Comcast Cable Box Update

Last month I wrote about my experience of trying to get my Comcast cable box repaired.

The next day ComcastMark left a comment apologizing for the trouble and promised to reach out to his colleagues to get it fixed.

Over the next couple of weeks, I received four phone calls from various Comcast department heads. Each one apologized for the trouble and promised to help.

One women stated she was calling from Comcast VP Support (or something like that) and that she’d been instructed to fix my problem immediately. She mentioned that she’d read my blog post and felt bad nothing had been done in over a year. But she needed to contact the department who would make the local repair to my box.

Two weeks ago we left on vacation with our cable box in disarray. The zip tie was still still in place. But I’d given up hope that it would be fixed before school starts in a month.

But when we arrived home from vacation last Sunday, I saw this.


A substantial upgrade from this.

Thank you, Comcast!

The Lone Zip Tie

This is my Comcast cable box.


My neighbor ran over it. I called Comcast the next day to report the damage and schedule a repair.

A week later a van pulled up, and a guy jumped out to take a look. I went outside to speak with him and explain what happened.

“I don’t do replacements. I only do repairs.”

And repair he did. As you can see from the single zip tie.

Not two or three ties when one will clearly do the job. Call it good and move on to the next repair.

Three months have gone by. I smile each time I pull into my driveway and glance over at the leaning tower of Comcast. My internet service still works. So maybe the zip tie is doing it’s job.

I imagine the same person who would render such a repair isn’t someone who is going to call in a replacement box.

It may not be fair, but this sad looking cable box is what I now associate with the word, Comcast.

Update: @ComcastMark left a comment saying he could help initiate repairs.

Polo Impossible

I had two experiences at Nordstrom today.

First, I took the escalator to the third floor to the children’s clothing area to pickup a pair of jeans for my daughter. We purchased them last week, but returned them to be hemmed. I gave the woman my name,and she quickly retrieved them from the back. The transaction took less than three minutes.

Then, I visited the men’s department looking for a simple dark-colored polo shirt. I found one I liked and took it off the rack. As I was holding it up to myself, a woman approached me and asked if she could help.

“I’m fine. I’m just sizing this shirt”, I told her.

I assumed she returned to the register while I continued looking at shirts deciding between black and navy. But no, she had an armful of shirts and was coming towards me. I thought she might be trying to bury me in short-sleeved dress shirts that look great on J. Crew models, but make me look like high school math teacher.

“Here’s what you want. These don’t need ironing and will look GREAT with a blazer. I’m sure you have several navy blazers.”

I do own one navy blazer but haven’t worn it since my wedding.

“I found what I need”, I told her.

But she wasn’t listening to me because she had already pulled a navy blazer off the rack and tucked the shirt into it. “Doesn’t that look great?” she asked.

It did look great. And it should have because the shirt was $125 and the blazer was $450, or just about what we spend at Costco on diapers and toilet paper each month.

I turned around and started back towards the register.

I was annoyed. All I wanted was a black shirt.

I was less than ten feet from the register when this woman practically ran up next to me. What is going on here, I wondered. Why should it be this difficult to purchase a solid color polo shirt?

“That shirt you have would go GREAT with our no-iron khakis. They come with or without pleats.”


But the worst part of the experience was driving home, knowing that she earned a commission on the forty dollar shirt I purchased.

Here’s a picture of the shirt being modeled by someone who looks like Jim Carey sporting the no-pleat khakis I left for men who model for a living.

Awkward Return

“No bums touched it”

I had a toilet seat to return to Lowe’s and the kids decided to tag along. Leave it to Anna to break the ice as I handed the employee a box containing the seat and a badly folded receipt.

“Did you open the box?” the young man asked. seat

“Yes, I opened it, but….”

Given the detail provided by my daughter, he decided to cut me off and avoid further awkwardness by quickly processing my refund.

My fault for purchasing the wrong sized toilet seat. A quick Google search would have told me there are two standard sizes; oblong and round.

With refund in hand, I headed back to the bathroom section of the store. The kids were thrilled to see dozens of toilet seats hanging from the wall. Luca liked the padded models. Lincoln thought a wooden trim would work best. And Anna wanted take one for a test drive.

I explained that we can’t test a toilet seat in the manner to which she was referring. I found a round American Standard model in white and headed towards the register.

Once the new seat was installed, guess who was the first to take it for a real-world test drive?

Calling Apple Technical Support

My son handed me his iPod Touch, and I could tell by his expression that something was wrong. He couldn’t get it to turn on and neither could I. I figured the battery was dead so I plugged it into my computer and waited. But no luck. It still refused to turn on 30 minutes later.

Although I’ve owned a number of Apple products, I’ve never called their technical support. I avoid calling support unless I’m down to my last option given past experiences. A while back I called Dell’s technical support line. It took 25 minutes before I spoke with an agent, and when I finally did he tried to sell me additional services instead of helping solve my problem. It took another three or four calls before I finally reached someone who could help solve my problem. I wasted several hours and the entire process soured my feelings towards Dell.

That incident was on my mind as I navigated to Apple’s website. I quickly found a link called Apple Support Express Lane. I selected support for the iPod touch  and typed my serial number. I was then presented with a few options, one of which was for an Apple rep to call my home. Under this option were the words, “Wait time less than 1 minute”. That can’t be right. What company would provide assistance almost immediately on a Sunday evening?

I decided to give it a try. I typed my phone number and the phone rang 30 seconds later. Apple must employ an auto-dialer? But no, it was a support engineer on the line and I could understand every word he said. He jumped right into helping me fix the the problem. He didn’t try to sell me anything. He didn’t pass me off to another tier of support. He didn’t even make me recite my serial number.

Within two minutes my son’s iPod Touch was back to normal. The entire process was smooth and unlike any other support call I’ve made. Based on this experience, I’m lead to believe that part of the premium I pay as an Apple customer goes into providing top-notch technical support.

The Ticket Taker

“One for the Social Network” I told the cashier sitting behind glass trying as best I could to aim my voice through the awkwardly placed speaker.

“Eight dollars” came his reply.

With ticket in hand, I made my way inside the theater and headed down the dimly lit hall towards the ticket taker. As I approached, I noticed a woman of small stature taking tickets. Well, she was doing more than just taking tickets.

She rested one arm against a podium. With her other arm, she read each ticket before putting it next to a pad of paper that listed each movie playing at the theater. A mark was made under the  movie’s title before she put out her hand to take the next ticket.

As I watched her go through this routine with the next patron, I realized she had a disability. Her balance was wobbly and her hand shook as she scratched each check mark, but she had the podium to lean against, stabling her position.

Normally, getting through a line with 6 to 8 people ahead of me would take a few seconds. Tickets would be shuffled and then ripped in bulk, and with the swing of an arm, each patron would be on her way.

But this line barely moved at all.

When it was my turn, I handed her my ticket and said hello. She said hello back to me without looking up. She picked up a pencil and made one mark under “The Social Network”.  She put down the pencil and glanced back at her pad of paper.

“Theater five is on your right”, she said, finally looking up. I smiled and said thanks. She smiled back before taking the next ticket.

As I sat in the theater waiting for the movie to begin, I thought about this woman who made me slow down for a moment and ponder, happy I’d not complained from the back of the line or stressed over whether I’d make to my seat in time to catch all the previews. Instead I thought about the pride this woman took in her job. She was organized. She appeared to enjoy her job. She made me feel like more than just an eight buck ticket.

Until now I assumed the goal of any ticket taker is to move the line through as quickly as possible. The owner must have recognized something in her more valuable than sheer efficiency.

I will remember this experience the next time I step into a slow moving line. You never know who is up front taking tickets and putting their heart and soul into the job.

Calling RedBox Customer Service

Although we have DirecTV with dozens of movie channels and a subscription to Neftlix, I can’t walk by a Red Box kiosk without seeing what’s available.   I should be able to find a movie to rent or stream at Netflix, but digesting the massive selection feels like drinking from a fire hose. With so many options I become hyper selective and often end up watching “The Smartest Guys in the Room” for the umptheenth time. redbox_kiosk_1_300

RedBox is the exact opposite. Their selection is so small that nearly every title looks fascinating. I mean, how did I manage to skip over Flicka 2 and Leap Year when they were in theaters? Oh, and there’s Glory, in case I missed it back in ‘89.

The only downside to RedBox besides their limited selection is that fact I must drive to a kiosk location to pickup the movie and do the same to return it. That means When In Rome, worth a shot for a buck, becomes a $12 investment because the DVD got separated from the container, and it took a week before I discovered it in the kid’s toy closet.

I visited the Red Box website and plugged my zip code into their “Find A RedBox” engine, and it spit out 27 locations in my town alone. Yet I wondered how I could make RedBox even more convenient. A few months back, I tried to return a DVD to a kiosk that was out of order. I called customer service to inquire when it would be operational before hunting down one of the other 26 locations. Within minutes, the RedBox came alive, and gulped down the DVD I fed it by hand, red arrow pointing the right direction and all.

Because customer service was so helpful, I decided to try my luck and see if I could convince them to setup a RedBox at my house.

Unlike Amazon, RedBox makes it easy to locate their phone number from their website. I dialed and waited a few minutes on hold. I listened to a recording that recited a few RedBox facts such as “over 20,000” locations and the ability to return DVDs to any RedBox location. Finally, I was connected with a customer service rep whom I’ll call  “Lenny”.

Lenny: Thank you for calling RedBox. How can I assist you?

Me: I’m calling to inquire about having a RedBox setup at my home.

Lenny: Did you say at your home? Do you mean your business?

Me: I was hoping to get one placed just outside my home.

Lenny: We typically place kiosks in public, high traffic areas. Most are located inside or just outside of a business. Do you have a business?

Me: I don’t have a business per se, but, given the number of DVDs my family rents, I’m sure you won’t notice a decrease in usage. Besides, if rentals were down one month, I’d be willing to let my neighbors join in the fun.

Lenny: Like I said, we place them in public areas. I can’t imagine you’d want strangers trespassing on your property during all hours of the day and night.

Me: I have a stretch to the side of my home that was built for RV parking. But since I don’t have an RV it would make an ideal place for a RedBox. Plus, have you ever tried to return a DVD only to find that guy who thinks Avatar is available on release day? He’ll spend 20 minutes scrolling through every screen before leaving with Ponyo. Wait times at the kiosk would be zero if I had my own.

Lenny: I don’t know…

Me: To make it easier on you, RedBox could fill the kiosk with only kids movies and shows that don’t star Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl. That would reduce the number drastically.

Lenny: What? Maybe I could take your name and number and forward your request to the department that handles business relations.

At that point, I gave Lenny my name and number. He assured me that I’ll hear from someone shortly.

The chances of getting my own kiosk are slim to none, but I’ll manage having to search out one of those other kiosks.

I’m always delighted to speak with people who are so friendly and clearly enjoy their job.  I’d guess most people who call in do so to complain about something. Kudos to Lenny and RedBox for hiring such friendly employees. I’m an even bigger RedBox fan today than I was before.