Comcast Says It’s Solved Its A-hole Problem

A new system makes it harder for employees to insult customers.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Remember earlier this year when a Comcast customer got a bill addressed to “Asshole Brown?” Comcast thinks it has the problem solved.

Ars Technica reports: “The key strategy was implementing an extensive block list that would prevent employees from changing names to certain rude words. There are many legitimate reasons customers ask to change their account names, such as marriage and divorce, and Comcast didn’t want to make the process unnecessarily difficult by requiring manager approval for every change. Hence the list, which includes the words you’d assume it would include as well as various permutations, combinations, and misspellings, Comcast told Ars. When there are false positives, a manager is called in to approve the change.”

While fixing the problem, Technica reports, Comcast discovered there had been some previous — unpublicized — inappropriate name changes to customer accounts.

“Comcast also went through every previous name change to find out whether there had been other such incidents that weren’t publicized. There were some, and Comcast fired the representatives who were responsible. In one case, Comcast ended its relationship with a third-party call center as a result.”

So being naughty is more difficult. But no one’s promising it won’t ever happen again. As Tom Karinshak, the senior VP in charge of Comcast’s customer service, said: “Nothing’s ever impossible.”