American Customer Satisfaction Index's (ACSI) latest annual report on telecommunications and information, released last year, places Comcast at the bottom or near the bottom of the major company rankings in TV, Internet, and phone service. This weekend I found one of the reasons why.
This was my mission on Sunday after church: replace my father-in-law’s ancient Comcast set-top box with a new one to complement his new high-def Vizio TV. I had called Comcast the weekend before and they had shipped a “new” set-top box. I had installed such devices before, so expected no problems.
I expected wrongly.
I hooked the Comcast cable to the set-top box (made by Motorola) to the Vizio via a coaxial connection. I phoned Comcast and activated the set-top box, then attempted to pair it with the HDTV via the Vizio’s on-screen input menu. No matter what cable or cable box option I tried, I was told there was “no signal.”
I tried every trick in my book, so I called Comcast’s tech support. After 15 minutes of lovely elevator music, I finally got ahold of a tech support person. They told me to make sure all the connections were secure (no luck), that the TV was set to channel 4 (which shouldn’t have been necessary, but no luck), and to make sure that the set-top box was set to channel 4 (which made no sense, but I tried it anyway, but no luck). Stymied, the tech support person told me to try an HDMI cable to connect the set-top box to the TV.
My father-in-law had no HDMI cable, so I drove to Best Buy, bought one, returned — and found that the “new” set-top box had no HDMI port.
I called Comcast’s tech support. After 25 minutes of lovely elevator music, I finally got ahold of a tech support person and went through my entire sob story again. The tech person was shocked that the box had no HDMI port, then admitted that he was actually in the payments department, but was trying to help the folks in tech support since they were swamped. He gave me a different 800 number to call.
After 30 minutes of lovely elevator music, I finally got ahold of a tech support person and went through my entire sob story YET AGAIN. He was amazed that the set-top box had no HDMI port. He asked for its serial number, did some research, and told me that Comcast had sent us a very old set-top box. How old? Old enough that not only did it lack an HDMI cable, but only supported a resolution of 480i. 480i!!!!??? That’s pre-DVD! 480i is progressive scan DVD; 720 and above are considered HDTV.
The tech support person said they could send me a replacement set-top box for the replacement set-top box and that it would arrive in 7-10 days. Or I could go to the local Comcast Service Center and pick up one in person. Fearing that Comcast would mail me a set-top box that was steam-powered and only supported 240i, I felt it wiser to go pick one up myself. I told my father-in-law that I would pick up the new set-top box, come over and get his new TV up and running today.
But, guess what? Since its President’s Day, the Comcast Service Center is closed.