Comcast issues apology after ‘worst customer service call of all time’ surfaces

DALLAS — Comcast never wants a customer to go — but says one of its representatives went too far trying to convince one account-holder to stay.

On Tuesday, the cable company apologized to Ryan Block and his wife, Veronica Belmont, after the couple’s attempts to cancel were stymied by a phone call with a customer service representative that Block called “straight up belligerent.” The incident garnered attention because Block and Belmont posted a partial recording of the conversation on the Internet.

In the eight-minute recording, the unnamed Comcast employee badgered Block with questions such as “Why is it that you’re not wanting to have the No. 1-rated Internet service, No. 1-rated television service available?”

In the employee’s defense, he explained one of the reasons for his questions: “If we don’t know why our customers are leaving, how are we supposed to make it a better experience for you next time?”

The recording went viral Tuesday morning, partly because the prominence of Block and Belmont. Block, a former editor of Engadget, works for AOL, and Belmont is a Web show host and writer.

In a statement, Comcast said it was “very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and Ms. Belmont.” The company said it was contacting them to “personally apologize.”

“The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives,” the statement said. “We are investigating this situation and will take quick action.”

Block responded on Twitter: “I hope the quick action you take is a thorough evaluation of your culture and policies, and not the termination of the rep.”

Of course, setting aside specific tactics like the pestering experienced by Block and Belmont, customer retention is a critical component of the cable and satellite business.

Comcast, DirecTV, Verizon and other companies work hard to keep “churn” — a term for customers coming and going — as low as possible.

This has been particularly important for cable-based companies such as Comcast, which have been losing television subscribers in recent years to satellite (DirecTV) and fiber-optic (Verizon).

Overall, TV subscriber totals have remained pretty consistent despite pressure from alternatives such as Netflix, but there’s been significant share-shifting from cable to newer forms of distribution.

Comcast recently impressed Wall Street by reversing the trend . For the past two quarters, it has actually gained small numbers of TV subscribers, after shedding them for years.

On its first quarter earnings call in April, after it gained 24,000 video subscribers, the company credited “improved products, improved customer support and better retention efforts.”

Separately, Comcast has been growing its base of broadband subscribers rapidly. It is the country’s largest cable company. It is awaiting government approval for its merger with Time Warner Cable, the country’s second-largest cable company.

Comcast’s statement on Tuesday said that within the company, it would use the recording made by Block to “reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.”

 

Trademark and Copyright 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


Filed in: News

15 comments

  • Chris D.

    My experience has been totally opposite. When I call to cancel there’s no bantering and one rep just said “ok” and cancelled while I was asking questions.

  • MoneyBags

    WHo cares…..they were spoken to in a bad way, get over yourselves….its life. Now I am sure they will be offered free service for life as an apology and the people will be all happy and stay with the company. Complain more and look what happens, you get rewarded for it. Joke of a world we live in!

  • sinner 3

    Yes !! Fiber Optics are the future !! Comcast posting phony numbers to keep the stock price stable !!

  • William

    Worst customer Service I’ve ever experienced, belligerent Customer Service Reps, The “we’ll be there within an hour of our agreed time” service guarantee that never happened. Extremely high prices, Junk fees…..and the list goes on an on…. This is exactly why I am a DISH subscriber, btw. I never did get the “speed guarantee” my service never made it within 80% of the advertised speed. and the T.V. signal was atrocious My advice is to cut the cable, just go Satellite and cut out the middleman. How do you think Comcast picks up it’s signal from different parts of the world…Satellite people, cut the cable…

  • Douglas

    I’m not surprised, I have worked for both TWC and Comcast. The amount of pressure that the Retention Department puts on them if they don’t meet a quota for saving customers is unreal. He was just trying to keep his job.

  • JWS

    TWC and Comcast has the worst customer service on the planet. Having to talk to three or four people to get someone to come out and fix your problem. They then come out and do not fix the problem. They play games with your internet speed by turning it down and then when you call they turn it back up for a few weeks. They tell you your problem is down the line and someone will call you back which never happens. We need more competition in this area and not less.

  • Erika

    I cancelled Comcast because of move. However, Comcast customer service is lacking and from my experience ethical practices are not being promoted or encouraged by company.

  • Jill

    This conversation is appalling, and I hope Comcast executives (though I highly doubt it) had the brains to fire this guy. Sounds to me like an ex-lawyer arguing – probably was and also had been disbarred, so this was his new job.

  • scott Nadeau

    I worked for Comcast and this apology is such a lie. Every call is recorded and you have several calls played back and recorded to you each month. They call this practice coaching so everyone is on same page . They do this to make sure everybody is selling on everycall and lefting them know about Comcast features (to justify the prices.

  • RWB.

    I was a Comcast customer for 15 years before dumping them. I couldn’t get a phone call back to cancel., and had to finally drive all my equipment to one of their locations to do so. This is definitely their culture! Several of my friends and associates across the country have had similar experiences. We now all refer to them as “The Evil Empire.”!!!

  • yahoo answers sign in

    I guess the simple way to cut through it all is to simply say you will be unable to pay any of their future bills therefore it is in the companies best interests to terminate the account. Of course if Comcast then wants to give you one full year of free cable, well, hard to beat free.

    Oh and never, ever, do a direct deposit with them. Nor credit cards. Write a check when the bill is due. Otherwise as soon as they got the money they will never give it back.

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