How to Aggravate New Customers: The CenturyLink Experience

There’s nothing like wasting a huge amount of time on an organization that can’t orchestrate it’s information to create happy, new customers. Current case in point: CenturyLink.

As I type, at this URL
there is an instructional video on “Setting up your Prism Wireless Set-Top Box (STB)” .At 4:30 into the video are two ways to contact customer support:


or chat:


Do they work? No.

I called 866-314-4148 three times; pressed 3 for video each time. Each time I ended up in residential phone support that knew nothing about PrismTV.

The URL goes to a non-existent page.

Being that CenturyLink is rolling out the new TV service, one would think that keeping new-customer-aggravation would be a benefit.


Fumbling Fedex Front-line

Today I got a partial voice message from Fedex. “This is Fedex Express calling . . . . ” That’s all there was. So I called Fedex to find out what this truncated message was about.

Amazingly, the first Fedex front-line person was able to to track down why I got the call. A Fedex package was inbound to me for delivery the next day and it required a signature. I said “No problem. The folks at the UPS store will sign for it.”

Yikes. “UPS” must be a sensitive word to Fedex folks. I was told in no uncertain terms that Fedex will not deliver to a UPS store. After much disagreement, I asked for a supervisor. The first front-line person hooked me up to customer advocacy or someone of the ilk.

The second front-line person confirmed the first person’s assertion.

Becoming a tad irritated — because I have had Fedex shipments to my account at the UPS Store — I asked to speak to the boss of Fedex front-line person number two.

Fedex person number three came on the line and told me “Sure we deliver to UPS Stores. I don’t know why they are saying that.”

Sheez, 20 minutes later I get someone at Fedex who is grounded in reality.

The first two Fedex people also told me that Fedex will not deliver to a post office. That’s not true. The Postal Service, in an effort to become competitive, started a service called “street addressing”  Postal Bulletin 22369 states “Street Addressing service — customers have the option to use the street address of their Post Office location for their mailing address, along with the box number. This address gives customers the opportunity to receive packages through private carriers . . . .”

I’m always mystified that corporations will put fumbling front-line folks on the phone to interact with customer without real knowledge. I know, it is a cost thing. But really, why not pay well-informed customer service folks to be on the front-line. Then people like me will talk to one person, not many.


The Comcast Truth Problem

Comcast bashing seems to be popular. There may be good reasons. Take for instance two recent examples.

The Bait and Switch

A Seattle resident was looking for a good deal on Internet. He went to the Comcast web site and found a tremendous deal: Internet and limited TV for $19/month for a year. This included a download speed of 105Mbs and 10+ TV channels. What a deal. So this Seattle resident signed up at that rate. Then, mysteriously, when he logged into his newly created account, his rate was showing $59/month ($49 + $10 for more speed). Talks and chats with Comcast customer non-service to have the advertised rate honored got him no where. They all claimed there was no such plan in the Comcast system. Maybe this Seattle resident was trying to pull a fast one on Comcast? The representatives might have thought so. But the Seattle resident was smart and took screen captures. And, he called me. I was able to bring the exact same offer up on my own computer at the same time he was going through the signup process. The deal was real. See the attached screen shot taken the evening of August 28, 2015. It would appear this Seattle resident’s only recourse is a) the Seattle Office of Cable Communication, b) the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, and c) a private legal action under the Washington State consumer protection laws for false advertising.

Comcast media relations was provided the screen shots and invited to provide comments about how an advertised price of $19/month ends up being $59/month. As of this writing no comments have been received.

The Major Upgrade

A few days later, on Labor day morning of 2015, about 6 am Seatle time, my Comcast Interent went down. I called support and was told it was down for a “major upgrade”. I wrote to Comcast media relations and asked why there would be a major upgrade on a major holiday. Jenni Moyer, Senior Director, Corporate Communications, Network & Operations, reported that “I was able to confirm with our Seattle area tech ops team that there was in fact some unscheduled repair work in your neighborhood to fix an issue that was impacting service on Labor Day.” This is more consistent with my own research. I took a short walk to follow the cable and found two Comcast trucks one block away working on a device. The problem, they said, was an amplifier that went bad. Take a look; you can see a small open box between the two workers.