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Cumming customers vent about Comcast
City council gets earful, plans second hearing next month
Cable

CUMMING — Forsyth County residents were loud and clear on their feelings about Comcast’s cable TV service during a public hearing Tuesday night.

Following the Cumming City Council meeting, eight customers shared issues they had with Comcast. There were a few consistent talking points: the company has no local office; wait times are long; and customer service problems.

“We want these issues addressed before we sign off on a new franchise agreement, long-term agreement with Comcast, even though we know we don’t have a lot of choices,” said Mayor H. Ford Gravitt. “Comcast is kind of holding us between a rock and a hard place.”

One of the biggest gripes residents have is that Comcast essentially has a monopoly as the lone local cable service provider other than AT&T, which serves just part of the county.

One of the speakers said he had just switched to Comcast from AT&T, but was rapidly growing frustrated.

“I don’t know what my alternatives might be, other than to let my two years expire with them, and then I don’t know who I would go to,” Robert Millott said. “It’s frustrating they have a monopoly and they have you over a barrel.”

Several speakers also noted the closing of the local Comcast office, which means the company’s closest location is at North Point Mall.

“I’ve never dealt with a company that has worse customer service,” said resident Marvin Burns. “If you want to talk to someone, you go down to Alpharetta, sit in an office for as long as it takes to get a place in line, and then talk to them about your problems, and then wait on a repairman.”

Customers who chose the phone instead of making that drive to north Fulton also voiced issues. Long wait times and customer service representatives whose first language is not English have frustrated many of the speakers. Several said it was the worst customer service they had ever experienced.

City Attorney Dana Miles described his personal interactions with Comcast as a “never-ending process of frustration.” He also told council how he has spent nearly two hours on the phone trying to change his service.

“They just wear you out, and it’s a war of attrition,” he said. “And as determined as you would be to get just someone to be polite and answer your questions, you can’t get that, it’s impossible.

“That’s what all these people are upset about, they just want a fair shake, and they just want somebody that will be responsive.”

Andy Macke, Comcast’s south region vice president of government affairs, had been scheduled to attend the hearing, but was unable to due to a family event.

Comcast’s Amy Traylor did speak, however, and said the company was aware of some of the resident’s complaints.

“We are not unaware of some of the issues that our customers have with our customer service. It is something that we try very hard to improve,” said Traylor, who is Comcast’s director of governmental affairs for the region.

“We’re trying very hard to improve the ways that our customers can contact, whether it’s through stores, or online through online chat, we have apps available for download on smartphone.”

Traylor told the council about scholarships the company had given to two local high school students and their program helping low-income students to have Internet.

She also said the company was committed to bringing the best possible services to customers and developing new contact methods.

“I understand that the store closing here in Cumming is kind of a hot-button issue,” she said. “It’s interesting, because our experience has been that most customers don’t want to go to the store. We’re trying to increase the ways that you can get in touch with us.”

Due to Macke’s absence and the frigid weather, which may have kept some people at home, the mayor and council decided to hold another public hearing on Comcast after their Dec. 16 meeting.

In the meantime, he suggested those with concerns email Crystal Ledford, the city’s public information assistant, at cledford@cityofcumming.net.