Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

Customer Dislike, Comcast Style, Part 2

bad customer service Another corporate deaf ear in the social media era.

Update: Since the publication of our blog entry “Customer Dislike, Comcast Style” we’ve received a call from them. Apparently the social networking shares from our readers, and probably some Google search traffic caught someone’s attention at corporate – which was the whole idea. The upshot? Comcast just wrote to say:

“Matt, I am responding to the blog posting. Comcast has decided to stand by the terms and conditions of the agreement, the 60 day policy for disconnection would apply.”

So, there you have it. Another example of company policy trumping common sense and customer service. Another company deciding that $80 today outweighs customer loyalty in the future. Another organization that traded away an opportunity to show it’s responsive to customer feedback – in a social space – just to pick off a few extra bucks.

Remember the issue, from our original posting:

We’re moving our office… When we contacted Comcast to disconnect the service, we were told there would be two additional months of charges before the disconnection is complete. After explaining that we would not physically be able to use their service in any manner for two months – we’ll be out of the building – we were simply told “it was in the contract” and “it’s our policy.” Mind you, we had completed our service agreement of two years; but it was in the “fine print” that we had to give them two months notice before terminating in the future.

This is a victory for the bean-counters, to be sure. But do companies survive by spreadsheet alone?

That’s most unfortunate: A company whose policy is to operate an organization that charges someone for nothing. To embrace an ethics that says, enforce the policy not do what’s right. To build a culture where it doesn’t matter, there’s another customer undermines every marketing dollar.

Our choice: pay a lot for nothing, or pay a little for nothing.

And why miss out on an opportunity to turn an “oops” into a “wow” moment? For $80 – probably less than the cost of a day’s pay for the person they assigned to my case. Maybe being just a “little guy” I don’t understand how the big-guys work, but does customer service change as your company gets bigger? I’d like to hope not.

Sadly, a search of the Twitter-stream shows that plenty of people are struggling with Comcast today (and others, to be sure). But don’t think that social media is only about upset customers. In fact, 61% of people who follow brands do so to “praise” them, while only 52% only do so to criticize them (TNS, The Impact of Digital on Growth Strategies, 2012). You’ve got to be trying hard to have a stream of customers tweeting who are more sad than happy.

This week alone I tweeted praise for Hertz Rent-a-Car, who made an accounting mistake, fixed it, and got some social kudos – all within a few minutes.

Isn’t that the goal of great customer service? Apparently not for us all.

Comcast plays the game by believing it will “all blow over” because tweets and status updates are ephemeral, right? Customers get mad, them move on. Even evergreen content like blogs eventually drop off page one of the search engines. So what’s the risk: Take the $80 and run.

As for me, the rest of the story is really quite good. For $80 I’ve just picked up a great cautionary tale about customer service and social media to share with audiences around the world this year. And next year. And the next. Maybe a chapter in the book; certainly a story for our video channel. While I’d have preferred to spend my $80 in other, more positive ways, perhaps I – and my readers – have got our money’s worth. A lesson we’ll never forget – or stop telling – about what not to do with unhappy customers in the age of social feedback, courtesy of Comcast.

Don’t forget it. Better yet: Share it.

  • Oops Comcast! A tad short sighted.

  • I used to have this on my wall when I had a wall to put it on…

    A customer is the most important person in any business.

    A customer in not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.

    A customer is not an interruption of our work.

    He is the purpose of it

    A customer does us a favour when he comes in. We aren’t doing him a favour by waiting on him.

    A customer is part of our business – not an outsider.

    A customer is not just money in the cash register. He is a human being with feelings, like our own.

    A customer is a person who comes to us with his needs and wants.

    It is our job to fill them.

    A customer deserves the most courteous attention we can give him. He is the life-blood of this and every business. He pays your salary.
    Without him we would have to close our doors.

    Don’t ever forget it.

  • Court Dwyer

    Long ago someone, forgotten by me today, said words that I have striven to remember even if I can’t remember who said it …. Company policy is there simply to make it easier for that company to do business. “Policy” does not equate to “law”, even though some consumers are mislead to consider it so.

    Whenever I run into “it’s our policy” I start asking for supervisors/managers and go into negotiation mode. Someone, somewhere up the chain, has the “authority” to, temporarily or otherwise, change the policy. I understand Comcast is in the “right” according to “policy”. But I also think they should change this for you: it’s a policy to allow them to smooth out connects/reconnects and report to themselves, and probably us consumers, how well they keep their customer commitments on connections. Bull. If you are willing to give them reasonable time to schedule the reconnect in at their convenience they should be willing to not charge you for 2 months notice. At least I’d start there maybe? Go get them, Matt. If you think $80 is worth your time :-). Or if it isn’t, if you feel like messing with them for societies sake! I left them 10 or so years ago and have been so very happy with DirecTv since then. If you want to experience great customer service, at least for TV/movies etc (don’t know about Inet as I get it elsewhere here in Maine), try them out.


  • Awesome post and I feel your pain! I had a similar experience with Comcast. When I registered they offered a $100 rebate, which was over two separate rebate forms, one for $30 and one for $70. Problem was the dates were off. The $70 rebate needed to be activated from Feb 1st – Feb 28th, while the $30 rebate needed activation from March 1st through March 31st. No one would help me, so I just disputed the charge and let them take it up with AMEX.

    A lot of companies don’t see what impact social media has. Dunkin Donuts completely won me over when they screwed up my coffee and reached out to fix it! –