This is a copy of a letter I'm sending to CenturyLink. Sorry about the length, but given what I went through, it's necessary.
After the experience I just went through in trying to get my CenturyLink service modified, I feel it’s necessary to relay the details to anyone who will listen. The level of service I received (mostly over the phone) is completely unacceptable, and something needs to be done in order to make sure other customers don’t suffer the same problems. Someone who can actually do something about it needs to hear an account of the kind of customer service that the majority of your employees seem to think is acceptable, and then they need to examine what’s going on at the phone-helpdesk and the local level and make some serious changes.
In November of 2010, I ordered the Prism IPTV service. Let me state for the record that I was thrilled at the prospect dumping Comcast completely – this is something I really wanted to do. I’ll spare most of the technical details, other than to say that the service is not ready for primetime. The DVR is garbage, plain and simple. It doesn’t work correctly, which is no surprise – why in the world you’d go with a Microsoft solution is extremely puzzling. I spent hours troubleshooting…emails, phone calls, tech visits, equipment switch-outs…it was verified that everything is good at the house signal-wise, so, it’s not us. For the record, my DSL had always operated flawlessly.
Cut to March 2011, we’ve decided enough is enough and just want to get rid of the Prism service, as it is simply unusable. The following is a day-to-day account of what I’ve spent that last two weeks dealing with:
• Saturday, March 19th: I called CenturyLink customer service to explain to them what I’m looking to do. I need to have a tech come out to the house to disconnect my Prism service, but to hook up the old DSL modem so I can keep the DSL service. Getting the Prism service installed required the technician to come onto the premises to rewire some jacks (the NIB is inside of the house), and I assumed that removing the Prism service would require a tech to come back and undo what they did in the first place. I spent about an hour on the phone. I was tossed around from Prism support to regular support and back several times, because no one could decide whether this was a Prism issue or a DSL issue. I finally got someone who scheduled an appointment, or so I thought. She told me someone local would be calling me the following Monday, March 21, to confirm exactly when the work would be done.
• Monday, March 21st: I never received the follow-up phone call I was promised.
• Tuesday, March 22nd: I call CenturyLink. I’m told an appointment had been scheduled for this coming Thursday. I never approved this and I never confirmed this. I told them it needed to be on Friday, since Prism support doesn’t do weekends. They rescheduled it and again, I’m told someone local will call me to confirm.
• Thursday, March 24th: I call again to confirm for Friday, because again, no phone call from the CenturyLink local office. I’m told someone will be out between 8am and 12pm to rewire things and pick up the old equipment.
• Friday, March 25th:
o It’s 11am, and no one has showed up, so I start to get worried. I call, and find out the appointment has been pushed back to 12-5. I was never told this. I reluctantly told them this was ok, and continued to wait.
o It’s now 4:30pm. I call, and I’m told, “we were already out there.” I had been sitting in my office all day – no one’s been out here, at least no one has knocked on my door. Next, I spent 90 minutes on the phone with them, half of it spent explaining to them that not only did someone need to do work to the outside of the house, but that I believed someone also needed to come into the house to rewire the jacks before the old DSL modem will work because that’s where the NIB is. Had they looked at the account of the original work done, they would have seen this. I had already tried to get the old 660 modem working, and it simply was not working. At this point, they can’t get anyone out here the same day. I’m told my case is being escalated, and that someone will be calling me on Monday the 28th to sort it out and get someone out here. I took a day off from work, spent the entire day waiting after being told repeatedly over the week that someone would be here, only for no one to show up, and then have to deal with a bunch of support people who honestly didn’t seem to care at all about the situation.
• Monday, March 28th:
o Late morning, no one has called me yet. I call customer service, and I’m told the case has been sent to a local supervisor, someone by the name of Avery (sp), who will be calling me. I never received a phone call from him/her. The best part is, I was told that they have no way of calling this person and/or put me in touch with him/her, because they don’t have a direct line to him/her or anyone local for that matter. The fact that employees at a telecommunications giant have no way of contacting their own co-workers by phone is the ultimate of ironies, and it’s beyond me how you all operate this way. All the person I talked to could do was email this person and wait for a response.
I should point out, throughout this entire ordeal, I asked repeatedly, “please, can I please talk to someone local. Can I talk to a tech, an engineer, someone who will understand me so I can tell them what was already done and what I need to have done, so perhaps the right people can come out here.” From what I was told, they can’t do that.
o Late afternoon, no one has called me (see a pattern here?). I call back, and finally someone is able to get “Avery” on IM, and I’m told a Saturday morning (April 2) appointment has been approved, since I can’t afford to take another day off of work to sit around here and wait for a tech. The person I spoke to on the phone gave me her extension/operator ID (not sure which it is), 62774, in case I should need to call her on Saturday. I was told, “simply ask for this extension and they’ll get you to me.” I’m also told that despite what I was told originally, now I need to drive over to CenturyLink to drop off the Prism equipment, because the techs can’t take it with them, which makes no kind of sense considering they brought it here to begin with.
• Tuesday, March 29th: A local supervisor, Dan Rodriguez actually does call me. I relay what’s happened to him. He said he will make sure someone comes out on Saturday morning, as scheduled, and will monitor the case.
• Saturday, April 2nd:
o It’s 10:30, and no one has showed up yet. Again, getting nervous. I call the number the operator from Monday gave me. I call several times, but keep getting an automated message that the office is closed, despite that your web site shows your Saturday hours as starting at 9AM local time. I tried calling Dan the area supervisor, but he’s unreachable. Finally, an hour later, I get through to customer service. I get transferred to several different operators, none of which can connect me to #62774. They say it’s not possible, and they can’t tell from the case notes who it was I talked to on Monday the 28th. Since talking to her obviously wasn’t going to happen, I talk to another rep. She says, “I see you have an appointment scheduled today, slated for between 12pm-4pm.” They changed my appointment without telling me. Again. I was able to get the operator to call dispatch and arrange for someone to come over before noon, as promised.
o It’s now 3:00. The technician just left, and things still aren’t working 100% (he has something to do back at the office to get things fully functional). He was here for over three hours, due to no fault of his own. Before I go on, I have to commend the tech, Ed, who was incredibly helpful and seemed to be the only person at CenturyLink I dealt with through this whole ordeal who actually got it. I doubt things would have gotten fixed today if it had not been for him. He’s the only CenturyLink employee who dealt directly with this case who was of any real help. He understands that the customer comes first, and that the people we spent several hours on the phone with should have just did what they needed to do to fix the issue at hand.
It turned out that despite everything I had been told, the prerequisite work that should have been done originally had not been done. The Prism service had not been removed from my account (had been told at least two times that it had been). I was still getting billed for bits and pieces of it, and as far as the wiring, they showed me as still being wired up for it. To make matters worse, the change order that had been put in specified that I wanted to ultimately end up with 3.0 megabit Internet, when I had specified, over and over and over, that I wanted to keep the 10.0 megabit Internet that I had had even prior to adding the Prism service. Getting them to keep it at the correct price was also an ordeal. It didn’t matter how many people I had previously spoken to, how many hours I had spent on the phone for the prior two weeks, how many “confirmations” I received…even after all that, they still managed to get the order completely wrong.
So, after the provisioning people finally got the modem functional at 3.0 megabits, Ed had to spend another hour-and-a-half-plus trying to get them to convert it to 10.0 megabit, which again, I never wanted to downgrade in the first place. They could have simply just done it, but it turned into a mess of red tape and orders, closing out this order, opening that order; meanwhile the customer is sitting here (and the tech for that matter) for three hours just wanting to get the service working correctly. While on the topic of getting the modem provisioned, I feel the need to call out one employee in particular named Ellen, whose information you can probably find on case notes from today (she worked in the department that does provisioning I believe). She was downright nasty to those of us on the phone call, despite being told about the situation and being aware that not only had a tech been here for three hours trying to fix the issue, but that the customer was also on the line listening to all this. This person should be fired on the spot as far as I’m concerned – all she did was make a bad situation even worse.
CenturyLink’s performance during this entire ordeal was appalling, and it is something you should be completely ashamed of. You don’t keep appointments, your employees throughout various departments don’t/won’t/can’t communicate with each other, your customer service helpdesk people are completely incompetent – one hand never knows what the other is doing at any given time, and in some cases, they’re downright rude. The level of communication between the people who work the phones and the people who are local needs to be vastly improved. There is something really wrong with the fact that it’s that difficult for a helpdesk person to get a local engineer on the phone to assist with a problem. This whole thing could have been dealt with really quickly, and without a premise visit, had the correct people been involved in the first place.
Up until today, I had always talked very highly about CenturyLink, even defending you when people at my office would say negative things (for the record, I work in IT). To me, you were always what I thought Comcast should strive to be like, and in one fell swoop, you completely changed my mind.
Feel free to pass this letter on to whomever you see fit – hopefully it gets into the hands of someone who can assess the situation and possibly take some corrective actions.