Comcast: the only reason we're not ripping you off is that you recorded us

Tim David called Comcast to report that his self-installation after a move was running into troubles and was promised a no-charge service call.

But after the call, Comcast sent him a bill for $181.94. After more than an hour on hold for a supervisor, he was given a high-pressure wheeler-dealer patter offering some credit and some freebies that would partially offset the bill. Finally, he played back the recording of the original rep's promise of a free service call, and the supervisor agreed to waive the charge:

The rep promises to look into the issue then call back in up to an hour. She eventually calls back later than planned, and after escalating his call one final time she tells him that the full $82 will actually be credited back to his account.

When Davis asks why she couldn’t simply do that during the earlier call, her explanation is enough to make you pound your head through a wall in frustration.

“We try to negotiate, and again, that is a valid charge,” she answers. “But since I advised my manager that there is a recording and you were misinformed, then she’s the one who can approve that $82.”

Seemingly flabbergasted, Davis asks to confirm, “You’re telling me that if I didn’t have a recording of that call, you wouldn’t have been able to do it?”

“Yes, that is correct,” answers the rep, confirming that the only way to get Comcast to erase a bogus charge from your account is to have recorded evidence that you were promised in advance that the call would be free.

Comcast Tells Customer The Only Reason He’s Getting Bogus Charges Refunded Is Because He Recorded Call [Chris Morran/Consumerist]

Notable Replies

  1. Back when I used to get telemarketing calls all the time, they would typically say "this call may be recorded for blah blah blah" (and I would reply "that's OK, I'm recording this call too!" Most of the time they would insist that was against their policy, and abruptly end the call.)

    So in this case I bet Comcast does have a recording of the call somewhere, and could verify that he was promised a free service call, but of course why would they do that.

  2. If only we had a agency, federal maybe, that could do something about companies that abuse their customers this way. Unfortunately, we live in the US and no such agency exists.


  3. Charming. I wonder how many more of these public customer service failures Comcast can afford? Even a monopoly like them might have to worry about the peasents getting restless.

    Also, he mentions "dual party consent" if he records calls that they themselves are recording. I'd love to be able to pull the same trick, given how often I'm getting harassed for my student loans. Any suggestions/recommendations for an Android app?

  4. Raoul says:

    They clearly state at the beginning "this call may be recorded for ....." If that's not clear permission that I may record their call, I don't know what is.

    (And, yes, I understand this verbiage actually uses a different meaning of the word "may", but if they are going to twist language and semantics to their own ends, we can do the same).

    I am so heartily sick of paying 2-3x what the rest of the world pays for shitty, dishonest service from these awful cable companies. Nationalize them already - it will be cheaper and the service could not possibly be worse.

  5. CLamb says:

    I once called Comcast to report that a tree had fallen down tearing their wire off of my house and that I needed a service call for someone to come replace it. For the representative to schedule a service call she insisted on going through her procedure.

    Comcast: "Please turn on your television and tell me what you see."
    Me: "I see a screen with a message telling me there is no connection."
    Comcast: "Please power off your converter box. Wait 30 seconds and power it on again."
    Me: "I see the same screen I saw before telling me there is no connection."
    Comcast: "I'll have to check your converter box before I can schedule a service call."
    Me: "How can you do that if there is no wire connecting the box to the pole?"
    Comcast: "Oh, I have a screen on my computer that will let me check it. I will call you back after I have checked it."

    About 1/2 hour later she called back to schedule the service visit.

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