Behind the Veil Part 6: Comcast Informs Employer Of Complaining Customer
from the screw-job dept
In case you thought the stream of complaints from former and current Comcast customers and employees had ceased, they haven’t. With all the fallout surrounding several customer service flops, you’d think that the company would be particularly on its toes in terms of building up good will and avoiding more such stories. The latest story, however, is quite a doozy: it is alleged that Comcast contacted a complaining subscriber’s place of business, which resulted in him being fired.
Let’s get the service issues out of the way first. Over the course of a year, a man named Conal had had near-constant issues with his Comcast service: everything from being charged for hardware he’d never ordered, sent hardware he never wanted, not getting bills because Comcast misspelled his last name, service visits that failed to activate set-top boxes, and increases in pricing. He attempted to work with Comcast’s customer service, at one point asking to cancel service, but instead being sold on free upgrades to keep his business (AKA, the Comcast customer service MO). Eventually, fed up, he returned all the equipment that had actually been delivered to him and, because he is an accountant, prepared a spreadsheet with all the incorrect charges and service issues. Instead of rectifying the charges, Comcast immediately sent his account to collections, despite the fact that the charges weren’t past due. When customer service failed to address any of the above, he decided to go above them entirely and called the office of Comcast’s Controller. After getting a call back from another customer service rep instead, he called the Controller’s office again.
During this call, he says that he mentioned that Comcast’s billing and accounting issues should probably be investigated by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), a private-sector oversight operation. This ultimately led to two service calls where no one ever showed up and no explanations were given. But something did happen. Just not anything good.
That not good action by Comcast was for someone to put a call into a partner at Conal’s accounting firm. The Comcast employee suggested that Conal had name-dropped the accounting firm as a way to get better service, since the accounting firm had done some minor work for Comcast in the past. This led to the company investigating the situation for ethical violations by Conal and ultimately firing him due to, according to his exit interview, a summary of his communications with Comcast provided directly by Comcast. Conal was never allowed to see the summary, nor were his requests for recorded conversations ever honored. Comcast even acknowledges calling the employer.
In response to a letter from Conal’s lawyer — he has not filed a lawsuit, but it’s not out of the question — Comcast’s Senior Deputy General Counsel admits that the company did contact Conal’s employer but says that Conal “is not in a position to complain that the firm came to learn” about his dispute with Comcast.
Well, okay then. Look, this is a one-sided report form a clearly-jilted ex-customer of Comcast’s, so it might be quite easy to dismiss it as unreliable. And, hey, there’s a chance we’re not getting the whole story here. On the other hand: Comcast. The way the company has conducted business, particularly over the past few years, lends itself to being criticized and to the assumption that these kinds of stories are more true than false. Does anyone really believe the company is incapable of doing exactly as Conal accuses? I sure don’t, because I’ve been paying attention to the Comcast stories we’ve written about in the past. And the company’s tone-deaf responses to these issues don’t help either.
We reached out to Comcast to ask whether it’s company policy to contact customers’ employers. No one answered that question, but a rep for Comcast did give a brief statement.
“Our customers deserve the best experience every time they interact with us,” reads the statement. Comcast says it has previously apologized to Conal, but adds “we will review his lawyer’s letter and respond as quickly as possible.”
Yawn. Thanks Comcast. I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again in a future post.
Finally, after the story started to go viral, Comcast put up a public apology blog post:
What happened with Mr. O?Rourke’s service is completely unacceptable. Despite our attempts to address Mr. O?Rourke?s issues, we simply dropped the ball and did not make things right. Mr. O?Rourke deserves another apology from us and we?re making this one publicly. We also want to clarify that nobody at Comcast asked for him to be fired.
We?re also determined to get to the bottom of exactly what happened with his service, figure out what went wrong at every point along the way, and fix any underlying issues
This is from Comcast’s brand spanking new VP of Customer Experience. Perhaps the title they should have given him is Chief Apologizer.