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Businesses The Internet

Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer 401

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-comcastic dept.
RevWaldo writes: The Verge and other sources report on how AOL's Ryan Block ultimately succeeded in cancelling his Comcast account over the phone, but not before the customer service representative pressed him for eight solid minutes (audio) to explain his reasoning for leaving "the number one provider of TV and internet service in the country" in a manner that would cause a character in Glengarry Glen Ross to blush. Comcast has now issued an apology.
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Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:28PM (#47459963)

    That's probably what they meant...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      yeah, and claiming that isn't how they train their representatives doesn't make sense either, as i've gone through that exact same conversion with comcast multiple times as i moved around the country in and out of their territory.

      comcast is evil... the call center representatives are ignorant megalomaniacs.

      the internet is not worth dealing with them.

      • by sd4f (1891894) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @08:47PM (#47463297)

        I'm not sure if it's identical around the world, but certainly here in Australia, many of these customer service people have their performance measured by how many people they convince to stay or attract. So while they might not be trained to be aggressive or like dogs with a bone (i.e. just don't let go), and companies like comcast can ignorantly claim what they did, for every worker, the reality is there's that KPI looking over their shoulder and they'll go to those lengths themselves to either not get sacked or make bonus.

        A worse thing that happens in Australia, and it particularly happens with insurance companies is that they usually hit renewing customers with higher fees. It sometimes gets referred to as the 'lazy tax' where most customers will just habitually accept and pay it, whereas if they shopped around, and called back, they would usually get a fair chunk knocked off their bill for literally no reason except that the company wants the customer to stay. They know that in doing it this way, they make more money because a big enough proportion of people don't question the bill, and those that do, it's better to get them to pay less than not at all. I know that your ISP's and cable companies are notrious for treating their customers like shit (south park covered it well).

    • by JMJimmy (2036122) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @03:40PM (#47460913)

      Pretty much.

      Here's the actual link to the apology instead of a random blog. http://corporate.comcast.com/c... [comcast.com]

      • by bangular (736791) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:11AM (#47464055)
        Comcast makes it seem like this was a rogue employee. He's not. In fact, I don't even blame him for what he did. His directions most likely came from the top. "Don't let a customer go for any reason." Then, when he follows those directions, they play dumb and claim "we would never have a service rep do this."

        From the sound of the call, it sounds like he was following his training to the "t." He kept his cool. Kept reminding the customer of their market standing as #1. Suggested he could give them a better price. Never took no for an answer.

        Besides training people to do this, most of the time they economically incentivise this behavior as well. I doubt he's paid much over minimum wage and any pay that would bring him to a living wage is tied to bonuses for not losing customers. If he loses enough customers I'm sure he'll lose his job.

        Bottom line, he's trained and paid to do this from some corporate drones with pay scales far outside of his. What we really need to do is call out the corporate drones that make their reps play hardball to keep their jobs.
  • by liquidpele (663430) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:29PM (#47459975) Journal
    Obligatory: http://www.funnyordie.com/vide... [funnyordie.com]
  • by fang0654 (1805224) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:29PM (#47459979)
    What is this, backwards day?
  • Probably something like "as you wait for confirmation that the service has been terminated, continue your attempts to save the customer". With no consideration given to the fact that it takes 8 fucking minutes.
    • by internerdj (1319281) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:39PM (#47460097)
      Someone astutely put it somewhere else that a cancelation is probably a "failed customer problem resolution" and negatively impacts a performance review or bonus consideration.
  • How much do guys in Glengarry Glen Ross blush?

    • by Russ1642 (1087959)

      See the movie. It's pretty good and is a perfect portrayal of slimy salesmen.

    • by RevWaldo (1186281)
      FYI my original post said "blanch", which is the exact opposite of "blush". Not complain', I'm just sayin'.

      But check out the film. Think Twelve Angry Men but about real estate sales instead of juries.

      .
  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:37PM (#47460067)

    where else can you get hundreds of channels of TV i hate and crappy internet for one low price of $200 a month?
    what else would i do if i didn't have 400 channels of TV? how else would i watch commercials?

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      where else can you get hundreds of channels of TV i hate and crappy internet for one low price of $200 a month?
      what else would i do if i didn't have 400 channels of TV? how else would i watch commercials?

      We changed comcast TV to the lowest package that you can get - just the local stations, and if we want something else we watch Netflix. Even with just the local stations there is still too much crap on TV.

      However if we could have gone a la carte for less price than a package, then we would have carved out the crap. Of course that will never happen.

      • where else can you get hundreds of channels of TV i hate and crappy internet for one low price of $200 a month?
        what else would i do if i didn't have 400 channels of TV? how else would i watch commercials?

        We changed comcast TV to the lowest package that you can get - just the local stations, and if we want something else we watch Netflix.

        You're not really paying a cable company to provide you with content you could get for free OTA, are you?

        I've thought about signing back up for cable so I can watch Animal Planet (big fans of Caesar and Jackson in my household), but they won't let me de-couple the $30-50 fee for "local broadcast channels."

        So fuck 'em.

    • by tompaulco (629533) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @04:31PM (#47461503) Homepage Journal

      where else can you get hundreds of channels of TV i hate and crappy internet for one low price of $200 a month?

      $200 a month? That is a heck of a deal. I've got the $99 Cox Bundle and that costs about $250 a month.

  • by briancox2 (2417470) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:38PM (#47460079) Homepage Journal
    Comcast simply will not accept being second place in the competition for the worst company in existence.
  • don't understand why this is not more widely understood.
  • Very typical of them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:42PM (#47460127)

    They've done this to me. They interurpt you, they refuse to let you speak until you scream. They just keep talking. They make excuses, they contradict themselves. They are just unbelievable.

    This recording is a great example of how Comcast representives are trained to talk you. Obviously, a monopolist can just abuse you and treat you any way they want.

  • I listened to this earlier today. I had to stop listening after about a minute because just listening to it made me angry enough to want to break things and kill people (not exaggerating).

    Had I been the caller, I'd have been frothing at the mouth at this jackass. Or I'd have hung up before I threw the phone, and called back to talk to someone else.

  • Exactly like the slimeball "sales manager" at a car dealership who tries to sell you the extended warranty and other overpriced crap after you've agreed to a price. He demands that you justify your refusal, because he knows that if he can get you on the defensive, he can bully you into submission.

    I once tore up a negotiated deal in front of one of those. That wouldn't work in this case, because this customer was already cancelling service, but it might be fun to say "Why I'm cancelling is none of your damne

    • by Dins (2538550)

      ... it might be fun to say "Why I'm cancelling is none of your damned business."

      He did actually say that. Repeatedly. If you haven't listened to the audio give it a try. Bet you can't make it through the whole 8 minutes. I got pissed off beyond belief after about 2.

    • it might be fun to say "Why I'm cancelling is none of your damned business. I will pay no more bills. Remember when your robot told me this call would be recorded?"

      That's way too polite. I've once told a Comcast rep something to the effect of the following:

      Me: "the answer to your question is 'because I said so'. I am not obligated to give a reason; however, you ARE obligated to accept my response and do what I'm telling you to do. Now, do what I asked you to do and DO NOT ask me the question or any similar

  • by SeNtM (965176)
    ...and a free month of service. Just call to cancel if you don't wish to continue.
  • It's very simple: (Score:4, Informative)

    by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:54PM (#47460249) Journal
    You don't have to 'explain' a goddamn thing to them or anyone else, and you damn well TELL them that. You are paying them, not the other way around, and if you want to cancel your service with them or anyone else for that matter, it's not their place to badger you or bully you. Being asked, once, politely, why you're unhappy enough to cancel is one thing, but if you don't wish to explain why then they MUST accept that. Arguing, bullying, badgering, or any other hard-sell tactics, is just plain bullshit. Anyone gives you that kind of guff? You tell them you want to speak to their supervisor, RIGHT NOW, and YOU don't take 'no' for an answer, either. Their supervisor is being a hardass about it, too? Go over their head. And so on. The only way you get shithead companies like Comcast to knock it off is to not sit back and take shit from them.
  • Just move (Score:5, Informative)

    by BigT (70780) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @02:55PM (#47460255)

    I had little or no problem cancelling Comcast recently when I moved. I used the phrase "moving out of the Comcast service area" when they asked why I was cancelling, and they put it right through. Had a little more trouble returning their boxes, however.

  • by Aaron H (2820425)
    Does anyone else remember the AOL Cancellation video from years ago? I just now noticed that it was an AOL person trying to cancel their account. COMEUPPANCE.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @03:00PM (#47460307) Homepage

    We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize. The way in which our representative communicated with him is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action. While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.

    If you read this carefully, they aren't sorry for the content, merely the delivery.

  • Companies don't want to hear this, but that's just the way it is. People are lazy. They don't go around and call you to fake-cancel their accounts hoping to get a better rate. The few that do are well known and blacklisted. So when a long time customer calls you and cancels, you might want to test the waters and ask for a reason, maybe he got a better deal that you can still beat (though if you did that with me, my reaction would be to cancel on principle because you ripped me off all the time, if you can l

    • (though if you did that with me, my reaction would be to cancel on principle because you ripped me off all the time, if you can lower your rate now, why couldn't you before? And I certainly have zero reason to continue business with a company that very obviously has no problem with ripping me off)

      Presumably, if you're paying a particular rate in exchange for service, that's because you believe that the service has at least that much value to you. As long as that's the case, then the company providing the service isn't "ripping you off."

      As a customer, there's going to be some upper limit to how much you're willing to pay for a service. For the company, there's some lower limit to the price that they can afford to offer. Obviously every customer would like the price to be set at that lower limit --

    • They don't go around and call you to fake-cancel their accounts hoping to get a better rate. The few that do are well known and blacklisted.

      I looked around for a bit, and couldn't find a source for this. Mind providing one?

  • Comcast can burn in hell. I really really hope the merger with TWC is blocked.

  • Imagine Customer Service as the Early Space Program.

    You have Astronauts and you have Monkeys.

    Astronauts have problem solving skills that can ultimately sink or swim a mission. They hear orders from mission control but can offer suggestions or even take direct action based on spacecraft feedback if necessary for overall success. They're the guys you send to the moon and back to get moon rocks.

    Monkeys see a red light on a console initiated from mission control, which corresponds with pressing a red button on

  • by thevirtualcat (1071504) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @03:14PM (#47460505)

    Me: "Hi, I need to cancel my service."
    Rep: "Oh? [insert marketing speak that boils down to 'Why do you want to cancel our awesome service?']"
    Me: "I'm moving out of your service area and I'm already set up in my new place."
    Rep: "Oh. Okay then."

    Doesn't matter if it's true or not. There's not really much they can say to that. They might fish for details about where you've moved to. Just don't be stupid enough to bite.

    • by ledow (319597)

      You shouldn't have to lie to cancel service.

      Why do you want to cancel?
      Because I fucking do.

      But why?
      Because you shits don't get that when a customer wants to cancel, you cancel.

      But why?
      This is your official notice that I've cancelled. I've recorded it. Send me a bill for anything past and I'll take you to court.
      Goodbye.

  • Gather all the equipment up.
    Go the local service office at the busiest time of the day.
    Wait in line.
    Turn all the equipment in and cancel on the spot.

    The is no "customer retention service" there.

  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @03:19PM (#47460577)
    In the last 15 years, AOL has been pulling the same thing [youtube.com] on customers wanting to cancel their services. Hurts to wear the shoe on the other foot, eh?
  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @03:19PM (#47460579)
    I cancelled XM a while back and the rep kept trying to get me to stay with various free offers. He kept asking "Don't you want free service for 2 months?" and English was clearly his 5th language because he failed to understand NO. I finally got him to cancel by asking for a supervisor since she couldn't seem to do a simple cancellation. I must have caught him when he was on the edge of losing a bonus. Had he simply said "Hey. Help me out. If you cancel I lose a bonus. How about hanging up and calling back" I would have don that. Wouldn't with Comcast because it takes 20 minutes and multiple phone trees to get to human.
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @03:21PM (#47460607) Homepage
    If you don't feel like saying "I am moving out of your service area." there are two other ways to other ways to handle it.

    1) "Because every time I call you guys, you try to get me to change. You give me a run around and refuse to provide the service requested.

    2) "Because whenever I turn on the TV, it tells me to carve up people that don't do what I tell them to do. So my psychiatrist told me to stop watching television."

  • I recently moved out of Comcast's service area and am in the process of trying to have improper charges removed. Fortunately I live within a reasonable drive of their SA, where there is a physical office. Thus, I was able to employ the tactic of actually meeting a rep face-to-face. Like I said, I'm still in process though. She said I'd get a check. Both of us were very polite, because of being in person. She even did as I asked and printed a screen capture of her terminal, gave me her name so I would

  • My experience with Comcast as an ISP is that the service itself is actually pretty good, if a tad expensive. I have a high-speed, low latency connection with native IPv6. However, I cringe whenever I have to contact their customer service for any reason. Their policies seem designed to make any customer interaction as painful as possible, and I have never had a positive experience when I have had to call them. This recording does not surprise me at all, as the representatives that cancel service probabl
  • Not 8 minutes (Score:5, Informative)

    by jcochran (309950) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @03:34PM (#47460827)

    This same article was recently posted on Techdirt. The call wasn't 8 minutes. The RECORDING was 8 minutes. There was 10 minutes of call prior to the recording even starting.

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @04:10PM (#47461255)

    This is nothing new or unique to Comcast. Anytime you try to cancel service with anybody these days you get the hard sales pitch. No one wants to take "no" for an answer anymore. Customer service departments are really sales departments. Notice that you can never unsubscribe to anything online, you have to call a person.

    Cancelled DirecTV and it sounded like the other guy was ready to cry because I was leaving. Asking what he could do to keep me around (well given that I was down to two shows I watched, he could have dropped the price to $10/month).

    Cancelled the local newspaper and they gave me the hard sell too. Finally insisting they gave in and kept the deliveries until the current payment period ran out. Except that it didn't quite work, they didn't quite realize I had unsubscribed. When the payment period ended they left voice mail saying that my credit card was not validated and could I call them back to give them a good number, then a got the mail bill saying "First Notice" that I hadn't paid. Unlike their customer support website, the bill actuall had an email address so I sent an angry letter (I sort of regret it) and promptly had things cleared up.

    And again, this is not new, it's been around for a long time. I cancelled ebay once, after a single purchase, and was told that cancelling my account would also mean me losing my buyer rating... A lot of online sites hide their unsubscribe information. Push a couple buttons on the remote and I can add HBO to my service for a month, but I have to phone up in person to get it cancelled again.

  • by failedlogic (627314) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @05:32PM (#47462033)

    Don't tell them you're transferring to a competitor. That gives them all the excuses to 'save' your account.

    My father was canceling his cable Internet service and reconnecting with another provider. I knew about all these tricks they use to retain customers. He had tried calling before and was put on hold, transferred, then spoke to someone for a few minutes and was again put on hold. He ended up hanging up the phone in frustration.

    My solution to him was provide a different reason to cancel.

    Told my father a better excuse. The next call lasted less than 1 minute. No transfers, no retention reps. A CSR cancelled the service. The reason: carpal tunnel syndrome. As soon as he said he can't use the keyboard/mouse anymore they immediately cancelled no other reason needed.

    Hope this helps others! :)

  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @09:05AM (#47466267) Homepage

    What we really need is a corporate breakup service as part of a credit/debit card. They can send a nice letter like

    Dear Comcast, We are sorry to inform you that John Smith wants to end his relationship with you. He feels that you're growing in different directions and the chemistry isn't the same. In short, he's just not that into you.. He wants to see other cable providers.

    Then to avoid any boiling rabbits and such, they should refuse all further charges from them to their ex-customer's card. As a premium service, they should also file a restraining order keeping the ex's marketing department at least 500 feet away at all times.

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