Comcast Fined $12,281.84 For Not Answering The Phone Quickly Enough

Montgomery County, MD has fined Comcast $12,281.84 for not meeting the standards set by their franchise agreement. The agreement stated that Comcast would provide a level of customer service that they did not meet, and were fined accordingly. Specifically, they failed to answer the phone quickly enough. Is $12,281.84 enough of a fine to get Comcast to change their evil ways? Probably not, but Montgomery County, MD is setting a good example for other communities to follow. —MEGHANN MARCO

Montogomery County Advisory Committee Report (PDF) [via DSL Reports]


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  1. Legodude522 says:

    Typo. “Montgomery Country, MD”

    It should be county like said later in the article.

    Yes, I’m a bitch.

  2. RumorsDaily says:

    It’s my favorite country.

  3. matrixhax0r says:

    The problem is that Comcast has failed too meet the requirements for years and it’s required from the original franchise.

    The flaw in this fine is best summarized by libes libation:
    “As one member observed, this is well below the cost of hiring another person to answer phones so it’s not surprising that Comcast would gladly pay the fine rather than avoid it by increasing staff.”

  4. nick says:

    I grew up in Montgomery County, MD, and I have to say, I have never been more proud!

    Although I do agree that the fine should have been more substantial. I highly doubt that Comcast will feel any need to change over a $12K fine.

    Still, the fact that MoCo was willing to issue the fine is good news. If, for example, every county in Maryland were to do the same, we’d be talking about a fine of more than $282,000.00 (MD has 23 counties).

    Of course, knowing Comcast, that cost would probably just be passed on to the customer… a new line-item on your bill reading “county service tax.”


  5. Darren W. says:

    I live near Montgomery County, and this is the first thing their government has ever done that I actually like.

    Way to go, MoCo!

  6. Crim Law Geek says:

    The fine might be low, but it can still work as an incentive to Comcast. Next time the franchise is up for review, the county can deny it to Comcast and say (specially if it ends up in court) “you where so bad we had to fine you”. Another example is the fine to CBS for nipplegate. CBS made way more money off the SuperBowl than what the fine was, but it gives the FCC standing to not renew CBS’ license(s) or to restrict them in some way. That sort of “symbolic” fine can actually go a long way.

  7. seanb says:

    I agree that the fine, while not substantial, is a good start. If the fining happens more frequently and consistently (in multiple counties and states), it would be exorbitantly expensive, as well as a powerful agent for change. However, I fear that this is merely symbolic and the county won’t keep up the pressure. That is unfortunately all too often the case when trying to regulate the behavior of large interests like Comcast.

  8. fleef says:

    ah, hello. We are required to answer the phone in 30 seconds or less according to our franchise agreement. We get a lot of calls from subs who can’t figure out how to use their HDTV, their router they bought from Best Buy, and they don’t know how to enter a simple URL into an address bar. Our job is to troubleshoot CABLE my friends. If only these technological throwbacks from the 1970’s wouldn’t clog up our phone lines…

  9. EtherealRemnant says:

    I can’t believe you people.

    Okay, fine Comcast who is REQUIRED to have franchise agreements but don’t regulate the satellite companies at all.

    I have seen my mother wait on hold well over 30 minutes just to ask a billing question when calling Dish.

    Hell when I got hired at Comcast and we had to do a presentation on our competition, we waited on hold for 45 minutes for Dish’s SALES department!

    Lets not forget about the cell companies either. Trying to get through to Sprint or Cingular can be like pulling teeth too.

    Ever had a power outage? Good luck getting through within 15 minutes.

    Think your local telephone company does better? Not really. At least not in the case of ours, Qwest, who it would surprise me if they have a call center at all outside of their automated system.

    And fleef has a point. Ever tried telling grandma how to change the source on her brand new high definition TV? Its not pleasant. Nor is it a fast call.

    Add to that people that don’t know what channels come with their package and want you to hold their hand all the way through it and the situation gets stickier.

    There’s also the fact that a lot of people that call in to the technical department want to act like they know everything and you know nothing, even though they’re calling you for help.

    Until you’ve worked there and actually taken the calls, you really don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and don’t have any room to talk.

    I realize that everyone hates Comcast for one reason or another but seriously, these are things that all call centers go through, whether just for cable or not.

    Its hard to keep employees staffed these days. Comcast has pretty strict attendance policies. Miss 8 days in a year and its a write-up. 2 more times and you’re fired. 10 days is not really a lot of time if you figure that on the average, a good case of the flu can take you out for 5 to 7 days. At my call center here in CO, for example, we’ve had so many snow storms that many people can’t get to work. Due to attendance policies, people that didn’t have PTO (flex time, as its called), have been written up. Those that were on a final written have been fired.

    Its unfortunate that things like that have to happen but either way, its drastically increased call flow. We have periods where we’ll have 150 people taking calls and STILL have 170 calls in queue. Couple that with the fact that we’re just taking calls for the state of CO and that we don’t even take calls for Colorado Springs, Pueblo, or Trinidad (those areas are overflowed to us when their call centers get busy), and I think its made pretty clear that staffing needs are hard to meet.

    Some days, like this past Tuesday and Wednesday, we sat there with 110 people staffed, a 98% service level, and 0 to 5 calls in queue all day long. Other days we get into the 150 on hold scenario.

  10. CableRob says:

    I am also a Comcast employee in the high speed internet tech support department. I would like to add that a lot of the calls that tie us up are what we lovingly refer to as P.E.B.C.A.K. (Problem Exist Between the Chair and Keyboard.)

    Like the one that I received that the person said their internet was not working and the Ethernet cable was still in the box.

    There is also the one that called yelling and screaming that the internet is down for the fifth time in two weeks. After 5 – 10 minutes of looking for the account by every way I know (name, address, phone, SSN, and MAC addressoff his modem) it turns out that he is on Bellsouth DSL.

  11. falcon241073 says:

    EtherealRemnant you waited a whole 45 minutes on hold. Well, your precious company had me on hold for 1 hour 36 minutes waiting to talk to a billing rep the other night. Comcast is new in my area, taking over TimeWarner customers here, and they have blown it big time here.

    Alot of peoples bills were messed up in the first month they changed to Comcast billing (mine wasn’t) 2 months late I get a bill in with a $&.95 video promo charge in the internet section of my bill along with the $39.95 for my internet. I also get a $20.58 partial month charge in my cable section. When I finally got ahold of a human in the billing dept. she told me that she had no idea what the $47.95 video promo was and would take that off, I thnaked her for that. Then she said that the partial month was because Comcast used 4 days in their month for their billing cycle and Time Warner used 8 and it was from the moving of my date. I asked her how that was possible as my billing dates on my last one year of bills was the same as on the current one and all of them have the same due dates. She claimed to not know anything else and said I had to pay it. I asked to speak to her supervisor and she said one was not their. I asked if he was not available at that moment then I could hold for him, hell I had already held for 1 and a half hours why not a few minutes more. She said that I could not do that as there was not a supervisor on duty. I laughed so hard I thought I might cry, I have never in my life hear of any company having employees at work without some form of supervision, especially a call center. I told her I refused to pay the extra $20 on my bill and went to a local branch and talked face to face with someone who told me to pay my old amount and she would personally investigate it and would call me after the next cycle completed. (An ex TW employee who kept her job when the gustopo, I mean Comcast came to town).

    I know alot of idiots call the help lines and I feel for the harrassment and dumbness you people have to deal with. I may even have been one of the dumb ones before. So do not take this as a personal bash on any of you (unless you were the idiot I talked to that night).

    Actually I did call with an internet problem I was having. Seems I was only getting about a 200M speed instead of the promised 6K+ I was promised. A tech came out and said my lines were fine. I was stumped, as I am fairly computer savy. I called the tech support line that night and got a guy to help me, only 40 minutes hold time this time, WOOT!!! He asked what I had tried and I told him the things I did. The tech and I ran through a bunch of more ideas and tried them all to no avail. he put me on hold for about 10 minutes and went tand talked to his supervisor (OMG!!! a supervisor at comcast at around the same time of day as the other call and this time it was a Saturday and not a Wednesday like the last time). When he got back on he was kind of giggling and said to try to delete and reload my network card driver , so I did and BAM! I hit a 15K download on a speed test site. We both laughed that we had not thought of that sooner.

    So I got goos and bad to say about Comcast, unfortunatly they are losing me as a cable customer. But, I am keeping the internet.

  12. ExComcast says:

    Hello I am an ex comcast employee, I worked from the NOC, to an Infield Tech. Working for Comcast was an eye opening experience, RAMPANT Sexual Harassament in the call centers. No one there takes responsibilty for their work always pass the buck onto other people. From horrible equipment that never works. Here is an example “You as a customer order High Speed Internet, and Cable. The comcast tech bring the Equipment, but the cable box is broken, and the modem is “GHOSTING, or Duel IP Address” so it won’t go on to your account, they have to go back into their van to get more items, but this time your cable works, but your Vido on Demand doesn’t. The tech doesn’t have time to trouble shoot bc they pile on jobs, anywhere from 10 to 13 jobs a day. But back to the modem, A LOT OF techs can go through 5 modems in a job trying to figure out which one work and which don’t. When techs bring the broken equipment back to warehouse, they don’t fix them or get new ones, they put them right back onto the floor so some other techs can get bad equipment. The supervisors and everyone else say “Just get more equipment and have extra on your truck” that is their solution, but here is the problem with that, Comcast wants to inventory all trucks, and when techs turn in Equipment they still show up on their trucks. Then Comcast makes them pay for LOST EQUIPMENT, so do you want to really keep extra items on your truck?

    I can keep going on and on about how much COMCAST is the worest cable provider, I MEAN it took them forever to give me my last paycheck, and now I’m still waiting for my W2 to come in. They have the worest management, worest customer service, worest equipment. Anyone who lives in a Fios area, JUST PAY THE MONEY and get the service, you will never have a Technical issue with your service, and if you do, they will fix it on the first time out. I know there is still talk about makeing Comcast a UNION SHOP, and it needs to get done, but the managment takes advantage of not only the SUBS but their employees who do good work. If you want me to go on more, on how Comcast is the worest company to work for reply to this post and ask me what you want to know.