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Will Comcast 'Xfinity' Rebranding Include Better Subcontractors?
Yet another contracted installer busted for dumb behavior
by Karl Bode 03:07PM Friday Feb 05 2010 Tipped by PondTech See Profile
It's clear to us there's a great number of highly skilled and fantastic employees who work directly for Comcast, and we speak to many of them every day (we like them even more when they provide scoops). But the quality of Comcast's subcontracted installers has always been a bone of contention, given their tendency toward winding up in the news for falling asleep, murder, digging in the wrong yard, blowing up laptops, dishwashers or homes, torturing kittens, robbery or running into children with vans. The latest example of quality contracted labor is in Michigan, where a contracted employee was busted trying to pick up a 14-year-old girl:
quote:
Michael Anthony Sevilla was arrested Tuesday for allegedly trying to arrange a meeting between a 14-year-old girl at a McDonald’s restaurant. He has been charged with attempt to distribute sexually explicit material to a minor and use of a computer to commit a crime. Sevilla is a contract worker for Comcast, and was assigned to install wireless Internet at the 14-year-old’s White Lake Township home. Harris said Sevilla started sending the teen (sexual) messages about an hour after he left the family’s house.
Click for full size
People (often employees who want to defend Comcast's brand honor because they rightfully love the the company that pays their mortgage and toddler's orthodontist) have tried to insist that Comcast is just so large, these instances are simply statistically more common, and that the press is to blame for highlighting them. However, while you see some serious mistakes by other carriers, you just don't see this same volume of repeated problems with companies like Time Warner Cable (though Verizon often gets close).

AT&T, which is comparable in size to Comcast, has been in the news for many things, though none of those complaints have involved kitten torture (though you'll certainly correct us if we're wrong). Something, somewhere is broken at Comcast, as has been the case for many years now. For whatever reason, there seems to be a willful desire to ignore it, and brush aside the problems as statistical anomalies -- frequent to all carriers.

But these problems manifest themselves materially in company churn, and in professional consumer surveys, where Comcast consistently ranks among the lowest of all TV or broadband carriers in customer satisfaction. While Comcast has made some small strides on this front, they've done it on the after-install support end of the equation -- hiring more customer support representatives, and to their credit doing an awesome job using Twitter to help their customers burn through obnoxious support red tape. But still, these stories of incompetent subcontracted installers just keep on coming. Maybe it's time to finally fix it?

Earlier this week Comcast announced that the company is launching a massive new re-branding campaign which Gizmodo readers are helping (see pic above). While the re-branding includes ramping up HD channel counts and pushing faster DOCSIS 3.0 service to all customers, perhaps it should include spending a little more time figuring out why there's an inordinate percentage of really awful Comcast subcontractors. Some of the money being spent on Xfinity's marketing blitz can surely be used to finally fix the problem, which we assume is caused, in part, by cutting corners.

Here's another idea: if regulators are going to allow Comcast to get larger (and despite all the song and dance this week it's all but a certainty), at least throw Comcast customers (and their azaleas, dishwashers, and pets) a bone and require that Comcast finally does something about their subcontracted installer problem.

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papeluv

join:2008-01-08
Decatur, AL

1 recommendation

Nothing pretaining to the context of the article, but..

HAHAHA, Sorry I have nothing of merit for the situation, but the picture of the van is priceless. Thanks for the chuckle!
BosstonesOwn

join:2002-12-15
Wakefield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Par for the course

This is par for the course , comcast doesn't hire qualified folks on their staff.

Instead they hire out to subcontractors , which they don't have to take responsibility for. Fire the contractors and hire actual good people for full time slots.

I know many comcast full time field techs , great people. Love the guys I know like brothers. But when I had to call a couple to come rerun a drop a Triwire contractor screwed up. I was a bit upset , they refused to send some one out to fix it for 3 months , once we got heavy snow and the road rose a couple inches , first ambulance down the road ripped it down. And pulled down my triple play. Was real nice experience , my buds came out and wired it correctly and attached it higher on the house like it was before. Problem gone.

Really stupid contractors are making them look bad.
--
"It's always funny until someone gets hurt......and then it's absolutely friggin' hysterical!"

fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2

Re: Par for the course

A lot of companies use contractors now. It's the only way they can keep up with the workload while keeping costs down. So it's not just Comcast. I've seen all the cable companies here use them, and the satellite dish companies (obviously) too.
caco
Premium
join:2005-03-10
Whittier, AK

How?

Is their a particualr question that should be asked during interview?

I was going over your resume here and I see it says your attracted to children in a sexual way.

Can you give me a little more detail on what you mean?

Really there are thousands of contractors doing thousand of jobs a day. Tens of thousand a month. You get one nut every so often and all of a sudden it it a wide area problem?

I guess since Verizon had one of their techs tossing off in pushes of one of their customers then that means Verizon has problems to.

Check please
--
Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: How?

I would argue Verizon does also have problems. They were particularly bad in the early days of FiOS, when we constantly noted how they were digging up sewer lines, wrecking sheds, or setting houses on fire....
alfnoid
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-18

Re: How?

said by Karl Bode:

I would argue Verizon does also have problems. They were particularly bad in the early days of FiOS, when we constantly noted how they were digging up sewer lines, wrecking sheds, or setting houses on fire....
Note that these were construction contractors doing all this.

The phone companies have traditionally paid there employees very well compared to cable contractors who are paid by the job (even if they say they are hourly they average your jobs to come up with your hourly rate) and have no benefits, no retirement, no union to fight for them and keep their jobs....no real reason to care.
Plus it is as easy to get hired by one of these contractors as it is to get hired at McDonalds. Whereas by contrast you have to pass multiple tests to get hired at the phone company.

ATT is one about to learn this lesson the hard way as they are laying off and trying to replace $29/hr people with $9/hr people.

It is quality control at a higher level that makes people want to care about wanting to keep their jobs.

To put it simply...would you like to avg about 30k/year or 60/year for a lot less hours?

I'd say the latter gives move motivation to show up and do a good job.

i1me2ao
Premium
join:2001-03-03
TEXAS

Re: How?

"ATT is one about to learn this lesson the hard way as they are laying off and trying to replace $29/hr people with $9/hr people."

the entire US is doing this and has been doing this for years..
--
calling a illegal alien undocumented is like calling a drug dealer a undocumented pharmacist

MadMANN3
Premium
join:2005-08-19
kudos:2
said by alfnoid:

The phone companies have traditionally paid there employees very well compared to cable contractors who are paid by the job
It's not safe to compare your little slice of land to the whole country and assume it's the same everywhere. I used to be a phone contractor and I can tell you from experience that your generalization is not true.

As far as Karl's comparison of ATT contractors to Comcast's, you also have to remember that ATT phone techs do not see customers nearly as much as Comcast's since the majority of phone work is done on the plant. This may not be true in the case of Uverse, but Uverse is not nearly as widespread as Comcast's cable system. In other words, there are just as many sickos working for ATT, but their contact with customers is much more limited, which results in less customer/work-related incidents like this one.

I'm not saying there isn't a problem, mind you. But I am interested in hearing the infinite wisdom of those who think that the corporations that do detailed 7-10 year background and driver checks can do more to stop some weirdo who never got caught until they started working for them.

Masshole

@charter.com
sorry dude, I'm am a non-union Comcast employee pulling in $60K without O.T. I will agree though that most contractors suck.
alfnoid
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-18

Re: How?

I should have specified that money was in the south...from your colorful anon name I'm guess you are in boston which is WAAAAY more expensive to live than where I am.
Cost of living wise my scenario still stands.
Either way if you lived here you would be the exception to the "rule" by far.

Oh and to the person above...I never said phone contractor...phone employee.
bn1221

join:2009-04-29
Cortland, NY
trade jobs?

Anonymous_
Anonymous
Premium
join:2004-06-21
127.0.0.1
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
said by Karl Bode:

I would argue Verizon does also have problems. They were particularly bad in the early days of FiOS, when we constantly noted how they were digging up sewer lines, wrecking sheds, or setting houses on fire....
yea but last time i check
glass or plastic does not need to be grounded

DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15

Re: How?

said by Anonymous_:

said by Karl Bode:

I would argue Verizon does also have problems. They were particularly bad in the early days of FiOS, when we constantly noted how they were digging up sewer lines, wrecking sheds, or setting houses on fire....
yea but last time i check
glass or plastic does not need to be grounded
...but the equipment it's attached to does.

Although what that has to do with the construction of the network and the problems caused by it, I don't know.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: How?

Maybe he's thinking of the problems Verizon was having with techs not grounding installs, and the subsequent run in they had with the New York State Public Service Commission?

»Verizon Revisiting FiOS Installs For Grounding Issues

Sterling
IP Support Tier III
Premium
join:2003-05-30
Pittsburgh, PA
And how is this even a news worthy article? Where's the reporting on how many rapist work at mcdonalds? or how many times city construction rips though someones gas lines. Only thing this article is trying to do is flame a company, and that's fine, but call it what is, because its not news, it's propaganda. A company this size that hires a sizable portion of the population is going to have some things happens, but at least we having at elast I have't read where someone came in to the office with an assault rifle, oh wait that was the post office.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: How?

how is this even a news worthy article?
Because, whether Comcast employees can admit it or not, Comcast has a repeated history with low-quality subcontracted labor.
Where's the reporting on how many rapist work at mcdonalds?
This is a broadband website.
Only thing this article is trying to do is flame a company
Um, no.
its not news, it's propaganda.
It's propaganda for who? That doesn't even make sense.
A company this size that hires a sizable portion of the population is going to have some things happens
Like AT&T right? Except wait, AT&T very rarely has these problems...

I think Comcast employees get a little overly defensive. That's their right, but claiming criticism of Comcast is the work of evil Nazi propaganda ministers still doesn't fix the problem with Comcast's contracted installer practices...
alfnoid
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-18

Re: How?

said by Karl Bode:

A company this size that hires a sizable portion of the population is going to have some things happens
Like AT&T right? Except wait, AT&T very rarely has these problems...

I actually mentioned why already...scroll up^^^

cameronsfx

join:2009-01-08
Panama City, FL
said by Karl Bode:

I would argue Verizon does also have problems. They were particularly bad in the early days of FiOS, when we constantly noted how they were digging up sewer lines, wrecking sheds, or setting houses on fire....
The biggest problem you miss is the total lack of customer service in most large companies in America. Companies used to want to solve a problem; now they hope it goes away. Toyota is certainly one but they have embraced the American attitude. All large companies care to do is use employess like cattle (xyz announces 15,000 layoffs), customers like cattle (rarely a company thinks of the relationship issue that made them), and line the executives wallets with cash, earned or not. Eventually employees that do care are infected with the mentality and do their jobs the wrong way to keep them.

Barack Obama isn't listening. A majority doesn't want his health care plan (had to raze a state that was blue to get the message across), his high spending, and his $1.6+ trillion deficits that are threatening Moodys to downgrade U.S. debt from AAA. Obama has 5% of business people in his cabinet; lowest of all in history. Tax cuts worked for Reagan, Clinton, and Bush.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
How about creating an Xfinity Service group and start screening and hiring all new contractors where the contractor gets to use Xfinity HR people to do all their employee screening. Don't go thru Comcast's HR screening, then you don't get a subcontract to work for Comcast.

banditws6
Shrinking Time and Distance
Premium
join:2001-08-18
Frisco, TX

White Lake Township

I've got a friend who lives out there. I better tell him not to let the cable guy inside.
--
"I'll follow the law until it's just stupid." -Ted Nugent

BBBanditRuR
Dingbits

join:2009-06-02
Parachute, CO
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 edit

Ah, subcontractors...

I've had three subcontractors out to the house in the last year. Two were genuinely good guys, although not tops in terms of figuring out the problem, they gave it their best shot and made progress. The third... well let's just say I'm glad my wife didn't have to deal with him. (C r e e p y)

Edit:

Comcast subcontractors by the way.

IT Guy
Ow, My Balls
Premium
join:2004-07-29
Las Cruces, NM

Here's a true story to add to the subcontractor Hell playboo

A couple years back, a friend and co-worker who was getting his cable hooked up or repaired or something came home to find a subcontractor for Comcast in his yard, with his junk out of his pants, letting my friend's two dogs go to town on his willie. Needless to say the police were called as well as the guy's supervisor and he was fired. Now my friend can't look his dogs in the eyes anymore. True story.
--
Don't worry, scrote. There are plenty of 'tards out there living really kick-ass lives.

yo

@charter.com

Re: Here's a true story to add to the subcontractor Hell playboo

I'm gonna puke.

LeftOfSanity
People Suck.

join:2005-11-06
Dover, DE

Too much Churn

If they hire all full time people, when installs slow down, they would have to lay people off.

Using contractors eases that as they can just hire for the volume they currently have/need.

SLD
Premium
join:2002-04-17
San Francisco, CA

The real news

is that Comcast is rebranding??? How did I miss this?

Z80A
Premium
join:2009-11-23

1 recommendation

Spokesholes

quote:
...often employees who want to defend Comcast's brand honor because they rightfully love the the company that pays them...
DSLR certainly has no shortage of those. Objectivity evidently is not a job requirement.

ptrowski
Got Helix?
Premium
join:2005-03-14
Putnam, CT
kudos:4

Re: Spokesholes

said by Z80A:

quote:
...often employees who want to defend Comcast's brand honor because they rightfully love the the company that pays them...
DSLR certainly has no shortage of those. Objectivity evidently is not a job requirement.
I am just waiting for one of the most famous ones to make his appearance...
--
"So, Lone Starr, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb."

Have you been touched by his noodly appendage? »www.venganza.org

Z80A
Premium
join:2009-11-23

1 edit

Re: Spokesholes

They can't appear until they get that email from Brian "BMW" Roberts with the talking points they are supposed to use.

Ableandready

@comcast.net

Contracting

I was a Comcast contractor for a few years back in the internet haydays installing @home and then ATTBI when ATT came to the SF bay area. Comcast came next and in all the time I was a contrator we never had any problems of this nature. Comcast doesn't usually hire independent contractors but rather contract companies who in turn hire individuals. We had our share of accidents and techs doing stupid things but no criminal activity. I myself once drilled through an outside wall to install an outlet and hit a PVC cold water pipe in the wall. It was a house in SF that was built in 1910 and had been remodeled probably 15 times. Who knew a PVC pipe would be in that wall where it wasn't supposed to be and wasn't up to code anyway. Needless to say, things happen. In my case.... I ran downstairs turned off the water, called my insurance company and it was taken care of.

A friend of mine was installing DirecTV at an older home. He hung the dish, ran the lines, made his loops, installed his ground block and when he connected the ground wire to his ground clamp there was a huge spark and he blew out two receivers, the LNB and fried two cuircut breakers in the box. Not his fault the damn house wasn't bonded properly.

Point is.... things happen.

actor90
Never a dull moment
Premium
join:2003-07-21
Jackson, NJ
Reviews:
·Optimum Online
·Comcast

Regional Issues?

In my area Comcast uses Star Installations, I have mixed results with them, mostly positive, with a couple minor problems. Those problems were with technical issues never with courtesy or performance. While we would all rather have in-house installers and technicians, I do find the Star Installations installers to be adequate.

Could the issues we see coming up, be with contractors from other regions not being as professional? It seems to me a lot of the weird sub-contractor issues always pop up out of the mid-west and Michigan areas. Do all these issues fall under one or two particular sub-contractors? If they do, Comcast should re-evaluate who they do business with.
--
My Blog on blogspot.com
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

2 recommendations

Reality...

"However, while you see some serious mistakes by other carriers, you just don't see this same volume of repeated problems among Verizon, AT&T, or Time Warner Cable installers (though Verizon often gets close)."

I can't agree with this.. and I don't get my money from them either. However, Comcast is the largest and often most vocal. To say that "you just don't see this same volume of..." doesn't mean they don't happen.. and trust me, they do... who's to say that they are all made well known or highly public?

"Blowing up laptops"... you make it sound like it happens everyday.. I assume by the S in laptopS that would at least be 2 or more.. out of how many installs? The ONE I know of well was a foreign voltage issue and its been discussed here at length. How about DirecTV who burned a house down in the Twin Cities? How about DirecTV that caused such a black mold problem while performing a sloppy install that the house had to be torn down.. in the twin cities..

It happens with them all.. and more than you realize... sorry.. just try behing honest.

hootabius

join:2009-02-12

Re: Reality...

+1

MadMANN3
Premium
join:2005-08-19
kudos:2
said by fiberguy:

It happens with them all.. and more than you realize... sorry.. just try behing honest.
Not possible here, fiberguy. I see a lot of people here talking about Comcast employees not being able to be objective and neutral as if they are robots. However, I don't see a lot of objectivity in the journalistic style of "news" on this site. The real robots are the ones that buy media hype and spin from biased news outlets because they can't form their own opinions based on facts.

On the other hand, the whole country's highest rated professional news outlets have turned factual news into half-truths. Why should we expect any better from a non-professional?

Of course I am probably just being overly defensive and non-objective.

+1 for fiberguy's post.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

This what they get for low pay / makeing techs pay for tools

This what they get for low pay / makeing techs pay for tools / cable out of there pay and over scheduling them as well.

Do the subcontracted installers get free cable or do they not even get that?

••••

Buttset

join:2001-11-12
Ladson, SC

...'nuff said!

Soon as the telephone companies can hire contractors and remove the "over paid union workers" the sooner these horror stories will be repeated across the entire U.S.

I hear and see a lot of people trash talking union workers, but when the "rubber meets the road", they're more loyal, better trained and appreciated by customers.

Service will be a thing of the past and people will change service providers as fast as they can.

datguy9

@verizon.net

Re: ...'nuff said!

Here in NY they have contractors, sub contractors and sub-sub contractors.

The lowest of the low, these poor souls drive around in their personal cars, mini-vans, etc with passenger plates (instead of commercial plates) kids toys in the back seat etc.

They tie ladders to the roof (ever see a chevy malibu with a 24 ft ladder tied to it???)

Ive often seen them work with no safety belt, hardhat, glasses and wearing a generic cheap shirt that says "Cable TV"

I wonder if they are insured? These guys remind me of someone who does "side jobs" ,you know you go do a job for cash on the weekend with your personal car and tools in the trunk.

Except for these cable guys, thats the norm.

No wonder why cable can give the $99 triple play, they low ball the lowest contractor they can get, so in essence the poor soul is subsidizing his customers -

How? By being so poorly paid , his poor salary helps keep the 99 triple play going.. Hey the CATV has to get it from somewhere

Camaro
Question everything
Premium
join:2008-04-05
Westfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Some advice I was givin.

In a past job I worked I had the opportunity to work with a bunch of older guys (50-75) who had something not alot of people from my generation have common sense,so there was this one guy who told me a story about a cloths washer that he bought brand new and a month into owning it the thing started to basically shake itself to death,so after 5 snot nosed techs said there was nothing wrong with it he called back and said to send him the oldest SOB they had in his area.So the tech gets there a few days later walks up to it opens the top looks in turns it on for a few secs, looks at it then stops it takes his tape measure out and measures a few times turns around and tells him that he needs a new one because when they dropped it off it must have fell and the main shaft was bent and that's why it would shake itself to death.So after that story every time i call for in house service for products i will always ask for the same and so far it has worked for the most part but nothing is perfect,just my two cents.