Comcast Apologizes For $2 Charge, Says It Will Make Sure CSRs Don't Do That Anymore

After we posted yesterday about Ian’s surprise $1.99 fee for asking Comcast to stop mailing him junk mail, a Comcast rep contacted Ian and apologized for the confusion, explaining that the fee is real but “it is not for changing marketing preferences.” Read his full email after the jump.

Dear Ian:

On behalf of Comcast I would like to apologize for the $1.99 fee being assessed to your account. This fee is assessed when you make changes to your account, like changing the level of services you receive, but it is not for changing marketing preferences. This should not have happened, and we’ve reviewed your account to verify that the marketing profile has been updated properly and the credit has been applied to your account. Per my voicemail, we have laced an additional credit on your account for the trouble that you experienced.

We’ve also coached the representative who processed the change to your account and are taking steps to make sure this process is clear to all of our representatives, so this doesn’t happen again.

We’d like to thank you for sharing this feedback with us and thank you for being a valued Comcast customer!

Sincerely,
Frank Eliason

Ian also wrote back to us with his side of the story—it looks like Frank made sure he was compensated for the wrong fee and the annoyance:

[Frank] explained that the charge on my bill was the result of someone’s mistake rather than Comcast policy and credited me for a month of service.

We also got this explanation sent in by a Comcast employee who asked to remain anonymous:

I work for Comcast and I think I know what is going on with the $1.99 charge to stop sending junk mail.

In some markets (mostly the old AT&T Broadband ones), there are small fees for making a change to your account that is processed in the back office and don’t require a technician to go to the customer’s home. Such changes include things like:

– Upgrading or downgrading digital cable service from one tier to another.
– Upgrading or downgrading the speed of a customer’s high speed internet service.
– Adding or removing calling features on Comcast Digital Voice.

Some markets make these changes for free; others charge a small fee for this (the decision is made by the local market, not by Philadelphia, so complaints to people in the market and the local franchise authority may help). The largest fee that I am aware of is $5.

Here’s where the junk mail part comes in: in those old AT&T Broadband markets, we control things like stopping junk mail, stopping bill inserts, etc. by adding a line item to the customer’s bill. It doesn’t charge the customer anything, it just notifies us that the customer doesn’t want junk mail.

However, to add this line item to the customer’s bill, the representative is required to enter a change of service order, just as if the customer had requested an actual change in the services they want from us. So this is really a matter of Hanlon’s Razor, not deliberate company policy.

The best way to avoid this charge in the first place is to bundle a request to stop junk mail with another change of service. Requesting no junk mail at the time you get your service installed is one good way. The alternative is to call in after the charge has “posted” to your account and ask for it to be reversed, like your submitter did.

As I don’t work in public relations, I’d appreciate it if you could keep my name and position out of this. I’m in the sometimes uncomfortable position of seeing a lot about how the system works but not having the power or authority to do anything to change it, other than advocating for more customer friendly policies with my superiors (which I try to do on a routine basis).

(Photo: Tyler Durden’s Imaginary Friend)