Comcast Call Center Sales Contest Sheet: "Don't Let These Freeze Masters Get You"

From inside a Comcast call center, we got a sales goal sheet designed to excite call center reps to sell more new customer bundles using with four cartoons icons of cold; Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat,, Mr. Freeze from Batman, Frozone from The Incredibles, and Ice-Man from X-Men. The flyer exhorts: “ANTI FREEZE INCENTIVE. Don’t let these freeze masters get you…Sell some bundles and protect yourself from the cold!!!” If you’re in the top three of your department, the flyer continues, you can win $250, $150, or $100 for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, respectively. Exciting. What is the symbolic function of the “freeze masters” as a performance incentive? What does, “the cold” represent? Left out in the cold? Given the cold shoulder by your peers if you’re not contributing enough to the 2000 bundle goal? An inability to pay one’s heating bills? We have no idea, we’re just glad we don’t work in a call center, we’ve never been too good at winning knife fights. (click to enlarge).

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  1. darkclawsofchaos says:

    I pity the fool who uses Comcast service. Imagine calling that you want just one extra remote and the rep is trying to persuade you to upgrade to $69. It will be like that Blockbuster guy that was trying to force some lady to buy that special membership.

  2. Imaginary_Friend says:

    I guess copyright laws don’t apply to Comcast.

  3. darkclawsofchaos says:

    @darkclawsofchaos: Her’s the link [consumerist.com]

  4. LorneReams says:

    HA, whenever this type of incentive is started, people are going to invariably be signed up for stuff without knowing. People should pay close attention to their bills from now on.

  5. happywaffle says:

    Most likely, the call center’s in Canada or some other place that was experiencing a cold snap. @lornereams: every call center with any kind of sales component, at all, has incentives like this. Heck, I work in tech support and there’s sales incentives. It doesn’t lead to automatic highway robbery.

  6. darkened says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: These aren’t made by comcast but a call center manager most likely paying these prizes out of pocket (possibly to claim a tax deduction as reimbursement) knowing the incentives will pay for themselves and more at their top end from their bonus for extra sales.

    People like this general eschew the legal implications of copyright infringement for internal notifications.

  7. childrenofthecandycorn says:

    I’ve worked in a bank call center and I can attest that companies do pay for these promotions and they pay “communications specialists” to make these crappy posters to promote them.

  8. barty says:

    Just standard call center BS to try to pump up the employees, most of whom won’t last but a few weeks anyway. I made service calls to a BellSouth one close to Atlanta and there were almost always people hanging around waiting for an interview, to become the next sheep to the slaughter.

    Generally the parent company will give the call center manager a budget to run promotions like this, particularly if there is an advertised special or anything else that’s likely to generate alot of call volume. Given how often cartoon characters like this manage to slip into corporate announcements all the time, I doubt copyright infringement is much of a concern to these folks or the attorneys who would be out looking for this stuff.

  9. ConnerC says:

    I’m trying to figure out how this deserves to be posted on Consumerist. Yes, companies run internal contests to both up sales and motivate employees. Yes, they are gimmicky, and the posters aren’t the best designed things you’ve seen – but they work, and they actually make employees happy.

    I fail to see how this is either a surprise or something to be considered bad. *shrug*

  10. SVreader says:

    @ConnerC: I’m not sure if I were an employee there, I’d be happy. “Earn us even more money and we’ll give you something closer to a week’s living wage!”

    I think it’s good to be aware of this as a consumer though, and know why the person on the phone is insisting you should sign up for something.

  11. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @ConnerC: I think the point is that, while it never explicitly refers to what “freezing” is, it’s implied that if you don’t perform, bad things (“freezing”) will happen to you.

    Maybe they tape dry ice cubes to your testicles if you don’t meet your sales goals- who knows?

  12. ConnerC says:

    As opposed to their job, which was to upsell anyhow and not get anything for it?

  13. Narockstar says:

    My cable/internet company is always trying to get me to add a phone line, claiming I’ll save money with a “bundle.” I used to argue with them because I haven’t had a land like 5 years. Now I just act dumb and answer everything with “But I have a cell phone,” which they don’t know how to argue with. Maybe I’m the cold, freezing them out.

  14. selectman says:

    @ConnerC: I do agree with you in that my general reaction to this is *shrug*. However, I do think it’s worthwhile to remind consumers every now and then of the tactics of large, faceless corporations that want our money. And whenever you see these things, you have to feel exploited (even more so than you already do at least).

  15. jumbobrave says:

    I think the whole freeze concept is a play on the cold calling concept…

  16. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @darkened: Thanks; that explains the utter lameness of that poster.

    I hope they call me. I’m going to answer the phone as Frozone.

  17. faust1200 says:

    @darkclawsofchaos: Not that I’m putting AT&T in with the same category as Comcast but I can’t get off the phone with AT&T without them trying to sell me their bundle plan.

  18. man-or-llama says:

    @faust1200: Same with Comcast cable around here. We’re new to them as of Dec. and have had to call them ~10 since, (new line, need a box, now an HD box, HD box is broken, etc.) Every time I call tech support, I get the upsell speech on internet and phone. It’s strange – I’ve talked to some higher level tech support people and THEY give me the upsell too. I’ve only really seen that with billing support and the like.

  19. polyeaster says:

    I work for a promotions company, and they had me in Wal Mart helping promote the new “Triple Play” (and associated rebate if you signed up at Wal Mart) this past weekend. They had me at a table with a Comcast Rep…the frist day the rep was good, seemed honest, but the second day, the Comcast rep was trying to mislead ppl into thinking Comcast would “buy their contract” with Verizon, or whomever if they still had time left…I shut that down pretty quick, but it was appalling to see how dishonest Comcast salespeople can be when they want to sign you up.

    I went home, called up Comcast, and sweet-talked the reps into lowering my rate for highspeed internet without bundling me…they REALLY tried to get me to bundle, but I just stayed nice, told them I don’t talk on the phone or watch tv, and eventually they did what I wanted. Resistance is futile!!!

  20. AdmiralApathy says:

    I am with ConnerC on this one. Imagine a company trying something new to spark some interest in yet another sales incentive flyer that nobody is happy about but since they may want to make extra money they pay attention to. That is crazy.

    Maybe since the rest of the world thinks of these people who are working a legitimate job need to be treated like crap their employers should too.

    Note to middle management: Don’t get creative with your communication to staff. Everything should be in 12 point Times New Roman font, no colors, no images.

  21. othertim says:

    If Comcast really had it together, first prize would be a Cadillac El Dorado, second prize a set of steak knives, and third prize is you’re fired.

  22. MPHinPgh says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: I guess copyright laws don’t apply to Comcast.

    That was my first thought. I suppose this falls under fair use?

  23. Nytmare says:

    @admiralapathy: That’s correct, “communication” isn’t fluffy. Add colors, cartoon characters, and exclamation points, that’s not communication anymore, it’s advertising.

  24. TechnoDestructo says:

    Contests…it’s a great way for the employer to get something for almost nothing. If everyone’s gunning for that prize and working like mad, you could make enough to pay for the prize off the extra effort of the lowest of the losers…everything beyond that is gravy!

    And what’s extra cool is any extra sales are pretty much necessarily going to be the most difficult ones to get, so any extra results you see are going to be the ones that would cost you the most if you were really paying for it.

    There was a …pretty misguided if you ask me…contest like this at the McDonald’s where I worked, briefly. 50 bucks to whoever sold the most McRib sandwiches. They paired up people on register and drive through with people on the grill.

    Now I’m failing to see how this was supposed to incentivize people on the grill to work harder. They had no control over how many people were buying McRibs. Hell, I’d never met the person I was paired with. He/She was on a completely different shift, one I never once worked.

    Not only that, there was no accounting for when people were working.

    But hey, there were a fair number of borderline retards who would not only not see through the whole concept, they’d miss the problems with the implementation.

  25. Skeptic says:

    “BY IMAGINARY_FRIEND AT 12:10 PM
    I guess copyright laws don’t apply to Comcast.”

    Funny, that. But unlike consumers being sued for copyright, nothing bad will happen to Comcast for ripping of IP.

  26. AdmiralApathy says:

    @nytmare:
    I don’t see it as advertising. It is internal communication probably from middle management that had nothing to do all day but make up this flyer for their staff.

    I don’t know about you but if I am trying to get some attention for an important communication to staff I get a little creative in order to draw attention to it. Another outcome might be adding some atmosphere to a boring call center office that only has the kitten hanging from the clothes line motivational poster.

    Hang in there baby!

  27. orielbean says:

    Admiral, Arial 10pt should be the Comm standard. Times New Roman 12pt looks like a HS book report.

  28. dantsea says:

    You know, for Manhattanites (or at least NYCers), the editors at Consumerist sometimes come across as a couple of really sheltered children. This is pretty standard fare across any sales channel, not just Comcast, not just call centers.

  29. ConnerC says:

    Your both wrong – anything with more then a few lines of text should be an serif typeface.

  30. dantsea says:

    @ConnerC: But they won’t really relate to it unless it’s in Comic Sans!

  31. Aphex242 says:

    This kind of mindless crap exists in most call centers. I worked for Countrywide and they had stupid contests and incentives that were themed with some of the most ridiculous characters and phrases. I *really* wouldn’t read too much into what ‘the cold’ is.

    Frankly I’m just impressed it’s not filled with typos, ours always were.

  32. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @Skeptic: Too true. It’s ridic – I’ve seen bakeries refuse to make a kid’s birthday cake with a copyrighted cartoon character on it. How’s this any different? Actually, it could be argued that the Comcast example is a worse violation because money is involved.

  33. ConnerC says:

    It’s for internal use, and not to be distributed outside of their break room more likely. I can’t believe people here think that is an actual copyright violation. *sigh*

    As for the refusal to do the birthday cake thing, that actually would be grounds to get sued. Heck, my friend works at Kinko’s and regularly has to tell people that she can’t photocopy newspaper articles without written permission of the paper.

  34. mexifelio says:

    I wonder if they are spreading the flier out via internal torrent network :P

  35. yargrnhoj says:

    Here’s my Comcast call center story from this morning. Called to upgrade my DCT to HD + DVR. First the rep tells me HD & DVR are two separate boxes. I sent her to their webpage and showed her the Motorola box that combines both. Then she said I’d still need my DCT to get cable. I asked her why I needed three tuners (since the Moto has two). Then her head exploded and she went to get a manager.

    She came back 10 minutes later to tell me my install was set up and was surprised to hear I wanted a manager to confirm the order (which she had wrong).

  36. HykCraft says:

    Thanks. I sumbitted this to the proper legal authorities at: Midway, Marvel, Dreamworks, and Warner Bros!

  37. KarmaChameleon says:

    LOL. You really haven’t seen stupid/crazy/just plain weird motivational shit until you’ve worked at a call center.

    At the shady student loan consolidation place I worked at, they had a tiki bar. They didn’t actually give you any drinks from it (even non-alcoholic ones), they just let you sit by it if you sold enough for a week.

  38. stopNgoBeau says:

    @HykCraft: I’m so sure you did just that.

  39. Charles Duffy says:

    @ConnerC: It is, whether they’re distributing it or not, and having it puts the company at risk — let’s say some disgruntled employee (and don’t tell me call centers don’t have disgruntled employees!) calls them on it; bad (legal) juju there.

  40. captainproton says:

    Lately comcast has been slooow as tar for me. I can’t help if DSL wouldn’t be consistently faster. Plus I wouldn’t have problems with the occasional distro torrent I download. Definitely tempting to throw a little “freeze” comacast’s way.