Comcast Kept VIP List For Influential Customers In DC Suburbs, Still Insists Nobody Gets Special Treatment
from the treat-everyone-awful-equally dept
Last month we pointed out a fracas over Comcast lobbyists handing out special “VIP cards” to lawmakers in the hopes of letting them believe they were able to get special treatment from Comcast. As we noted at the time (and Comcast was quick to point out) pretty much all employees get these cards, which direct users to a special, one-time use phone number that allows a card recipient to jump over the rest of the plebeians in the pursuit of slightly-less substandard Comcast technical support. We’re not treating power players differently, argued the company, because everybody can get these cards if they bitch enough.
Fast forward a few weeks and a piece in the Washingtonian notes how a 2005 court filing indicates Comcast was keeping a list of VIP power players in the DC area that had Comcast service, and they did appear to get special service — but only if their phone number was on record. Politicians, influential businessmen, civic leaders and other figures were tracked on a list, though Comcast again claims that none of these individuals received special treatment:
“A Comcast spokesperson declined to explain why such ?VIP? lists were compiled or whether the company still maintains such lists. ?Comcast does not and has not offered special service, perks or free upgrades to lawmakers or public officials,? the spokesperson said in a statement to Washingtonian.”
Except again, it’s not entirely clear that this is actually true. Two anonymous sources spoke to The Consumerist to note that not only were VIPs tracked, but if they called Comcast using their on-record phone number, they did in fact get special treatment:
“One source worked for a company contracted by Comcast to maintain its automatic call distributor (ACD) system, which routes customer phone calls as they come in. This person says that the Comcast system was set up so that when one of the people on the VIP list called in, it would identify them by their phone number and jump them to the front of the line.
“My understanding was they were not told they were receiving preferential treatment,? says the source, “so in my opinion Comcast was deceiving them into thinking the service was better than it actually was.”
Another, more recently-employed source confirms the first, telling The Consumerist that VIP treatment was tied to a logged phone number, and was unrelated to the VIP cards (which offered access to a one-use phone number at Comcast):
“They say there were situations where the system wouldn?t identify VIP callers correctly because they called from a phone that was not associated with the account. But once the account was looked up, ?we could see that status on their account and escalated them to the Platinum group,? says the source, who claims that frontline support people were never given the ?We?ll make it right? cards that Comcast supposedly hands out to all employees.”
That sounds suspiciously like special treatment, though at the end of the day being escalated from horribly abysmal customer service to marginally-decent customer service (or just getting horribly abysmal customer service faster) is probably a wash. Comcast, for what it’s worth, will only mechanically and repeatedly insist that nobody has ever received special treatment, despite the now growing evidence that numerous people — at least in DC — were able to get special treatment. So, without a deeper investigation, I suppose we’ll just have to take Comcast’s word for it that all of the company’s customers get treated like shit equitably.