Home This Comcast Customer-Service Call Is The Sound Of Monopoly Talking

This Comcast Customer-Service Call Is The Sound Of Monopoly Talking

Suppose Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable actually happens. What’s it herald for competitive access to the Internet?

One couple’s attempt to cancel their Comcast service does not bode well for our future, even if it is a fluke. Just ask (former) Comcast customers Ryan Block and Veronica Belmont. Better yet, listen to the recording Block made of the latter part of a marathon 18-minute call as he and his wife attempted to disconnect their Comcast service.

The eight minute-plus recording Block posted on Soundcloud begins 10 minutes into this nightmare-inducing conversation. Speaking with the growing intensity of a thwarted and mentally imbalanced lover—or perhaps a man with a gun to his head (pick your simile)—the Comcast rep repeatedly demands that Block explain to him specifically why Block wants to leave “the number-one rated Internet service” after nine years.

Block, founder of community site gdgt and former editor-in-chief of Engadget, employes the standard techniques of conflict resolution. He refuses to engage or respond to questions whose answers are of no consequence, and finally breaks out the big guns: “This phone call is a really, actually amazing example of why I don’t want to stay with Comcast.”

Rule One of dealing with stalker exes and cable companies: Do not engage. As Block’s experience illustrates, the only answer is not to answer.

Block wrote on Soundcloud:

Please note: this conversation starts about 10 minutes in—by this point my wife and I are both completely flustered by the oppressiveness of the rep.

So! Last week my wife called to disconnect our service with Comcast after we switched to another provider (Astound). We were transferred to cancellations (aka “customer retention”).

The representative (name redacted) continued aggressively repeating his questions, despite the answers given, to the point where my wife became so visibly upset she handed me the phone. Overhearing the conversation, I knew this would not be very fun.

What I did not know is how oppressive this conversation would be. Within just a few minutes the representative had gotten so condescending and unhelpful I felt compelled to record the speakerphone conversation on my other phone.

This recording picks up roughly 10 minutes into the call, whereby she and I have already given a myriad of reasons and explanations as to why we are canceling (which is why I simply stopped answering the reps repeated question—it was clear the only sufficient answer was “Okay, please don’t disconnect our service after all.”).

Please forgive the echoing and ratcheting sound, I was screwing together some speaker wires in an empty living room!

In a statement to ReadWrite (and the rest of the media), Comcast wrote:

We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize. The way in which our representative communicated with him is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action. While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.

Bigger Is Badder

Keep in mind as you listen that Comcast is the biggest cable company in the U.S. and the largest media provider on the planet. It’s also the most reviled company in the nation, according to the 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index. Time Warner Cable, the second largest cable service provider, is also second only to Comcast on that same list of consumer unhappiness and despair.

Should the FCC and the Justice Department allow the Comcast-Time Warner deal through, the only option for refusing to engage with Comcast may be to go without cable and Internet service. The proposed merger would make Comcast the only traditional cable provider available to nearly two-thirds of the U.S. The behemoth would also control a third of the cable and satellite market, and half of the bundled video/Internet market.

Comcast will have power beyond annoying customer service, including and not limited to hiking prices without threat of competition and  choosing just how fast (or how slowly) your Internet runs—depending, for instance, on whether you’re accessing its services or those of some rival company, or on where you live.

You’ve got about 40 days left to file your comments to the FCC regarding the impending Comcast behemoth via the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System.

Lead image by Flickr user Steven Depolo

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The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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