Friday Rant: Dante’s Inferno and The Nine Circles of…Comcast

Though I haven't read Dante's Inferno in its entirety, I have read enough excerpts over the years to realize that back in 1300, I'm pretty positive that Dante was extremely forward-thinking. In describing his descent into hell, he was obviously creating an allegorical representation of what it's like to call Comcast customer service with a simple billing question on an innocent enough summer Wednesday in 2011. Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate, the gates of hell read as Dante enters. "Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here."Wednesday began normally enough. I scouted some stories for Afternoon Coffee, worked on laying out a new Spend Matters Perspective (whitepaper), and answered e-mails. All the while, Lisa (Spend Matters CEO) was across the room paying bills. "Why did Comcast bill us four times between June and July?" she asked, while poring over various statements. Sure enough: June 2, June 17, June 27 and July 3 all showed charges from "Comcast -- Chicago." As the Comcast veteran in the office (we've had many, many, many previous conversations on a variety of issues), it was decided that I should call to see what's up.

Circle One (Limbo), Circle Two (Lust), Circle Three (Gluttony)

In the Inferno, Circle One is where Homer, Horace, Ovid, Socrates, Aristotle, Julius Caesar, Lucretia, Orpheus and the like hang out. I'd like to refer to it as Comcast's innocuous enough automated menu: I've been good enough to not be punished so far. I punch in our account number, request the billing department, and wait to speak to a human. As for Circle Two, frankly, there is nothing remotely lustful about Comcast. Skip. I'm completely guilty of gluttony, however. I expected that the first person I spoke to might be able to recognize my problem and help me. But the representative on the phone could only discuss the residential account (which used to be a business account until we transferred it, but that's for another rant), not the "new" business account, which supposedly gives us better service levels. Right. Therefore one of the payments was now accounted for (June 3, residential auto-pay), one could simply not be discussed under any circumstances (business), and the other two remained a mystery (?!??!). My gluttony got the best of me in thinking this would be simple, and I was transferred down to the next levels.

Circle Four (Greed), Circle Five (Anger), Circle Six (Heresy)

Ah, greed. I asked to speak to a supervisor, thinking they would have the magical powers necessary to override the "fill out a request ticket and wait seven to ten days" option. No such luck, though I was next transferred to a business representative who confirmed that one of the other payments was correct (yay!) but then also realized that Comcast had never stopped billing us for residential service at the business address. At this point I had been on the phone for 45 minutes (anger) and threatened to cancel service (heresy). I was transferred yet again.

Circle Seven (Violence), Circle Eight (Fraud), Circle Nine (Treachery)
At this point, Jason needed to use the phone line I was on, so I nicely asked if the representative I was speaking with could please call me back on another line. Still frustrated, I slammed down the phone and may have uttered some undesirable, unladylike language. I waited. And waited. No call back. Moving on to fraud, I attempted to begin the whole process over by calling again and pretending that no claims had been entered, I had not previously been on the phone with Comcast that day, and that I did not have nine post-it notes full of gobbilty gook symbols, numbers, and dates in front of me. So far two payments had been accounted for and the phantom residential account had finally been canceled. Comcast still had absolutely no idea where the other two payments had come from, and I was in the process of entering a ticket to the accounting department when my representative suddenly said "Oh, I can't help you with this. I have a stop screen."

I was told to call the credit card company to challenge the automatic charges. "Won't that just make the credit card company contact you to ask about the charges?" I asked "The charges that seven other people can't seem to find, but are showing up on our statement?" "It's a stop screen," the rep said. "I can't go any further. Is there anything else we can help you with today?"

Two hours, eight people, nine circles, and no progress with Comcast. I'm sorry, Jason and Lisa. I can't continue to work on this problem. I have a stop screen.

- Sheena Moore

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