Comcast 'Cares' About Not Listening To Customers, Being Obnoxious And Refusing To Cancel Service

from the incredible dept

It’s not much of a secret that broadband providers will bend over backwards to try to keep you from cancelling. In fact, many people realize that if you want to get a lower broadband bill you should just threaten to cancel. Rather than actually cancelling, you get transferred to a “retention specialist” who is paid on commission for annoying you into not cancelling. A little over a month ago, Tim Lee at Vox had some of the details, specific to Comcast:

“Everything was very commission-based,” says Adam Reinardy, who worked in a Comcast call center in Minnesota until 2008. “You lost commission if you gave deals. If you retained a customer without giving them any sort of deal, you got commission on it.”

That’s all useful background for the following recording of Ryan Block (former editor-in-chief of Engadget and the founder of gdgt) trying to cancel his Comcast service. The recording starts approximately 10 minutes into the call, at which point Block is clearly already quite frustrated about the whole thing, and the Comcast customer service rep is clearly just trying to play his “part” of getting an answer to why Block is cancelling, so that he can then try to jump onto his big bag of tricks to try to badger and bully Block into staying. It gets more and more painful:

The call is pretty much what you’d expect, but taken to a level that verges on Saturday Night Live-level parody. The customer service rep clearly has a script of how to respond to any “reason,” but Block won’t take the bait by giving him a reason. He just wants to cancel. Even towards the end, after he agrees to cancel the service and promises not to ask any more, he keeps on asking. Block asks when he’s going to cancel the service, and the guy pretends that he’s “working on it.” When Block finally tells him to not speak until it’s done, the guy then admits (of course) that it’s done. In between all of this, the various salesy pitches get more and more ridiculous. “We’re the fastest, guaranteed!” “Why not go with the company you know?” “You’ll have to go to the store to return your cablecard!”

Comcast, of course, is famous for their horrible customer service. Just a few months ago, Comcast (and Time Warner Cable) were voted the absolute worst by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which is “considered the most comprehensive customer satisfaction survey in the United States.” That was just a month after Comcast was voted the Worst Company in America by Consumerist. I haven’t been a Comcast customer in ages following the October from hell when they cut out my internet service every day at 10am, and when I’d call, they’d tell me it was for “scheduled maintenance.” And that it should “be back by 4pm.” When I asked if it was “scheduled” for the next day, they’d tell me they couldn’t tell me that information. Nor could they explain why I hadn’t been told of this “scheduled” maintenance or why they couldn’t refund me for all that broadband I’d paid for but couldn’t use.

Comcast has been trying, for many years, to change that view with its “Comcast Cares” tagline:

But, as a pretty long history and this call clearly demonstrate, Comcast leaves off the full version of Comcast Cares in its promo material:

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Comments on “Comcast 'Cares' About Not Listening To Customers, Being Obnoxious And Refusing To Cancel Service”

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AnonymousTexan says:

Re: Re: The easiest way to cancel

I’m pretty sure that murdering a call center employee from Comcast is only a misdemeanor and small fine.

Down hyar, thar’s a bag limit if y’all hunt them outa’ season.* But there are strict rules about disposin’ of varmint carcases–those “Don’t Mess with Texas” judges go all Roy Bean on you if you litter.

*Season runs from 6AM Monday to 2AM Sunday in most counties, but best check with your local game commissioner. And they don’t pay bounties for out-of-season culls.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Slightly off topic, but I used to work for an insurance company in the uk. One year we decided to look at the reasons people had been cancelling their policies. Turned out that the number of people who had cancelled due to moving overseas that year was about 105% of the total number of emigrants from the uk in the same period.

It’s possible that some people weren’t quite being truthful…

Chris ODonnell (profile) says:

FIOS just hit my neighborhood a few weeks ago. I know I should call Comcast and use that fact to reduce my bill, but I just don’t want to deal with them and lock myself into two more years to save $20-$40 a month. And I say that as somebody who doesn’t particularly hate Comcast. I know they are evil, but my service for the last two years has been fine.

I don’t think the hassle of switching flavors of evil from Comcast to Verizon is worth it for whatever I might gain from FIOS. What I’m really working on is convincing my wife we don’t need cable at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Going to FIOS

We swapped from TW to Fios (both internet only) as soon as Fios was available. Calling TW was relatively painless, I just kept repeating I wanted to cancel and soon the rep said ‘well I just have to make these offers if that’s okay’ so I let her give her speech and she cancelled immediately. Must be my phone manner 🙂 BUT the Fios install guy wanted to remove the TW cable inside the house and bring the Verizon cable out to the same wallplate as the TW (“well I’m not allowed to new drill holes, if you want that you have to pay extra”) Of course he was trying to remove the cable so that we or anyone moving into the house would have to pay extra to get cable “installed” and not just hooked up. After some backing-and-forthing he gave up and ran extra cable, put in the extra wallplate, took an hour longer than he’d planned, and didn’t charge extra. So you gotta keep an eye on them all.

JBDragon says:

Re: Re:

My brother has been trying to get his wife off the cable, she likes the real House Wives of whatever?!?! Their young kids pretty much only watch Kids Netflix. They didn’t even know what a commercial was until watching TV at someone else’s house.

I cut the cord from Comcast almost 2 years ago. I was getting ready to go house shopping so I could move. I just took my DVR down to Comcast, handed it to them and told them I didn’t want to pay for TV anymore. They did give me 6 month Discount for Internet service only which I wasn’t expecting, which was long enough for my needs. It was pretty simple for me. The Comcast person here in the store was nice and friendly to me and didn’t hassle me at all and give me the Internet discount service without asking for it.

When I had their service, it was reliable and generally pretty fast. I just didn’t like the $170 a month bill for only ME and 1 TV with the duel tuner HD DVR and Internet service which was only about mid grade service and no premium channels. The costs kept going up, not my pay check, and so I dropped Showtime a number of years ago, but there wasn’t much left to cut other then TV it’s self, and so I did that!

I’m in my House now. One of the first things I did was throw up a large Antenna. I get all my Broadcast channels that way and record onto my PC for full DVR controls to all my HDTV’s in my house. It’s great and no monthly bills and a better picture. When I’m outside and look around at all the other houses and not see a single Antenna, I laugh and think SUCKERS!!!!!!

I get U-Verse at my house, their 18mbps service, it’s not that fast, but fast enough to stream HD content! I pay $35 a month. After the first year and the price doubled, I called again, they transfered me to their retention department where I threatened to go to Comcast. I would have to! At that point it wouldn’t have cost much more for Comcast service and yet gotten much faster Upload and download speeds! They dropped it back down to just under $35 for another year. I’ll do the same next year. That’s a $135 a month savings or over $1600 per year. I’ve had the OOMA Box and service for VOIP for my Home phone service for a number of years. It’s sounded better then my Orignal AT&T Landline. That was making better use of my Internet service to save money. I have had that Home phone number for like 18 years. When I moved, I just plugged my OOMA box into my new Internet service and still have my same long time Home Phone number. I had my Dad move into my house has he lost his house after losing his job a couple years before that. I got his phone number transferred to my OOMA Box. So it costs me about $14 a month for the 2 VOIP lines I now have. The Prefix numbers that are used for a town are really meaningless these days. Mine if from my old town, his is from his old town, but a number he’s had for over 25 years. using OOMA phones, he has his own phone, I have my own phone. Different Rings for each line and mail boxes for each line, Free Long distance anywhere in the U.S. and more, lots of extra’s. Making better use of my cheap Internet service!!! Why anyone would pay $40 or whatever it is to Comcast for VOIP service?!?!?! Suckers!!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: FYI

Ghostery, Inc is at its core an advertising company that is funded by user data. Allegedly, their Ghostrank tracking is currently opt in for their browser addon. But really, how much can you trust a piece of proprietary software made by a company with such a massive conflict of interest?

Actionable analytics powered by more than 15 million people.

It sure walks like a duck…

Matthew A. Sawtell (profile) says:

Never cancel by phone... just show up at their door

I tend to find that if I need to cancel service, it is faster to go to a service center with the equipment, wait in line, and talk to the person behind the 3 inch thick plexiglass. Why? Much like the DMV, they are salaried folks that get paid whether you are there to swap out malufunctioning equipment, picking up equipment for new service, or returning gear during cancellation of service.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Never cancel by phone... just show up at their door

I’m fairly certain that this is the first time in history that someone has used the DMV as an example of BETTER customer service than something else.

I’ve never seen bullet-resistant glass at the DMV, and for the most part my experience walking in to the DMV has been a much better experience than dealing with my cable company (either online, on the phone, or in person.) Plus, my DMV offers appointments, which allows me to walk in and skip the line (which means I am in and out in a few minutes.)

I’ve had the occasional Cable-Company CSR reject experience at the DMV, but usually after a couple complaints, the DMV removes them or at least moves them so they don’t have to deal with the public. And while my DMV recently got hacked, I suspect they get hacked far less than the cable company, but I can’t know for sure since the cable company never tells me if they are hacked.

Anonymous Coward says:

Belligerent and Rage-Enducing

I listened to this conversation last night and after less than 60 seconds of it, my blood was boiling.

It makes me wonder just how often this type of thing happens to others trying to cancel their service and the call doesn’t get recorded to go viral later. Comcast insists this isn’t how they train their CSRs to behave. But, I don’t believe it. There is simply no way you become a company whose customer service is voted the worst of all companies and this behavior not be the way you expect your CSRs to behave.

Why should Comcast be rewarded with the ability to merge with TWC and grow even larger? This is how they behave in their “smaller” state. Who actually believes that this situation gets any better if they are permitted to get even bigger?

Some articles and comments have tried to paint a positive spin on the CSR behind this call. But, I don’t buy it. He was deliberately belligerent and rude. This is a soul-sucking way to treat people who you need to help your company thrive and that is equally true of those who, for any reason whatsoever, need to part ways.

This CSR, instead of amicably canceling the service as requested after a couple of questions and leave the bridge intact, instead decides the nuclear weapon from orbit trick is the better approach. Who won there? The customer eventually got their service canceled and Comcast succeeded only in ensuring that the former customer will never be back. But, they are the monopoly cable company. They ultimately don’t care.

There is no excuse for Comcast’s and this CSR’s behavior here. None.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Belligerent and Rage-Enducing

Comcast insists this isn’t how they train their CSRs to behave. But, I don’t believe it.

They probably don’t train them to behave that way, but they may incentivize them to do so, which is even more effective.

This CSR, instead of amicably canceling the service as requested after a couple of questions and leave the bridge intact, instead decides the nuclear weapon from orbit trick is the better approach.

Again, incentives. Was the CSR worse off after burning this bridge than he would have been if he had just cancelled? I doubt it – I find it hard to believe there is any penalty at Comcast for pissing off customers, even less so ex-customers. On the other hand, if he could have somehow gotten the guy to stay on, he probably would have gotten some kind of commission. Rationally, he was just acting in his own interest. As usual, it’s Comcast that’s ultimately at fault, not its foot soldiers (IMO).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Belligerent and Rage-Enducing

“They probably don’t train them to behave that way, but they may incentivize them to do so, which is even more effective.”

I work in a cable company call center, and, believe me, this is indeed the way they are trained. Of course, when the poop hits the fan, they try to lie and claim otherwise. But that’s not surprising considering that the management is populated with some of the most brazen liars I come across.

Violynne (profile) says:

Before being released to the public, “CARES” was actually an acronym.

I don’t recall what the public version was, but internally, it was “Cancellations Are Ruining Everyone’s Salary”.

Then one day, someone make a slight change to the sign in the breakroom:
“Cancellations Are Ruining Non-Executive Salaries”

Touche, unknown bandit with the blue sharpie.

Uriel-238 on a mobile device says:

Apology accepted, Captain Needa.

“We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize. The way in which our representative communicated with him is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action. While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.”

Kronomex (profile) says:

Holy shit, after listening to the recording I hope we never get Comcast here in Australia.
The closest thing I’ve had to that was with Telstra (arguably the Comcast of Australia) when I rang their service centre and wanted to transfer my mobile phone number to another company (my then ISP Westnet) after the contact finished. Telstra promised me that the number would be available for transfer and closed the account then cancelled the phone number because I dared to leave them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There are some good people working for the big T who have been helpful but most did not seem to have a clue. I did make a decision many years ago to not use their services as I considered the culture that had be brought in by that self-focussed, arrogant American Sol Trujillo to be so bad that it had effectively destroyed whatever good had been in the company. I used to say to the Telstra sales staff that I would only consider using their services when Sol had left and not before. I also requested that they document and pass on my comments to him and his cronies. They got the point eventually in that I did not get any further calls from them. I was among quite a few people who had the same view of that man as he functioned in the role of CEO. He may well have been a “nice guy” but he certainly did not show it by his actions as the big boss of Telstra.

TestPilotDummy says:

A Childhood Dream

I grew up in South Sac, Had a friend called NICK, he wanted to grow up to be a FIREBALL GOIN THROUGH THE SKY, at the time I thought naw… whaaa? but as time has gone on, and even though we learned LESSONS TOGETHER like don’t try to make other people your into your personal SLAVE, then DESIGN your fireball instead, and PLAN your escape from the nightmare REALITY these bastards have concocted. IN TURN they are now completely vulnerable. Question is, WHAT did your Mammie and PAPPie teach you to do.. Are you a murderer? Are you a Saint?

I have been trying to be a SAINT to catch murderers ever since. I don’t even have any law enforcement badges.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Just say you're moving

I know this becomes a battle of wills between the customer and the rep, but why not just say you’re cancelling the service because you’re moving? The rep isn’t going to know you’re lying and it may solve this endless questioning.

I think if I’m ever in this situation, I’m just going to tell them the voices told me to do it. That should get them off the phone ASAP.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just stay silent

My way of dealing with call center agents is just being silent. Let them read down their script. Every two or three sentences they will pause. That’s where you are supposed to say something. If you dont they usually will continue reading before silence is getting too awkward. At some point they will run out of script and then say something like “so, what do you think”. If you called them too cancel just repeat “I’d like to cancel”. If they called you to sell something thank them for the nice reading and hang up.

AmyJane says:

Comcast Jokefest

The most terrible customer service I’ve heard yet. Not only is this employee *too* personal, but dragging on and on trying to figure out ways to get the customer to continue to stay for the “sake of comcast”. I would have not only hung up on this idiot in mid-sentence, but send a lovely complaint to the company as well to for the hassle and hassle behavior of this employee as well too.

We know comcast has investments in Time Warner. This employee can’t even get to the point, and simply disconnect the service. He’s running loops, dragging, and calling himself trying to “pressure” the customer to stay all within 8 minutes. Reminds me of the same bully tactics credit-card companies use like Capital One to hassle the general public. This is really pathetic.

Their business model surely sucks if employees are allowed to and feel the need to act that way just to keep a job. If the employee is THIS annoying, how much more are the bosses and managers of this place?

Learn some social conducting skills Comcast. If a customer decides they no longer want to pay for your services, it’s really not your business and their not obligated to give a reason why. Though it may sound cute for the company on paper for record-keeping to fry cook this thing, there are other more legitimate ways to put statistics on this besides hassling customers who don’t want the service anymore for x reason. Actually it’s quiet stupid. Not only will that customer be less likely want to come back to your services after a conversation like that, but of course, their going to tell others about the terrible service they received as well too.

This employee was obliviously pushing down on a customer whom they thought of being meek and easy manipulative. I love it when the employee was pretending to indicate that they were ‘doing so for the sake of the customer’. Uh no, it’s for the sake of Comcast and their commission-based statistics back at the office.

I can’t believe losers and airheads like this get hired to work with the public but they do. Folks like this are better off stacking in the shelves or doing something else AWAY from the public. This guy was probably getting use to all the dumb calls he was receiving but come on, this conversation was simply OUT OF LINE.

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