quality of the wires inside your house that legally speaking, you own. Most companies will charge to repair or replace those wires and will replace them in the cheapest quickest way possible even if it does not look aesthetically pleasing because it is hard work, can be expensive, and in many cases is not possible without tearing down walls to replace that wire. Wireless options in many cases are not as effective as you might hope due to interferers such as large concentrations of metal like stainless steel kitchen appliances or the steel I-beam that keeps your house from collapsing. These are the main reason why TV intenet and phone service does or does not work where you live and might be perfect or abosolutely horrible down the block or in the next sub-development.

michael

Subject: work for community broadband

Check out the Institute for Local self-reliance web site for great info on how many municipalities across the country are creating community owned broadband networks that provide better service/connectivity at less cost.

lucy

Subject: community broadband

Oh Michael. If only it was possible. Alas, it's an unattainable dream for many of us.

I live in one of those increasingly unfortunate communities where just paying for minimum police and fire protection is a struggle. Previous city councils spent lavishly and made expensive contractual agreements and promises, as if the money would be a steady, increasing flow. It all came crashing down with the recession and now ordinary folks are losing their homes to foreclosure and unable to pay property taxes. Community broadband would be a very low priority around here. It's every man for him (or her)-self!

al brown

Subject: wow

I would have thought that an article titled "Why cable, Internet and TV customer service sucks" would have said why... somewhere in the entire article.

Range 2

Subject: Agree

That title is the reason I read the article, but it never explains the reason all. It's just a list of complaints, all of which I knew perfectly well before reading it.

Dave Seavy

Subject: Customer Service

I agree about being polite when calling for service or with a complaint. You have to remember that the person on the other end is human too, and being abrasive or vulgar is not the way to go about addressing a problem. Technology fails, no matter how well designed the structure is. Often you're speaking with someone at a distant location, so they won't have any idea what might be happening locally until a report is made. If you state your problem in a respecful manner, I've found that I get faster service, and the problem is resolved more often than not. If I were a customer service rep, and someone called me ranting, raving, cussing and making threats, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to be helpful. Instead, I'd probably hang up. When you consider all the equipment it takes to send you a TV, phone or internet signal, it's amazing services don't fail more often. It takes far more then simply flipping a switch to bring customers the services.

Donna Corey

Subject: Bundles

Big problem if you're squeezing every penny and your money comes in sporadically. I would never bundle my personal stuff. I might be able to cover the phone bill this week and the internet bill next week. With a bundle you pay them ALL on the due date or they ALL get shut off! For my new busiiness bundling made sense though, just phone and internet and the bill wasn't a huge chunk all at once.

markavelli

Subject: They Go Too Far-Time Warner Cable

The worst part of the penalty for being late, despite that fact that I've had an account with them for 25 years and never walked away from a payment, is when they shut-off my email service (in addition to my phone, cable and internet). And what I mean by this is that when someone emails me while its "shut down". I do not get their email nor does the sender get a "message undeliverable" return email. The email is gone, vanished and it never arrives once the system is turned back on. I especially love it when they do this on a Friday evening just before they close for the weekend.
When I complain about this specific act they give me a generic "we have no control over that" excuse. They act as if I am never going to pay. And being that they have absolutely NO formal customer complaint department they will never, ever learn fast enough...love the big mergers.....

Barbara Ryan

Subject: Paying Your Internet Bill

Most companies do not care when the money is received. They only care if it's there by the due date. Send payments once a week if you need to. Just make sure you have a zero balance by the due date.

Fred

Subject: Cox Cable

Well we have been Cox Cable customers for 10 years. In all that time with ice storms and summer thunderstorms I can not remember a time we were with out service. Only when the power is out. The internet is fast and always up. But I have to admit, it is their customer service that sets them apart. Friendly on the phone and in person. The field service techs are always on time. I have been quite impressed this company.

Lee Trahan

Subject: Viore TV and Dish Network

I had serious trouble with these two companies in getting results after numerous attempts. I agree that social media is a great place to get results. I posted a detailed comment on Facebook and got an immediate reaction. I also did some research and found the CEO of Dish Network's email. Of course he acted ignorant to my complaint, but by the time I finished with him, he understood quite clearlya and gave me the option to cancel my contract at will.
One other very affective avenue to solve a dispute is to contact your state's Attorney Generals Office's Consumer Protection Division. This office is even more affective than the BBB, at least in my state.

Good luck,
Lee

Linda Breese

Subject: At&T

We have internet and TV service with AT&T, they are not on Fibre Optics in this area yet.
At least once a week there is an issue either with TV or the Internet. I do business with China and often work on line late and very early and of course holiday. I cannot tell you how much business and money I have lost (I work from my home office). Every time I call, I get the round and round speech. We are sorry, but we cannot send anyone out because ...blahblahblah. I want to get away from AT&T, however I have another 8 months to go and they are increasing their rates. A license to steal, just like the banks.

ks

Subject: Lost business

If you're doing business from home, shell out for business internet. Sure it's a little more expensive, but you get priority support, and if it will keep you from losing money, it's worth it.

dan travis

Subject: mediacom's "power to simplify"

Well, they have the power to irritate you, that's for sure. After repeated calls of poor internet connection, I was met with long hold times of over 10 minutes each time I called. I reached the Dominican republic and was told I must have a virus, it looks like you have an outside line issue on another call...finally the tech that was confirming appointments just laughed when he heard my stories...he said he hears this day in and day out...I was not laughing......I asked if he could forward a complaint for me, since I just had surgery a week prior...he said.."oh, you want me to do your job for you...?" Well, the power to simplify my life has not been seen by anyone at Mediacom!!!!!!

Janet

Subject: I'm sorry this happened to you, Dan

I am moved to say I'm so sorry you were treated that way by this representative. I know how vulnerable you felt, not just sick, but torn up and sick! I just had heart surgery and although I am usually a pretty self-reliant person, I need all the help I can get. Your patience is kind of thin when you're wounded, and your energy is non-existant (I think it's working on re-building tissue!). Well, I personally am glad I believe in life after death of the physical body, life where there's a strong sense of justice, a promised pay-back for failure to sympathize and help others of our species in need. Of course this means I have to be a sympathetic person myself, and of course I'm not always.

Joel Rosenzweig

Subject: Direct TV

We have been with Direct TV for about 10 years and I must say I have been very happy with the service we have gotten from them over these years. I am not saying that it is not less expensive than Dish but from all that I have heard the cusomer service is like 100 times better with Directv
and I have not been dissapointed.

Joel Rosenzweig

Subject: Satalite TV

We have been Direct TV subscribers for the last 10 years and we have been very happy with our service. I am not saying it is the cheepest around but I would not change because of the complaints we have heard from people who have other services.

Bill Hibbs

Subject: My bundle

I have earth link hi-speed internet,Dish network, for my computer,phone, and tv. I have had them for ten years or better, NO complaints. I have had excelant service from this"bundle"

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?
I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had


?
I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.


?
I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.
?

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.