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AUDIO: Comcast rep lambastes customer for trying to cancel service

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UPDATE: Comcast has issued an apology since the above recording went viral. Read it below.

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.”


  • Kristi Hopkins

    I used to be in the “save department” with America On-Line…..The pressure I got from my supervisors to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to save the customer was intense. This guy went way to far. The rule at AOL was once the customer said “cancel me” 3 times….You had to cancel…….This guy needs to be fired.
    I am impressed with the customer…I would have told this guy off, with a few choice words….and then ask to speak with a supervisor. Show the employee the door!

  • John Bruggema

    I was kind of force to upgrade to the tv service, because the double play package I had was costing me $106, after my promo ended. After talking to their customer solutions people, they strongly suggested that I upgrade to the starter package for the same price. Well, I recently viewed other triple play packages they offer online, and I could have done better for the same price. When I asked about it, yes I could for a $99 installation fee no matter who installed it. So they hiden this from me at the time. On yes, what did I find for the double play packages? What else? TV and internet and no phone and internet packages that I had. There are many things they are not telling us. Like they are creating a WiFi network, using out modems that we are renting from them. Something they are doing and I am paying them to rent the modem they are using. They owe me something for doing that. In short, they really do take advantage of you, if you do not know what they offer. Not everything they offer, is online.

  • Chris Coleman

    This is the norm with this awful company. That is why they consistently have one of the lowest customer service ratings of any company in existence. You could write a book on the lack of customer service, disregard for customer opinion, and blatant lies this company publishes regarding their own services.

  • dan cha

    This ex- customer, as I am too, was too patient with this phone rep. Next thing this company will do is bombard the post office with deliveries of promotions to this guy’s home. And the company may even promote this phone rep. to the training department. What a joke!

  • annpirie

    I have a solution for everyone living in the Denver area. The Lakewood Xfinity has a manager who is the end-all. I reported a complaint to the manager and he came out and we have had a great experience ever since. His name is Ed Flores. He is in the Lakewood office at Wadsworth and Alameda. Go see for yourself.

  • Duke Paulsen

    The only Comcast service we have is their “low-end” ‘Net service. Normally $40/month. I was made aware that–for a 12-month period–I could take advantage of a “special offer” for my area: 7MB service for $10 LESS per month than the low-end 3MB service. That keeps the MajicJack (VoIP) happy & we still have internet. It would seem that occasionally, even large companies do have their (VERY rare) “golden nugget” that actually HELPS Customers.

    Does *N O T* change the fact though that Comcast, et all, do have their share of real Jerks.

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