A Week of My Life I’ll Never Get Back

About the Author: Eric Cressey

I’m sure that most of you – particularly the regular readers – have noticed that we haven’t had a blog since Monday. This isn’t like me at all, so I felt the need to explain. In the process, I’ll have to deviate from the normal direction of this blog.

For one, I like to keep this blog positive, focusing on training, nutrition, and other themes that are at least loosely related to what I do and what you (hopefully) enjoy. Today, I’ll be a completely bitter propagandist. Rather than write a letter that would be lost in the shuffle with the Better Business Bureau, I figured I’d write directly to people who – for whatever reason – seem to actually take what I write to heart.

And two, I’m actually typing this blog into Microsoft Word – not Blogspot directly – for reasons I’ll get to in the paragraphs that follow. So, basically, you’ll probably be reading this after all the events of the past few days have transpired. With those days in mind, I think a quick chronological summary of the past week would be of assistance to you understanding my situation.

Third, this is going to be pretty long. Trust me; it’s worth sticking it out.

Wednesday, 8/14: My girlfriend and I moved to a new apartment closed to the city. Previously, I had arranged for Comcast to come and set up our internet and cable the following day between 11AM and 1PM.

Thursday, 8/15, 9:30AM: We leave for a weekend in Maine with my girlfriend’s family, knowing that everything is under control (riiiiight) with Comcast because my buddy (who lives in the building and is also the landlord’s son) is going to let the technician in and sign off on everything.

12:30PM: I get a call on my cell phone from the technician telling me that our building isn’t wired for Comcast. My first question was “Huh?” This was the only internet provider our landlord told us about for the building, as they have some sort of exclusive deal. My second question was “Why didn’t Comcast inform us of this before scheduling the appointment?” The third question was “What do we need to do to make this happen?” He told me to call RCN for service or get an electrician in to wire us for Comcast.

12:40PM: I call RCN, and they tell me that they have never been in our building.

12:42PM: I call my leasing company, and they affirm that it’s always been an exclusively-Comcast building. They take care of the electrician. A few days later, my buddy tells me that the tenants who lived here before us were here SIX years and never had internet or cable installed. I’m pretty sure that they were actually the two cavemen from the Geico commercial and that they passed their time juggling the severed heads that they stored in their freezer, but that’s a different story.

3PM: I get another call from the technician telling me that he left some of his stuff in our apartment – and he wants to know if he can get back in. My buddy isn’t around anymore, and I’m in central Maine already. Sorry, dude; I’m about as useful as you were this morning (note sarcasm).

I don’t know how many of you have seen “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” but toward the end, a delivery guy shows up on Christmas Eve to deliver what Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) thinks is his Christmas bonus. The guy looks completely confused, botched his job (lost the envelope and is delivering it late), and butchers Griswold’s last name when he answers the door. I’m pretty sure our first technician was this dude – minus the holiday wreath around his neck. I half expected him to offer me a “jelly of the month” membership as consolation for his epic inadequacy (which, you’ll find, was verified by at least four separate individuals – two from Comcast – by the end of the story).

Sunday, 2:30PM: After a nice weekend in Maine, I call Comcast on the ride back, and find out from a service associate (SA, from here on out, although I’m sure I could come up with some better terms for them) that they can actually get us in on Tuesday morning between 8AM and 12PM. I’m ecstatic, as they had originally told me that we’d need to wait over a week. I book it without hesitation, and they guys confirms everything for us. See you on Tuesday morning; I make sure Brian and Tony can cover at the gym for me.

Tuesday, 11:45-11:55AM: After just under four hours of waiting, I call Comcast to see what’s up. I get through to a SA, and she tells me that a “note was placed” on my account to be there between 8 and 12 on Tuesday, but it wasn’t actually put in the system. What that means, I don’t know. The SA starts throwing out times for next week that they can come out to install our service. Huh? You stand me up, waste four hours of my day, and I’m rewarded with another week of waiting? I think I need to speak to a supervisor. So, this precious little SA transfers my call – and I’m cut off while I’m on hold. I swear like a sailor, and continue to pace in my apartment as redial their number. You can’t trust chimps with anything.

11:56-11:59AM: I once again get cut off as I’m going through their obnoxious main menu (and no, for the 800th time, I don’t want to do this call in Spanish).

12:00-12:15PM: I get through and after informing the SA that I’ve been cut off twice, I am put through to a supervisor after another ten minutes on hold. Amazingly, the call transfer actually works this time. Apparently, I’m the only one who thinks it’s incredible that we can put a man on the Moon on our first try, but it takes 47 all-out efforts to transfer a call.

12:16-12:30PM: I make it through to SA #2’s supervisor, who speaks the most broken English I have ever heard. I don’t know his ethnicity, but when he talked, it kind of sounded like a billy goat making not-so-sweet love to a tuba. After some perseverance and a lot of “huhs,” I finally start to figure out what he’s saying after I’ve related my situation, consulted my “Gibberish for Dummies” guidebook, and cracked a can of Spike.

First off, he apologizes profusely and confirms that it was, in fact, a big mistake on their end. I make it clear that I took four hours off from work at the facility, require the internet to do much of my job, and that waiting a week is simply not an option. He gives me his word that someone will be here on Wednesday between 8AM and 12PM. Installation will be free, and he puts a credit on our account (I didn’t even ask what kind of credit; I just wanted to be done with it for the day). Things are a go; luckily, Wednesday isn’t quite as crazy a day at the facility for me, so I can work with it and Tony can cover the 12-1PM group, which is only three athletes. Perfect.

Interestingly, I sent a text to Mike Robertson as I was leaving the apartment to drive to work. He texts me back to tell me that Comcast’s “incompetence is legendary.” Apparently, they screwed up a bunch of stuff with him, too! I start to wonder if these guys didn’t like the Magnificent Mobility DVD or something.

I joke with one of our pro athletes about it as I walk in, and her smile immediately turns to a straight face as she replies, “I hate that s**t.” I guess that’s why her email ends in verizon.net.

3:15PM: I’ve been coaching for over two hours by now, and SA #3 leaves me a voicemail that I missed my appointment; apparently,
a Comcast technician was standing at the door to our building and we weren’t responding (probably because he was three hours late and never called me). We’ve got the appointment already scheduled for tomorrow, so I shrug it off.

Wednesday, 10:30-10:37AM: After waiting 2.5 hours, I call Comcast to check on the status of our technician. I seemingly nice old female SA is incredibly friendly and helpful (to the point that I didn’t even think she was confused like the rest of them) and she confirms that there is still, in fact, a technician on his way. Sweet; I’ve only wasted 6.5 hours right now, so there is still some hope of salvation. As it turns out, this SA was about as accurate as Helen Keller playing darts on a merry-go-round.

11:45AM-12:00PM: Still waiting, I call back to check on things. As I’m on the phone with SA #5 to check on the status of the technician we were promised, I happen to be looking out our fifth-story window – only to see a Comcast van drive by. He never even tapped his brakes; he’s not ours. Stupid tease.

Long story short, she informs me that we have nothing scheduled. Zero. Nada. Practically ready to flip out, I think back to what Dale Carnegie wrote: “The best way to win an argument is to avoid it altogether.” So, I stay calm and clearly illustrate how utterly unacceptable it is – and how it has actually escalated from unacceptable to flat-out disrespectful.

She starts trying to “accommodate” me with a 12-4 or 4-7 time slot on that same day – which would essentially mean that I’d work an 11-hour day for Comcast. Neither of these will work, as Tony needs to be out of the office from 2:30PM on, so it’s my show to cover. Plus, I’m meeting with two of my high school guys to talk about college stuff. I think for a second about how I could book the 4-7PM time slot and just assume that they’d show up at 9PM or not at all, but figured I wouldn’t risk it. She says she has nothing available Thursday morning, so I ask to be transferred to a supervisor – and she starts to make it happen.

Right before this confused SA transfers me, she informs me that she’s going to make sure that a $20 credit is put on my account. I actually started cracking up, at this point; it had been nine hours of waiting at this point, which would put the dollar value on my time at $2.22/hour. Factor in that I have to light and air condition my apartment while I’m waiting for them, and it’s probably not even break-even.

12:00-12:30PM – I get through to the supervisor, explain all that’s gone on, and see what we can do. He’s basically the Godsend I needed – or so I hope. He guarantees the 8AM-12PM time slot for today – and even calls back later on to confirm that he’s spoken to the regional director to make it a priority. He leaves me his direct contact info in case anything goes wrong. It seems to be a go.

1:50PM – The painful irony truly kicked in when I arrived at CP and found that there were two Comcast vans parked right outside our door. There is actually a Comcast location in our building, but they don’t cover the part of Boston in which I live. If any of them ever want to jump on the corporate fitness bandwagon in the building, they will be only be doing sled drags and barbell Bulgarian split squats…forever.

Thursday, 9:32AM (today): Here I sit, typing this blog, again waiting for Comcast to arrive. I actually just a got a call from the regional director saying that he is personally overseeing our situation, and he passes along his contact info in case a technician is not here by 11:30AM.

9:59AM-10:15AM: The electricians just came back. As it turns out, they wired the wrong apartment on Friday. Still, everything should be all set.

10:22AM: The Comcast technician (who speaks very little English) arrived, so the electricians stuck around to see what the heck they missed the other day, as things seemed to be all set. He’s got an Arizona Diamondbacks hat on, and my buddy works for the D-Backs and is a really bright dude, so I’m hoping that it’s a good omen.

10:30-10:33AM: Apparently, one of our splitters is, in fact, in the bottom of our bathroom closet. While there was a pseudo electrical orgy taking place in my living room, I decided to excuse myself to go to the restroom. The technician followed me in and closed the door, basically cornering me in my own bathroom as knelt down in the closet and blocked my exit. Awkward, to say the least.

I’ve never been trapped in any bathroom before, let alone with someone who doesn’t speak enough English to know to let me out when I ask for my freedom. Three minutes felt like an eternity; I’ve got even more reason to vote for McCain now. Being a prisoner of war (even if it is with Comcast, and takes place over the phone and in the bathroom) is a life-changing experience.

10:39AM: He’s drilling a hole in my wall (possibly looking for oil, or maybe just to pretend that he’s actually accomplishing something), and I need to get ready to head to CP, so I’m signing off with this one after a few notes:

1. I have, in fact, given Comcast approximately 12 hours of my life in the past week. At my $2.22/hour wage (which is actually on the high side now, considering that I’ve added three hours to the total) – and assuming a net income of 65% after taxes, I would need to work 639,000 hours to become a millionaire in Comcast’s eyes. Assuming a 40-hour work week and 52 weeks/year, I could do it by the time I turn 308 years old. If our government repeats the economic stimulus check of $300 each year, though, I can afford to take 208 hours off from work each year – more than a week’s vacation time – and still reach my goal in less than four centuries!

2. As a funny little side, this morning, my girlfriend went for a run and said that I should go with her. I told her I couldn’t make it, as I was working for Comcast – again – today. I might get a promotion if I log double-digit hours for them this week (late addition: I have, in fact, topped 13 hours at this point).

3. I had no hesitation in writing five pages in Word to create this blog. Ridiculous service mandates ridiculous sarcasm and detail.

4. All that said, if you have the option, go with RCN, Verizon, or even that illegal immigrant outside your apartment who doesn’t mind holding up an antenna for you 24/7. We are stuck in a mini-monopoly with our building, and right now, I’d rather get a colonscopy with a firehose than finance Comcast’s hopeless incompetence each month. I’m considering paying in pennies from now on.

5. It’s now 11:38AM, and our cable is running. However, the signal isn’t strong enough to split it for both cable and internet – or even to just go directly to the modem, which requires more sauce. So, the electrician is going to need to come back to rewire. Had the schmuck from last Thursday known this, we wouldn’t be here right now.

6. Huge kudos goes out to our landlord, though; he’s been awesome in making good things happen. I’m posting this at the facility at 1:45PM and they should be resolving it by the time I get home. We shall see…