When Comcast Insults Customers

Who’s to Blame?

February 5, 2015

When customers are treated badly by customer service, something is very wrong. But just where does the buck stop? Does the fault lie exclusively with the offending CSR? How much should be blamed on company priorities, policies, and training? And does any of the responsibility fall on the customers? Comcast is paying the price for customer service that stinks!


The blogosphere is all aflutter with the case of Comcast versus Ricardo (aka “Asshole”) and Lisa Brown. When Lisa tried to cancel the TV portion of her Comcast service, she had a very hard time doing so, and then her next paper bill had her husband’s first name replaced with the word “asshole.”

What is Bad Customer Service Costing Your BusinessComcast responded with apologies, firing the customer service rep (CSR) who made the change to their system that resulted in the insult, a refund of the $60 cancellation fee, a further refund of the two-years of payments (the life of the account’s service) that the Brown family had made to the company, and a promise to do better.

But is that enough? Or, as some people think, was the refund too high? And who is really to blame when things like this happen.

Sure, the CSR made a childish decision, but the company’s policies and priorities started the whole mess to begin with by not making it as easy to cancel as it is to sign up.

And does any of the blame fall on the customer? Probably.


Calling Customers Names

A few days ago, one of Patty’s Pioneers shared a post from Ars Technica entitled Comcast bill changes customer’s first name to “A—hole”. You have all probably heard about it by now. Even if you haven’t, you’re probably pretty sure that the change wasn’t at the customer’s request!

In summary, Lisa Brown in Spokane, Wash., contacted Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate journalist who is also a member of the BoardingArea.com expert help forum, with the story of how she had tried to cancel her cable TV subscription with Comcast to lower her bills, only to be transferred to a “retention specialist” who tried to persuade her to keep the cable service and sign a new two-year contract. Brown claims she was never rude, but “It could have been that person was upset because I didn’t take the offer.”

Whatever the reason, the Browns’ account ended up having the name on the account changed from Ricardo Brown, Lisa’s husband, to Asshole Brown. When the bill arrived (see Illustration 1), the family was obviously upset.

The Brown’s Comcast Bill

Comcast names customer Ahole

© 2015 BoardingArea.com

1. Someone, likely a frustrated CSR, changed the first name on the Brown’s account from Ricardo to Asshole. This employee is no longer with the company.

Seeking a Resolution

Lisa Brown called Comcast a number of times right after she received the bill in the mail (dated January 17, 2015) and even visited her local Comcast office, but got no satisfaction. It wasn’t until the press was alerted that she saw any action on Comcast’s part.

The resolution came in bits and pieces. First, Comcast apologized and refunded the $60 cancellation fee. Brown wasn’t satisfied, though, stating, “This is unacceptable,” she says. “I am requesting everything back I paid Comcast for doing this to me.”

Comcast listened and offered her a refund of her full two years of payments as a customer. There were also rumors that she was offered another two years of service for free, but that didn’t actually happen.

On January 29th, Comcast actually posted a response on its Comcast Voices: a place for conversations with the Comcast site. In the post from Charlie Herrin, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience, Comcast Cable, he states that, “We have apologized to our customer for this unacceptable situation and addressed it directly with the employee who will no longer be working on behalf of Comcast.  We're also looking at a number of technical solutions that would prevent it from happening moving forward.”

The post goes on to state that the company was taking the opportunity to... (more)


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