Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Cable Guy

I have a friend whose husband has been known to blacklist companies that he has a problem with.  For example, after an unfortunate incident with Canadian Tire a number of years back, he refused to shop there again...despite the convenience that it might sometimes present.  I haven't always understood how he's felt.  But I think I do now.  Because I really, really resent Shaw Cable.  I borderline hate that company.  Specifically, I am so fed up with their terrible customer service that I would like to scream.  I wish I could boycott it permanently...and I might at some point.   The only reasons I haven't yet are because I'm not convinced yet that the one alternative is any better, and because it's a nuisance to change email addresses.  I can hardly think of Shaw without my blood beginning to boil...something that doesn't happen to this slow-to-anger woman very often.

Though I've had issues with Shaw for several years, it seems to be getting worse in the past few months. It started (again) with having sporadic problems receiving and sending emails about three months ago.
I first became aware that there was a problem when I received no emails on a particular day.  That was immediately a red flag for me because I normally receive anywhere from 15-25 emails in a day.  Concurrently, on the same day, I received phone calls from three people saying that the emails they had sent to me had bounced back as being undeliverable.

When I called Shaw to enquire about the situation, and waited over thirty minutes to be connected with a real person, the person I spoke to told me that Shaw was not the problem, and that I wasn't receiving emails because the email sender had a problem with their email.  I said that this couldn't be the case because I was aware of multiple emails that I hadn't received, and that I was also having a problem sending emails.  The customer service rep brilliantly told me that, in the case of my sending emails, it was a problem with the receiving email server.  I was getting a little heated by this point, and said (with some tone, I admit):  "so if I'm to summarize what you're telling me - you're saying that every one of those 20-25 emails that I anticipate were sent to me today were not received by me because of the sender's service provider having a problem; and that I'm not able to send emails because all of the receiver's have a problem with their service provider; and that shaw is not the problem here?  Have I got that right?"  Incredibly, the guy's answer was, wait for it: "yes."

I asked to speak with his superior and he said that his boss was busy.  I said I'd wait...and then stopped talking.  After a few seconds of silence, he mumbled something on the other end of the line (something that I'm pretty sure was not flattering about me), and told me that he'd get his manager.  There was a long interlude of elevator music during which time I'm sure he was explaining to his manager how unreasonable this customer was.  When the manager finally showed up, he was immediately defensive.  So I suggested that he go and listen to the recording that they say they always make of customer phone calls.  He asked me to hold and was gone for a number of minutes.  When he came back, his tone of voice made me think of a dog with a tail tucked between his legs, and he said that he wasn't sure what to do about the situation.  I said that I would simply like to speak with another technician, and one who wouldn't simply assume that the problem with my system was really someone else's problem.  Well, to make a long story somewhat shorter, the guy who eventually came on to help me was actually helpful, identified a programming glitch with my system, and had it rectified within about sixty seconds.

In the months between then and now, I've again had a number of (different) email problems which have prompted me to call Shaw yet again...and, again, wait for up to forty-five minutes to reach an actual person.  Each time, I've been assured that the problem has now been fixed and that it shouldn't happen again.  Of course, it does, and I keep having to call back.

Then, last week Thursday, I couldn't access the internet or my email at all because I apparently had no ISP address.  I called Shaw, and when I was eventually connected to someone, I was told that it was a problem that they needed to come out to fix.  We set up a time for the technician to be here for yesterday morning; they were to show up between 10:00 and noon.  I arranged my schedule accordingly.

When no one had showed up by noon, I called to find out what was going on - by 12:30, I was finally connected, and I was told that they should be there any minute, and for sure by 12:45.  When they still hadn't showed by 1:15, I contacted them again and reached a voice at 1:35.  I explained the events that had transpired to that point and the guy put me on hold to check into things. When he came back onto the line, here's how our conversation went:

Brian, at Shaw: "yes, I just checked into things and they were running late, so they should have been there by 12:45."

Me:  "That's right."

Brian::  "So, are they there?"

Me:  "No. That's why I called, to let you know that they didn't show up and to find out where they're at. It's now almost two hours after the time they were supposed to be here."

Brian:  "Right.  But they should be there."

Me:  "That's right. But they're not.  I'm quite certain of that because they're not in my house.  So I'm wondering if you could put me on hold so that you can go check out what's happening, and where the technician is. I need to leave my house by 2:15, which is in just over half an hour from now."

Brian:  "Well, I'll look into it and call you back."

Me:  "I'm ok being put on hold, instead of waiting for you to call me back."

Brian:  "Really, I'll call you back."

Me:  "I'm still ok waiting on hold.  My worry is that you won't actually call me back, and that I'll have to wait for another half hour on the phone trying to reach someone.  In the past, I haven't always been called back.  So I'd prefer to stay on hold."

Brian:  "Maam, I will call you back.  It is my personal guarantee."

Me:  "Really?  You will call me back?"

Brian:  "Within five minutes.  Ten at the most."

Me:  "OK, Brian.  I'll be waiting for your call."

Well, guess what?  That personal guarantee didn't amount to anything cause he never called back and the service technician didn't arrive until 3:00, by which time I'd left the house.

So I'm back to spotty internet and email access, have frankly no desire to engage these people again, and am sick of knowing Shaw's customer service (if it can really be called that) phone number by heart.  More and more, I'm ready to join my friend's husband by starting my own company blacklist.  I'm starting to research the alternative.


  1. Oooookay, this post hit a nerve! I had the same experience with an internet provider, and just about ground my teeth to pulp during these exact kind of conversations! We DID switch, by the way, and haven't regretted it for a second. Hope this gets resolved soon! :)

  2. So you're pissed off with shaw :) and I'm frustrated with MTS.... So here's your solution.... get a gmail account, and switch between shaw and mts every 6 months for the cheapest internet and tv options :)

    I got frustrated with MTS a few years ago, and only in the last year or so, changed my email address to Gmail, with the intent of pitting the two companies against each other for the best services (and of course prices) every 6 months or so (or however long the promotional periods last :)).... I now have Gmail for email, MTS for internet, and Bell Expressvu for TV. Other than the fact that I don't have a PVR (which I had with MTS), I'm quite happy with my arrangement....

    Just thought I'd tell you that I enjoyed the post.

  3. I can't stand shaw! We don't have cable and luckily don't use them for internet but my mom has had many headaches from them! I support a boycott. My blood is boiling just from reading about your experience!

  4. Hello Ruth,

    Man... what a pain. I really hate it when customers have such a bad experience when calling in. Especially when promises are made and not kept. If you'd like, I'd be happy to take ownership of these issues you've had and get this resolved for you once and for all. Feel free contacting me on Twitter @shaw_sean so I can look into this further for you.

    Sean Kershaw
    Shaw Customer Care - Social Media