Comcast promises quick action against scapegoat




"We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and Ms. Belmont and are contacting them to personally apologize."

read as: we're embarrased this kind of thing has finally become public.

"The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives."

read as: it is unacceptable this CSR was unable to retian their business when our training guidelines clearly stipulate that customers are not to be released, no matter what. Clearly this CSR has strayed from the training guidelines.

"We are investigating this situation and will take quick action."

read as: By the end of today our remaining CSRs will be left with no confusion as to whether it is acceptable to release a customer. (Spoiler: It isn't.)

"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."

read as: The beatings will continue until morale improves.


While this rep probably crossed a line that even Comcast's own training guidelines ostensibly prohibit, his behavior does not exist in a vacuum.

There is probably a "leaderboard" somewhere in his cube farm where agents with the highest retention rates are named and their competition tracked.

At monthly meetings, the agent who has achieved the very highest retention rates is recognized, lauded, and rewarded.

Agents whose retention rate is too low are given extra-training, poor performance reviews, and are eventually shown the door if they don't get with the program.

No agent is ever censured for having too high a retention rate.

Now balance that against what the company says its policy is about the aggressiveness of retention representatives.

I'm not saying the guy didn't act like a jerk; he may (possibly) be predisposed to such behavior by his character. I don't know him personally, so I can't judge his character at all.

But Comcast's corporate culture created the monster we listened to in that recording.


When will people come together to put a stop to this kind of thing? We have all the power and could come together at any time to mass-cancel our subscriptions but even with the power of social media we can't even come together for something everyone agrees on. I've never met a person who didn't dislike Comcast.
What's really funny to me is that online comments often mention political revolutions an yet we as Americans can't even unfuck our internet bills. It just keeps getting worse.


I wrote a comment in the thread:

The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives.

Then answer me this question: do you or do you not assign your representatives a performance score based, at least in part, on how many customers they sign up, keep, or lose?

Do your reps or do they not face potential negative consequences when they fail to convince a customer to keep your service?

Do your reps get bonuses based on how many customers they sign up or keep? Do they stand to lose out on those bonuses if customers quit?

Do your reps face disciplinary action if too many customers quit? Can they get chewed out, written up, even fired?

I guess that's 6 questions. But really, there's only one issue at hand here: do you give your reps incentives, financial, disciplinary, or otherwise, to behave exactly as the rep on this call did?

Because it sure looks to me like you pressured this poor bastard to act in exactly this manner and now you're throwing him under the bus because someone famous recorded it.

We have all the power and could come together at any time to mass-cancel our subscriptions

Oh sure. Comcast subscribers can just switch to one of the many competing ISP's readily available to them. Or just go without Internet.


The reply needs to be something like:

"We instruct our representatives to try and determine the root cause of a departure, as we often find that these issues represent correctable concerns. We've clearly pushed this culture too far, and will be retraining staff in the future, and moving compensation away from, determining this information."

What do you think the chances are that we'd see this? Near 0% I'd wager.


I guess the lesson here is that to trigger real change, everyone who calls Comcast should record their call and upload the results to the internet. Only when they start firing everyone in some misguided effort to make it look like Comcast cares will they maybe realize the problem isn't individuals, it's the culture of the whole corporation.

It's bullshit that we live in a world where customers have to fight to be treated like humans, but considering Comcast isn't going to disappear and will in all likelyhood only get bigger and more pervasive I'm not sure what other option exists.


Let's be honest, this is not limited to Comcast. I've had similar interactions when dealing with DirecTV, Sprint, Chase, and Wells Fargo. (Actually, strike that last one. They didn't seem to give a fuck.) More than likely, the poor script readers have to be prompted as to which set of rentiers they are bullying for on a daily, or by-call basis.


You know, I was not happy about signing up for Comcast, but I need high speed internet to make my living, and my only other options mean getting a significantly slower and inconsistent network, cutting the Internet, or moving from my home in Seattle. Speaking of which, now that the season of Game of Thrones is done, I need to get on canceling the TV portion especially considering disconnecting the cable TV box to make the cable internet work again was the result of my last support conversation with them. It probably would not be too difficult to do a series of calls using social engineering to get Comcast agents to read their entire script, rebuttals, and any other relevant info as to what extent this "firing" may be a bold faced lie about who is misbehaving.


In a tangetially related note; I was watching some of the hilarious "Everything Wrong With ..." movie reviews on Youtube last night. Particularly amusing is having the 'Comcast' logo in a movie is considered a sin in its own right now smiley


I live in a top 20 city and there is literally no other option.

Comcast is a fucking utility.

All the landlords in town know that, as they pass out the info for Comcast along with the electric supplier.


If I were that CSR, I'd be so pissed at Comcast right now for throwing them under the bus for doing exactly what they were required to do for their job.


And do what? For those people who have an alternative, the alternatives may not be any better. I have AT&T for my internet, and their response to my attempts to get a persistent problem fixed was to give me no option but to change to (what will eventually be) a more expensive service. They said they would soon be discontinuing the current service, so I'd have to switch at some point anyways. I don't know if that's true, though, as it turns out they lied about both the speed and cost. I'd love to get rid of AT&T, but my alternative is... Comcast.


All I'm saying is this: one person alone can do nothing.

If you could get a high enough number of people to agree to cancel their service for even one day, it would scare the living hell out of the company. Their stock would drop even at the mention of such a day. You probably wouldn't even need to implement it and actually have people cancel for it to work. In fact, you couldn't because their call centers wouldn't even have the capacity to handle it.

I just think it's a shame that I have friends from all over the country that I talk to every day on Facebook. I've seen pictures of cats with more likes than Comcast has customers and half the people on the internet don't even like cats. EVERYBODY fucking hates comcast though.


This is an entirely accurate description of what's going on, except in one respect, the service rep probably worked for a third party contractor. A few years back I did customer service for Sprint, and that is how it was. We weren't even located in the US. This is not to let Comcast off the hook, because the whole point of that is let a specialized company handle the soul crushing quantification of intangible social pleasantries. And those damn metrics were virtually impossible for anyone to meet.


Nitpick: Picture is of a sacrificial lamb, not a scapegoat. A scapegoat is not killed, but sent off into the wilderness bearing a transferred burden of sin with it.

(An escapegoat is one that gets out on its own.)


I bet the fired guy finds a new job very quickly. He should go into commissioned sales where that attitude can make you very successful.


If you were that CSR, you'd likely already be pissed at them for an endless stream of indignities suffered since you started working there. Actually you'd be pissed at the subcontracted call centre you work for representing Comcast. So as far as re-evaluating, re-training, etc. goes, "Comcast" won't actually be doing shit.


Hey, what if Comcast fired one employee for every subscriber who cancels? Within a few months, weeds would be growing in the parking lot. The building would be like a ghost town. Then we can move in and do things right.