A tale of two customer service scenarios

Since Diann & I are moving soon, I needed to call up all our utility companies and get services transferred.  My phone at work can report on who I recently called and the time that I spent on each call (to answer your question: I don’t think big brother is watching).  I noticed what I thought was an interesting trend, and dug up the phone logs to prove it.

I had to call 5 companies in total: 3 of them local (Puget Sound Energy, City of Bellevue Utilities, and Allied Waste) and 2 national (Comcast and Verizon).  Since we’re moving within the same city and service areas of these companies, most of the calls would be to transfer service from our current residence to our new residence.  Some of the calls would be to disconnect service altogether (Verizon doesn’t offer FiOS at our new place), and some would be to transfer and modify service (had to move cable from Comcast and add internet to our service).

The local companies use local call centers, the national companies use national call centers.  Comcast’s national call center is local (up in Lynnwood, if I recall correctly), but it answers calls for their nationwide customer base.

Here are my results:

Local/National Company Notes Time
Local Puget Sound Energy Transfer service from old to new address 3m44s
Local Allied Waste Transfer service from old to new address
Inquire about new service (trash day, etc.)
Local City of Bellevue Utilities Transfer service from old to new address 6m27s
National Comcast Transfer service from old to new address
Add new service
National Verizon FiOS Disconnect existing service 11m15s

Verizon was the worst – as I expected – to do the least amount of work: just disconnecting service.  Didn’t have to schedule time for someone to come out and do work, didn’t have to ask about how the service would work at the new address.  Just disconnecting.  My Verizon timeline in detail?  3m03s to get an actual human, the human transferred me to another department at the 4m46s mark, whereupon I had hold music until 6m35s, and I was finally completed at 11m15s.

My sample size is small, but I’m theorizing that as your call center becomes more national, it takes longer to do stuff. 

FiOS Installed

At about 7:15am, a Verizon guy showed up at my door to complete my FiOS installation.  A lot of people have asked me about it, so I figured I’d post a bit about it as well as a few pictures of what they actually install.

About a month ago, on a Tuesday, I placed an order via Verizon’s website for FiOS.  I got an option to schedule the installation for that Friday, and scheduled it to happen in the morning.  The Verizon tech arrived right on time, but, unfortunately, their contractor had not yet run the fiber from the pole to our house.  We rescheduled the Verizon guy for the following Friday.

He came back, and the fiber was still not run.  Apparently, the contractor had run into a permitting issue with the city, and hadn’t notified Verizon.  The Verizon guy gave me his cell phone number, and asked me to call him to reschedule when the fiber finally arrived (after I grumbled a bit about having taken off work two mornings to get this done).

Two weeks later, I got home and there was a spool of fiber sticking out of the ground on the side of the house.  I rescheduled with the Verizon folks, and a week later (due to my schedule) the guy came back out to finish the install.

They installed two devices: a battery backup unit, as well as the ONT (Optical Network Terminal).

Battery Backup The battery backup unit is a small unit containing a gel battery that should be good for 3 to 5 years (or so the tech told me).  It plugs into a power outlet, and provides power to the ONT.  The battery backup unit is there to provide power in the event of a power outage.  This is probably a requirement because of the possibility of putting a voice line on the FiOS — which I didn’t need, so didn’t order.  At any rate, I think the FCC mandates that the phone company must be able to provide you dialtone for a certain period of time following a power outage, and this unit let’s Verizon meet that requirement. (I may be wrong, it’s been years since I’ve deal with telecom laws)

FiOS ONT The unit that does the heavy lifting is the Optical Network Terminal.  This was installed on the outside of the house, though I’d guess it could just as easily be installed inside.  The fiber optic cable (single mode at 1390nm for data, I asked) plugs in here, and the ONT outputs on either a standard ethernet cable or a coax cable.  The Verizon installer was able to put my data signal onto an existing coax cable running to my in-house wiring point.  The awesome and convenient thing is that he was able to leave the cable on that piece of coax as well, so no additional cabling was needed, and I still have my digital cable on the same wire.  Verizon’s router that they provide can take either an input from the ethernet or coax.  The router actually seems to perform better than my previous Linksys WRT54AG did, which was a pleasant surprise.  To my shock, the Verizon router comes configured for WiFi out of the box — with WEP enabled!  This was unexpected by me.  I reconfigured it for no WEP but MAC address restrictions (yes, I do understand the tradeoffs I’ve made, and I’m ok with that).

Speedtest.net Results

All in all, the install took about an hour and a half and it works at slightly over the speed that I ordered.  Here’s my results from speedtest.net over the WiFi.  I ordered the 5/2 package, and when I did the test earlier from a wired connection, I was getting 5.2/2.3.  Not too shabby.