Comcast says rep from hell was just doing “what we trained him to do”

"Grumpy Tech Support Man," a stock photograph from that seemed appropriate.

"Grumpy Tech Support Man," a stock photograph from that seemed appropriate.

Remember that excruciating recorded call between Ryan Block and a Comcast service rep that made the internet rounds last week? Consumerist got their hands on a memo from Comcast's Chief Operating Officer to employees, in which he admits the rep's retention attempts were “painful to listen to,” but that he also “did a lot of what we trained do.”

The memo from Dave Watson in response to the mass internet shaming was posted today to an internal Comcast site for employees to read.

“We are embarrassed by the tone of the call and the lack of sensitivity to the customer’s desire to discontinue service,” says the Comcast COO.

“[W]hile I regret that this incident occurred, the experience that this customer had is not representative of the good work that our employees are doing,” he says.

“That said, it was painful to listen to this call, and I am not surprised that we have been criticized for it.”

Read the full memo here at Consumerist.

Notable Replies

  1. Its going to be interesting to see how things change over the next few months, if at all. I hope there are more people out there willing to call companies out for shitty behaviour like this

  2. They just keep digging the hole. The thing that sucks is that usually you have no place else to go for broadband. Where I live, we have Comcast or AT&T. So it's a matter of which pile of sh*t smells the least when it's time to get broadband here.

    Can't wait for Google Fiber to arrive.

  3. I wonder if it isn't a bit of whitewashing, but...positive, anyway.

    The fundamental misaligned incentive here is to have the employee being paid for "saving" a customer (by having them continue to sign up with Comcast). That's a bottom-line sales incentive, but it's inappropriate for retention, where the focus should be on understanding the customer's actual needs. To incent THAT, the retention specialists should be paid for filling out detailed, honest post-mortems (which will, in and of themselves, capture areas where customers could be "saved" -- customers that Comcast can truly still serve should be evident here). Which means that they don't get paid like sales, with commissions for retaining customers, they get paid like auditors, with incentives for identifying and fixing problems (which means paying them well up front and not relying on a commission cop-out).

    Which means that it's ultimately an issue with idiot middle management that imagines some world where the job of people receiving cancellations is to NOT cancel service, who can't imagine a world in which someone would legitimately not want Comcast.

    But good luck firing THAT guy.

  4. Unless Comcast has the dumbest PR flacks on the planet(and I suspect they don't, because good PR flacks are good business when you run a monopoly constrained more by occasional vague twitches of regulation rather than competition), there is absolutely no way that they would have expected a memo circulated to employees not to leak.

    I'd be very surprised indeed if the memo were written without consideration for its likely role as 'some honest honesty so authentic it had to be leaked!' that will amount to as little as possible in implementation. If somebody gets fired for it it'll be because they determined that a high level fall guy was needed in addition to the phone guy, not because the memo was anything but carefully drafted for eventual public consumption.

  5. I hold it as self-evident that good businesses don't need "retention specialists". If your bottom line depends on the margin of customers that want to leave but are coerced into staying, you're probably doing a pretty shitty job overall.

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