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The real reason the cable guy is always late

Does this sound familiar? You've taken off a day of work to wait for the cable guy. Your appointment is scheduled for the morning, but the cable guy doesn't call or even show up until dinnertime.

What in the world could make him six hours late? I've got the answers, but you're not going to like them.

If you're a Comcast customer, the sad truth is that Comcast just doesn't care. Cable technicians are purposely overbooked by their dispatchers, hoping that an appointment will cancel or reschedule.

Technicians are also often misinformed about the kind of work they will be doing. They may be expecting to drop off two remotes that should only take 15 minutes, but they actually have to install a cable box and hook up cables, which can take up to four hours.

Some customers can get results by emailing "ecare@comcast.com" after the usual attempts to resolve problems have failed. But many other customers are forced to live with the problem or are charged for work that was never completed.

Don't believe me? Here's a few testimonies from actual Comcast workers or Comcast contractors.

A lot of [tech-support reps] just don’t fully understand how the system works and don’t know ways to troubleshoot properly. I think a lot of them just go off the flowchart script. They don’t know the ins and outs of actually fixing things.

It’s pretty decent equipment, but … it just gets recycled so many times. A lot of the guys at the warehouse would turn in a defective modem and then see it again two days later, supposedly repaired. But you look at it and you know it’s broken.

-Dispatcher, 1999–2013, Tennessee

They schedule the jobs expecting that one of your jobs will cancel. I usually run over somewhere and have to make up the time at another job. You have to start trimming corners to make up that time you lost. It’s gotten worse lately because of the extra stuff they’re making us do, and they haven’t given us any extra time.

-CommTech 3, 2008–present, Florida

One of the things that we are graded on as technicians is our missed time frames. You’re routed with 9 to 12 calls per day, and if you take into consideration travel time, we have anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to repair a problem. It is very tight. And if it takes longer to repair a problem, then it’s frowned upon because we spent too much time.

If we’re running behind … we send an email to a traffic controller who manually assigns repair jobs. Sometimes they will [reschedule the job], sometimes they won’t. It depends on the amount of workload they have; it depends on their mood.

If we can’t find out what’s wrong, we’re encouraged by management to close it out in such a manner that it will charge a customer-service fee … so they’ll learn to live with it or they’ll switch to someone else.

One gentleman had a total of 15 technicians go to his home. I got a phone call from my supervisor telling me, "This guy’s calling back in, there’s already been a lot of people there. Whatever you do, don’t give [him] my phone number."

Personally, I keep working. I’ve been to a call for six hours. I stick my nose on it and I don’t give up until I find out what the problem is. I just have late appointments for the rest of the day.

-Corporate CommTech 3, 2010–present, Georgia

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