July 24, 2014
Cutting Off Comcast
By now, I am sure that a lot of readers have heard about the PR nightmare that the popular Internet service provider Comcast is going through right now thanks to former Comcast customer, Ryan Block, and his posting of the last eight minutes of what should have been a simple customer service call to SoundCloud. If not, go ahead and give it a listen. I can wait.
So, dare I ask what went wrong here? Answer: a lot of things. Among them is the fact that, according to a top Comcast executive in a leaked memo, the customer service agent in that call did, in fact, “a lot of what we trained him and paid him” to do. Really? Really, Comcast? You trained him, and pay him, to harass customers? Now, yes, what they likely mean by that is that he was doing his job in trying to understand why Ryan Block and his wife, who was the one who initiated the call before Ryan overheard the earlier part of the conversation and stepped in, were opting to discontinue their use of Comcast in favor of a different provider, but what this shows us is that – if this is any indication of how Comcast trains its service representatives – while they might be good at teaching them what to do, they have a long way to go in teaching them how to do it. Even Comcast realizes this, as Tom Karinshak, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience for Comcast Cable, has been very quick to issue a public apology regarding the matter. Given the now viral nature of this infamous interaction, who can blame him?
Personally, this sort of thing does not surprise me anymore. It should, granted, and it is a sad thing that it does not, but I have experienced very similar things with cable and Internet providers before. Comcast is the largest cable/Internet provider in the nation. In many areas, they do not have any competition. I will not call this a “monopoly” as many people have, but it has resulted in many of the same problems. Increased rates, poor interaction with customers – as most prominently noted here – faulty service, and much, much more. They get away with this in a lot of areas because they have no competitor. No one else for their customers to go to. Here, Ryan Block had that opportunity and took it, leaving the Comcast representative with no idea how to handle that situation.
I applaud Ryan Block for keeping his cool in regards to having to deal with poor customer service. I know many, myself likely included, who would have not possessed the discipline needed to pull off such a social feat. Normally, I would also applaud the service representative’s determination, but here I really cannot. Yes, I admit to being biased on this. My own poor experience with a certain cable/Internet provider has left me pretty bitter about them overall, and in all truth, I am actually a bit happy to see that my own experiences with them are not the worst they have to offer. Ryan Block, sorry you and your wife had to be on the receiving end of that one.
For more on this public relations disaster for Comcast, as well as how this public relations disaster might affect Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable, check out redOrbit’s own Eric Hopton’s article on this affair.
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