Herding Cats at The Cable Company


        The new phone service worked fine, and I was into my fifth month when I returned from ten days overseas to find that my Comcast Internet phone line was out.  I punched the number into my cell phone, and it rang in the earpiece, but my line was deader than Kelsey’s nuts. No ring, no dial tone, no nothing.  I called Comcast on my cell phone and, after going through their annoying IVR menu and ten minutes of elevator music, got some guy named Quannas.  I told him my Comcast phone service was dead.  Quannas asked me my number, which I gave him.  The exchange went something like this: 

“May I have the number you are calling about?” 


“Is this Mr. Cooper?” 

“Huh?  No, this is Mr. Melka.  Who’s Mr. Cooper?” 

“I show that account as a listing for Mr. Michael Cooper.”

“Impossible!  It’s been my number for five months!  How could somebody else have the same number???”

Quannas put me on hold, returning a few minutes later with an explanation that clearly satisfied him but clearly gave me the redass.  Somehow, either “the system” or some distracted employee had, quite simply, assigned my number to a new customer, which discontinued my service entirely.  But Quannas, being an action oriented kind of guy, was intent on getting me up and running.  He would get me a new number assigned and have my service turned back on within twenty-four to forty-eight hours.  While this remedy was clearly acceptable, perhaps even favorable, to Quannas, I was incredulous that he would even suggest it.  My mood hardened and the exchange notched up a couple degrees in intensity. 

“No!  That is unacceptable.  I’ve already printed new business cards and stationery and notified everyone of my new number.  It’s been in use for five months, and that’s the number you’ll need to reassign to my phone.  Now what exactly are you going to do to get my phone working with my number and when will it be fixed?” 

Quannas, cool as ever, explained that another department was responsible for connecting service, and still another department would assign the number—whatever it might ultimately be.  He would send emails to both departments and get the ball rolling. 

As one might imagine, this didn’t go over very well.  I made Quannas keenly aware of my concerns with his solution. 

“Let me see if I’ve got this straight.  You’ll send an email, not to a person, but to a department, and we assume someone will review this email and decide to take action. This might be today or tomorrow or the next day, since you have no control when it gets read.  Meanwhile, hoping that someone will act, you will wait for them to contact you with an answer as to when my phone is being reconnected.  And then, you will contact me with the information.  And meanwhile, I am expected to sit idly by, phoneless, and let all this transpire on its own with no participation or involvement other than wishing and hoping and waiting?  How comfortable should I be with all that, Quannas?”

The fog suddenly lifted, and Quannas saw the world from my perspective.  He was stymied, however, because that was the only avenue open to him, according to their established processes.  I, not similarly bound by Comcast rules or process, instructed Quannas in an alternative. 

“Quannas, I’m not going to sit here and hope.  I’m taking control of this situation, but I’ll need your help.  I’ll need to talk to the person who runs your customer service center.” 

“Mr. Melka, give me your cell phone number and I’ll have my supervisor call you back.” 

“No.  Put your headset on your desk, stand up, walk around, and go get your supervisor. Don’t put me on hold. I’ll wait.  Have you got a pen?  Write down this number in case we’re disconnected.  But until we get this thing fixed, I am not going to hang up.”  (. . . to be continued)


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