back to article How's this for customer service: Comcast calls bloke an A**HOLE – and even puts it in print

A Washington woman in the US has revealed how Comcast made her husband the butt of a joke – by changing his name to "Asshole" on their account. Journalist Christopher Elliott reports that Lisa Brown contacted him after a Comcast employee changed her hubby Ricardo's name on their records to "Asshole Brown" – as is clear in the …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge
    Devil

    Yep! That's ComCrap

    I love inserting the word crap into crap companies names... try it. If you're in the Netherlands, think CrapPN. It's a game the whole family can enjoy!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Yep! That's ComCrap

      From where I sit, that's any of the cable companies.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Yep! That's ComCrap

        I still think Scumcast has a ring to it!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yep! That's ComCrap

          ring? more like rim.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Yep! That's ComCrap

        From where I sit, that's any of the cable companies.

        Some are worse than others. We currently have WOW, which really isn't all that bad. They keep dropping the channels we actually want, in favor of ones we don't, but aside from that we've had better service from them than from any other cable company I've had to deal with.

    2. swschrad

      more like CommieCrap

      you don't like what they're doing to you, you go to the gulags. lovely business plan.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: more like CommieCrap

        Now that funny too! The comedic double! Well done! Up vote!

  2. cortland

    Flypaper Internet service?

    That's what it is.

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    Retention agents? I don't even talk to them.

    My favourite phrase "I just have to ask you these questions, sir, before I can do X".

    No. You don't. You just don't want me to say no without getting bored of your rhetoric first. At that point of the phone call, I generally just say "Sorry, no, no, no, no, no, not interested. You know who I am, you know what I'm requesting, I consider this conversation over, this is your notification of termination."

    And there's a reason that I record my calls of complaint, and keep all letters of any import for a long time. Last year I had a car insurance company cancel my car insurance (retroactively, according to the postmark!) for non-payment when they never had any record of attempting to take payment whatsoever. They claimed there was a warning letter, but couldn't produce copies. They claimed they sent it out on X date. But a letter dated 2 days later was the only letter I ever received and it quite clearly stated that "No further payment is necessary" at that point and had no mention of any sort of cancellation. They then claimed the bank had refused the charge, which was news to my bank.

    They eventually threatened court. I offered to initiate the action for them. After much back and forth where every claim in their letters was refuted with cast-iron physical proof in the letters I'd been given (many of which they had no copies of!) and an offer of a copy of the recordings I had where the woman on the phone TOLD me all these things and said it was a mistake, they offered me £50 "compensation". Given that they'd cost me much more than that already, I told them I'd be using it to initiate a small claims court case. Eventually got them moving when they realised that the court would quite literally tear them to pieces for not having any of the documentation that *I* had, and having their customer service reps admit that.

    Luckily, by the time their investigation was completed (where they realised they had no copies of the letters I had been sent), it was many months later but I still had all the letters since the previous year. So I was able to refute every claim with their own paperwork. I kept hold of the postmarked envelope, even, in one case.

    Sorry, but some companies you just can't trust and you won't know that until you try to complain or cancel. Invest in a device that can record phone calls with one press. And keep your old bills etc. for a year or so. It doesn't hurt at all, and it can make this sort of stuff go away.

    "I've been put through to you, a company representative, after proving who I am, and now I'm telling you that I'm cancelling." That's it. That's the notification you need. If you want, I'll put it in writing instead and give you even less chance of backing out. That's the end of the matter. This WAS your notification. Goodbye.

    1. Julian Bradfield

      The court would quite literally tear them to pieces? Really?

      1. Peter Simpson 1
        Thumb Up

        If m'lud was a customer (or a former customer), I wouldn't discount the possibility.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A lot of courts have _VERY_ little tolerance of bullying. And when one side is relying on their size and depth of pockets, against a plaintive with full documentation, the courts can get extremely stroppy.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      @ Lee D Spot on - keep everything and use recorded delivery for letters. You never know when you'll need it because a company has decided it's YOUR turn to be shat upon from a great height (more than just the normal day to day crap). It is something that has served me well also. Even if you don't have the ability to record phone calls (can you suggest suitable kit for landline and mobile?) keep notes on every phone call (what was said, who you spoke to, time/date of call, number dialled) along with the phone bill showing the call was made in the first place. Being able to quote that kind of stuff is often enough to flummox the agent in the call centre as they know the usual BS won't cut it with this caller!

      I hope you got a damn sight more than the £50 they offered - that was derisory considering you would have been driving without insurance and had you been called on this you'd have had twice the grief to deal with.

      @ Julian Bradfield

      Yes torn apart. In my experience and understanding (IANAL) Judges in the SCC get very tired very quickly of their court room being cluttered up with companies that are clearly taking the piss against a customer that can back up their opposing story with things like documentary evidence and facts.

      1. VinceH

        "Yes torn apart. In my experience and understanding (IANAL) Judges in the "

        I don't think Julian was saying the courts wouldn't tear apart the insurance company in question. I suspect he was being critical of the use of 'literally'.

        1. paulf Silver badge
          Angel

          > I suspect he was being critical of the use of 'literally'.

          Does anyone have any objections to the Clerk of the Court literally tearing to shreds the representatives of Comcast or Lee D's Car insurers?

          1. ian 22

            "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

            Shredding will do nicely though.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "(can you suggest suitable kit for landline and mobile?)"

        For landlines, your average answering machine should be able to perform a call record or digest of some sort. Just engage it while the call is in progress, and it will be treated like a standard message.

        As for mobile, that depends. Some ROMs have the feature built-in, others can get an app to do the job. Based on your phone, YMMV.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "he court would quite literally tear them to pieces"

      I think the word you were looking for was "metaphorically".

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        I think the word you were looking for was "metaphorically".

        The judges would also have accepted "figuratively". Or just omit the adverb entirely, since it's merely being used for amplification and adds no content of its own.

        That said, 1) "literally" is now widely used to mean "figuratively", and is by no means the only word in English with antithetical meanings (consider e.g. "wear"). While I too dislike this particular use, the ship has clearly sailed; we can complain about it, but we're not going to stop it. And 2), the use of "literally" for emphasis with no particular meaning beyond that seems to have been adopted into writing from speech, where it served much the same purpose as interjections and fillers - to convey a bit of tone while giving the speaker a bit more time to articulate the next phrase. Used this way, it's just padding that isn't meant to mean anything. So the real problem, insofar as there is one, is people writing in a manner that too closely resembles their speech, rather than taking more time to compose and edit. It's almost as if those posting a remark online have something better they should be doing.

    4. BigFire

      For the most part, I use the magical phrase, "Please transfer this call to your supervisor". I may have to us the same 7 words a couple of times.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        magical phrase, "Please transfer this call to your supervisor"

        Doesn't work around here, apparently all the call centres have no supervisor present, and they are not contactable, at all, in any way. I no longer know what "supervisor" means.

    5. Dylbot

      I had a similar spat with an insurance company after cancelling a bike insurance policy. I paid my blood money to drop them and thought that was the end of it. Three months later, I received a final demand for payment of this extant 60-odd quid that they decided to stiff me for, and had already paid. After going backwards and forwards with the phone monkeys and providing proof of the payment being made, they said that my bank had somehow taken the money back after 2 months and refunded it to me.

      Obviously that was complete bollocks (backed up by the rather bemused gentleman I contacted at my bank to make sure), so I told them I'd never received any such refund, that the whole thing was ludicrous, to which I got the greatest response: "Please provide proof that you haven't received a refund". Yes, of course, I will provide proof of the absence of a thing. Here, why not have my entire transaction history to check through and make sure that I haven't somehow strongarmed my bank into taking back that money.

      Needless to say, it was "manager, please" repeatedly time, as the poor CC sods really don't get paid enough to endure the special mix of withering sarcasm and barely suppressed rage I had in store - I was balls deep in a mortgage application at the time, and I made it very clear that if it had gone to their debt recovery department and showed up on my credit report, sending mortgage lenders scattering like frightened pigeons, the next time I spoke to them would be in court.

      Oddly enough, they couldn't produce any of the previous letters they had apparently sent me either, whereas I definitely had the one confirming the closure of my account. Useless bastards backed down in the end.

    6. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Upvote

      Hereitis. Have you been baptized with your Comcast name yet ?

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You are dead-on. Good advice.

      Related: I was marked by T-Mobile. Whenever I spoke to there customer service rep, I was explicitly asked whether I was recording the call. They told me that they would not speak to me if I was. I would say that I am not recording the call, but my boss might be. I am self-employed.

  4. Lionel Baden
    Headmaster

    She was on the phone to the rep

    And you think the Rep was calling your husband an asshole ??? No no no They were calling you an asshole. Not defending comcast just due to the simple fact they have an atrocious track record, but would be interested in listening to the call.

    *icon closest bum related one i can find *snirk

    1. Lionel Baden

      Re: She was on the phone to the rep

      9 thumbs down and counting !!

      I guess the customer is NEVER wrong then, Just because comcast have an atrocious record, doesnt mean this lady is snow white perfection !

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: She was on the phone to the rep

        What call you numpty? The Comcast rep changed the name on their account.

        "I guess the customer is NEVER wrong then" Just like you then?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, it could have been worse.

    Had they put last name first.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick
      IT Angle

      Re: Well, it could have been worse.

      I'm sure if she had been Asian they would have gotten it right - professionalism in customer service and all that.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anally Retentive Retention Staff

    What do you expect.... ahem.

  7. Alfred

    HOW much?

    I'd heard internet in the states was expensive thanks to the competition-busting cartels, but 67 dollars a MONTH? For what looks like a pretty basic internet connection? Blimey.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Where's a libertarian when you want one?

      Yeah, the marketing worshipping Land of the Free™ could do with some competition in its broadband market.

    2. Nifty

      Re: HOW much?

      The UK is trying to catch up. Merge some mobile phone companies, bundle everything like broadband and TV, set £100/month aluminum spend target per household.

    3. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

      Re: HOW much?

      Not sure your definition of "pretty basic" but, according to the Comcast website, that price gets you a 25Mbps service. Apart from areas served by Google Fiber/Verizon FIOS/etc, "basic internet" in the US is typically 5Mbps or less, depending upon the carrier.

      I do agree it's overpriced, though. I get twice that speed for US$50 from a rival cable carrier - and with significantly better customer service, too.

      1. tekHedd
        Pint

        Re: HOW much?

        ...well... 25Mbps *peak* service. It randomly slows to DSL rates, then surges back again if you go to a speedtest site. And randomly stops for a few minutes then starts again. But, yes, the peak speed is very impressive. Really not a great deal when you see how spotty it is.

        (Cancelled my contract, now enjoying consistenly-fast-admittedly-after-first-fighting-for-a-month-with-a-broken-POS-VDSL-router performance with Centurylink.)

        (Beer, because it's *always* beer. What are all those other icons for anyway?)

    4. Tom 13

      Re: HOW much?

      Can't you READ? That bill says XFINITY. when it comes to internet services, that's the Rolls Royce of speed. Only $67/month is peanuts compared to the investments made to bring you the blinding fast speeds of To XFinity and Beyond!

      /end sarc

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anally retentive agent.

    Simple.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2 comments

    1) if they change the name then it is clearly not being sent to the correct person. Don't read or reply to mail not addressed to you.

    2) Is the new name not just a description of a colour, like 'rose pink, or telephone box red'

  10. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    Land of the free

    To pay governors/senators so they have monopolies.

    The US isn't a democracy but an oligarchy.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    innovative

    motivational technique.

    nevertheless, if the customer is approached by a particularly skillful lawyer (I bet she's auditing right now ;), comcast might have to revert to some more conservative techniques to stay in business.

  12. VinceH

    Comcast aren't the only company to change a customer's name - though in Virgin Media's case it's just down to pure incompetence rather than malice.

    Some years ago, they seemingly dropped my first name from my bill, replacing it with just the letter. Which, obviously, is no big deal.

    They subsequently decided to expand the letter back into a name again - except they got it wrong, and I became Vernon on my next bill.

    I contacted them, and they immediately changed it back to Vince.

    A couple of years later, I decided it was about time I checked my records at the credit agencies again. I forget which one of the big three* it was, but one of them had Vernon down as an alias for me - that information having been provided/confirmed by Virgin Media.

    * Another of the big three couldn't cope with my name anyway - their online form just wouldn't accept that my middle name is just an initial.

  13. Rol Silver badge

    Going on down to...hell

    I do believe that lawyers representing South Park are suing Comcast for trying to pass themselves off as a joke.

  14. Craig 2

    He probably meant to put it into a "Customer notes" box that only employees can see!

  15. rcp27

    Don't pay the bill

    Sorry, nobody called "Asshole" lives at this address.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Re: Don't pay the bill

      Their Lawyers would then argue that you demanded to be called Asshole and at least they spelled it right, although that could also be attributed to Professional Courtesy as they are the biggest assholes imaginable.

      Not paying the bill is on the right track, though. If you could figure out a way not to have been billed double whenever you were not looking would really be progress.

  16. Uncle Ron

    Breathtaking

    It is breathtaking to me that the US FCC (and the US Congress, the US Justice Department, the US Federal Trade Commission, the business press--just ANYBODY--is still considering allowing Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable, still taking it seriously--it's just unbelievable corruption. The authorities should be breaking up these cable monopolies not allowing them to strangle technology here.

    If the merger is allowed, the "new" Comcast will control more than FIFTY PERCENT of the high-speed internet service in the US, and they have publicly stated they will start Metered Billing for internet service "across our footprint" very soon. They will own NBC, Universal Studios, E! Network, Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network, Telemundo, and soon, "ComcastFlix." They will essentially set the tone and the rules and the price for how the internet is run in America. This is all just too breathtaking. Just too much for me. This is -not- hyperbole: Comcast could become -the- most profitable company in America.

    1. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Breathtaking

      There is a possibility that Comcast will be left holding a dead canary. True, the immediate future looks grim, but technology and a willingness to deploy it, is on the horizon.

      Low Earth Orbiting satellites will put a huge dent in fixed line internet, perhaps not immediately, but the demise of digging up roads and laying cable is written.

      Consider for a moment the cost of renewing an entire county's fibre / cable / wire over the next few decades verses the deployment of a fleet of satellites. Readily expandable and highly customisable.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Breathtaking

        "Low Earth Orbiting satellites will put a huge dent in fixed line internet, perhaps not immediately, but the demise of digging up roads and laying cable is written."

        I doubt it, given the sheer physical limitations on wireless spectrum no matter how much you stretch it. Like it or not, when higher than high speed is a must, you're just going to have to get dirty.

    2. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Re: Breathtaking

      "If the merger is allowed, the "new" Comcast will control more than FIFTY PERCENT of the high-speed internet service in the US ..."

      True, but being Comcast, they will probably deliver no more than 1-2% actual. People will pay for 50%, of course.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Breathtaking

      Yes, but remember, based on the stories I've heard, the Time Warner customers will still be getting an upgrade in service. Scary as that is.

      On the up side, if Comcast really does control 50%+ of the cable market, I would be quite willing to classify them as a public utility.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Breathtaking

        Unfortunately, under the legal definition, it can't be a public utility until the government owns it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The U.S. federal consumer protection and regulation agencies have failed the populace

    The U.S. FTC, SEC, FCC and state AGs all are fully aware of the massive violations of law by Comcast yet they do nothing to hold Comcast accountable for their crimes. This is a disgrace and the media should crucify both Comcast and the U.S. federal agencies who fail to protect the people from Comcast's violations of law and outright consumer abuse.

  18. Florida1920

    They can call me anything they like

    If it gets me two years of free broadband! My Comcast experiences are mixed. Getting connected in the first place took >1 hour on the phone, getting bounced from customer service (?) to tech support, before finally getting lucky and talking to the only person who knew what to do. It was simple: Add a zed at the end of your account number. On the other hand, when a billing error (tried to double bill me last month) arose, I was able to resolve it through online chat with no hassles.

    I live in an "adult" (55 or older) condo complex in Florida, and most of the time Internet access is solid and fast. A couple of brief outages over 2+ years. Sure better than ATT! I'm paying ~$70/mo for an "Up to 50 Mbps" connection, because I spend a lot of time on Netflix (+ VPN) and I want to avoid the unwritten data-cap issue. My basic cable TV fee is a mandatory part of my condo fee, so I overlook the ISP cost.

    Comcast has many employees, and training/management issues. But these problems aren't limited to the cable industry; wherever money changes hands, "service" quality is going downhill. Having worked in phone tech support, I think I understand the underlying reasons. Personnel are given tight quotas for average call times, but limited authority or options for solving callers' problems. People charged with retaining unsatisfied customers must also have quotas. The stress level is high, and there's no relief. Disconnect from one call and another one is right there. No time to sit back and catch your breath. It's no excuse, I know, but it speaks loudly about the conditions of labor in a "service economy." The only stuff that trickles down in this economy is stuff you don't want landing on your head.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They can call me anything they like

      This customer being insulted is the least of Comcast's indiscretions. They routinely have service issues that they are unable to resolve be it internet, phone or TV. There are an incredible volume of complaints filed against Comcast for everything from consumer fraud to illegal credit checks, installing unprotected hotspots in peoples homes without notice along with over charges and many more issues.

      While it's great that Comcast has some happy customers, basically Comcast is out of control and raking in fortunes from criminal activity. The other cable/Telco companies are not necessarily any better which means the entire industry needs to be properly policed and financially punished to the point where it hurts if they don't provide proper service and customer support because that is what people are paying for but not receiving.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They can call me anything they like

        "While it's great that Comcast has some happy customers, basically Comcast is out of control and raking in fortunes from criminal activity. The other cable/Telco companies are not necessarily any better which means the entire industry needs to be properly policed and financially punished to the point where it hurts if they don't provide proper service and customer support because that is what people are paying for but not receiving."

        How can the regulators regulate when the cable cartel can simply counter with "an offer they can't refuse"?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The question is "why" ?

    Why has Comcast been allowed to insult customers or fail to provide the services customers have paid for?

  20. Michael Xion

    Did I misread something here..

    She called the customer service line knowing she would be charged $60 to do so! WTF. You have to pay extra to talk to a person?

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Did I misread something here..

      I expect that means she knew she'd have to pay a $60 cancellation fee because they signed up for a fixed term contract. I understand that isn't common in GB, but happens all the time in the US.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Did I misread something here..

        So not only do Comcast customers get victimized once, they get victimized a second time when they try to escape the unscrupulous Comcast abuse. Does that really make sense to anyone, especially a judge?

  21. DougS Silver badge

    Hey AT&T, Mediacom and Centurylink

    You can put whatever name you like on my bill if you give me that deal with two years refund and two years free service! Hell, I'll do it for half that!!

  22. ecofeco Silver badge

    They aren't the only ones

    They are not the only ones doing everything they can to screw their customers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They aren't the only ones

      That's precisely the problem, many companies act similar to Comcast and all of them are getting away with it. I expect we'll be reading more stories about CEOs disappearing from unscrupulous companies and never being heard from again.

  23. adrian727

    Retention Specialist

    On the other side of the world, you'll need a knife to cut the cable service before the contract renew automatically for 2 years

    Cable TV stab frenzy

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Retention Specialist

      Nice story, have an upvote on me. I do identify with the poor guy and hope they weren't too hard on him. Then again, you don't want the other 800 odd complainants to try the same thing. Sad world we live in.

  24. John Tserkezis

    "...said Steve Kipp, Comcast’s vice president of communications for the Washington region"

    "We have zero tolerance for this type of disrespectful behavior"

    It appears their "retention specialist", "Comcast execs" and her "nearest store", all didn't get the memo.

    For a communications company, they don't appear to be very good at communicating memos. It's as if this Steve Kipp character writes memos, shoves them in his desk drawer, and promptly forgets about them. I knew a few managers like that. Weren't fun to deal with either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      everybody has a story

      I have two, both in France, where excellent customer service has long been one of the nation's most cherished values "/sarc"

      In my experience, the larger the company the bigger the tool they ream you with.

      Canal +

      Scum of the earth, after I finally signed up for a decent ISP with TV all in, I tried to cancel my very long standing yearly contract for their terrestial service (at about 20 euro a month), It took over a year!

      If you don't do it before March, you are automatically renewed for a year.

      My bad, I guess, but when they tried to do it a second time (despite dated registered mail,etc.) I went ballistic on phone and mail. Finally extracted myself from their rotting fingers. The funny part is they still try to call and sell me pay TV packages.

      I love calmly telling the C+ phone people why I will never, never ever pay Canal + a centime ever again. It gives me a warm fuzzy glow and puts a smile on my face for the rest of the day. They still keep calling though.

      Orange,

      Bought my wife a phone subscription, ran through the two year package, tried to cancel. Not easy. Despite documentary proof and credit card slips, overdue notices piled into the mailbox, frequently from different addresses. This was just before the FT / Orange merger, so I wrote a registered letter to the president of both companies and threatened to take my case to what passes for a Consumer Protection Agency in this otherwise beautiful country. Wow! That worked! Never heard from them again.

      The threat of Scandal is the only thing these Ba*ds understand. Hope this Comcast story is not contrived and makes it to MANY mainstream press outlets. Also hope Comcast record updates are logged and electronically signed.

      They should dump the idiot's manager as well for letting it happen.

  25. wollo

    fund free wifi for your neighbours

    The missus recently "upgraded" to ArseFinity because we apparently don't have enough Serbo-Croat and shopping channels bundled with the ones that the kids like.

    There are about 12 compute devices in the house, and performance fell off a cliff after the new (and improved!) cable modem was installed. Turns out that we'd been turned into a wifi hotspot and anyone with a Con-Cast account could now connect through our wifi modem.

    Had to go through two support escalations to get them to switch it into full bridged mode, but I'm off to but my own modem tomorrow. Virtual monopoly since Verizon pulled out of my local market, and the local phone company is a joke.

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