My wife, Mel, called me at work to say that Comcast had jacked up our bill again. “Last month it was $50,” she said. “The next $65. Now it’s $85. It’s such a joke. You need to call them.”
Every six months or so I find myself calling Comcast, hassling with them to get my internet bill down, using words like, “disappointed”, “ridiculous”, and “frustrated.” I have to tell them repeatedly that I don’t want an upgrade. I don’t want a bundle. I don’t need TV because I watch very little of it, and TV is an outdated dinosaur, blah, blah, blah. And every time some chipper person wearing a headset, who is probably housed in some grey, lifeless cubicle, getting bitched at all day by customers just like me, offers me some new promotion that is never as good as the original promotion, but better than the bill they were sticking me with, so I take it, like a bitch, and move on with my life.
Probably the most frustrating part of all of this is the fact that Mel is an amazing budgeter. She has lines upon lines in our budget, everything is accounted for, and when something that should be consistent, like a monthly internet bill, gets jacked up by $15 or $20, we have to make it fit in the budget, which isn’t always easy. It’s not like I make big money. I work in education, which basically means we survive. We are frugal people, trying to raise three young kids on a limited budget. Long story short, $15 or $20 a month is not something we take lightly. It’s not something we forget about easily. It’s something that must be accounted for, and justified.
And yet, I was tired of this. Really tired of it.
The thing about Comcast is they are really good at calming me down, just enough, to not switch. They wait silently, like an alligator in the water, until I’ve forgotten about them, and when I least expect it, they slowly jack up my bill again.
“Can you talk to them this time? I hate those people. I always feel like they are screwing me,” I said.
“No,” Mel said. “You know I’m bad at that stuff. Last time I tried to talk to Comcast I got really frustrated. Then I hung up on them. The next month, our bill went up again, and you ended up calling.”
“It’s not like I’m good at it, either,” I said. “Obviously, I’m not. I keep getting screwed. Let’s just switch providers.”
Then Mel reminded me that we switched to Comcast last year because Century Link wouldn’t ever come out and properly fix our Internet connection.
We went back and forth, complaining about Internet providers, and how they were all the same. It’s crazy to think that I grew up in an era without Internet. In fact, I didn’t even have Internet in my home until I was in my early 20s. I just didn’t see the need for it. But now, with Mel taking online classes, and me teaching online classes and blogging, suddenly the Internet is a necessity. I hate that fact. I also hate that there are only three internet providers in my area, and all of them provide the same crapy service, jack up my bill regularly, and talk to me like they are the best deal in town, when, in the grand scheme of capitalism, they are, in fact one of only a few deals in town. There is no competition. I have more options in spaghetti sauce than I do Internet providers, and that is a sad fact.
“Fine,” I said. “I’ll just try chatting with someone online. Perhaps that will be easier.”
Later that day I chatted with someone online about my bill. They told me the same crap they always do about how my promotion had expired, and that I could save money by switching to a bundle. I told them that I didn’t want a bundle; I just wanted my Internet for what I signed up for. I told her about what my neighbor was paying, and how it was a much better deal than I was getting. The Comcast person told me that she could give me that deal, but I’d have to contact another department. I told her that I didn’t have time for that, we went back and forth, and eventually I told her I wanted to cancel my service. She told me she couldn’t do that either, I’d have to call someone elese for that too, and finally I asked her what she could do, and her response was, “I can give you this deal on a bundle.”
I closed the chat, and posted this on Twitter: Comcast is the devil. It got a few comments and a few favorites. I started looking into different providers, all the time realizing that I wasn’t going to find anything better. It felt like I was doing all of it out of spite.
Three days after the post I got a message on Twitter from someone named Comcast Mike, who told me he could help. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that Comcast Mike took three days to contact me about my tweet. Nor should I be surprised that every interaction I had with him took another three days. I had to assume that Comcast Mike was either over worked, underpaid, or both. I’m just going to assume it was both.
He tried to offer me a bundle, and a promotion, and I told him no. Then he offered me a deal that was within my price range, but it wasn’t much faster then dialup. I asked him if it was 1995, and then I told him I was switching. I never heard from Comcast Mike again, and then, suddenly, right before I was about to cancel, I got a text from Mel that read, “Our Comcast bill is back down to $50 a month.”
For a moment, I felt like a champion. I felt like I’d won some grand fight that sadly had been dragged out for just under a month. But now, thinking back on that satisfaction, I know that it was false because here is the really sad part: I have most likely fallen back into their trap. I feel confident that my bill is going to go up again in a few months, and it will throw our budget out of whack. I will go through all of this again, and I hate myself for it. I hate the fact that I have few options. I hate Comcast for jerking me around.
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