Comcast Rings Out 2014 With Yet Another Tape-Recorded Customer Service Disaster

It’s been a bad year for Comcast’s customer service image — probably not what the company wants to hear when it’s trying to convince federal regulators to let it swallow up millions of Time Warner Cable customers — and while many consumers are taking this week off from work, the folks at Kabletown know that bad service doesn’t take a holiday.

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UPDATE: The customer points us to his latest update on Reddit, where he says that an Executive Customer Relations Supervisor from Comcast “apologized for the actions of the two customer retention reps” he’d dealt with before and the Executive-level rep who refused to allow his call to be recorded.

This latest rep was polite, he says, and was okay with the customer’s desire to record the conversation. She credited him a month of service and agreed to extend the promotional price he’d initially been promised for the full 12 months, meaning he’d get the Blast broadband service at the original rate through mid-August 2015.

“Today I Learned that if Comcast pushes you around, the best course of action is to expose them on social media,” he writes. “I can honestly say that this has been easier, less time-consuming, and less stressful to make and post the video than it would’ve been to dial 1-800-COMCAST again. I hope these Comcast horror stories continue to get posted so that something might change one day. Proper competition is the only answer to this solution, and I personally feel that public utilities should also operate as ISPs.”

He exhorts consumers everywhere to record their calls (which may be a bit of a legal issue, depending who you ask, as some states require explicit consent from both parties in order to record a call).

“It’s sad that I was granted my simple request only after my video had been posted to the Consumerist, Techdirt, BGR, Gawker, yahoo, etc,” he laments. “I realize that most people will simply never receive help with their complaints.”

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The latest customer service debacle comes to us via the above YouTube clip, in which a Comcast customer tries to figure out why he’s not getting the broadband package he was promised only months earlier.

See, after a few months of getting Comcast’s high-speed “Blast” service for the promotional price of around $50, the customer’s bill began to rise. When he called Comcast the other day, a rep told him that the $50 price was only good for three months and she doesn’t know where the “miscommunication” was that led him to believe that this price was intended to last a full year.

But the customer wasn’t imagining things and didn’t mishear the offer. How do we know? Because he has a recording of the call he made in August where the rep clearly and repeatedly states the $50 price is good for 12 months and does not require him to re-up his contract.

When he offers to play this recording to the rep trying to give him the bad news, he’s told that the only thing that the recording is only useful as something she could pass on to her supervisor “for coaching” purposes.

“So you’re telling me your company doesn’t stand by what they tell their customers when they’re trying to get them to sign up again?” he asks while the rep tries to say “no.”

“You said ‘I understand that she told you 12 months’ and ‘I understand that you’re saying you have a recording…’ but you’re not going to honor it because you don’t stand by your word?” the customer implores.

“I would honor if that was something that I had in front of me,” responds the rep, who claims that she is the highest-level person he can speak to and that she has access to all available promotional offers, but laments that, “Unfortunately, I do not have that promotion right now.”

After the rep explains that she can go back and tweak the dates so as to remove the most recent month’s over-charge, the customer suggests that they just go the full year and then he’ll call back at the end of that time and have the over-charges reversed then for the remaining months.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that,” says the rep.

That’s when things get really sore, as the rep tries to sell the customer on the value of paying full-price for Blast service.

Then she offers him a promotion that would be for half the speed of what he was getting at the same price as he was paying.

But of course, Comcast has charged the customer a different price each month since he first began the service, so it’s impossible to pin down exactly what he’s being offered.

“You’re doing the exact same thing as the last person,” he points out to the rep when she tries to negotiate a year of different promotional pricing. “I’ve never gotten a contract in the mail saying that I had this new price. What the hell are you going to send me? It’s just your word, and you obviously don’t honor what other people say.”

She then says that they send customers the contract “via e-mail, usually.”

“So I should have a contract from the last one?” he challenges.

A hesitant rep replies, “This one I can send to you. I wasn’t the last person you talked to, so I don’t know who the last person you talked to was.”

On Reddit, the customer provides an update, saying that he spoke to someone from Comcast Executive Customer Relations who refused to allow him to record the call.

However, this rep did send him an e-mail saying the call couldn’t be recorded “due to the nature of the reasons or possible intent that you may have for the recording,” like, for example, wanting a concrete record of what someone from Comcast tells you.

This rep says that, after listening to the “original and unedited version of your initial call,” (funny how the previous rep said she had no record of who he’d talked to back in August), that the customer had been given the “correct information on the service plan and promotional services at the time.”

The rep explains that the promotional pricing was for the entire pay-TV and broadband package, but that the upgrade to Blast Internet was only good through October.

“We have extended this promotional offer as a gesture of good will for an additional 12 months as long as you understand that at the end of that term if you wish to keep it, it will be billed at its standard rate,” reads the message from the rep.

The customer maintains that he was promised a year of the high-speed Blast service for a full 12 months and believes that while Comcast isn’t “accepting responsibility for anything, but they are offering me something.”

He’s asked Comcast to clarify that he will receive “100mbps down, 25mbps up” service at a monthly total of $53.85 and is currently waiting for a response.

When reached for comment by Consumerist, a Comcast rep said, “This certainly isn’t the type of experience we want our customers to have. We have reached out to the customer and are continuing to look into this.”

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  1. StevenPierce says:

    Funny how they don’t want to record your call but they record all their calls. Comcast can go back several months to listen to previous calls.

    • Snarkapus says:

      Well, that was a 1/1 conversation so both parties had to agree. If it had been someone dialing in to the general help line the announcement “this call may be recorded….” gives both sides carte blanche to record, as the customer did at first.

      That being said, the Comcast rep was in an impossible position and I thought she did really well with what she had to work with.

  2. mjd74 says:

    This is why I contact Customer Service departments via Live Chat whenever possible.

  3. webalias says:

    In all but about 12 states, one can legally record a conversation with a Comcast rep — or anybody else — whether or not Comcast consents or is aware of the recording. Comcast obviously doesn’t like being recorded, and its reps may well threaten and attempt to intimidate you if Comcast is aware of the recording. In my case, a Minnesota Comcast rep advised me that I was violating the law by recording her, and stated that she was going to “report” my illegal activity to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. How ludicrous — I wonder if she was making this up on the fly, or had been instructed to bully and lie to customers who disclose that they are lawfully recording these conversions. In any case, no “report” or complaint was ever filed with the Minnesota PUC — except by me, against Comcast.
    (A summary of consent requirements by state is available here: http://www.aapsonline.org/judicial/telephone.htm.)

  4. Xenotaku says:

    I was with him up until HE bullied the rep into giving him an extra credit every month to guarantee his “quoted” price, despite the fact that the quoted prices are generally pre-taxes and fees, and he’s refusing to pay extra if the taxes go up.