Well, but that’s not news, is it? Everybody knows that.
But that hit home – again – tonight when I returned after three days away to find our internet not working. I called Cablevision and after a few obvious steps, I’m told they can’t see the modem and they offer to send someone out … in three days.
I’ll spare you the Dell Hell details. But what ensues is amazing, even to me. When I said I wanted someone here tomorrow because I’m paying for service and it’s not working, the tech, “George” – I assume they use phone names – told me they have lots of customers without phones, internet, and cable ahead of me. Well, I said, that’s shocking: lots of customers waiting days to get their internet, phone, cable. I asked him point blank and three times whether if I had my phone service with them they’d also make me wait. Seems so. He asked me why I think I should get service tomorrow and get ahead of a 90-year-old lady without a phone. I asked him why he thinks that lady shouldn’t have had her phone fixed long since!
I got a supervisor, “Marc with a c.” I told him that I’ve had to have a vice-president come to my aid before to get service, that I used to work with Cablevision and his boss, Chuck Dolan (back when I had the misfortune to be around at the start of News 12 NJ), that I saw Dolan at a meeting a few weeks ago (where TiVo’s Tom Rogers, who does fix customer problems, was speaking with a small group), and that I planned to call his office in the morning to report the quality of service I was getting from his people.
“Marc” replied, “I don’t see you listed as a VIP.” I can’t believe he said it either. So you only give decent service to VIPs? He said he was going to tell his management that I was calling myself a friend of Dolan’s. Friend? I said I was going to call the boss to tell him about your service. Maybe I should be his friend. Every customer should be. I tweeted: ” In any good company, there are no VIPs. All customers are VIPs. Not Cablevision. All its customers are prisoners.”
I also said I planned to call Verizon as soon as they finish cabling my street so I can switch. Cablevision didn’t seem to give a damn.
When I had problems with Dell, I waited weeks and then resorted to a blog post. Now is the age of Twitter. So I vented my frustration there (using my iPhone and its AT&T connection, not my Cablevision wifi, of course; that’s how I’m writing this).
Here’s the funny part: Cablevision didn’t answer my tweets. So I tweeted: “Hey @comcastcares, is there a @cablevisioncares? Ha! What an oxymoron.” And two minutes – I swear, two minutes – later, Frank Eliason, aka @comcastcares, tweeted. He said he’d just been emailing with an EVP/CFO of Cablevision on something else and that he’d email him about my problem. Get that: Comcast doing a better job at Cablevision service than Cablevision. Too bad Comcast couldn’t come out to fix my internet. Eliason later tweeted: “I think you & I agree that social media will force that to change for companies, & service by all must improve in the new world.” Amen, but how long will it take companies like Cablevision to learn that?
But there’s another punch line. I got a tweet from John Czwartacki (@cz), Verizon’s policyblogger who tweeted: “Jeff, Verizon is ready when you are! DM or reply and i’ll get things rolling Monday morning. Hope we earn your biz!” A few DMs later, and he’s checking with his colleagues to get my street lit and get my business. Another Verizon person, Laurie Shook, also asked for my business: “Hey Jeff, Verizon is listening. Would love to hook you up on FiOS.” Now that’s the spirit. That’s business.
Comcast cares. Verizon cares. Cablevision doesn’t. But then, that’s not news.
(P.S. If somebody from Cablevision actually does anything tomorrow, I’ll send a free copy of What Would Google Do? to my good buddy, VIP Chuck Dolan. For his convenience, just because he’s important, I’ll put a bookmark on the Dell Hell story.)
: LATER: I tweeted that I had been invited to meet the new head of the FCC this afternoon but couldn’t because of work in New York. Oh, if only I had. I’d have bent his ear about how fine administration goals of broadband for all will get us nowhere if the future of our technology, innovation, communication, and entrepreneurship can be railroaded by companies such as Cablevision. I’d also have bent his ear about the need for customers – not just business customers but all customers – to have service-level agreements with cable and phone companies, guaranteeing us response time and repair (except, perhaps, in the cases of natural disaster), with penalties to back them up. (Here’s today’s Wall Street Journal report on FCC Chair Julius Genachowski’s mission of “making affordable high-speed Internet available to all Americans.”)
: LATER STILL: Oh, just got email from someone at Cablevision who saw the discussion 12 hours ago. He works in media relations. Hint to all companies: Now that we’re all in media, everybody in a company is in media relations.
: FOLLOWUP: A technician arrived yesterday morning. The amplifier on the street didn’t work. He fixed things that would affect other people on the street. It works now. I don’t know whether the 90-year-old lady has her phone back. She should.