Is Comcast Starting To Care About Customers?

Category: Tech-News

OK, stop laughing; it’s a serious question. No, really! Comcast’s customer service is spectacularly, legendarily, archetypically horrible, virtually everyone agrees… even Comcast executives. But some recent steps by the company just might be moving them in a customer-friendly direction. Read on…

I'll Change This Time, Promise!

In the midst of Congressional testimony concerning Comcast’s proposed merger with Time-Warner Cable (which was ultimately denied by the FCC), Executive VP David Cohen admitted that top officials of the company “are deeply disappointed” in their customer service.

Comcast later said (optimistically, in my opinion), “it may take a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we’re known for." Let's take a look at some of the biggest customer service problems, and what Comcast is promising to do about them.

Some of the most highly-publicized Comcast customer service outrages involved changes of “difficult” customers’ billing names to things like “A**hole Brown” and “Super B***h.” Mr. Brown got his new name by trying to cancel the cable portion of his Comcast account; the lady got her insulting bill after a long fight over billing discrepancies. Other customers’ billing names have been changed to things like “Whore” and “Dummy.”
Comcast Customer Service Improving?

And yes, those profane and insulting names appeared on the next bill mailed to those customers. I'm sure being a customer service rep is a job that can be maddeningly frustrating at times, but it seems that Comcast tolerated a culture of abusive behavior. In the normal course of things, Comcast would have fired the reps who made the insulting changes, retrained the remainder, and that would be that until the next time it happened. But now, Comcast is taking steps to ensure that it can’t happen again.

Customer service software has been supplemented with a long list of blocked words that cannot be used in customer billing info fields. If a customer needs to make a legitimate name change that includes a blocked word, such as “Glass,” a manager can override the block.

Comcast is also taking more control of its customer service staffing, training, and supervision. The cable company terminated at least one underperforming call center contractor. It’s opened three new in-house call centers and is hiring 5,500 people to staff them.

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like...

Customers who no longer want to be customers have had to endure lengthy and often acrimonious inquisitions by “retention specialists” who follow ruthless scripts in their efforts to bully and browbeat defectors into staying with Comcast. Their income heavily depends on keeping customers, so they easily get downright nasty about it. Last year, tech journalist Ryan Block recorded an epic phone battle in which a desperate Comcast rep flatly refused to cancel his service.

Comcast is moving away from those scripts and the take-all-prisoners approach to customer retention. Tom Karinshak, Senior VP of Service, says that “at the end of the day if they leave us, then it has to be a world-class experience on that piece as well.”

Waiting for the cable guy is another sore point with customers, especially if he never shows up. Comcast now automatically credits a customer’s account with $20 if a technician is late for an appointment.

Unjustified modem rental fees also drive customers into frenzies. Comcast is infamous for losing records of rented modems returned to the company. The only way to convince Comcast that you had your very own modem was to produce a receipt for it. Now, Comcast says it’s waiving that requirement and will just trust its customers.

There’s really nowhere for Comcast’s customer service satisfaction ratings to go except up. The American Consumer Satisfaction Index’s latest annual report shows Comcast in dead-last place among major ISPs. Its ratings in three categories – Internet, TV, and phone service – plummeted to record lows over the previous year. Even Comcast’s customers in its headquarters town of Philadelphia have little good to say about the company.

Perhaps being named “the most hated company in America” so many times has finally awakened Comcast’s top management. Hey, I said stop laughing; anything can happen! How's the customer service from YOUR internet or cable provider? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Is Comcast Starting To Care About Customers?"

(See all 46 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Frank
12 Aug 2015

I have not had any serious problems with Comcast in Arizona. All my interactions with service reps have been very civil.
On the other hand I did have serious problems with Direct TV when I canceled the service. I had to talk with a total A-hole rep who tried to bully and browbeat me to keep the service. I will NEVER go back to Direct TV


Posted by:

Lou B.
12 Aug 2015

I have been a Comcast customer (South Jersey) for over 20 years, both at home as well as in my business, and basically have been very satisfied. There have been, minor hiccups, but all were resolved satisfactorily, and quickly.
In early July 2015, I received a solicitation call from Comcast. The package was very attractive, included phone and increased Internet speed. The phone service was “free”, and the net result was to be a reduction in my monthly bill. When I received my July bill, there was a charge for phone service and a couple of other additional charges, and the net result was a $20 increase.
I was prepared for a disaster…
I contacted Comcast and stated my case; they apologized, and began to go over my bill. They removed the phone service, which I didn’t need, discovered an overcharge on my statements, and refunded 5 months’ worth. Placed me back on my original plan and added 6 months free HBO. Received a follow-up call 2 days later, to be certain everything was satisfactory.


Posted by:

Bud
12 Aug 2015

I moved into an apartment building that offered only Comcast "services." Call CC 1 month before the move, requesting phone, cable and internet. They set up appointments for 3 different installers to come out, 1 for cable, 1 for phone and 1 for internet. My first appointment was for phone installation on a Sunday at 1PM. At about 12:50 got a call from CC advising me that they would not make the 1PM appointment. Reason? They didn't offer phone service at my new address! It's been all downhill with CC ever since.


Posted by:

Phil Sevetson
12 Aug 2015

Actually, I benefited from this about three weeks ago! The Comcast office to which I returned my company modem scanned the device as I handed it over to them, assured me that it was taken care of, and gave me no receipt :-( -- and, of course, since I didn't have the receipt, no evidence of my having turned the modem in appeared on my record.

I called a month later to ask whether it was something that was going to show up soon... the Comcast rep who took my call spoke for a couple of minutes with her supervisor, pulled the modem off of my equipment list and bill, and credited me with $20 (_two_ months' rental).

I had a good experience over all in dealing with them. So there has been noticeable change already.


Posted by:

Egbok
12 Aug 2015

I've been with Cox Communications ever since they first offered cable service in the outer San Diego suburbs. It came with free installation, that was about 40 years ago. Never had any complaints other than a few temporary outages. As far as Customer Service goes, I feel that the Techs go out of their way to be helpful.


Posted by:

HA
12 Aug 2015

Time Warner Cable is really nice.


Posted by:

Harold
12 Aug 2015

Ever tried to cancel an account with Verizon. It took 3 hours and 4 CSR's to be allowed to know my account number. It is NOT listed on the invoice nor on their website portal to your account. My new provider even tried to cancel for me, but could not do so w/o the "secret" account number. Two reps told me that I had "no need to know it." I actually had to lie to the last one (telling him that my credit card company could not continue to pay them w/o the number) ... suddenly they "found" it for me. Ten minutes later I became an ex-customer of those crooks.


Posted by:

Susan
13 Aug 2015

I have Comcast. I'm counting the days for Google fiber to be in my Kansas City suburb. I had a terrible experience with installation about a year ago. Comcast failed to mention their installation fee when I called to sign up for service. There was no mention of it on the paperwork. Just POOF...it appeared on my bill. And they wouldn't budge on it. Also, the tech gave me a number to call to activate Streampix. I soon realized it was a support number for employees or contractors and the person on the phone was outrageously rude to me since I couldn't answer her question. I finally had to tell her that I was a new customer and while the number was probably given to me in error, I was not deserving of such a "welcome to Comcast" experience. Seriously, just counting the days for Google and it will be soon.


Posted by:

Derek
13 Aug 2015

I have internet service with comcast. Just internet, NOT cable TV service. I got my first three bills and there was a TV Fee on the bills and every month i had to go to the office and argue that I dont have TV service with them and I'm not paying the $10 fee. The third month i went in and told them to take it off and keepn it off or i will get a lawyer and supoena their records for other customers that only have internet service and start a class action against them. The fee never returned on my bill.


Posted by:

Stewart Reed
13 Aug 2015

Just an observation from the front lines - In a company like this the customer service reps are often caught in the middle. I won't name names, but I've worked for national companies in customer service in situation where I couldn't get a straigh answer from management. I was required to make customers happy when I had no information or conflicitng information and had no power to do anything. I was literally reprimanded if I failed to make a customer happy without being able to offer them anything - and management would then always cave in - but punish me. Some of these customer reps live in a virtual psychological hell that no human should be made to endure.


Posted by:

Humbug7
13 Aug 2015

Remember the beginning of cable TV? "You pay for service because there aren't any commercials." Um, yeah, that's long gone. I had cable and couldn't find anything on it any better/more interesting than what my local PBS affiliate offered (via that old antenna). So now I send the money to my local PBS affiliate and laugh at all the complainers about cable service. It's a discretionary purchase, folks...if everyone who complains would just pull the plug, the cable companies would all be scrambling to offer better service and content.


Posted by:

Linedancer
13 Aug 2015

I am quite satisfied with Verizon's customer service, both on the phone and on their online chat.


Posted by:

DanielW
14 Aug 2015

I have had both Comcast and Verizon and found that both of their customer services are just outragous. They are unknowledgeable at the first level and while they get more knowledge as you assend their CS level but so does their poor attitude, When I do get "helped" it only after a number of poor attitudes and underhanded insults from poorly spoken English persons. The are both p...s poor examples of smug foreign nationals who are only there for the money. All their managers want is a body slightly above room temp. I have a friend that has the same option about fish's. I keep them only because the reception is too poor otherwise. Don't even get me started on Verizon's channel choice SCAM.


Posted by:

DanielW
14 Aug 2015

I have had both Comcast and Verizon and found that both of their customer services are just outragous. They are unknowledgeable at the first level and while they get more knowledge as you assend their CS level but so does their poor attitude, When I do get "helped" it only after a number of poor attitudes and underhanded insults from poorly spoken English persons. The are both p...s poor examples of smug foreign nationals who are only there for the money. All their managers want is a body slightly above room temp. I have a friend that has the same option about fish's. I keep them only because the reception is too poor otherwise. Don't even get me started on Verizon's channel choice SCAM.


Posted by:

Mike in Colorado
14 Aug 2015

My experience with Comcast is different than most. I've had very good service from them over the years.


Posted by:

Stephen
14 Aug 2015

Perhaps being named “the most hated company in America” ....
A more accurate title that they have earned is "Worst Company In America," and it is from the good folks at Consumerist.com
http://consumerist.com/2014/04/08/congratulations-to-comcast-your-2014-worst-company-in-america/


Posted by:

Carrie
15 Aug 2015

We have bundled services with Comcast and for the most part service has been pretty good.

A couple of things that did not work:

The company encourages customers to go on-line and make improvements/changes to their services. This has been a disaster for us.We tried to add their Streampix service ( a reasonable 4.99) and I tried to do it online and it flipped to a chat with one of their reps although I am not convinced I was dealing with a human as much as "prompts". I gave up after 20 minutes and just called them. It took less than 2 minutes on the phone to order the service.

Our cable box that we had for 5 years just went out one day. We called and they told us to pick up another box at one of their service centers. It was not a convenient location but we did as instructed. The second box did not work either. Since we pay a monthly fee (around $3) for a service contract, we convinced them to come out as our comcast remotes were also problematic. Once the tech was here, all problems were fixed. But I noticed that he went through a series of remotes and cables boxes that had been refurbished and repackaged did not work.So had we not called them, we could have been stuck in a cycle of picking up broken boxes and remotes.


Posted by:

Christa
16 Aug 2015

My recent experience with Comcast was to try to re-activate internet service after a couple of years of being out-of-state (my account was still active because my condo association pays for TV; I just needed to add the internet service). The phone reps were polite, but were non-native English speakers which made communication extremely difficult because they were clearly reading from a script and were only prepared to to answer with certain phrases and sentences. The problem was eventually resolved after multiple lengthy phone calls, but it probably could have been resolved much more quickly (and with much less aggravation and stress on my part) had the reps been American English speakers. My advice to Comcast if they're truly trying to up their game: don't outsource your call centers to other countries. Hire Americans who speak well and train them (and give them the authority) to resolve issues quickly and with a minimum of fuss (i.e. don't tell me you have to transfer me to a supervisor).


Posted by:

Ralph
18 Aug 2015

I dropped U-verse 10 months ago for DirecTV (special offer through Costco). Service has been good, and I've had no reason to call customer service. When my contract is up in 14 months, I'll probably buy a digital antenna for local TV, drop the satellite TV, subscribe to Tivo and Amazon Prime (we already have Netflix). That will lower my monthly TV bill to $32. I'll keep AT&T internet. That will give us all we need or want. I recognize that cord-cutting isn't for everybody, but I now get over 200 TV channels and watch less than a dozen on a regular basis.


Posted by:

Bob Milligan
19 Oct 2015

I had Comcast and had wrong charges on my bill. We now have EPB Fiber Optics cable and TV and the service is top notch.


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