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Comcast v Ryan Block
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Clinically Insane
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Jul 15, 2014, 09:44 AM
 
https://soundcloud.com/ryan-block-10/comcastic-service

Eight full minutes of interrogation to cancel service.

I would have been full-on shouting expletives, and threatening legal action at about the halfway point.

Assuming I wasn't one of the world's most notable tech pundits taping the shit.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 10:22 AM
 
What a belligerent salesperson. How is it customer retention to annoy the customer at that point? Do salespeople get docked pay for customers who cancel? That's the only reason I can think of for this guy being so... #$%^&*( PERSISTENT.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 10:28 AM
 
They have to have certain retention numbers if that's what you're asking.

Someone on ars put it well: This may not be how they're trained to work, but it's definitely how they're paid to work.
     
subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 11:02 AM
 
Canceling my DSL was very satisfying...

AT&T: Why do you want to cancel?
subego: Too slow.
AT&T: I can check to see if we have faster service available to you.
subego: I'm getting 100/15 from my new provider.
AT&T: Let's get than cancellation processed, then!
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 11:12 AM
 
That's reminiscent of trying to cancel AOL.
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church" Saint Tertullian, 197 AD
     
subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 11:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
They have to have certain retention numbers if that's what you're asking.

Someone on ars put it well: This may not be how they're trained to work, but it's definitely how they're paid to work.
And they're being taped and checked in on by their bosses. If this was a problem, he'd get dressed down.

10-to-1 this gambit works on muggles about 70-90% of the time.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 11:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
10-to-1 this gambit works on muggles about 70-90% of the time.
Depends on what you mean by work. If you get paid by the numbers, the your goal is merely not to have the customer cancel with you. If you're frustrating enough that the customer hangs up and tries again later with someone else, you win even though the business loses.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 11:25 AM
 
It would be one thing if he was offering special deals as an incentive to retain the customer, (and some customers call to cancel just to hear those offers) but he's just badgering.
     
subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 11:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Depends on what you mean by work. If you get paid by the numbers, the your goal is merely not to have the customer cancel with you. If you're frustrating enough that the customer hangs up and tries again later with someone else, you win even though the business loses.
I agree, but I think we're still at a point where people are waffling. Those people probably won't call back... at least for awhile. That said, it's a short-sighted policy. No question.
( Last edited by subego; Jul 15, 2014 at 12:07 PM. )
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:03 PM
 
Saddim's guide to dealing with corporate shenanigans like this. (because wasting more than 5 minutes talking with retention depts is too much)

Step 1: Setup service with unique payment, like a CC number specifically generated for that purpose.
Step 2. Use service.
Step 3. When it comes time to cancel, send registered letter to their billing office informing them that you're quitting their service (cc a copy to your attorney).
Step 4: Cancel CC number used to pay for said service.
Step 5: Do the Hustle!
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:11 PM
 
You've substituted the time it takes to talk to them by hiring a lawyer, having several different credit cards and sending a registered letter. I think they won.
     
subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:12 PM
 
For whatever reason, my favorite part is Ryan telling them they should hire a consulting firm or something to answer these questions.

I think I like it because it's the only hint he gives that Comcast is ****ing with the wrong guy. The rest of it is pure rope-a-dope.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
You've substituted the time it takes to talk to them by hiring a lawyer, having several different credit cards and sending a registered letter. I think they won.
I had a similar thought.

That's the real crime here. Comcast is wasting valuable time.

Though, he had it easy compared to getting a goddamn CableCard installed.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:32 PM
 
Ugh. Rogers wasn't that bad when I »broke up« with them, but they still tried to tempt me with special offers and such.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
You've substituted the time it takes to talk to them by hiring a lawyer, having several different credit cards and sending a registered letter. I think they won.
Hire a lawyer? Don't most folks already have a lawyer? They don't charge me to just put a letter in my file, that's craziness.*
Generating a card number with AmEx or Visa takes 2 minutes or less from your account page, from then on the bill just shows up on your main account, since the unique number for them is tied to it.
A registered letter can be purchased online now; print the label and slap it on a small manilla envelope. The cost is $3, or something like that.

I've done this, I know that it works and it keeps them from becoming an annoyance.


*You can also bluff by making it look like you're CCing a copy to a lawyer.

-----
(Feel free to use the following, or any derivation thereof.)


From: John Q. Public (the Righteous)
To: Comcast Billing Dept (the Leeches)
CC. Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe (my ball-busting lawyers)

Re. Account number: 00006660U812

I'm cancelling all of my services with you, effective immediately. As in, right now. No further communication with your company is required or desired, or, in other words; don't contact me over this, ever, just turn off the services. Now.


Truly most sincerely,
John Q. Public


P.S. - "Now" means NOW.
P.P.S. - I've already cancelled your source for funds.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:43 PM
 
Comcast was surprisingly reasonable with me, though I did have pat answers to all the stock questions.

Phone: I need a phone line which isn't dependent on my Internet connection.
Cable: I don't watch TV. At all.
Internet: I'm switching to Comcast Business.

That last one got me an instant shutdown.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:44 PM
 
I call CenturyLink quarterly to find out when our are wil go from ADSL2 to VDSL2. The last time I called I mentioned that Cox is blanketing our area with flyers. The CSR response was "we'll be sorry to lose you". Cox is advertising 1GB on billboards around Phoenix now. What websites have 1GB upload speeds? I heard most max out at 10MB.
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church" Saint Tertullian, 197 AD
     
subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Hire a lawyer? Don't most folks already have a lawyer? They don't charge me to just put a letter in my file, that's craziness.*
Not only do most people not have one, a large percentage of those who do don't do enough work with them to get a pro bono thrown in.

I don't think my lawyer would charge for that, but he charges up the ass for every other goddamn thing. The moment I set foot in the place I can feel the money start flying out of my ass.

That said, he's really good. Saved a friend from jail time. He was guilty, too.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 12:58 PM
 
Shaddim uses Boston-based lawyers! Same firm the Car Talk guys use. Small world.

     
subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 01:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chongo View Post
I call CenturyLink quarterly to find out when our are wil go from ADSL2 to VDSL2. The last time I called I mentioned that Cox is blanketing our area with flyers. The CSR response was "we'll be sorry to lose you". Cox is advertising 1GB on billboards around Phoenix now. What websites have 1GB upload speeds? I heard most max out at 10MB.
You can't make full use of gigabit Internet with just one computer, but if you have multiple people using multiple computers, you can have each of them getting 10 megabits down without interfering with each other.

Likewise, if the site is hosted on a decent CDN, I imagine it can shoot stuff out faster than 10Mb/sec.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 01:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Not only do most people not have one, a large percentage of those who do don't do enough work with them to get a pro bono thrown
Bingo, most commonly you find a friend or family member who is a lawer to help you out, but "most people already have a lawyer" uhh not at all.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 01:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Not only do most people not have one, a large percentage of those who do don't do enough work with them to get a pro bono thrown in.

I don't think my lawyer would charge for that, but he charges up the ass for every other goddamn thing. The moment I set foot in the place I can feel the money start flying out of my ass.

That said, he's really good. Saved a friend from jail time. He was guilty, too.
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
Bingo, most commonly you find a friend or family member who is a lawer to help you out, but "most people already have a lawyer" uhh not at all.
Like I said, you can just fake the lawyer part, they won't know.

Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Shaddim uses Boston-based lawyers! Same firm the Car Talk guys use. Small world.

Yup! I hate all ethically-challenged, predatory lawyers... except mine, of course.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
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subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 01:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
Bingo, most commonly you find a friend or family member who is a lawer to help you out, but "most people already have a lawyer" uhh not at all.
And all the lawyers I know friggin hate that, because it puts this weird pressure on them where what's supposed to be a job is now personal, and hence failures become personal.

Same goes for family and friends who are in finance.

Not an admonition, just an observation.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 01:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
Bingo, most commonly you find a friend or family member who is a lawer to help you out, but "most people already have a lawyer" uhh not at all.
Shaddim will bet you $10,000 that they do.


I keed Shaddim
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 02:02 PM
 
The last few times I've had to cancel a service via phone I've told the rep that I'm moving somewhere they don't offer service. Seems to be the easiest way to get out without aggravation.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 02:36 PM
 
Mr. Block could probably have taken that route.

When I cancelled Comcast, I told them I was going to Verizon for a better deal. I gave them the option to match the deal, and they declined. Ah well.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 02:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
https://soundcloud.com/ryan-block-10/comcastic-service

Eight full minutes of interrogation to cancel service.

I would have been full-on shouting expletives, and threatening legal action at about the halfway point.

Assuming I wasn't one of the world's most notable tech pundits taping the shit.
That was simply astonishing. I would have done everything in my power to make sure this dude was so fired. Block actually did him a favor by omitting the portion of the recording where the guy said his name. I most definitely would NOT have been so kind.

OAW
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 03:30 PM
 
When I cancelled Comcast TV service (kept Internet) back in December 2010, I told them that Dish Network had better pricing. They went ahead and did it, without any "bickering", etc. In December 2012, when I decided to go back to Comcast (adding Voice service for our land line phone), I had no issues cancelling TV service with Dish Network (they even sent me the prepaid boxes to return both the boxes and remote controls (had 3 of each)).

I am not sure what the person's wife went through, but the caller had quite a few choices on how to proceed:

1) Unless they are in a real remote area, they could have went into a Comcast store and done it with no hassle (caller never stated how far away a Comcast store was). For myself, given that cable cards are almost obsolete (given newer TVs), I would have to return the 4 Comcast boxes and remotes, and thus need to go to a nearby Comcast store (at least 2 of them not far from us).

2) Either ask for the Comcast representative's supervisor, or hang up and call back later. Those customer service folks are just human beings, and thus one is different from another.

3) The caller could have just given some reasons for cancelling. When I did it back in December 2010, I just told the Comcast person that I can get better pricing with Dish Network That's all it took.

While the Comcast person kept asking for a reason for cancellation, he did not do it in a "belligerent" way. But, I do agree that he sure was persistent, and was somewhat attempting to put up road blocks.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 03:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
3) The caller could have just given some reasons for cancelling. When I did it back in December 2010, I just told the Comcast person that I can get better pricing with Dish Network That's all it took.
According the the description, the recording started about 10 minutes into the call, and Block had already given his reasons during that time. But honestly, if you don't want to disclose your reasons, that has to be acceptable. The customer service guy was outright refusing to accept the cancellation order.
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subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 04:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
1) Unless they are in a real remote area, they could have went into a Comcast store and done it with no hassle (caller never stated how far away a Comcast store was). For myself, given that cable cards are almost obsolete (given newer TVs), I would have to return the 4 Comcast boxes and remotes, and thus need to go to a nearby Comcast store (at least 2 of them not far from us).
The one by me is called the "Courtesy Center".

It has 2" thick bulletproof glass. Presumably as a "courtesy".

The shortest wait I've had there is 20 minutes.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 04:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
According the the description, the recording started about 10 minutes into the call, and Block had already given his reasons during that time. But honestly, if you don't want to disclose your reasons, that has to be acceptable. The customer service guy was outright refusing to accept the cancellation order.
Here is what the "description" says:

"So! Last week my wife called to disconnect our service with Comcast after we switched to another provider (Astound). We were transferred to cancellations (aka "customer retention").

The representative (name redacted) continued aggressively repeating his questions, despite the answers given, to the point where my wife became so visibly upset she handed me the phone."

It does not specifically state whether or not his wife had given reasons. In fact, near the beginning of the husband's conversation, he explicitly says "I am declining to state why we are leaving Comcast because I don't owe you an explanation". So, it does not sound like any reason for cancellation was given.

Yes, the caller does not have to give any reason for cancellation. Again, given the road blocks put up by the Comcast rep, Mr. Block could have just hung up, and called back later. If that second call started off badly, he could have immediately asked to speak to a supervisor.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 04:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The one by me is called the "Courtesy Center".

It has 2" thick bulletproof glass. Presumably as a "courtesy".

The shortest wait I've had there is 20 minutes.
The ones near me do not have bullet proof glass. Also, wait time varies significantly by time of day. For one of my visits (to pay our bill), I did not have to wait at all.
     
subego  (op)
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Jul 15, 2014, 04:31 PM
 
I'm in Chicago, and he's in either New York or San Francisco, I forget. I'd guess his is more similar to mine.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 04:37 PM
 
Go to a *store* to pay a bill? I suppose that's still a thing...

The customer service rep may not have been swearing and calling the customer names, but I still say he was belligerent in his insistence. The volume of his voice was raised, and his tone was condescending.

As another poster pointed out, getting Mr. Block to hang up and call again could be a strategy to preserve his loss record... but his tactics are "cut off your nose to save your face".

Comcast is embarrassed:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechcons...ds?ft=1&f=1001
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 04:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Here is what the "description" says:
???
Here is the description I see (emphasis mine):
Originally Posted by Soundcloud description
Please note: this conversation starts about 10 minutes in -- by this point my wife and I are both completely flustered by the oppressiveness of the rep.

So! Last week my wife called to disconnect our service with Comcast after we switched to another provider (Astound). We were transferred to cancellations (aka "customer retention").

The representative (name redacted) continued aggressively repeating his questions, despite the answers given, to the point where my wife became so visibly upset she handed me the phone. Overhearing the conversation, I knew this would not be very fun.

What I did not know is how oppressive this conversation would be. Within just a few minutes the representative had gotten so condescending and unhelpful I felt compelled to record the speakerphone conversation on my other phone.

This recording picks up roughly 10 minutes into the call, whereby she and I have already played along and given a myriad of reasons and explanations as to why we are canceling (which is why I simply stopped answering the rep's repeated question -- it was clear the only sufficient answer was "Okay, please don't disconnect our service after all.").

Please forgive the echoing and ratcheting sound, I was screwing together some speaker wires in an empty living room!
Since this part was not recorded, I don't know whether the reasons that were given were »satisfactory«, but seeing how belligerent the sales rep is, I don't think any reason would have satisfied him.
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Yes, the caller does not have to give any reason for cancellation. Again, given the road blocks put up by the Comcast rep, Mr. Block could have just hung up, and called back later. If that second call started off badly, he could have immediately asked to speak to a supervisor.
I don't think customer support should be this disastrously bad, you shouldn't need to speak to a supervisor to cancel your subscription.
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Jul 15, 2014, 04:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Go to a *store* to pay a bill? I suppose that's still a thing...
I've only gone there to replace broken shit with broken shit to be.
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 09:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Generating a card number with AmEx or Visa takes 2 minutes or less from your account page,
What Amex card ?
American Express Serve ?

I don't think any of my regular Amex cards offer that service.

-t
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 11:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Go to a *store* to pay a bill? I suppose that's still a thing...
I actually was a little late with my payment (not late enough for a penalty), and the store was on my way where I was headed to (went hiking). Hence, it was not out of the way.

Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
The customer service rep may not have been swearing and calling the customer names, but I still say he was belligerent in his insistence. The volume of his voice was raised, and his tone was condescending.

As another poster pointed out, getting Mr. Block to hang up and call again could be a strategy to preserve his loss record... but his tactics are "cut off your nose to save your face".
I've had a few "bad" dealings with customer service reps, including a couple with Comcast. I don't let it go on and on like he did. I either ask to speak to a supervisor, or hang up and call back later. To me, that is a better strategy.

As well as they should be. But, I would not be surprised if something like this (or similar) happens again.
( Last edited by akent35; Jul 16, 2014 at 12:23 AM. )
     
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Jul 15, 2014, 11:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
???
Here is the description I see (emphasis mine):

Since this part was not recorded, I don't know whether the reasons that were given were »satisfactory«, but seeing how belligerent the sales rep is, I don't think any reason would have satisfied him.

I don't think customer support should be this disastrously bad, you shouldn't need to speak to a supervisor to cancel your subscription.
Oops! I missed the part:

"This recording picks up roughly 10 minutes into the call, whereby she and I have already played along and given a myriad of reasons and explanations as to why we are canceling"

Thanks for the correction. Still don't understand, though, why Mr. Block would have said "I am declining to state why we are leaving Comcast because I don't owe you an explanation". Maybe that was out of frustration for already stating the reasons why they were cancelling their service.

And yes, it normally should not be necessary to ask for a supervisor, but sometimes you have no choice.
     
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Jul 16, 2014, 07:40 AM
 
I would have given as a reason for leaving ComCast : Bad Customer Service............
     
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Jul 16, 2014, 09:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
I would have given as a reason for leaving ComCast : Bad Customer Service............
That's a good one! Might need to use it, in case I ever decide to cancel Comcast.
     
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Jul 16, 2014, 05:23 PM
 
former comcast employees confirm the tactic was used to prevent losses for the rep. 3 losses per day, and they're out? Yeesh!

Comcast Employees Say Needy Retention Call Is Totally Normal – Consumerist
     
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Jul 16, 2014, 07:11 PM
 
Not quite that bad. 3+ losses for three consecutive days, according to the link. So 12 or more in three days, and you're out. But considering their call volume, that's still ridiculous.
     
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Jul 17, 2014, 08:43 AM
 
That number doesn't seem possible to avoid. How many calls a day are they taking?
     
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Jul 17, 2014, 10:42 AM
 
Thanks Reader, you are correct. I was skimming.

They probably take dozens, if not hundreds of calls... but by stretching them out like this rep did, he's covering himself two ways. Making the caller give up and call someone else to quit, and eating up time that he could be getting other calls from irate customers.

This description of "customer service" is beginning to sound like a Vonnegut novel.
     
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Jul 17, 2014, 11:58 AM
 
Some more examples of bad customer service with cable companies:

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/6-jaw-dro...950382669.html

Man, one of them needed a group to attorneys to solve!
     
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Jul 17, 2014, 01:30 PM
 
This has hit basically every news outlet.

Die in a fire, Comcast. Die in a fire.
     
Games Meister
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Eternity
Status: Offline
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Jul 17, 2014, 01:32 PM
 
Best part: Have yet to see them referred to as Xfinity.
     
Banned
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Kent, Washington (Up in God's Country!)
Status: Offline
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Jul 17, 2014, 01:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
This has hit basically every news outlet.

Die in a fire, Comcast. Die in a fire.
Yes, it has. And it also is what led to the link on yahoo I posted above. Most of those horror stories are associated with Comcast (my provider, by the way; so far, no issues), but the billing one with AT&T is something else!
     
subego  (op)
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Online
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Jul 17, 2014, 02:26 PM
 
My Comcast horror story was needing four individual appointments to get a CableCard installed.

IIRC, it went something like this...

Right off the bat I said I wanted to do a self install, they said they don't do that.

First appointment: took three hours, no luck. All the cards were duds.

Second appointment: didn't have the correct CableCards.

Third appointment. Never showed up. Ended up in a huge fight with a CSR, who claimed he "understood how I felt" after being three days in the hole on this. Actually, no, you don't.

Fourth appointment: didn't have any CableCards, but helpfully mentions "you can do a self install on these, that would be a lot easier for you".
     
 
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