Failures

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
customer service

Companies:
comcast



Yet Another Horrible Comcast Customer Service Experience Goes Viral

from the time-to-trot-out-that-new-customer-service-vp-again dept

Comcast's customer service troubles are well documented, with bad customer service experiences going viral every few months, requiring Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to trot out of his corner office to promise to do better. Just a few months ago, Comcast also excitedly hired a new "Senior VP of Customer Experience," named Neil Smit Charlie Herrin. I hope Herrin wasn't taking an extended vacation for the holidays, because just in time for New Year's, yet another horrific customer experience situation has gone viral via Reddit. The whole thing is nicely explained in this 11-and-a-half-minute video in which the guy in question not only records the recent call with Comcast, but also plays back clips from his August calls detailing the promises that were made that Comcast will no longer abide by:
If you don't feel like watching the video -- the short version is that in August, when the guy threatened to take his broadband business elsewhere, a Comcast representative promised him a no contract deal for 100 Mbps down/25 Mbps up for $53.85 after all taxes and fees. Yet, each month his bills keep getting higher and higher, and further and further away from $53.85. Here's one example:
The customer service person from this week tells him that the promotional rate he was given (which, again, wasn't actually followed) was only for three months, even though he has a recording in which the rep in August clearly says it's a 12-month rate after taxes. In fact, the earlier rep "guarantees that your price won't change for 12 months" and that it's "$53.85 which is really good because that's after taxes and everything." ALL of that is on the recording he has.

As the guy notes, even though he had the earlier call recorded, a Comcast customer "shouldn't have to record every interaction" with Comcast customer service just to get the company to live up to its own promises.

But, of course, it doesn't matter. The customer service rep this week insists that what the original person told him was simply incorrect, and she no longer has access to that kind of promotion. Towards the end of the call, however, she offers him a different promotion for 12 months (this is a little unclear, because at one point she says until October), and he points out that this new rep is making the exact same kind of promise -- of a certain price for 12 months -- which is pretty ridiculous since he knows he can't trust it.

As the story started getting more and more attention, someone from "Comcast Executive Customer Relations" called the guy, but refused to consent to being recorded -- so the customer refused to continue with the call. That person eventually emailed him, and appears to offer to extend the original deal for another 9 months, but it's still not entirely clear -- and no matter what, it's ridiculous that any customer should need to go through this sort of process.

I'm sure that should this story go even more viral, Brian Roberts and Charlie Herrin will emerge from wherever they're hiding to act contrite and insist that this sort of thing is unacceptable, but that's clearly not true. And, no, it's not -- as Roberts likes to insist -- because the company is so large and has so many customers. These sorts of failings happen so regularly that it is clearly part of the corporate culture to lie and abuse customers. This is just the latest example, which looks especially bad given the fact that both calls were recorded.

Update: We, originally, accidentally said that Smit was the new hire for customer experience, but it was actually Charlie Herrin. Smit is Herrin's boss.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    S. T. Stone (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 6:42am

    This is your future, ladies and gentlemen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      SolidSonic, 23 Apr 2015 @ 4:52pm

      Re:

      No, this is the future Comcast customers are faced with. I live in a part of the country not under this heinous monopoly, thank heavens.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 6:44am

    "Senior VP of Customer Experience"

    Same SMIT, different day!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 6:46am

      This was my comment

      my computer hates me and won't stay logged-in to Techdirt. Ugh

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Michael Long (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 11:34am

      Re: "Senior VP of Customer Experience"

      And then there's...

      Comcast users in various parts of the country have already gotten (or may soon get) a lovely holiday present from their ISP—a seemingly inexplicable increase in the cable modem rental fee, from $8 to $10 per month.

      arstechnica.com/business/2014/12/comcast-just-upped-its-cable-modem-rental-fee-from-8-to-10-pe r-month/

      Apparently a 12-month "contract" is no such thing whatsoever.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Manabi (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 4:30pm

        Re: Re: "Senior VP of Customer Experience"

        It's actually more than just the modem rental fee, here's what they did to my bill (Internet and cable TV, no phone):

        * Modem rental fee went from $8 -> $10
        * Broadcast TV fee went from $1.50 -> $3.25
        * Additional digital adapters (required for every TV) went from $1.99 -> $2.99
        * Regional sports fee added of $1

        All told, since I have two extra adapters, my bill's gone up $6.75 a month in nothing but bogus fees. The digital adapter fees are really a kick in the face. Since Comcast encrypts the signal now, you have to have those to watch the cable TV you pay for on any set. The only provide one for free (a full cable box, which I have YET to get to work despite swapping it three times last year alone). For any additional TVs you get to pay nearly $36 a year to watch cable TV on them. This is complete and total bullshit.

        My hope is that they're becoming so unpopular that a couple of Attorneys General in various states will decide investigating Comcast to grandstand is more valuable than Comcast's campaign donations. They'd make a great target, the public would love any AG that took them to task!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        pixelpusher220 (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 5:35pm

        Re: Re: "Senior VP of Customer Experience"

        Hey, at least with Cable there IS a modem.

        Moved in July and FIOS tried to claim that their router is now both a router and a modem so that they can charge that juicy modem rental fee.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 6:53am

    Senior VP of Customer Experience

    Wasn't this a position that only came into being after the last six dozen major Comcrap fiascoes?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:00am

    Clearly episodes like this showcase a serious failure, and I have no doubt Comcast will do everything they can to fix the problem... by making sure to check if they're being recorded when someone calls in and hanging up if the answer is 'Yes'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      This is exactly what Sprint does now. Even though they tell you that they are recording you, they freak out if they find out that you are recording THEM, even though both parties have already agreed that the call will be recorded.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:55am

        Re: Re:

        Mmm, gotta love that corporate hypocrisy...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        andyroo, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:13am

        Re: Re:

        There is no law that can prevent you secretly recording a conversation if you believe there will be fraud committed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Where do you get this from? Believing that fraud is going to be committed doesn't magically make recording phone conversations legal at all. In fact, if you illegally record a conversation that clearly indicates fraud is happening, that recording will not be admissible as evidence and you can still be prosecuted for making it.

          That said, there are still a lot of states where it is totally legal for you to secretly record conversations that you are taking part in.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm pretty sure you can record a conversation and this is more a civil issue than a criminal one. It maybe the case (depending on state) that it can't be admissible in civil court in case you get sued or you sue (though, in the case of a criminal case, you the prosecutor will probably be able to admit it since they aren't the ones that did anything wrong). However, you can still record it, it just may not be admissible in a civil case. You can still blast it on Youtube and embarrass the company. That's legal. Sure they can 'prosecute' you civilly (sue you) but they are very unlikely to prevail. and, for the most part it's highly unlikely you will be prosecuted for recording a customer service call and it's unlikely anything like that is illegal. and, in most states, if there is anything indicating that your call maybe recorded that's an implicit agreement that you may also record the call (and it maybe also admissible as well).

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              sorry, not "you the prosecutor", "the prosecutor" *

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              and, besides, there is a simple solution to them refusing to be recorded. When they offer you a promotion tell them that the conversation is being recorded and absolutely refuse to take anything they offer unless they agree that you may record the conversation.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:05am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Yes, if you have their permission then everything is legal. I'm talking about recording the conversation without getting the permission of the party you're talking to.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "I'm pretty sure you can record a conversation and this is more a civil issue than a criminal one."

              Depends on what state you're in. Some states require the permission of one person in the conversation, some states require all persons.

              But if you're recording a call in a state where it is not allowed, that is a criminal offense (wiretapping), not a civil one. You can go to prison for it. It wasn't that long ago when someone did exactly this: recorded a call to catch the perpetrator of fraud and went to jail for doing so.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:09am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I think you're misunderstanding the wiretapping laws and how they are applied.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:10am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Here, read the wikipedia article

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_tapping

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:27am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I think you'll have to actually explain your point, because by my reading, that wikipedia article supports what I have been saying.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:39am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "Telephone tapping (also wire tapping or wiretapping in American English) is the monitoring of telephone and Internet conversations by a third party"

                      If you are the person talking to Comcast you are not a third party.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:54am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        That's right, when you're talking about federal law -- which is why it's not a violation of federal law to record a conversation you're taking part in. However, many states define wiretapping much more broadly than the feds do. If you record a conversation in one of those states without getting the consent of all parties in the conversation, you have violated that state's wiretapping laws.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          Sheogorath (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 8:54am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Not a problem. If they say "This call may be recorded for monitoring purposes" as they often do, that is a clear implication that you may record the call to monitor the quality of their service. Simples!

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 11:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Not in Illinois, thanks to that new wiretap law. You can be jaile dofr a long time up in Corruption State.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 11:24am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Illinois's wiretapping law (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5 / Criminal Code of 2012. Article 14, also called the Illinois eavesdropping law) was a "two-party consent" law. Illinois made it a crime to use an "eavesdropping device" to overhear or record a phone call or conversation without the consent of all parties to the conversation."

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_wiretapping_law

                I could be wrong (the wording here isn't that clear) but it seems like this law refers specifically to eavesdroppers (third parties that are 'overhearing') and not to the parties participating in the conversation. Eavesdropping is not typically something someone participating in the conversation is doing (though it says using an eavesdropping device. Perhaps something that allows a third party to listen to the conversation).

                Regardless

                "The law was ruled unconstitutional in 2014 by the Illinois Supreme Court. The law defined an "eavesdropping device" as "any device capable of being used to hear or record oral conversation or intercept, retain, or transcribe electronic communication whether such conversation or electronic communication is conducted in person, by telephone, or by any other means."[1]"

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Scote, 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:16pm

            Constitutional restrictions apply to the *government*

            "In fact, if you illegally record a conversation that clearly indicates fraud is happening, that recording will not be admissible as evidence and you can still be prosecuted for making it."

            The (waning) doctrine of prohibiting illegally gathered evidence is based on the 4th amendment and applies to *government* agents. A recording by a customer acting on their own, even if recorded in contravention of "two party consent" state wiretapping laws, can be used by the government in a criminal trial.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 2:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No need to do so secretly. Almost all these types of calls begin with "This call may be recorded..."

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 2:24am

        Re: Re:

        So don't tell them they're being recorded, inform them that you give your consent that the call may be recorded, so that the CSR won't get into trouble with eavesdropping laws.

        The line I use is "I live in a state where all parties to a phone call must consent to a phone call being recorded. Your automated phone system notified me that your company may be recording this call, and I'd hate to have you commit a felony, so I hereby state for the record that this call may be recorded."

        Under state law where I live (Washington state), stating that a call may be recorded is sufficient notice to make a recording legal -- anyone who stays on the line after that is consenting.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          David Muir (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 8:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I am not a lawyer but wouldn't all parties consent be achieved if you go past the "this call may be recorded for training and quality control purposes"... you've agreed and they've said they may be recording it. If you ALSO record it, shouldn't that be cool?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:19am

    I'm glad in my state recording of calls is legal without informing the other party provided one of the two members engaged is yourself.

    Meaning I don't have to tell Comcast I'm recording them as long as I'm talking on the phone, and it is legal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JohnG (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:28am

    But Net Neutrality will fix this!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JohnG (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:30am

      Re:

      (that was sarcasm btw, for all of you whose meters are broken)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:44am

      Re:

      Rather, net neutrality is a principle which (if adhered to) would help to mitigate a different problem which is caused by the same underlying issue as this problem.

      That underlying issue is, quite simply, lack of meaningful competition.

      Competition in the market doesn't solve all problems, but it's probably the simplest and least rickety potential solution to many of the problems in the US Internet-access market. Unfortunately, it's not at all clear how to get there from here, or even necessarily exactly what "there" would look like.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JohnG (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re:

        Precisely; in which case it would seem to make more sense for NN supporters to put their energies behind the removal of gov't monopoly support which would be more likely to kill two birds as opposed to fight for NN which will likely have unintended consequences.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:57am

    Suddenlink

    And when customer service managers finally get fired at Comcast, they get hired at Suddenlink!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    andyroo, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:11am

    Lawa laws laws

    In the case of customers of Comcast and others, the truth is that recording conversations is not legal unless you have advised them of this and then only when they acknowledge it is it legal.. But luckily the wider public does not care that it is against the big business lawmakers purchased in congress and they will record and use the open arena on the internet which completely levels the playing field.

    never advise any business you ar recording them, the should at all times be honest in their dealings with you and you have the right to protect yourself even if the law says you are not allowed to protect yourself.

    Why can i not record incoming calls or even outgoing calls on my mobile, on virtually any mobile?????

    At least the internet has levelled the playing field if you can get noticed, sadly there are thousands if not millions that just don't knwo how to get their complaints onto the front page of the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:15am

      Re: Lawa laws laws

      It's not quite that cut and dried actually.

      Different states have different laws regarding recording conversations like that. In some states, as long as one of the parties(you), knows that the call is being recorded, that's enough to make it legal. In others, both(you and them) might need to be informed that the call is being recorded for it to be legal.

      Not quite sure how that works if the two sides are in different states, with different laws, but I would assume at that point it defaults to the strictest law of the two, that being the 'both'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        musterion (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:23am

        Re: Re: Lawa laws laws

        As I mentioned above, I believe that federal law which governs interstate matters is single party--only one party (you) has to agree to being recorded.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:46am

      Re: Lawa laws laws

      Can't you just say something like "I am recording this. If you don't agree then hang up" ? You tell them what you are doing and give them a choice. If they end the call, redial and try again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:57am

        Re: Re: Lawa laws laws

        Yes, you absolutely can. That's exactly what companies are doing when you call them and they tell you "this call may be monitored...".

        Bewarned, though, that some states also require periodic reminders during the call that it is being recorded.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Yakko Warner (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:50am

      Re: Lawa laws laws

      In the case of customers of Comcast and others, the truth is that recording conversations is not legal unless you have advised them of this and then only when they acknowledge it is it legal..


      Typically, when you call, you get the recorded message "To ensure customer service, this call may be recorded or monitored." At which point, I say, "Thank you, I will." Could that be considered acknowledgement?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 10:59am

        Re: Re: Lawa laws laws

        Yes. I believe that simply continuing with the call after notification counts as consent and you don't actually have to verbally agree.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 31 Dec 2014 @ 3:42pm

        Re: Re: Lawa laws laws

        I like that. Take their statement, not as a notice they may record you, but as an invitation to record them!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          David Muir (profile), 2 Jan 2015 @ 8:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Lawa laws laws

          After all, the phrase they use is in the passive voice, as in "may be recorded" as opposed to "we may record". That grammatical construction leaves ambiguity as to who is performing the action.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:41am

    I wish I had the choice to take my broadband business elsewhere. If I threatened that, the Comcast would laugh at me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:54am

    Recording calls

    If it's not legal in your state, you can always call the NSA and request a copy of the recording.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 8:58am

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    connermac725 (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 9:07am

    Smit

    Smit happens especially at Craptastic I mean Comcast xfinity or whatever name they are this week

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:07pm

    I like how the Comcast customer who was lied to. Hung up the phone when someone from "Comcast Executive Customer Relations" refused to be recorded. I would have done the same thing. You simply cannot trust these people. Most of them are liars. Their words mean nothing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    a_lawyer, 31 Dec 2014 @ 1:09pm

    Every state wiretapping law is different.

    Most commonly, the laws bar SECRET recording, which is to say "recording of which one party is not aware." Such laws do not require CONSENT. They require KNOWLEDGE.

    This is why--for example--I am perfectly entitled to stuff a TV camera in your face and ask you about Obama. You may not want to be recorded, but you are well aware that you ARE being recorded.... so if you don't want to be captured on tape, you can opt not to speak.

    I occasionally record people against their will. the conversation goes pretty much like this:
    A) [recorder on] I am recording this conversation now, and am informing you of that fact.

    B) I do not want to be recorded. You do not have my consent to record me.

    A) OK, I understand your position and your objection is noted. As I was saying about that issue...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 12:02am

    Wait. Do they really say that large companies have poor customer service? And they want to get bigger! So, what they're saying is that they want to have even worse customer service and therefor don't care about their customers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lisa Connors, 10 Jul 2015 @ 9:04am

    Incompetant service agents

    While visiting my Mother a month ago, her internet went down, she said a check was mailed (I think she might have been late but not a month about 10 days according to the records)so her service was shut off (not even 30 days) and the recording said she owed 149.00 So she called them and found they hadn't rec'd the check so she continued to pay with a CC and told the agent (JOM????) to set it up for automatic monthly withdrawals (I sat right across from her and heard the entire conversation) Your staff neglected to set it up and now once again she is without internet. I'm not sure if Comcast ever rec'd her check?? if so that should have been applied to this month....It is outrageous how some of these companies operate sending their customers to individuals that can barely speak English or complete a job task....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.