Monday, October 31, 2011

Corporate Incompetence?

In ths spirit of the Occupy movement's challenge to corporate hegemony, here is my own successful little battle.
Today, I successfully resolved a contested bill. We've all been there. The late fees were piling up. I called Comcast about the bills they keep on sending me even though I no longer receive  service.  I called them on several occasions over a period of months, starting in the summer, each time starting from square one. Each time, telling the whole story to two or more representatives.
Today, was unusual not only in resolving the bill but in the coded conversatuion about class (race?). Twenty minutes into my conversation with the third customer service rep - an African-American woman - she told me that if I insisted on challenging the bill, the person I had spoken to in August would end up getting coaching or being disciplined. I responded with as much kindness as I could muster but asked for a resolution of my complaint. It felt like we had engaged the race/class issue.
She offered me a choice: backdate my service cancellation to September, or, back to August - but only if the recording of my August call backed up my version. But, if I went with option B, and the corporation did not agree that that call supported my version, then I would ne liable until September. So, I asked what the difference in cost to me was between the two options. The rep, said I can't tall you. To find out what you owed back in August, I have to cancel your account, which will mean that we can't review it.
And so on and so forth.

Is this just incompetence or is there design behind this mess? It could be that corporations such as Comcast run an inefficient system, wasting many man-hours on fruitless cutomer service calls. But perhaps it does pay off for them. How many people give up on all the effort and time it takes to press for a fair resolution?  When the collection letters arrive, they just pay what they are told.

In the end, the rep back-dated my service cancellation to August.  The amount she said I owed still sounded high but life is too short. I asked her if the call was being recorded. I repeated our agreemen tout loud and made sure she voiced her consent. For the recording.

Next on my list: Alitalia.


  1. I apologize for the poor experience. I work for Comcast and I'd like to help in making sure that your final bill is accurate.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you're interested in my help.


    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations

  2. Mark -

    I'm glad Comcast is sensitive to public opinion. However my problem is now resolved yet there are many people who do not have blogs and who are still subject to Comcast's self-serving incompetence.

    Who knew? Comcast hires people to monitor the blogosphere. Had I known, I would have posted about Comcast's mishandling of my account months ago and gotten your number.

    Thanks, I'll keep your information handy.