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Comcast’s Nightmare Customer Service Agent ‘Did What We Paid Him to Do,’ Says Exec

By Alexander C. Kaufman

Comcast isn’t surprised one of its customer service agents went off the rails in an attempt to hang on to some cable subscribers.

A recording of that agent verbally sparring with two customers who wanted to quit Comcast went viral late early last week. Now a top executive at the cable and media giant is offering a tepid defense for what happened:

“The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other retention agents — to do,” Dave Watson, Comcast Cable’s chief operating officer, said in the email, which the company shared with The Huffington Post. The memo was first posted on Consumerist.
Comcast earlier apologized for its agent’s behavior and said it was “embarrassed” by the call, which it found “unacceptable and not consistent” with customer service training.

In the memo, Watson admitted “it was painful to listen to this call, and I am not surprised we have been criticized for it.”

“I know these retention calls are tough, and I have tremendous admiration for our Retention professionals, who make it easy for customers to choose to stay with Comcast.” The bolded bit, emphasis ours, was apparently written with little self-awareness.

The agent, who was not publicly named, spent nearly 20 minutes on the phone with writer Veronica Belmont and her husband Ryan Block, a product manager at AOL, to prevent the couple from disconnecting their service.

The aggressive tactics seem to be working. Comcast reported nearly $2 billion in profits in the second quarter, a 15 percent increase from a year ago. The company boasted that it only lost 144,000 video customers — below the 162,000 in the same period last year — bringing the total count to 22.5 million.

Comcast typically loses a chunk of video subscribers during the second quarter as college students graduate or disconnect for the summer months, and customers who spend winters in warmer southern states migrate north for the summer.

Jennifer Khoury, Comcast’s senior vice president of communications, said improved product offerings drove growth and downplayed the role of retention agents.

“It’s so much more than retention, which is a sliver of the business versus all of these things that we think are driving our better customer numbers,” she said. “There’s nothing different about the retention queue today — the incident that happened with that customer is an isolated incident.”
Comcast, considered one of the most hated companies in America, is awaiting a green light from regulators to merge with its chief rival, Time Warner Cable — a move that many say would be disastrous for customers.

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