Post Merger-Failure, Comcast Still Dedicated To Treating Customers Like Shit

from the comcastic dept

Look, you don’t get to be the best at something without being fully committed to it. Sports, science, doing that thing where you make farty noises using your armpits to gross your mom out, all of them require not just talent, but the kind of dedication it takes to put in the work to being the best. Comcast has that dedication. You might have thought that after its abysmal customer service record helped torpedo its merger with Time Warner, discouragement would have set in. And maybe if customer after customer after customer publicly lambasted Comcast for doing what it does best, that the company would have been forlorn and simply given up.

Well, you’d be wrong. Being the best at pooping on your customers isn’t something Comcast is willing to give up on. This was most recently evidenced when the company simply took the email address of one customer and gave it to a new customer of the same name, and only corrected the mistake once the news got involved.

In April, another Kathleen Cox, who lives in Michigan, signed up for a Comcast account. The company took the Florida’s Kathleen Cox’s e-mail account and gave it to the woman in Michigan.

“It has been crazy,” said Cox. “It is frustrating that’s what it is.”

It means all of her e-mail contact information went away, but it also resulted in Cox getting the other woman’s bill.

“Your bank, your doctor, everybody you know that had your email address for 13 years,” said Cox. “All gone.”

Keep in mind, Kathleen Cox the Florida edition is a current customer. No matter, new customer means — yoink! — there goes the email address you’ve been using for a decade. But, hey, mistakes happen, especially when you’re a Comcast customer, so let’s give our friends there a chance. I’m sure the company was johnny-on-the-spot in helping get this resolved, right?

The problem apparently wasn’t fixed until the news station got involved. “Everyone says ‘within 24-72 hours,’ and nothing happens,” Cox told First Coast News. Cox said she spoke to 18 Comcast agents who promised to fix the problem. It took “more than a month” to finally get it solved, according to the report.

It’s starting to look like the only way to get a customer service issue successfully resolved with Comcast at this point is to involve someone in the media. For Florida Cox to be promised a resolution in a few days and have it take a month, all the while she’s missing out on emails sent to her in a time when email is perhaps the primary method for communication throughout the day, has to be immensely frustrating. I imagine the folks at Comcast, who have in the past been willing to do a mea culpa, must have their tails between their legs.

“We have apologized to Ms. Cox for the inconvenience and frustration this has caused her. Our customer care has worked with her to resolve the issue,” Comcast told the station.

Just another win for customer service, I guess. In the meantime, all the Joe Smiths out there probably want to go with a different email service.

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Companies: comcast

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Comments on “Post Merger-Failure, Comcast Still Dedicated To Treating Customers Like Shit”

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45 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You may want to try and understand the intent….
If it had said “Kathleen Cox”, you wouldn’t know if it was the lady I Florida, or the lady in Michigan. By saying Florida Cox, the person mentioned is pretty obvious. Or perhaps you would have preferred “The Cox living in Florida…”

RadioactiveSmurf (profile) says:

What I can’t figure out is where the problem really is. Are the agents on the phone lying to her or do they think they are resolving the issue but the documentation they are given is so poor that no one is doing the right thing? Is it that their systems are so poorly constructed that even simple requests are not complted? Is it that the teams above the phone support agents are terrible?

Maybe though it’s all of the above.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The agents on the phone are incentivized to get the customer off the phone as soon as possible. That is in the phone agent’s best interest. Where this eventually leads to is that agents will tell a customer anything they want to hear to get them off the phone. Especially when confronted with a problem so big that they cannot easily fix it, a problem that is a can of worms, a problem that might involve any kind of followup, etc.

Why could Comcast pick this kind of incentive for customer service? Because they want to have bad customer service.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I honestly don’t think they want to have bad customer service. They just want to minimize their costs more than anything else, and they know that their customers can’t go anywhere. Bad customer service doesn’t cost them business, so they figure it’s zero-cost savings.

In other words, “We don’t care. We don’t have to.”

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Every time I sign up with a new ISP they assign me an email address. I just ignore it. I have wondered (but not enough to care or check on it) if that email is used for some kind of ‘official’ communication. If the new ISP asks for an email address, I lie, well mumble really. That hasn’t been a problem as yet, they still bill me, and I still pay them. I suppose I could give them an email address, but that would not stop them from send their bills as snail-mail.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I do have my mailreader poll my ISP-assigned mail account just in case there’s some sort of notice from my ISP. I just don’t give that email address out for people to use — everyone gets my real email address, not the “internal use only” ISP one.

However, I have never seen even a single piece of email come through, so it seems that even the minimal level of effort I put into it is unnecessary and that email account can be completely ignored.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Most likely...

Its happened twice, and while the technical folks have said this isn’t supposed to happen (and the customer was told its impossible), Comcast has implied there currently exists no technical limitation preventing this from happening. This is implied by the statement from Comcast that they might be able to implement a technical measure to prevent this from happening, quoted in the Ars Technica article.

So for something thats not supposed to happen, its gonna keep happening, cause there is nothing to prevent it from happening.

Given the fact that any free email host has a ‘technical measure’ to prevent this very action, I wonder if Comcast’s lack could be considered negligence?

malund66 (profile) says:

What I don’t understand is why anyone in the world would use their ISP to provide their email. I know many don’t have a choice of ISP’s, but using an ISP for any more than providing plumbing just seems like a bad idea. In the last two years I’ve bounced from FIOS to Comcast and back to FIOS, and that freedom to move would be impossible if my email were tethered to my ISP.

steell (profile) says:

Comcast

E-mail? How about when Comcast takes your phone number, and it’s associated voice mail, and gives it to someone else?
And then stonewalls by continuously claiming it’s impossible for that to happen, for four days? And then tells me I can get my phone number back if the new subscriber is willing to let it go? And teh new subscriber, being an absolute low life, offers to let it go for the miserly sum of $500.

Comcast sucks, in so very many ways.

Robert P (profile) says:

Comcast support has been good to me

I hate to buck the trend, but I’ve had a number of good experiences with Comcast support. I live a bit out in the country. Whenever I’ve had to have someone come to my house, it’s always been within a day (or same day). I attribute this to not having a large customer base, which means higher availability. I also have a comcast “store” nearby and those people are all local and very friendly.

My most recent experience was a couple days ago. I recently upgraded my Tivo. After using the Tivo for a few days, I noticed I was missing some channels that another Tivo in the house was getting. I called Comcast. The guy I talked to didn’t fix the problem, but he did notice that I had some old codes on my account. He fixed the codes, which upgraded my service from 25Mb to 50Mb and reduce my bill by about $20. He then dispatched someone to come take a look.

When the guy came onsite, it wasn’t a physical problem, but he stuck around working through his various internal support channels until someone found a mismatch on the hostid of my Tivo to what was on the account. Once that was fixed, everything worked.

So, there are some problems with the above. Why was a manual review required to find old/outdated codes, why couldn’t the first guy fix the hostid problem, etc. My point is, everyone I worked with was professional and seemed to be to be honestly trying to both solve my problem and make things better for me.

Not discounting the tremendous number of horror stories out there and I’m also still pissed at Comcast for capping my data but I wanted to point out that it’s not all bad with them. There are people who work there who honesty try to do what they can for the customer.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Comcast support has been good to me

Yes, nothing is 100% bad or 100% good. The problem with Comcast is not so much the actual support personnel as it is corporate policies. If, as it sounds like in your situation, the field techs are not overworked and care about helping customers, they can take the time and effort needed to work around the corporate policies.

Charles Hogan (profile) says:

At&T did the exact same thing to me. when I moved

I had to move to a new location that was only one block from my original service. I Had been told that they would have no problem migrating my email to the new location. But… after the Change I no longer had full access to the account. I was told that The Address was given to a user in Florida and couldn’t be returned to my control. I knew because I was getting their e-mail. Got the run-a-round for a day so I decided to leverage the issue. Told them that If the e-mail address was not returned to me in 24 hours I would signup their Florida address to every Internet RSS Porn feed on the net, then report their Florida mail server. They then got a supervisor and the issue was resolved in just under 30 minutes LOL

Comcast Customer says:

This happened to me

Comcast did the same thing to me about a year ago. I suddenly couldn’t get into my email account, and they assigned our whole account to some email address I had given my daughter years ago. Meanwhile, they gave somebody else the email address I had since the mid 1990’S! When I finally got it escalated to the right level of security, they wouldn’t do anything until the “new” person with my address agreed. (Nobody asked me before taking my address away). That new person had access to my account and all my emails, files, etc. from the last several years and I could only get back what he didn’t delete. I see they haven’t bothered to fix this issue.

Unanimous Cow Herd says:

I have a similar problem.. need advice.

Looking for advice here.

I have a gmail address that I got when it was still invitation only. I used it for years until one day I started getting odd emails for a person with a similar name. I looked at the email headers and, lo-and-behold!, it wasn’t directed to me at all. My email is (changed for privacy purposes) x.x.name@gmail.com, the other person’s is xxname@gmail.com. Gmail doesn’t know the difference between x.x.name and xxname.

https://support.google.com/mail/answer/10313?hl=en

So, I’ve gotten emails from colleges with applications attached containing personal information, including SSN. I’ve gotten emails from a ROTC group talking about their training, I’ve gotten emails from people gossiping about other people I don’t even know including some pretty embarrassing details, and most recently, redbox receipts.
The Redbox issue is most disconcerting since I also use my gmail for Redbox. Now, when this other person rents a Redbox movie, I get notifications for it. If that is the case, is this other person getting my email?

To me, this seems like a total security/privacy breach and I feel somewhat vulnerable. Is there a recourse I can take that does not involve just shutting down or discontinuing use of my gmail account? I’ve contacted the intended receivers on occasion via email and phone since I had their phone numbers from the information in the emails. They were dismayed as I was and have had no luck getting anything in the way of a way to contact google to address this.

How is it that a company as big and full of talented people as Google cannot address a privacy issue related to dots in an email address?

Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

(Odd that this piece came out today. I reactivated a Verizon phone yesterday for my wife to go on a trip and it gave me someone else’s ACTIVE number. When I tried to log in to the Verizon mobile website, I was shocked to find that my number had a bill due for $135. I tried to get through to Verizon and explain this to no avail. Only after the account holder’s husband tried to call his wife and got me, did we start to get the mess sorted out. Conference calls with multiple Verizon agents and three hours later, I had a new number and but had to say goodbye to $7 in credit on my prepaid account. So, Comcast is not the only party guilty of this kind of garbage.)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: I have a similar problem.. need advice.

Is the person’s email actually being misdirected, or did that person make a mistake leave dots out of their email address?

This is not necessarily a gmail fault. For example, if the person is incorrectly spoofing the “from” header in the emails they send, it would lead to the effect you’re describing, but gmail itself has nothing to do with it and is operating properly.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: I have a similar problem.. need advice.

Somebody signed up with G-mail and actually got an address with a period in it? G-Mail does have protections against that (unlike, it seems, Comcast). They expressly ignore periods in addresses, even says so when trying to sign up.

Just as a test I tried to sign up for my account with a period in it and it said someone already had that account. I know no one else has that account as I use that address myself. The period in a G-mail address is a long known trick to help sort e-mails.

I’m not saying that the problem is impossible, I know far too much about technology to think that any failure is impossible. I am saying that it sucks you have this problem. Google is notoriously hard to get any support from when there is a problem (let alone one that most people would think is impossible).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I have a similar problem.. need advice.

GMail does a few funky things with addresses. For one thing it ignores periods. It also ignores everything after a ‘+’.

So if you have first.last@gmail.com, you also have firstlast@gmail.com
f.irstlast@gmail.com first.last+comcast.sux@gmail.com and so on.

So what is happening is that someone got an email address similar to yours and is giving it out to a bunch of people who are mis-typing it. It’s no different than someone accidentally giving out your email address. It’s not a security issue for you, just annoying. It is a security issue for the other person who keeps giving out the wrong email address, but that’s not your problem or Googles.

I get all sorts of emails from a .uk domain because I have the same domain with the .uk left off. People are lazy and give out their email addresses without the final .uk. It works fine for other people in the uk, but I get their mail if someone from outside the uk sends it, or if someone inside the uk ends the email address with a ‘.’

It’s exactly the same as a wrong number.

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: I have a similar problem.. need advice.

Gmail treats myname@gmail and my.name@gmail, m.yname@gmail and any combination of dots in there all as the same address.

This is often leveraged to sign up multiple times for things because it allows you to get all the confirmation emails in the same inbox.

Last time I checked (not recent) you could no longer sign up for an address with the dots in it.

I suspect their system didn’t equate your vintage email with the dots, to the current best practice version without them.

Good luck getting through to Google for any type of CS issue.

I would try to get the other person to sign up for a different account as you are getting his emails but he isn’t getting yours.

RadioactiveSmurf (profile) says:

I agree that the email is similar but must be different. I have my name as my email account (got it in 2004) and I get email from people with similar email addresses but have one letter different. I have received mortgage information (unsecured PDF with ssn, income, approval amount etc) flirtatious emails from women in another city and so much more. It’s annoying but it’s not google’s fault. It’s lousy people who can’t properly share their email address with others.

streetlight (profile) says:

How's that new guy doing?

How is that guy that was appointed to improve/fix customer service at Comcast? He’s been in office for several months and things haven’t changed. I’m getting the idea that his appointment was just some kind of PR stunt that’s not working.

Some posters here suggest not getting an ISP email address. With Comcast you need an email address to sign in to your account which has some features you may need. In places with Internet broadband caps you can look at your current monthly data use as well as find out some other useful information. One other useful feature is the ability to stream HBO Go, Turner Classic Movies, and other networks if they are part of your cable TV package. You don’t have to use it for email if you don’t want to and use gmail, yahoo mail or other services. That option is very useful if you might move resulting in an ISP change.

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