Maybe, just maybe, Comcast is finally getting the message.
After being repeatedly embarrassed by countless tales of unbelievably bad customer service, many of which went viral, then being forced by government regulators to drop its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable, Comcast says it's going to put $300 million toward cleaning up its act. The country's largest cable provider plans to add 5,500 customer service jobs during the next two to three years. (Some of those folks are current employees who will presumably be transferred into service jobs.) It's also building three new call centers and adding technicians.
"There are times you just need to transform things and rethink things from the base level," said Neil Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, at a recent industry trade show in Chicago. "That's what we've done."
Should you be skeptical? Of course. Comcast has abused so many customers for so long, that it should take more than promises, some of which we've heard before, to convince people an outfit that has twice been named the "Worst Company in America" by an arm of Consumer Reports finally had its come-to-Jesus moment.
The cable giant has repeatedly embarrassed itself, including an incident in which a women's billing account was renamed with a profanity following a run-in with a Comcast customer service representative. Last year, a customer who wanted to cancel his service was forced to argue with an amazingly stubborn and aggressive service rep who wouldn't take goodbye for an answer. The angry customer put a recording of the call online, and it went viral, much to Comcast's chagrin.
You get the idea. A year's worth of really bad publicity, the failure of the Time Warner merger, and increasing consumer interest in cord cutting, seems to have grabbed someone's attention in Comcastland. In addition to the hiring wave, Comcast says it will give customers $20 credits if techs are late for appointments. The company plans to redesign its bills by 2016 to make them easier to understand, and it will provide receipts for all orders and returned equipment so there are paper trails when disputes arise.
To be fair, Comcast is a very big ship, and it will take time for it to execute a turn toward better customer service. In the meantime, you should keep complaining to Comcast when it messes up, and also let consumer advocates (like me) know about the mishaps.