Behind The Veil Part 4: Customer Trying To Cancel Service Is Put On Hold Until Comcast Office Closes

from the are-you-there? dept

Between trying to negotiate disputed charges with increased levels of internet service, releases of customer retention employee handbooks that are hella damning, and the release of a recording with a customer retention rep that alarmed even the most cynical of us, Comcast hasn’t had an easy go of it lately. Two things have become pretty clear as these stories have rolled out to the public. First, thou shalt always record your conversations with Comcast reps (local/stupid two-party consent laws apply) or thou shalt be forever filled with regret. Second, Comcast really needs to change the way its customer service reps handle calls.

And perhaps now we’re seeing evidence that a change has indeed been implemented. Though, the process of simply putting cancelling customers on hold until the office closes probably won’t win Comcast any brownie points.

That’s Aaron Spain of Chicago (holla!), who waited on hold with Comcast about as long as it takes some people to run a marathon, three and a half hours. Upon notifying Comcast that he was trying to cancel his service, he was in fact put on hold long enough that the Comcast offices had closed while the elevator music continued to play. Aaron confirmed this by calling back into Comcast with a different phone and getting the automated message that all the people tasked with helping him cancel his service had gone home for the day.

Now, you might be wondering why someone would wait on hold for three and a half hours with Comcast to begin with. I like to think that Aaron saw this as some kind of completely idiotic test of wills between a megalithic corporation and himself, and he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to win. Call it the Chicago spirit. Call it boredom. Call it the opportunity for a great YouTube video.

Whatever you call it, don’t call Comcast about it, because they’ll put you on hold until they leave for the day.

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Companies: comcast

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Comments on “Behind The Veil Part 4: Customer Trying To Cancel Service Is Put On Hold Until Comcast Office Closes”

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True says:

I had cigna heathcare pull this same crap on me. then when i started calling in morning they kept screwing up my refund saying it will be processed in 5 business days only for me to call 6 business days later to be told well yes i see the request but it was’t processed properly and they will request it again for over 2 month till i started to threaten a lawsuit!

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: report these issues

yep, bbb is almost ALWAYS useless, and is basically a method for companies to deep six complaints, whitewash their rep, and call it a day…

their ‘process’ for taking consumer complaints and acting on them is TOTALLY slanted to make it easy for the business to ‘make them go away’… essentially, ALL the business has to do is LITERALLY ‘reply’ to the complaint (NOT promise any action, etc, SIMPLY RESPOND), and that complaint is then listed as ‘resolved’ (or whatever their bee-ess term is) and every body is happy, right ?

’cause when you have a complaint against a company, all you are looking for is a bullshit email that acknowledges the complaint, but doesn’t do one thing to actually address the situation…

no, they are simply window-dressing, NOT a real means of redress for business complaints… don’t bother…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Take it all the way

They’d probably quite literally tell him to go fuck himself.
Comcast have swore and threatened customers on hundreds if not thousands of occasions, and each time when a complaint is filed they “oops can’t find the recording”…….

Comcast is a joke. If I was a shareholder my iceberg-sense would be tingling and I’d be leaving right before the special effects start….

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Use snail mail?

Can your lawyer write a letter to their registered address?

Can you (through your lawyer) ask for attorney’s fees because it was necessary to take it this far?

Could you take it to small claims court to get the fees?

Be sure you have documentation of how many times, and how long you have waited on hold.

Also report it to the BBB, FTC and FCC, and your state AG.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some how I can’t quite wrap my mind around why we would want a bigger Comcast, given what it is doing now? All these customer problems in dealing with them is a damning report on why they shouldn’t be allowed to merge, nor with any other large incumbent telecom.

We’ve had plenty of time to find out why these megacorps aren’t doing any favors for the American infrastructure unless it lines their pockets. Every year is a new low compared to the rest of the world in prices, speed, quality, and service.

Whatevs says:


His calling back on the second line only singifies that the queue is closed for new callers. It does not in anyway indicate his original call is not going to be taken.

Call Centres have call queues for each specific department. You don’t leave the office until the queue is cleared. It is the specific job of the closing supervisor to ensure that the queue has been cleared before his final staff leave the office. A 3.5 hour queue is crazy, but I guarantee you that this is unintentional. Call Centres are 100% metric driven. Customer retention is important, but in the call centre universe Average Handle Time, Average Hold Time, First Time Resolutions, Average Idle Time, and a billion more stats are all up to the supervisor to manage.

This is a problem of poor call forecasting and staffing by Comcast’s Workforce Analysts; not wilful neglect.

Talion says:

Re: Queue

Um… No.

At least your example isn’t universal. I worked at a call centre for a telecom, and head office wouldn’t of stood for mandatory OT like that. You might be in the queue for a transfer from another department, but at 5pm (or whenever they close), everyone logs off and you are SOL if you haven’t already gotten through on the transfer.

At least that was my experience, but seriously, you think a telecom cares enough to pay OT for the small % of customers that are stuck in a transfer queue at the end of the day? Lol

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Queue

You’re a smallish isp, which is good, mine is smallish too and has alright customer service. Once I went for a very small ISP for the price, it was all good once you needed to talk to someone over there. I’ll name them, they’re a canadian ISP, Distributel, don’t get fooled by their no caps lowish prices (especially for 24mbps+ DSL), I got the cable service there because they couldn’t get a 24 or 32mbps signal to my apartment. Go for Tekksavvy if Canadian and want an awesome small ISP. Those guys will help you by email,no need to even call.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Queue

When a comcast employee’s shift ends at for example 6pm, they will literally (and pretty much instantly) just terminate the call if there is no excuse to stick you on hold until you give up.

They do this with “complicated” customer queries, bill disputes and anything else that isn’t actively bringing in cold hard cash.

Employees are also (with manager’s condoning) allowed to just hang up on you if they have a break or lunch, and they do this a lot. ‘Oops I ‘lost’ the call….’ etc

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Queue

Of course that’s the way it’s supposed to work but I worked for a third party call center taking Sprint Customer Finance calls and I can guarantee you when it was time to close for the day if there was a queue left we transferred them all to our group’s supervisor and “somehow” by the time we were heading out the door all those calls magically got solved… Or you know the was a “disconnection” on the line. I also experienced speaking with their customer service line who were infinitely less respectful to customers and of their time. Frequently when we needed customer service to do something complex and spoke to them ourselves they would hang up on us or transfer us to a closed department. Call center environments are just not AT ALL set up to provide proper customer service. All they do is shuffle customers around and keep them busy long enough that they give up. I often felt very sorry for the customers I spoke with who had legitimate issues that I knew would never actually get solved. In my experience, actually helping the customer was one of the least important metrics used to grade our performance.

ECA (profile) says:


I find it entertaining that THEY can record your conversation, and you are NOT supposed to record theirs..

I would find this an equal opportunity recording session..
Also, in many states there is a law about HOW long they can/should keep you on hold..Without saying anything.
All they had to do was answer and ask that they call back tomorrow.

BUT ALSO..Many people WORK. and the hours do NOT mix with OTHER companies HOW do you solve this?? myselfm, I just goto TECH support..forget talking to Customer service.

Anonymous Coward says:


Tech support won’t be much better.

You know who I’ve gone to and got results?


When Sales realizes that Support/Retention could be costing them a customer, that’s costing the sales bods actual monthly revenue. They move pretty fast to get things working for you again, and are usually bright enough to get your account closed out if you explain your problem — as long as there’s the hope you might re-subscribe in the future.

Sales tends to have the biggest pull in any corporation, and is the easiest route to go through to get to managers who don’t have to follow a script verbatim or get fired.

Anonymous Coward says:

this disgraceful way of treating customers is unforgivable! but just wait until Wheeler has finished fucking with ‘net neutrality’ and see how customers are treated by ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon etc, when they know that there is almost no chance whatsoever of a customer wanting to cancel their subscription because there wont be anyone else to go to!! then add in the complete heap of shit that will be ‘the super fast internet service’ that will actually be even worse than now, simply because the ISPs know they can lower it, and i bet there will be special ‘customer service rep’ courses on how best to piss customers off!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: to the BBB...

If they have any competitors in the area with a TV station, write to their current affairs programme (especially if it is a particularly bad one). That way they get to disguise an attack ad on their competitor as a legitimate news story, and you force the company to go into damage control and be very nice to you.

Whatever (profile) says:

Anyone willing to sit on hold 3.5 hours really has a bigger issue to address. I have gotten that sort of a transfer before, it’s usually due to a technical glitch or fat thumbs by the operator, and not any real intention to stop people from doing something – even if it is cancelling.

Now, if you have proof of this systematically happening, you might have something. One guy who called and ended up on the hold look forever doesn’t show anything except that perhaps he was too stupid to hang up and call back (or use the other phone he had to call back). Looks more like he was hoping for a way to show comcast off badly (it’s not hard, it seems) rather than really accomplish anything.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

@ that POS we call whatever:
nearly EVERY korporate entity on the planet does EVERYTHING in their power to eliminate pesky, annoying customers calling in for anything BUT ORDERING MORE SHIT…

you want to ‘upgrade’, order new service, get a replacement, do ANYTHING that requires spending more money with them ? you can get through by phone, online, telepathy, etc IMMEDIATELY, from any of a million places that phone number is shown…

you want warranty service, tech support, find out why an order is late, etc, etc, etc ? ? ? forget about it: they hide the phone numbers, the emails go unanswered, the online chat is NEVER available, they make you go through phone menu hell, they put you on INTERMINABLE hold ALL THE FUCKING TIME, they bump you up levels repeating your pathetic story over and over, they play games, stall and fuck you over until you give up and go away…

you sign up for a service, and they don’t ask for ONE DOG DAMN thing as any confirmation that you are you; however, you go to cancel that service, and suddenly you need 10 factor authentication, fax a copy of your birth certificate to a number that is busy, notarize your existence out the yingyang, provide fingerprints and retinal scans, and then they will proceed to ‘lose’ all that shit but not bother to tell you for six months when you find a ding on your credit rating for some ‘unpaid debt’ you never knew about…

fuck you whatever, and your authoritarian, Empire toadying, pro-bidness idiocy…

oh, and a coward to boot… what a lousy excuse for a human bean… the saving grace is, you are such an obvious shillbot, NO ONE takes you seriously… POS…

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

@ that POS we call whatever:
nearly EVERY korporate entity on the planet does EVERYTHING in their power to eliminate pesky, annoying customers calling in for anything BUT ORDERING MORE SHIT…

I would hate to live in your world, full of hate and loathing.

You can keep your adhoms for your momma.

KevinEHayden (profile) says:

Mess with their call center stats

Maybe everyone should just start calling in at least once a day with some bogus item, or just to say hi. When they get put on hold, hang up and call back. Number of dropped calls will skyrocket and the call centers will look like idiots or have to hire more staff. Call up sales and threaten to close you account evey now and then and see what kind of ‘deal’ they offer you too. You never know, they might actually give you a better deal just to make you go away.

Dirkmaster (profile) says:

I *AM* a workforce Analyst

and I can tell you that this is NOT a workforce issue. First off, the WFM team would flag someone who had a line on hold for even 5 minutes, let alone HOURS. It obviously is approved behavior. And yes, a respectable call center wouldn’t close with calls still in queue. But you can, if you don’t care. Guess what? Comcast CLEARLY doesn’t care. They don’t have to.

Oh, and excusing this due to “fat fingering” something? Yeah, that’s like excusing the overreaction of the police in Ferguson because TERRORISM! A convenient excuse, but not very likely.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: I *AM* a workforce Analyst

“First off, the WFM team would flag someone who had a line on hold for even 5 minutes, let alone HOURS.”

Damn. Your team should work for more places. I can’t remember a time when I’ve called a major company that I’ve been on hold for less than 15 minutes, let alone 5. Except if I’m calling a sales number, of course — mysteriously, those go right through.

R.C. says:

Very Simple Solution To This Sort Of Thing

The reason for this sort of thing is that, the larger a business comes, the more it can withstand the fallback from bad customer service.

Perhaps there was once a time when small businesses could compete with Comcast-sized businesses on the basis of offering a superior customer service experience. But what Clark Howard calls “Customer No-Service” obviously doesn’t affect Comcast’s bottom line enough for it to feel any threat from competition.

But this situation represents a breakdown in the free market system, whose whole social justification is that it (a.) allows people to interact through free exchange instead of compulsion; and (b.) transmits pricing information and product quality information so efficiently that competition results, driving down prices or increasing quality, thereby maximizing the buyer’s bang-for-the-buck.

How do we fix it?

Pretty easy, actually.

There ought to be “progressive” income taxes on businesses in much the same way as on private individuals, with top rates sufficient to produce significant turnover in the businesses holding the largest percentage market shares…and 0% rates on the smallest entrants in the market.

Currently, Comcast is inured from competition because it can “buy” a favorable regulatory environment: Not “no regulations”; mind you, but regulations which are sufficiently arduous that small businesses can’t jump through all the compliance hoops and still run their business. All small up-and-coming competition is thereby squashed by barriers to entry.

But if the up-and-coming competition paid no taxes and Comcast paid significant taxes, then you’d quickly see competitors stealing market share…only to find their own taxes rising if they got too big for their britches.

Better to have a dozen smaller cable companies squabbling over your neighborhood’s business, than one neighborhood monopoly!

corkyboyd (profile) says:


There is no question Comcast is among the worst in customer service.

I won’t go into my details other than I shifted my TV service to Direct TV (excellent customer service) and my internet to my phone company (DSL – slower, but far, far more reliable).

There was a website , it may still be active. It had hundreds of cases just like the one above. Apparently Comcast got wind of it and picked two posters, one in NYC and the other in DC. With these two they played very nice, then contacted the NY Times and the Washington Post with their stories. Both papers ran glowing pieces on their experiences. The glow wore off shortly after as Comcast reverted to form.

The cable companies are losing market share to the phone companies. By and large they are giving a better product, especially Verizon with their FIOS service.

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