Monday, October 3, 2011


We know all the obvious larger political, economic and even spiritual reasons, I'm sure, but just on a personal note, I returned yesterday from the Berkshires to my apartment in Jersey to discover the modem for my Internet connection through Comcast wasn't working right—so no connection.

I called Comcast and got an island accented woman who told me the earliest Comcast could send someone to check out the problem was this coming Thursday. At least four, maybe five days with no Internet connection. Probably a healthy situation on some levels, but I had an online interview to respond to, communications via email with my soon-to-be-fourteen-year-old's teachers, blog updates to post, etc. etc.

Plus just the day to day business that requires the Internet and besides, what work I do now, mostly writing and editing, is done online. This could be my livelihood, and the best they can do is several days? I pointed out that Comcast's a profitable corporation, so if their equipment fails they should either put some of those profits back into improving their equipment or hire more repair people to service it, and after waiting on the line for quite a while, more customer service operators to take calls.

I said Thursday was unacceptable, and that I sympathized with the woman I was talking to and knew it wasn't her fault, but if Comcast couldn't do better I'd switch to Verizon, the only alternative around here, which I'm sure would be no better, but at least initially when they want your business they seem to be a bit more competent.

She made me hold for a while and then assured me someone would come today, Monday, between 9 and 5 and they'd call me before 9 to let me know the time more precisely. I got up and showered and got my younger son off to school and waited. Nada. So I called Comcast.

Another island accented person, this time a man, told me that I had an appointment for Wednesday the 5th (never mentioning Thursday the 6th which is what I was initially told the day before) but that the appointment for today was never really made, just requested! I asked to speak to a supervisor (by now I'd been on the phone for over twenty-five minutes, mostly waiting with incredibly aggravating sounds I won't even call "music"—they came across more as computer generated noises with a speedy rhythmic pattern that seemed to have been invented by a meth freak to raise his blood pressure even higher etc.)...

...more waiting, more horrible pulse rate rising sounds, and then another island accented "customer service" person, this time a female supervisor. After she confirmed that the earliest they could come was Wednesday, I asked her where she was and she said "in the Caribbean area sir" and explained further that she didn't work for Comcast but for an "offshore subcontractor!"

I requested to talk to someone who actually worked for Comcast in the United States. After still more waiting (it was now close to an hour on the phone) a man who said he was in Delaware, when I asked, said he could get me an appointment tomorrow and asked what time I'd like it, morning, midday or afternoon. I said the earlier the better. So tomorrow morning hopefully someone will come remedy the situation.

Years ago when I first moved to Jersey and I called Comcast with a problem I got someone who was in Jersey. But here's a giant corporation that is very profitable that instead of using those profits to improve service, including by hiring more people and thus contributing to the economy of the U.S., whether to answer phones, provide repair service, or upgrade equipment that could be made in this country, instead "outsources" customer service and keeps even those jobs to a minimum so that service sucks and jobs are lost in the U.S. and that in turn contributes to our own economy worsening and so on depressingly.

And the irony is, they'll probably send someone who is a "subcontractor" and may not even know what he's doing (that's happened many times before) when all that's needed is for someone to drive out, bring a new modem from their truck, hook it up, make sure it works, and leave. A few minutes time for everyone, but instead it's become hours and days of problems being multiplied because some corporate greedhead wants even more millions and has no concept whatsoever what it's like to be continually victimized in big ways and small by Corporate America.

My youngest's mother just came into the coffee shop where I'm writing this and said she's got a bumper sticker on her Facebook page that says something like "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas starts executing them"—exactly.


Robert G. Zuckerman said...

A new way of thinking and seeing the world is upon us. Thich Nhat Hanh says: "In order for things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them."

AlamedaTom said...

Well Lal, at least you have the coffee shop, the proverbial Third Place

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

I want to thank the young people of America who are making noise. They are the true Tea Party of today.

Miles said...

Indeed dad. Here's Krugman on a similar theme (link contains a link worth clicking through to):

Reminds me of your poem (hope I remember it correctly):

Big Business

Enough is never enough

Anonymous said...

Protests have started in LA too - is it making the news back East. A big demonstration planned for Friday with folks planning to be arrested. Onward!! Phoebe

JIm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lally said...

I hear you all.

Lally said...

PS Phoebe: it is making the news in a minor way, that is other places where the protests are growing are being mentioned, but only a few here and there, whereas in Jersey there are already two places, one right across the river from Manhattan in jersey City at Goldman Sachs. But the more they go on the more coverage hopefully they'll get. Tomorrow the unions are marching on City Hall so that should be interesting.