Commenting on Dougal's Customer Service Story

I’m on the Left Coast, and Mediacom is right in league with the level of customer service that Dougal Dougal Campbell Presents Geek Ramblings
is describing. And to show you what trained monkeys we (customers) are to them, I’ll elaborate.

Just prior to the new year, I had returned home from being on the road for about 10 weeks or so. After a few days I noticed the internet connection (provided by Mediacom along with cable TV services) would go out on average once per day. Not the cable mind you, as I always have streaming smooth Jazz in the background being fed by Music Choice via the cable TV service.

So, immediately I’ve trouble shot it to just their Internet service provision, right? But given my history with them from a tech customer service perspective, I’m not going to call. In the past, I’ll call them, get caught up in their audio tex system, and when/if someone finally answers the Internet connection is back up and running.

The way this intermittent challenge is presenting itself, I figure that by the time someone does take me off of hold, I am going to have service again, and they’ll not be showing any challenges in the system. So, I don’t call them.

This goes on for days. Then weeks, and finally after almost two months, I decide that I’ve had enough, and call them up. You know exactly what happened, don’t you? Right, I received a busy signal. But I was determined. I called back exactly 23 times (I was going to get through damn it!). I received 23 busy signal tones. I gave up 😥

Of course during this time the connection came back up, so I was able to get some work done. During a conversation with Joseph, where he unmercifully “welcomed me to the Internet Age (right after my connection allowed me to get back online and chat with him) we started talking about this “mystery”. One of the take aways from that chat was that it sounded like there might be something that was power cycling and thus causing the continual intermittent nature of the connection going off.

On the very next occasion, like the next day or so, when the connection went out again, I called. This time I was through on the very first dialing. Cool! Plus I only waited like 6 minutes for them to get to my place in the hold queue. So far so good.

(And just a note, when you do get through, and are waiting on hold, they have already required you to enter your phone number or 16 digit account number to enable their system to check for any “outages” in your area. Of course, there were none; I’ve never had the system tell me there was an outage in my area. Go figure!)

When Ralphy, or whatever his name was got on the line he proceeded to go through his check list with me. Now if you are reading this as an individual that has any sort of technical experience and expertise, you know just how painful this process can be. The reality, however is that you have to let them do it, else you’ll get ZERO help, and probably have your account flagged as “KNOW IT ALL: Beware!”. I’m pretty sure that tag is on every account I have that I’ve ever had to call in on, but I digress.

We’ve now gone through the check list. I’ve attempted to subtly insert into the conversation at various points that I am smart; I know what the hell I’m doing; I’ve troubleshot everything on my end to prove this challenge is theirs (ISP’s) and not mine. They should understand that while I am using the connection to feed my internal network that I’ve already subverted my normal operating set up by feeding directly into my computer, yada, yada, yada.

Of course, the previous paragraph is all moot when the cable company’s modem isn’t lighting with proper sequences, indicating I am not online with them.

Okay, back to the story. So Ralphy does his signal strength tests, and asks me if I have the line split. “No more than the installer set my house up with.” Which wasn’t exactly true, I’m splitting all over the place, but I have line boosters in place to minimize signal degradation in the room that has the television and the cable modem drawing off the same feed from the wall. And he’d already tested the signal to the modem telling me that the line loss was acceptable. Hooray for me!

In the course of our conversation, I mentioned to him that this has been gong on for nearly two months. I mentioned that it seemed to me that some device in their system might not be functioning correctly. It seemed like it was going on and off, etc. Ralphy’s prompt reply was that everything was in fine working order in the system and that their was likely a challenge with the line quality. He would have to set an appointment to have a tech come out and take some on site signal readings.

Great 😐

I even went to the terminal box on the side of the house, and determined which line ran from there into my office. I direct connected (no splitting) the line from the pole to that office line, and took my television off the splitter in my office, directly connecting to the modem. No other outlet in the house had a live feed. None. Just right from the pole to my cable modem to my computer, as I removed my internal router from the system.

That worked for a while, until THEIR system went down again, and I had to just chuckle. The appointment had been set for the following Monday (the call to them had occurred on a Thursday). On Friday, I get a call from someone other than Ralphy but from Mediacom. They were informing me that my appointment had been canceled as they had discovered there was a bad local modem in the system which they had promptly replaced!

Imagine that. When I casually mentioned to non-Ralphy that I had suggested this in my prior call, he of course put the blame on Ralphy as being new, inexperienced, etc. Whatever.

Since that time, I’ve re-wired the cable back to normal in the house. I’ve got the tv and cable modem the way they are supposed to be, but have since found challenges with the way they are serving DNS to me. I know this cause I’ve gone through two internal routers and have had to run directly off their modem since whatever changes they’ve made is not allowing me to use openDNS.com’s services anymore on my routers. And in the month or so since they apparently replaced some piece of equipment, their service has only gone down about 10 times or so. Sux still, but better than every day, sometimes twice a day!

~James
Go Boldly!

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