Leaked Comcast employee manual reveals pressure for hard-sell from tech support


Despite denials from top Comcast execs, a leaked employee manual shows that all Comcast customer service reps, even tech support staff, are required to hard-sell every customer they deal with, using high-pressure scripts that interfere with doing their jobs.

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Comcast, Time Warner make huge "donations" to party honoring their FCC overseer


FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (who's in charge of overseeing the proposed Comcast/Time Warner merger) is receiving an award, for which Comcast and Time Warner Cable are "presenting sponsors," paying $110K and $22K respectively.

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Comcast leaves customer on hold for 3 hours, closes the office and goes home

Redditor Awwwsnack was so frustrated with his troubles getting Comcast service installed that he decided to cancel.

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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.

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Being a Comcast employee sucks as much as being a Comcast subscriber

"The pay was great and everything else about the job was a nightmare. I remember when a 90-year-old woman called to add phone to her account and my boss told me afterwards, 'She was probably senile… but you should have upgraded her cable. I don’t think you are going to be sitting in this seat for very long.'" -- From an interview with a Comcast employee who worked in the sales department from 2011-2014.

The fallout from Ryan Block's recording of an argumentative, bullying Comcast employee keeps getting worse (or better, depending on how you look at it). The Verge asked former and current Comcast employees to share their stories of what it is like to work at the company. It sounds like a horrible place: "customer service has been replaced by an obsession with sales, technicians are understaffed and tech support is poorly trained, and the massive company is hobbled by internal fragmentation."

Even the customer support troubleshooters are pressured by their bosses to try to sell customers new services. One customer account exec says that the call center he worked in had a "whiteboard with employee names and their RGUs, or revenue generating units."

A former billing systems manager says employees are fed scripts to boost their RGU score.

The name of the game is RGUs (revenue generating units). Even if the subscriber disconnects cable, maybe we can keep them on internet or voice. A script pops up on the screen, and then another one comes up, then another one, every single one you’re eligible for. "Is it too expensive? You don’t use it? Maybe I can downgrade you to something if you’re only home once a week. Or maybe I can upgrade you. What if I gave you all the channels for a year and you’re still only playing $90?"
Comcast Confessions: when every call is a sales call

Comcast retention rep's network boasts expose company to liability

When the Comcast Rep From Hell insisted that Comcast had the "fastest network in the USA," he was speaking on behalf of the company -- and it was a lie.

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

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


"Grumpy Tech Support Man," a stock photograph from Shutterstock.com 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 him...to do.”

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Comcast service rep: a deeply fearful employee trying to hold onto his paycheck

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


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

On Monday, we posted a phone recording of an aggressive Comcast "Retention Specialist" arguing with a customer (Ryan Block) who wanted to cancel his service.

On Tuesday, we posted Comcast's response, which basically said, "It's all his fault, not ours"

We suspected Comcast had turned the employee into a scapegoat and our suspicions were confirmed when we read this post from former Comcast employee and Reddit user txmadison. (He provided images of his Comcast pay stubs to Slate to confirm his employment there.) Here's what he had to say about it:

When you call in to disconnect, you get routed to the Retention department; their job is to try to keep you. The guy on the phone is a Retention Specialist (which is just a Customer Account Executive who takes primarily calls from people disconnecting their service).

If I was reviewing this guy's calls I'd agree that this is an example of going a little too hard at it, but here's the deal (and this is not saying they're doing the right thing, this is just how it works). First of all these guys have a low hourly rate. In the states I've worked in they start at about 10.50-12$/hr. The actual money that they make comes from their metrics for the month, which depends on the department they're in. In sales this is obvious: the more sales you make the better you do.

In retention, the more products you save per customer the better you do, and the more products you disconnect the worst you do (if a customer with a triple play disconnects, you get hit as losing every one of those lines of business, not just losing one customer). These guys fight tooth and nail to keep every customer because if they don't meet their numbers they don't get paid.

Comcast uses "gates" for their incentive pay, which means that if you fall below a certain threshold (which tend to be stretch goals in the first place) then instead of getting a reduced amount, you get 0$. Let's say that if you retain 85% of your customers or more (this means 85% of the lines of businesses that customers have when they talk to you, they still have after they talk to you), you get 100% of your payout—which might be 5-10$ per line of business. At 80% you might only get 75% of your payout, and at 75% you get nothing.

The CAEs (customer service reps) watch these numbers daily, and will fight tooth and nail to stay above the "I get nothing" number. This guy went too far; you're not supposed to flat out argue with them. But Comcast literally provides an incentive for this kind of behavior. It's the same reason people's bills are always fucked up: people stuffing them with things they don't need or in some cases don't even agree to.

As Jordan Weissmann of Slate says, "So in short, yesterday we were all listening to a deeply fearful employee trying to hold onto his paycheck."

Is it surprising that Comcast treats its workers and subscribers like shit to boost their bottom line? And how much worse will Comcast treat them after it merges with Time Warner Cable and become the only broadband choice in many areas?

A Former Comcast Employee Explains That Horrifying Customer Service Call

The Internet should be treated as a utility: Susan Crawford


Susan Crawford (previously) is America's best commentator on network policy and network neutrality. In this interview with Ezra Klein, she makes the case for treating Internet access as a utility -- not necessarily a right, but something that markets do a bad job of supplying on their own. She describes how regulatory failures have made America into a global Internet laggard, with enormous damage to the nation's competitiveness and potential, and provides a compelling argument for locating the market for service in who gets to light up your fiber, not who gets to own it. Drawing on parallels to the national highway system and the electrification project, Crawford describes a way forward for America where the Internet is finally viewed as "an input into absolutely everything we do," and not merely as a glorified video-on-demand service.

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Irony not dead: Comcast claims it is Net Neutrality's best friend

Since Netflix CEO Reid Hastings published a statement on Net Neutrality and Comcast (whom Netflix has had to bribe in order to secure normal service for its users), Comcast has gone on a charm offensive. The company sent a statement to Consumerist in which it asserts an imaginary history of championing Net Neutrality, a work of Stalin-grade reality-denying fiction that has Consumerist's Chris Morran practically chewing the keyboard in rage:

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Cyveillance, Comcast's creepy copyright threat-deliverer, also helps the Secret Service

The "Guaranteed takedowns in 5 hours or less" that web-watching outfit Cyveillance promises aren't so guaranteed when they're illegal: a lesson in the Streisand Effect having just been dealt to its client, Comcast, by a particularly ill-advised attempt to bully TorrentFreak into removing public court documents.

But it's not their first rodeo, and Cyveillance has always been as trivially sleazy about it as they are now. Here's a blog entry from 2003 complaining about its efforts to hide what it does.

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UPDATED: Comcast asserts copyright over its court filing, is attempting to shut down news site that reproduced it


In an article published last week, TorrentFreak reproduced Comcast's response to a subpoena regarding the copyright troll Prenda Law. Since then, Comcast's agents Cyveillance have sent a series of escalating legal threats to TorrentFreak and its hosting provider, LeaseWeb, asserting copyright over a document that is not copyrightable, and whose reproduction would be Fair Use in any event. TorrentFreak's hosting provider has given them 24 hours to resolve the issue or face shutdown.


Update: Comcast has changed its mind. Here's an email I just received:

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Off the Grid, Still In the Box: where's Cable TV headed?

The cable box can make channel serfs of us all. It's big, it's bulky, it has an interface an Excel spreadsheet might salute, and it sucks down too much electricity. It's one reason why cable TV bottom-feeds in customer-satisfaction surveys--only airlines and newspapers score lower in the University of Michigan's research.

But for a still-sizable majority of American viewers, the cable box is How They Get TV, and nobody can fix it except for their cable operators.

The industry's just-finished Cable Show in Boston featured exhibits by dozens of networks hoping to see new channels added to cable lineups, plus a few starry-eyed demos of technology we may not get for years. (Disclosure: A freelance client, Discovery Communications, owns quite a few channels.) But it also revealed modest hope for "clunky set-top boxes"--to quote an acknowledgment of subscriber gripes in National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Michael Powell's opening speech.

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Report: Comcast helped figure out what was wrong with Pirate Bay (Update: Global Crossing blamed)

Comcast, dismayed at being blamed for Pirate Bay's downtime, apparently helped fix it. Torrentfreak reports:
Initially The Pirate Bay team suspected that Comcast might be filtering PMTU responses, but Comcast looked into this and ruled it out. ... Comcast reached out to Serious Tubes Networks, who deliver transit to The Pirate Bay, and they were able to correct the issue. "Comcast emailed our NOC about their users complaining about not reaching The Pirate Bay. We resolved the issue and TPB can now be reached from Comcast," the CEO of Serious Tubes Networks told TorrentFreak.
Companies that sell blanks and hoses have always known their customers are pirates. But this hose also happens to be the majority stakeholder in NBC. Update: Serious Tubes says that Comcast "did not help us fix Pirate Bay" and that the problem was caused by Global Crossing, another big telco.
Comcast did not help us fix The Pirate Bay. The problem was GBLX using reverse path filtering. We shut down one of our transits because it was flapping. The result was that all outgoing traffic to GBLX got filtered even though the packets took the same path as before. The Pirate Bay is using different paths for incoming and outgoing traffic to avoid beeing traced. We don't even know where their servers are. We resolved the issue by activating our other transit again.