This couldn’t come at a worse time for Comcast, but its oft-complained-about customer service is becoming a thing.
By this, we mean it’s becoming more than another on the list of everyday life gripes — moaning about Comcast like you do taxes or the weather. No, we mean it’s become part of the zeitgeist: The Internet now seems to be in an active competition to see who can come up with the worst story of bad treatment at the hands of the company’s customer-service reps.
It started with the story of the man whose customer service rep just wouldn’t let him quit the company’s Internet service.
It escalated with last week’s story of the man who had to record his calls with Comcast to prove they’d charged him for a service they had promised would be free.
Now the stories are coming fast and furious. Two more have emerged in recent days:
WHNT reports: “A video showing a Chicago photographer on hold for more than 3 hours trying to cancel his service, only to be told in a separate call that the office that handles disconnects was closed for the day. Aaron Spain’s video on You Tube has 1.4 million views in the three days since it was posted. In the video, Spain holds up the phone to show the original call passing the 3 hour and 25 minute mark. “That’s how long I’ve been on hold, and they’re closed,” he said. “I’m pissed.” Spain said he was able to cancel the service — in just 17 minutes — when he called back the next day. He said once the video went viral, a Comcast executive called him to apologize. “It seemed genuine,” Spain said.”
Here’s the video, which is now at 1.7 million views:
Spain explains: “I’ve had a lot of people ask why I would stay on hold so long: I’m not the first person I’ve heard have this happen to. I refused to hang up as I wasn’t going to give them any reason to keep my service active. There would be no ‘well you did hang up before we could get to you,’ nonsense. I had been attempting to get a service technician out from Aug 21st through August 5th. I’d had 3-4 service calls scheduled, all of them no calls no shows, and no reason as to why they can’t get the service done. At this point I was trying to cancel service. I was transferred to the “retention” department at 7:17pm. I’m uploading this video at 10:19pm.”
“During the six month period from mid-January of 2014 through the end of July of 2014, I had to contact Comcast an astounding 25 times in regards to a multitude of issues, errors, and mistakes with my service, and charges related to my Comcast account,” writes Dann Furia, a customer who first told the world his story via Reddit last week. “I kept careful, written records of my experiences as far back as January of this year, and by early July I had experienced such a stupefying range of problems with Comcast, that I additionally began recording my interactions with them.”
After a whopping 25 customer service phone calls, he basically gave up trying to engage Comcast through traditional methods and instead tried unleashing a primordial howl of rage on Reddit. This apparently worked because after his story went viral, Comcast’s corporate offices called him a hilarious five times in just 18 hours desperately trying to help him with his issues.
“When I listened to the first voicemail from Comcast Corporate, I felt relieved that someone might actually finally help me,” he writes. “But by the time I made my way through five consecutive Comcast Corporate messages (4 of them from the same person), and realized that they had all been delivered in an 18 hour period directly after my “Comcast fees” post went Reddit-viral, I literally began to feel sick to my stomach by Comcast’s response. Now, I understand that when a Comcast customer story like mine starts to get national attention, Comcast probably tries to minimize whatever gripes might publicly emerge.”
It’s probably never good for any company to endure a wave of bad publicity like this. It’s worse if you’re Comcast, trying to merge with Time Warner, and undergoing a federal review to determine with that merger can actually happen.
Will it stop the merger? The betting here is that Comcast has too much corporate muscle to be blockadd completely. But don’t be surprised if approval comes with a set of conditions that challenge the company to improve its godawful reputation.
Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.