May 19, 2007

I want to thank everyone who emailed me, and posted to the blog on this subject. I have the benefit of hindsight, and the night I wrote that blog I was out-of-my-mind with worry.

I want to address some of the comments people made. About 99% of the emails I got were very supportive, asking how my son was doing… and asking me to send a link to the consumerist. To those people, I say thank you and god bless. Your emails reaffirm my belief that the majority of people are “good people”. I did send it to the consumerist. I’ve not heard back. I think some people believe this story isn’t real. Not much I can do about that.

For those who sent in letters of support, I will write you back. Each of you. It’s going to take time though. 🙂

My son was released from the hospital and is back in school doing well. I am hesitant to discuss his medical issues online, but I will say that he has recovered. I was scared as hell that night. I have never been so scared. It’s even worse when you’re pacing around waiting to hear what is going on. This was the first time he had a seizure.

The night this happened, I called Comcast demanding to have someone woken up, but not because I wanted it fixed (I did, but I knew at 2 AM they weren’t / couldn’t do anything) . I called because I wanted someone’s life to be interrupted as mine was. I wanted them to know it’s not acceptable to offer a service , such as 911, and not have it be stable. And yes, my worry got the best of my attitude.  It wasn’t that the phone did not work; it worked fine, until I called 911. Only dialing 911 failed. I was able to call the customer service center at Comcast on the same phone line. They indicated to me that nothing was wrong with the line in, what sounded like, the most condescending contemptuous way possible.

I work for a company like any other schlep, and in my severely diminished mental state, my thinking that night went something like this… “The squeaky wheel gets the oil. They are probably recording the call. I want this call to get to the top of the list for review the next time they review it for “training purposes”. I want it to be the call that is sent to the CEO. I want the policy changed about how these incidents are handled. A short call wouldn’t cut it. “

In hindsight, I gave the folks that night at Comcast hell. I know it’s not their fault. I know they can’t do anything to help. If I regret anything about that call to comcast support, it was letting my emotions get the best of me. Even though I felt like I was getting baited, I should have handled it way differently.

I wanted some VP who is snug in their bed to realize that, because the service they offer failed, it took time away from getting my son treatment. In my mind, I was envisioning some mother or father that worked at Comcast as a SVP / EVP / VP, with two children of their own, getting a call at 4:00 about my call. I saw him or her listening to a recording of the call, relating to it, and calling a meeting of their staff to get to the bottom of it. I saw policies changing. I saw a commitment being made, maybe not publicly, but inside Comcast to improve the service. I wanted them to realize that they aren’t just providing internet service to just surf Amazon anymore, they were providing a vital link to emergency help and it, by far, is the most important service they provide. I know, what was I thinking? All I know is that this logic made complete sense to me that night.

I feel I made my point with my post. It was dugg on Digg over 5000 times and I received more email than one could possibly hope to get, many from people who had no idea that Comcast voice service could fail in this way. Many people became aware, and if Comcast didn’t change, maybe a consumer’s thinking did.
Some people told me that this was my fault. That it was my fault for not understanding that e911 is not 911. That I had an unrealistic expectation of the service working. To them, I say “I agree”. I believe that I am accountable for the service I purchased. I should have understood what I was buying before I did. Lesson learned. I also want to say that when I purchased the packed service (voice, cable, internet), I had every expectation it would function as it was sold. I wasn’t looking for something cheap, I was just looking for one bill. I also do not read the terms of service for everything I purchase. No one does. In this instance, I should have. I don’t believe the average person knows how fundamentally different 911 works over E911. I was not told, and looking through the documents that Comcast gave me that day, their is nothing said anywhere about the stability of e911 service (although it is on the Comcast website)

I know now. I found out the hard way. Maybe a few others know now too and won’t have to.

PS. POTS line installed. No lawsuit filed. And yes, I know I spelled seizer wrong. To be frank, I’m surprised I didn’t spell it Sizzler that night.



Comcast 911 Fails – 4yr Old Suffers – Comcast Support Hangs Up On Father

March 14, 2007

I am writing about my absolute disgust with Comcast and what they did to me tonight.


It is 2:30 AM PDT. Yesterday was my Son’s 4th birthday. An hour ago he had a seizer. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital with his mom, my wife. I am at home right now going out of my mind with worry. I have another son who is sleeping, so one of us had to stay here while the other went.


I am not sure where to start because I am really pissed off. I picked up my telephone and called 911. All I got was a buzzing sound on the other end. I hung up and called 911 again, another weird noise.


Frustrated, I start hunting for my cell phone. After finding it, I call 911 and spend the next 5 minutes (which felt more like 22 hours) trying to the dispatcher what our address was.


After my son went to the hospital, I am left alone infuriated at Comcast. This E911 thing they have is supposed to get my 911 call through. By law I thought. I pick up the same phone I used to call 911 and call Comcast support. Seems to work fine to call support. Over the next hour I am shunted from call center to call center to supervisor to supervisor. I want someone’s head. I want to wake up a VP, CTO, or even the CEO and let them know that their service delayed my son from getting the medical treatment he needed. That they need to know that the poor service they provided can put a life at risk. That this system needs to work. It has to work. They need to know, and some supervisor is not going to be the one to champion that message. I want a friggin VP to be woken up. I want heads to roll.


After an hour, I get to a supervisor in Texas who tells me escalating beyond her is “outside of her procedure” and refuses to escalate. She has an attitude, of course, and no doubt I am getting more upset by the minute. This call was not roses and butterflies. After prodding her for 10 minutes to escalate the call, she tells me the management “has a right to sleep” as the reason for her not to escalate. Infuriated, I tell her “fuck you”. She proceeds to hang up on me, but not before saying “Have a good day sir”.


I know this blog looks new, that’s because it is. I have an email I registered at gmail tonight for this. It’s itcanhappentoyou@gmail.com. I can explain more of what happened if anyone wants to email me. This isn’t some BS, pissed off Comcast customer who couldn’t get online at 2:00 in the morning.


Comcast needs to be held responsible when their service fails. They need to have escalation procedures that gets the customer to the person that can champion change, or at least advocate for customers.


I told the supervisor that unless this call gets escalated, I am going to go to every website I know and post this experience. It’s the only medium I have to express my frustration and the only way, it seems, that a consumer can be heard. If a service failure results in something like this, someone should be woken up and held accountable. The service should have never failed. I should be able to pick up my phone and call 911 and get through.


Please digg this, link to it, do what you need to do so Comcast gets the message.