Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mediacom Thinks You're Stupid

While in the middle of watching Hell's Kitchen last night, my Mediacom issued Motorola DVR box spontaneously shut off. Everything else in the room remained powered on. I had thought for a moment that one of the dogs had sat on the remote again. But, no. Attempting to turn the box back on with the remote and with the button on the DVR itself did nothing. The box had obviously overheated. So, I pulled the plug out of the wall and let it sit for a while. But, still, upon my return, the box would not power on.

I called Mediacom from my cell phone this morning and got connected with their automated customer service line. When asked for my home phone number, I went blank. I couldn't recall it. Nor could I recall my Mediacom account number. I just skipped through those options. I eventually reached a menu item that described my problem. And here's where it gets weird.

The recording told me to unplug my DVR from the power outlet. I couldn't do that because I wasn't home at the time. Still, I waited for about 30 seconds and pushed the * button on the phone to indicate that I had done as I had been instructed. Then, the recording said that Mediacom was pushing a program update to my DVR. But, not knowing my account information, how could they know which cable box to push an update to? And how would that work with the DVR power being off? Obviously, this was a trick concocted by the tech support douchebags at Mediacom to ensure that the #1 troubleshooting tactic was employed before escalating the incident further up the tier to an actual support engineer. Removing the power cord from the outlet is the cable-box equivalent of rebooting a computer.

Why would Mediacom pretend to push a program update in order to get you to unplug your DVR? Why wouldn't they just say "Please try unplugging your DVR and then plugging it back in"? Because they think you're too stupid to think of it as a possible solution and they think you wouldn't do it if you were simply told to. As a former computer support monkey, I can tell you that a large number of people calling in with computer issues would claim to have rebooted their computer when they hadn't just so that they could escalate the call faster. The tech support people at Mediacom were probably running into a similar situation with their DVR boxes.

In order to make sure people tried rebooting as a trouble shooting measure, my old tech support team often told customers WHY they needed to reboot (for example "Just to make sure there isn't a program hogging up all the processing capacity"). Mediacom would do well to follow this same approach. As it stands, they're only treating their customers like they're stupid, and that's piss poor customer service. Although, I gues that assumes the customer catches on like I did.

Frustrated with the whole process, I just hit "0" a bunch of times and got connected with a customer service rep. I explained the situation, gave her enough info to have her pull up my account info and told her I had already tried unplugging the DVR. She told me I could go to my local office and swap the DVR.


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