Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Complaining To Comcast Probably Won't Fix Your Cable, But Might Get You Fired

Did someone at Comcast get a guy fired
from his job because he complained
too much about the company's service? 
If they account in Consumerist of what happened is true, what Comcast did to a man who they apparently decided was too aggressive with his complaints is way too chilling: They got the guy fired from his job.  

The Consumerist article only gives the guy's last name, Conal, but the customer had all kinds of problems with billing, bill that were sent to an incorrect address, and $1,820 in equipment he says he never ordered and never wanted, but was charged for anyway.  

Says Consumerist:

"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, oercharge, 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 February, 2014."

With that, Conal decided he was done with Comcast's customer service reps, since they didn't resolve anyting. He called the company's Controller.

After a few unsuccessful attempts at the Comcast Controller's office, he said someone from Comcast contacted a partner at the firm Conal worked at to discuss Conal. It led to an internal ethics investigation against Conal, and Conal's subsequent firing from his job.

Comcast apparently says he mentioned his job at the accounting firm he worked for because Comcast did some business with it. Conal said he never mentioned to Comcast which firm he worked for, and Comcast looked it up. (You could do that easily with a quick Google search.)

Consumerist goes on:

"When he was fired, Conal's employer explained that the reason for the dismissal was an email from Comcast that summarized conversations between Conal and Comcast employees.

But Conal has never seen this email 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."

Again, from Consumerist:

"Even though Comcast insists that Conal attempted to leverage his place of business to get his issue resolved, it has not specifically cited languate 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?"

Comcast responded to Consumerist by not responding. Just saying they want to treat customers well, the standard PR response.

Conal has not filed a lawsuit, but he might. His lawyer has sent Comcast some letters already.

I hope there is a civil lawsuit to get to the bottom of this. Does Comcast retaliate against customers they've cheated when the customer has the gall to persistently complain about it?

Or is Conal lying or mistaken. Comcast could clear this up by releasing recordings of the phone calls and the emails involved.  If Conal is lying or wrong, it would certainly help Comcast and almost everybody else if the cable company proves it.

(By the way, if it turns out Comcast is innocent of all this, I'll post a follow up. Or if there's major new developments that prove Conal's case, I'll do the same.)

Comcast has been getting a lot of nasty publicity lately for treating customers in a well, nasty fashion.

It got to the point where Comcast admitted it will often only refund customers if the customer records the call. 

Here in Vermont, and in other states, it's illegal to record someone without their permission. So if Comcast ever cheated our household out of money, we have no recourse. I guess theft is now legal, as long as it's done by a big corporation, and not by some thug on a seedy street corner.

Free market advocates say that if a company is this bad, people just take their business elsewhere and the bad corporation either improves or goes out of business.

That's true, but in many markets, cable companies like Comcast are a monopoly. If you have a problem with them, tough. And they know that.

Maybe the drumbeat of bad publicity will make Comcast better somehow, anyway. Certainly, I imagine most Comcast employees are not evil. Perhaps many of them are overworked or poorly trained, or their internal systems could use improvement, but most people don't go out of their way to cheat or threaten others, especially customers.

I'm guessing the corporate culture at the top needs to change. Or, I know people are loathe to see more regulations, but maybe some government agency ought to ensure Comcast customers who got screwed don't screwed again.

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