Comcast Recommends That You Switch To Verizon, Then Apologizes

Reader Brian sent us this transcript of a conversation that he had with a Comcast rep. He was considering switching to Verizon and was wondering if Comcast could come up with any reason why he should stay. They couldn’t. In fact, Comcast’s CSR “Mike” said: “my advice is to go ahead and switch, and if you find Comacst provides a fast and more reliable service we will welcome you back.”

Brian(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:05:50 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>
price of high-speed internet

analyst Mike has entered room

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:05:55 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>Hello Brian_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Mike. Please give me one moment
to review your information.

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:06:31 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>
Thank you for contacting Comcast. My name is Mike, how I may assist you today?

Brian_(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:06:54 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>My Comcast bill has been slowly getting higher and higher each month – so much so that I am now looking at different options for my cable TV and high-speed internet.

Brian_(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:08:02 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>
I am considering switching to Verizon DSL until FIOS becomes available in my area – the price is $12.99 for the first 6 months, then $17.99
for the next 6 months, with a $35 credit for switching from Comcast

Brian_(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:08:43 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>
The offer is very persuasive and would save me quite a bit of money.

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:10:43 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>my advice is to go ahead and switch, and if you find Comacst provides a fast and more reliable service we will welcome you back

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:10:45 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>Did you have any other questions?

Brian_(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:11:39 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>so that’s the best that Comcast can do for their loyal customers? they are not even willing to give a promotional rate to their existing customers?

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:14:22 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>promotional rates are only available for new subscribers

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:14:44 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>
you must cancel service and wait 6 months before being eligible for new subscriber status again

Brian_(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:16:05 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>so an existing customer gets no loyalty or rate break?

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:18:10 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>you have already been provided your promotional discount

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:18:38 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>now we must charge the normal rate or we will not make the required money to maintanence the network

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:19:01 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>without maintanence the system will fail and we will not be able to provide service

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:19:08 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>Did you have any other questions?

Brian_(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:19:59 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>no, it’s quite obvious that Comcast does NOT care about its customers and is price gouging them

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:21:20 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>Thank you for contacting Comcast. If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us. Also please note that answers to many of your questions can be found in our fully illustrated FAQs in the HELP sectoin of http://www.comcast.net, have a great day!

Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:21:22 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>Analyst has closed chat and left the room

analyst Mike has left room

Brian sent this transcript to Comcast’s CEO and got the following apology:

Good afternoon Mr. [redacted],

Thank you for your e-mail to Brian Roberts expressing concerns about your chat experience with us today. We sincerely apologize for your interaction with our chat agent Mike and will gladly assist.

We appreciate you taking time to bring to our attention your rate concerns has well has your chat experience. This is definitely not how we like to treat any customer. Mike will be addressed.

We will review and have someone in contact with you to go over some promotions.

We value your business and look forward to continuing to service you.

Sincerely,

Ms. Asbury
National Customer Operations
Executive Office.

Brian says he’ll let us know what Comcast offers, but it just goes to show that if you have a bad experience with a chat CSR you should kick it upstairs. Also, if you’re looking for a retention offer, it’s probably a better idea to call so that they can transfer you to a retention specialist. Retention specialists are paid to care whether or not you switch to Verizon, whereas “Mike…” Not so much.

(Photo:honeylamb)

Comments

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  1. sicknick says:

    This is Comcast’s new way to solve the ‘bidding war’ for lower rates.

    I switched from Comcast internet a few months ago to At&T dryloop. I called Comcast, explained my situation, told them I’d like to stay if they could lower my internet only bill from 65 dollars a month to something more reasonable and was told something along the lines of “We won’t compare our service to other companies because we have the best network and fastest speeds. It would be comparing apples to oranges.” This was after telling the guy I used speed check services to find that I wasn’t getting the supposed “6″ speed Comcast advertised anyway.

    Verizon is doing the same thing with cell phones. When I went in to ask about a new phone, telling the guy in the store that I was about to cancel with no ETF because of the text increase, he simply said Verizon won’t make deals on phones or service because they ‘have the best network’ and that ‘you should pay the same as everyone else when getting a phone. Would it be fair if you got it for cheaper then someone else?” to which I replied “No, but if I’m a better barterer then why should I pay the same as someone who isn’t?”

    I like bartering. I like nickel and diming down the cost of things. It makes me (and a whole lot of other folks I know) feel fantastic when they somehow ‘beat the system’ and get a price below ‘retail’. Stop taking that away from me. It tastes better then crack to a ho :P

  2. jamar0303 says:

    @sicknick: Come to China, you’ll feel right at home (in all seriousness- no shortages of Wii, iPhones are unlocked and jailbroken for you when you buy them, every price is negotiable).

  3. homerjay says:

    Mike sounds like a CSR who has heard this same story one too many times only to find that ‘the company line’ clearly doesn’t make any difference so he’s just given up.

    Truth hurts, Comcast.

  4. nursetim says:

    Mike will be addressed= we need to tweak our bot. Does anyone believe that you are actually talking to an actual person when you log onto “live chat”.

  5. ClayS says:

    I’m on Mike’s side. The customer calls with the intent to shake the CSR down for some discount he isn’t authorized by Comcast to provide. If the customer is so hell bent on switching to Verizon, just do it. But no, because after he begs Mike for a while, he then takes the time to write a letter to Comcast, still desperate to save a few dollars. Hey Brian, if you want to switch to Verizon, just do it.

  6. Jonbo298 says:

    Cry moar plz Brian

  7. Dibbler says:

    He could be one of those guys who switches service providers every year..or threatens to..just to save a few bucks and is down in the database as that type of person. If you can’t make some money off a client then it’s best to let them go. Reminds me of the guy who switches banks every 6 months so he can get a free sports bag.

  8. marzak says:

    I’ve been with Comcast since they bought out TWC over a year ago (2 yrs with TWC before that) and have never had any problems with promotions. Last month I called to see if there were any promotions for cable and hd-dvr and they cut my bill from about $140 a month to $60 and some change with Showtime (for 6 months of course) All it took was a 10 minute phone call. I’ve never had any luck with chat support for any company. Just call the monkeys, they will dance for you.

  9. sp00nix says:

    Sounds like a cheapskate to me

  10. sleze69 says:

    If you want a promotional rate to stay with Comcast, DON’T just ask for it. Call and tell them to cancel your subscription. They will then transfer you to a retention person who will then ask you why you are switching.

    Luckily, I live in an area with Fios (my nextdoor neighbor has it) so I just said I was switching to Verizon. Well…let’s just say that they made me an offer I could not refuse (until it runs out in August).

  11. HalOfBorg says:

    @nursetim:
    Yeh – ‘Mike’ sounds EXACTLY like every other CSR I have ever done a ‘Live Chat’ with.

    Most lines are word for word the same, except for company name.

    Stupid bots, I hate ‘em all. Damn Verizon bot gave me wrong info on how to reprogram my DSL modem after a full reset. Didn’t work.

  12. NaturalSelector says:

    Sounds to me like Brian was the rude one. It’s funny how he kept bringing out the “loyal customer” line while threatening to switch in the same breath. Yeah… real loyal buddy. Then Brian decided to go with the 5 year old “Well, obviously you don’t care about me” bit. I agree with comcast completely on this one.

  13. PeteyNice says:

    If that was a bot it was very poor. I mean “now we must charge the normal rate or we will not make the required money to maintanence the network”. To not only spell maintenance wrong but to use it incorrectly as well? Only a human would make those mistakes.

    As for the situation, hard to blame Brian. He says he isn’t getting the advertised speed from Comcast and there is Verizon offering service for a fraction of the price. The way the system is setup right now you would be stupid not to jump around for TV/Internet and cell phone deals.

  14. swalve says:

    I predict more of this as companies get sick of scammers calling every three months threatening to cancel, only to start crying if they are told to go ahead and cancel. Good for them. We all will pay less if everyone pays their fair share.

  15. Soldmysoul says:

    Ahhhhhh The old I’m a loyal customer line. I think I hear this everyday and it never ever gets old to hear how someone has been extremely loyal, but would drop you in second. Please Consumerist, go back to posting interesting stories instead of stories about people complaining about prices when they are pefectly free to just go somewhere else.

  16. swalve says:

    @PeteyNice: If that was true, why didn’t he take Mike up on the offer and cancel Comcast?

  17. HappyCustomer says:

    From my experience with Comcast, they encourage customers to call in every three months. A CSR TOLD me that! I have been with them for longer than I can remember and when I got an offer from someone else cheaper, I called and they told me that they could not lower the rate permanently, but could do it for 3 months and I could call back every three months and get another discount. That is just crazy! But, on the nice side, the last time I had an “on demand” technical problem, the CSR offered a discount on my internet just for reporting the problem.

  18. failurate says:

    @HalOfBorg: I think it is more of a cyborg type of situation, where you have a guy at a keyboard with preset responses… sort of a cut and paste conversationalist.

  19. PeteyNice says:

    @swalve: I doubt they would allow you to cancel in an chat on the Internets. When I canceled Comcast they made me go in to one of their locations. Canceling is a pain. He would be crazy not to try to get the incumbent company to offer a discounted rate before jumping. If he is not able to get satisfaction from Comcast then he would be silly not to cancel. If companies continue to play the “deep discounts for new customers, nothing for existing customers” game then it is in your interest to be a “new customer” as often as possible.

  20. Milstar says:

    I’m sorry but Brian is a total whiner. So you don’t get a retention offer and then you whine up to the CEO about it!?!?!

    If you don’t like it then switch, if you like the service then pay for it.

  21. empericman says:

    So Mike is going to be “disciplined” for this? Sounds like he was pretty friendly and even told the customer how he could game the system. Just switch, wait 6-months, and then you can get the new user promotion.

    The new user discounts are obviously loss-leaders so no company can reasonably give them repeatedly to the same people.

  22. ElizabethD says:

    “to service you” — what is this guy, a prostitute?

    Why can’t anyone use the simpler, and correct, verb “serve”????

    /rant off

  23. jamar0303 says:

    This is what is wrong with the American ISP market.

  24. gisgt says:

    @ELIZABETHD
    “to service you” + “to maintanence the network”
    Perhaps a postitute on a methadone program? although I’m leaning toward robot. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that feels solicited when strangers offer to “service” me.

  25. sleepydumbdude says:

    I worked for a cable company customer service for awhile. You can usually tell when someone is calling and hinting for a better deal. If they would come off cocky and threaten to quit then I’d usually just let them go. It isn’t my money and if I gave everyone deals all day then I would’ve got in trouble. I tended to only give nice people deals.
    Also most who seemed to call already had several other promo deals within the past year so its something they tend to do every few months or so.
    Once I had a rude customer call that the third thing out of his mouth was how much cheaper time warner was and how I better offer him something lower than $xxx or he was leaving. I couldn’t help him because he signed up years ago when they had a deal where your bill rate wouldn’t change for 3 years. I always remember that his last name because it started with Ass. I had to do a call back for him two months later for a new installation and he was getting charged almost 20 dollars more for the same thing he had.

  26. BrianH says:

    Brian sounds like the kinda guy who sees a deal on Fatwallet that really is too good to be true (e.g. XBOX360 for $99 A/R, today only), then whines when it turns out to be a typo in a flyer or something…. waaah waaahh Best Buy, I’m a loyal customer, if you want me to stay loyal you give me my $99 Xbox! I don’t care if it’s a typo, I got my hopes up and I worship my wallet!

    Every time I’ve called a CSR (cell phone, cable, etc…) with the genuine intent to finish the phone call w/ canceled service if they couldn’t convince me to stay, I’ve gotten an incentive to stay. But when you’re just kicking the tires, CSRs can often tell.

    Whatever.

  27. pasquinade says:

    The biggest surprise to me is that Comcast has “retention specialists.” I didn’t think the word “retention” was anywhere in Comcast’s business plan.

  28. Xerloq says:

    @swalve: Bull. Do you really think Comcast would lower their prices if everyone paid the same price? Last time I checked Comcast is a for-profit company, and their first duty is to make profit for their shareholders. The only reason they would lower prices is if they knew that a decrease in prices wold net them more paying customers.

    As consumers in a capitalist society, we have a duty to seek out the best prices available, and that means bartering. Brian was within his rights to ask for a lower price.

    As a shareholder, I would be ticked that Mike told a customer to go to Verizon, especially when he could have lowered the bill a bit to keep a customer and the profit he produces instead of tossing it out the window.

  29. trinidon2k says:

    I could understand why Mike said what he said, but he could have been less blunt about it. I’m exactly like Brian. Every time one of my contracts or promotions are up, I call to negotiate. Competition allows that.

  30. forever_knight says:

    that is hilarious! they called your bluff, mike.

  31. m0unds says:

    to Brian: Why not just switch instead of trying to get Comcast to give you a handout? If you don’t like their pricing, switch to another provider.

    Also, I agree– seeing crap like this on the consumerist is getting really old.

  32. SacraBos says:

    Mike(Sat Feb 16 2008 14:18:38 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>now we must charge the normal rate or we will not make the required money to maintanence the network

    So losing Brian helps make the required money to “maintanence” the network? This is basically an admission that they can’t compete. Well, at least it will be marginally faster without Brian bogging it down…

  33. dreamcatcher2 says:

    Guess what – companies need to turn a profit. American companies have traditionally tended to focus on market share over margins, but some are starting to realize that strategically pissing off unprofitable customers (while pampering profitable ones) is the best way to stay in the black.

    When the issue became visible, Comcast had to play the nice guy, but I bet the CSR was just following the standard script. I have to say Comcast actually played this pretty intelligently. And, as long as Brian has available alternatives (we don’t always!) then there is nothing to see here, move along. When there is no competition the government has to step in and make sure the companies play nice.

  34. saphyrre says:

    The CSR was following the rules, and most likely he’ll get a “just keep doing your job” as a “punishment” for this.
    When i was a CSR at a certain cable company:), i used to take hundreds of calls from people looking from promos/threatening to cancel. After a while, you get used to this, and you can spot immediately if they’re after a discount or they really want to cancel.
    I always looked at how many times they called, if they reported before any problems with their service, and what kind of discounts they have..and, most importantly:), i always check the list with the competition offers in client’s area.
    You’ll be suprized of how many “i’ll switch to fios” i heard, when Verizon wasn’t even servicing that area.
    On top of this, you always get more by being nice than by being rude.

    And yes, i did tell a lot of people “go ahead and switch”… never heard anybody getting in trouble for saying it.

  35. goodkitty says:

    @PeteyNice: Maybe it was something like, “now we must %action% the %promo% rate or we will not make the required money to %reason%”

    I bet someone could come up with a fun mad-libs style Comcast Action Bot. “Now we must adjust the introductory rate or we will not make the required money to bring you new and exciting channel offerings.”

    “Now we must spelunk the scamalicious rate or we will not make the required money to buy our CEO a new gold-plated silly putty.”

    Naw… probably cut and paste. If you want to see a REAL bot, email Blockbuster Online’s customer support. Seriously, the same response for any question.

    Q: “Why don’t I get my movies on time?” A: “Sign up for a higher service level!”
    Q: “How do I solve world hunger?” A: “Sign up for a higher service level!”

  36. theblackdog says:

    I hate to say it, but Comcast was more in the right on this one.

    Hell, since I currently have no alternative for TV, I just didn’t bother subscribing to Comcast, opting for Verizon DSL for Internet and Netflix.

  37. amccoll says:

    Brian sounds like an ass. Seriously, just make the switch, pay the lower fee. You cannot pay the promotional price forever, that’s why it’s called promotional.

    We may have greedy company’s, but we have equally greedy consumers.

  38. dorkins says:

    Comcast messed up our bill and got us switched to a higher cost, then wouldn’t fix it. We called retention and asked them if there was anything they could do, otherwise we would switch to Fios, which would be cheaper. They said nope, go ahead.

    After we switched we got a switching-back offer from Comcast, with the rate we asked for.

    Idiots.

  39. meanwalrus18 says:

    with the amount of people commenting on ways to rationalize why we should just pay more for a service that someone else is offering of equal quality at a lower rate and belittling that as cheap doesnt make sense…are you just rich or ignorant? or are these comments just regulated by corporate PR reps

  40. sventurata says:

    Memo: if I can’t offer you what you want, and another company can, why should I bust out my supercilious chops and sweat over retaining you? It’s not like you’re threatening to end our marriage, you’re some guy who clearly isn’t going to back down… enjoy haggling with your (equally dismal) new service provider.

    Ever since I started ignoring the ingrained corporate line and just doing my job (which is not retention), quickly and truthfully, my blood pressure plummeted and I really started to like work – helping people when I can, cheerfully agreeing with them when I can’t.

  41. carblover says:

    i had a similar issue with my comcast internet. i spoke with two different reps on the phone and told them about at&t’s deals, and BOTH told me if i liked the price better that i should just switch… so i did. i then called at&t, talked to a great rep and told her the comcast story, and because I chose her company she gave me a discount on my modem (granted this discount may be given out easily, but i was happy). what happened to customer retention?

  42. kalmakazee says:

    I am with Brian on this one. He has nothing to lose by trying to get a better rate with Comcast. I had comcast for 2 years and they were the worse company & the biggest bullshitters out there. They tried to screw me over after I cancelled with them and went with AT&T. I paid the last bill over the phone with a Comcast rep who said i didn’t owe anything anymore and a month later Comcast was trying to charge me another monthly bill. It took me several months until I finally called corporate to get the stupid bill taken off that Comcast finally admitted I didn’t owe anything. If Comcast can try and take advantage of it’s customers then why can we not try and take advantage of Comcast? One thing is certain. Comcast’s Internet speed does not match the speed that Comcast claims that it has.

  43. econobiker says:

    My (new) spouse and I worked comcast due to moving. She had them at her previous apartment I didn’t. We moved in together in a new apt. and I then was a “new customer”. If rates rise after a year then she (under her maiden name) will be another “new customer” etc etc etc…

  44. empericman says:

    The competitor cannot beat Comcast’s price. They can only offer a temporary discount at a loss, much like the one Brian already received with Comcast. They only make up for it if the customer stays at the regular price, and retaining a customer at the discounted price will only make them lose more money.

    It makes sense to let your competitors take customers like Brian.

  45. bukz68 says:

    Sure Comcast has a bad rep for customer service (or service in general for that matter) but you can’t please everyone all the time. I don’t think the rep did anything reprehensible here. Something to the extent of “Sorry sir, I’m not in a position to offer any price changes. I understand if you end up switching service providers but we think we provide the best product in the market and we’d be happy to have you back if you decide to return” …is completely appropriate. My guess is that Brian will switch to Verizon, they’ll do the same thing Comcast is doing (increase rates more or less every month), he’ll try to pull the same “match this competitor’s rates or I’m leaving” and he’ll bounce around providers until the end of time.

  46. chagasi says:

    Cake… Eat… Too…
    Everyone complains when the retention policies are too byzantine, yet here when they offer to let you go without a fight, they are still wrong. Comcast is in the right IMHO, although it seems like they can’t win for losing.

  47. CaptainCaveman says:

    Someone questioned whether you are really speaking to a live person in chat. I can assure you that you are, because I take Comcast sales chats. We may sound robotic at times because we all have pre-typed scripts to keep our handle times down.

    I wouldn’t have used the wording of “Mike” (mainly because it would result in a bad evaluation), but I can sympathize with his attitude. Every day a dozen people come into sales chat challenging us with keeping them as a customer. It really gets old for several reasons:
    - These customers usually act like assholes
    - We take chats from all over the country and every area is different & some areas it can take upwards of 20 minutes to find promotions because of the negligence of local areas who haven’t updated their promotion codes in a couple of years. If you didn’t select the rate code on the order form, it could be a very time consuming process for us to find it for you.
    - We don’t make any commission at all, as opposed to over-the-phone sales, so if you think you’re “threatening” us with losing your business, it doesn’t threaten us at all.

  48. xnullcipherx says:

    Wow Brian, you really come off as a little whiny girl in this one. “no, it’s quite obvious that Comcast does NOT care about its customers and is price gouging them”

    Suck it up or cancel the service. If you’re finding it too expensive then maybe you just cant afford it.

  49. sventurata says:

    @CaptainCaveman: Hey, cool! Methinks we need to ask you for an insider feature….

  50. I don’t see too much of a problem with his suggestion to switch if that was the rep speaking instead of Comcast policy. I mean he was just trying to get a discount, and if Comcast isn’t going to give him one maybe Verizon really would be better for him.

  51. HotMess81 says:

    @ClayS:

    I agree. So Brian feels that just because he threatens to go somewhere else he should get special treatment? I’d like to know what makes him think that he’s better than anyone else and should pay less or get special promotions that no one else gets. If he thinks that Verizon DSL will be cheaper for him than he should just go to Verizon. Quit friggin whining.