Unhappy Customer: Comcast Told My Employer About Complaint, Got Me Fired

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter RSS Feed

Unhappy Customer: Comcast Told My Employer About Complaint, Got Me Fired

Image courtesy of (Knight725)

UPDATE #3: Conal has filed a lawsuit against the cable giant in a federal court in California, alleging that — among other claims — Comcast violated a federal law prohibiting cable companies from sharing customers’ information without their consent.

UPDATE #2: Comcast has apologized for the horrible service and billing that Conal experienced during his year-plus as a customer, but says that “nobody at Comcast asked for him to be fired.”


UPDATE: Conal’s former employers have given a brief explanation of his dismissal, without providing any details as to what exactly he said to Comcast that merited terminating his employment.


When you complain to your cable company, you certainly don’t expect that the cable company will then contact your employer and discuss your complaint. But that’s exactly what happened to one former Comcast customer who says he was fired after the cable company called a partner at his accounting firm.


Conal began subscribing to Comcast service in early 2013 after he says he was sold a 9-month promotional pricing offer. But from the start, there were issues with his service, as he was being charged for set-top boxes that had yet to be activated. Additionally, someone at Comcast billing had misspelled Conal’s last name, meaning some of his bills were not being delivered.

He says he met with a Comcast rep in May 2013 about the billing issues and promised they would all be sorted out, but things only got worse.

A few months later, the promotional discount shrunk and Conal’s monthly bill increased by $20, in addition to still being charged for unactivated devices in his house. Comcast also twice charged him an additional $7 for a second modem he did not have.

Meanwhile, attempts to get a resolution from Comcast went unanswered.


He attempted to cancel his service in Oct. 2013 but says a Comcast rep convinced him that the billing issues would be resolved and that he would get free DVR service and The Movie Channel for three months as compensation.

But things didn’t just continue as they had before; Comcast somehow managed to sink even lower than it had before, sending Conal about a dozen pieces of equipment that he didn’t order.

“There were a few DVRs, modem, standard boxes and equipment that I was unfamiliar with,” he says.

Making matters worse, Comcast billed him $1,820 for all this stuff he’d never requested and had no use for.

When Conal returned all the equipment to Comcast and, being an experienced accountant at one of the nation’s most prestigious firms, even prepared a spreadsheet detailing every charge, overcharge, payment and credit on his account for his brief time as a Comcast customer.

He says even this didn’t convince Comcast that there was a problem and that Conal had been overcharged. And even though it wasn’t yet past due, Comcast sent Conal’s account into collections in Feb. 2014.


And so on Feb. 6, 2014, he chose to try going above Comcast’s customer service, which hadn’t been of any help in the year he’d been a subscriber, and instead contacted the office of the company’s Controller. He spoke to someone in that office who promised Conal would receive a call back to address the issues.

He describes that callback as “bizarre,” with the rep not identifying which company she was calling from, just starting out with “How can I help you?” Then she kept insisting that a technician had shown up for an appointment, but wouldn’t specify which appointment. The rep then began asking him for the color of his house.

So he tried the Controller’s office again, to let them know that the rep they’d sent his way had failed miserably at her job.

During this call, he says that he mentioned that Comcast’s billing and accounting issues should probably be investigated by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), a private-sector oversight operation. This ultimately led to two service calls where no one ever showed up and no explanations were given.

But something did happen. Just not anything good.


Remember how we briefly mentioned above that Conal worked for a large, prestigious accounting firm? Comcast certainly noticed that fact, especially since that firm is one that does business with Comcast.

At some point shortly after that call, someone from Comcast contacted a partner at the firm to discuss Conal. This led to an ethics investigation and Conal’s subsequent dismissal from his job; a job where he says he’d only received positive feedback and reviews for his work.

Comcast maintained that Conal used the name of his employer in an attempt to get leverage. Conal insists that he never mentioned his employer by name, but believes that someone in the Comcast Controller’s office looked him up online and figured out where he worked.

When he was fired, Conal’s employer explained that the reason for the dismissal was an e-mail from Comcast that summarized conversations between Conal and Comcast employees.

But Conal has never seen this e-mail in order to say whether it’s accurate and Comcast has thus far refused to release any tapes of the phone calls related to this matter.

And while his former employer did provide consulting services to Comcast, it was not the accounting firm that audited Comcast’s books. So Conal doesn’t quite see how mentioning the name of his employer would have helped gain him any leverage.

In response to a letter from Conal’s lawyer — he has not filed a lawsuit, but it’s not out of the question — Comcast’s Senior Deputy General Counsel admits that the company did contact Conal’s employer but says that Conal “is not in a position to complain that the firm came to learn” about his dispute with Comcast.


I think whether or not Conal mentioned his employer is beside the point. The problem should not have reached the point where he was even reaching out the Comcast Controller’s office.

Had the billing issues been fixed on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth chance that he gave Comcast to address the issue, the call in question would never have happened.

And even if Conal did identify his employer in the hope of getting his billing issue fixed, he wouldn’t have been trying to get preferential treatment; just the service he’d paid for.

I’m also curious why, even though Comcast insists that Conal attempted to leverage his place of business to get his issue resolved, it has not specifically cited language that he allegedly used in the call.

How many times a day do Comcast reps hear a customer say something like “I’m a lawyer” or “I’m a big shot at [fill in the blank]”? How many of those result in Comcast going out of its way to contact that customer’s employer?

We reached out to Comcast to ask whether it’s company policy to contact customers’ employers. No one answered that question, but a rep for Comcast did give a brief statement.

“Our customers deserve the best experience every time they interact with us,” reads the statement. Comcast says it has previously apologized to Conal, but adds “we will review his lawyer’s letter and respond as quickly as possible.”

Read Comments12

Edit Your Comment

  1. NorthernPike says:

    Isn’t this a big violation of the FDCA (Fair Debt Collection Act)?
    I thought contacting an employer about a debt was prohibited just for this kind of reason.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      It wasn’t about the debt, from what the article said, it sounds like Comcast could have complained to the employer about “threats” over an account dispute without mentioning the existence of a debt, much less any information about it.

    • webalias says:

      The Fair Debt Collection Act doesn’t apply here. It would apply if Comcast had hired a collection agency to go after the customer and they had harassed him, but it doesn’t apply to businesses that collect their own debts. He still may have a case though, and I hope he sues.

  2. oomingmak says:

    I think this is a time when “lawyering up” is entirely reasonable. If Conal can prove that Comcast told his employer anything that wasn’t 100% accurate I think he’ll have quite a case against them.

  3. Liberal says:

    They have the mark of the beast on every employee forehead at that company.

  4. SingleMaltGeek says:

    While Comcrap was as bad as we’ve come to expect, I lay the majority of the blame for the firing on Conal’s employer. I wish they had been publicly named and shamed here, as they were responsible for firing someone who claims to be an excellent employee for something that had absolutely nothing to do with his job performance. It’s possible Conal is spinning an intricate conspiracy fantasy, but that should be trivial to prove for Comcast or his employer.

    • webalias says:

      I lay the blame at Comcast. In most states employment is 
”at will,” and an employee can be fired at any time for any reason, good or bad, performance related or not. Unfortunately, unless there’s a contract that says otherwise or another law is being violated, you can probably be terminated because the boss doesn’t like color of your tie, or the kind of car you drive. In this case, if the employee indeed tried to use or leverage his relationship with his employer in his negotiations with Comcast, I’d have fired him, too — even though I despise Comcast. Of course, if I ruled the world, I’d want to fire (or avoid hiring) anybody who subscribed to Comcast, as such a decision obviously indicates poor judgment and lack of good analytical skills.

  5. Grey says:

    I find it really hard to believe that “someone in the Comcast Controller’s office looked him up online and figured out where he worked”. If he never mentioned his employer’s name, what could possibly be Comcast’s motive for doing that? What do they have to gain by talking with Conal’s bosses about his account?

    It seems more likely that Comcast thought they might lose a large account and called to do some damage control.

    • furiousd says:

      It’s likely because it’s easy to do. Imagine for how unique his name is, coupled with the other information they have on file. It would be all too easy, and someone in the corporate offices would recognize the name of his company and know who to contact to cause him trouble. Heck, I had an issue with our legal team and looked up the person I was working with and her boss in order to determine if any of the lawyers I knew in the area knew them and could help me out cashing in favours or knowing the demeanor of the person what route to take in getting them to help me out.

      • Grey says:

        Sure it’s easy, and I understand your reason for researching someone. However, I still don’t see any motive for Comcast to do it. What did they have to gain? Just to cause him trouble? Why?

        • CzarChasm says:

          I agree Grey, Occam’s Razor would suggest that he was the one mentioning his company in order to throw his weight around.

        • furiousd says:

          Just to posit, but it’s possible the same motive was in play which causes businesses to pay out frivolous lawsuits because the cost of defending yourself against it is either too high financially or via damaged reputation. Usually it’s the other way around, but they may have done this in order to make the guy go away. Poor business practice, certainly. And I’d be interested to see if anything more comes of this as I assume that Comcast has recordings of the calls. Whether he mentioned his company to try and get impotent leverage or someone at Comcast did some quick digging, the fact remains that the employer was contacted by Comcast

          When he was fired, Conal’s employer explained that the reason for the dismissal was an e-mail from Comcast that summarized conversations between Conal and Comcast employees.

          which should never have happened. The only possible situation in which I could reasonably expect a company I do business with to contact my employer would be to verify employment either for loan eligibility or to confirm the application of a negotiated discount arranged by HR. Clearly this was neither, and I know of no precedent which would make this whole situation illegal, but it’s a grand unfortunate mess to say the least.