I’ve never come across a company that delivers so many poor customer service experiences to so many people. Making the matter even worse is Comcast’s status as the largest cable TV provider in the country. It intends to get even larger by buying Time Warner Cable — the second largest provider.
In recognition of these and many other problems plaguing consumers, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is my Bozo of the Month, an “honor” I don’t hand out lightly. (I’ve reached out to Comcast for comment on the latest mishap but have not yet heard back.)
Let’s start with the latest adventure in bad customer service. (There’s a complete account of this on The Consumerist.) Comcast customer Tim Davis, who frequently posts on YouTube, moved and wanted to start service at his new apartment. He did a simple self-install, and everything was fine. At first.
A few weeks later his Internet connection got flaky, and a call to the company indicated that the problem was on its lines, not on Davis’s equipment. He was told that a tech would come out free of charge.
After the tech fixed the problem, Davis received a bill that included a $99.99 charge for “Failed Self Install,” another $32 fee for “Failed Video [Self Install Kit],” and a $49.95 charge for “Wireless Network SET Up.” That’s $181.94 in total.
Davis told Comcast in a phone call that there was no “failed self install” and the tech did not set up a wireless network. The representative didn’t believe him until he played her a recording he had made of the original call to Comcast in which he was told that he would not be charged. Eventually, the charge was dropped and the company admitted that it was only dropped because he had recorded evidence. Here’s a video Davis made of his interactions with Comcast. (Warning: It contains some salty language.)
The New Mexico incident was similar. The customer was told that a visit from a Comcast service tech would be free, but when the technician arrived he told her she would be charged. The customer got so mad, she threw him out. When he returned later to pick up his tools, she tossed him out again — at gunpoint.
I certainly don’t think anyone should pull a gun on a Comcast rep or anyone else to display displeasure, and maybe she’s unbalanced. However, the weird incident — and the fact that it was well publicized — underscores just how frustrated Comcast customers have become.
Comcast acknowledged that the incident in which the customer was forced to argue for nearly an hour before a representative let him cancel was embarrassing and unacceptable. “We are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect,” Comcast said in a public statement.
But judging by Tim Davis’s recent experience, “utmost respect” only applies if you resort to a surreptitious recording.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.