Friday, July 25, 2014

This not an outlier; this is a business model

You may have this recording a customer made while trying to cancel his Comcast service. Here's a sample:

Block: We’d like to disconnect please.

Comcast rep: Why is it that you don’t want the faster speed? Help me understand why you don’t want faster internet.

Block: Help me understand why you can’t disconnect us.

Comcast rep: Because my job is to have a conversation with you about keeping your service, about finding out why it is that you’re looking to cancel the service.

Block: I don’t understand …

Comcast rep: If you don’t want to talk to me, you can definitely go into the Comcast store and disconnect your service there. 
And it goes on and on and on.

Comcast has since issued an apology that's more telling for what it doesn't say:
“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.”
You'll notice that, for all that talk of doing the right thing and showing respect, the statement doesn't say anything about the representative refusing to cancel the account.That was what made the customer angry but Comcast can't apologize for that because it plans to continue making cancellation inconvenient and unpleasant. That, along with pumping up rates, is their business model.

P.S. I'm running ahead on my posts so I scheduled this to run a few days after I wrote it. In the meantime, more horror stories have been popping up including one that's fairly similar to my experience with Verizon (make a mistake on the bill then sell the account to a third party), along with this very good story by the Verge that confirms beyond a doubt that bullying customers to stay is a fundamental part of the industry's business model.

Here are a couple of the more outrageous examples:

“I called to cancel my Comcast service. It turned out to be in my deceased husband’s name. I told them he was recently deceased. I was told I could not cancel the service; only my husband could! I reiterated that he was no longer living; the person again said it could only be closed by my husband. This went on for about five minutes till I gave up. I tried again the next day and got the same response — finally, a supervisor told me I could take his death certificate into the office in Foster City. I took it into the office, and the person there was horrified that I had been asked to do that and to hear of my past phone conversations. I never used Comcast again.”
“They did the same thing to me [as they did to Block]. At one point the guy says, ‘$50 isn’t going to take food off your table.’ I was a single mother receiving no child support, living in the Bay Area, living paycheck to paycheck, and spending an average of $150 a month on food. YES, it was taking food off our table! I didn’t think it was any of their business why I couldn’t afford cable. After telling him I was canceling because I couldn’t afford it, he said, ‘Well how do you think WE pay for all these upgrades?’ 

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