The Bigger Problem Behind the Comcast Customer Service Rep Conversation

The Bigger Problem Behind the Comcast Customer Service Rep Conversation

A sound recording of a customer’s conversation with a Comcast representative took the internet by storm last week, when AOL vice president Ryan Block uploaded the recording he began after attempting to cancel his Comcast account. The recording, which began around 10 minutes into the conversation and after Block’s wife had thoroughly given up talking to the Comcast rep, continues on for nearly 10 more excruciating minutes. The unnamed representative involved in the conversation wasn’t just annoying, rude and desperate — he was using tactics which are intended to bully customers into staying with the company. These tricks are nothing new, and it doesn’t seem to matter which industry you’re dealing with. Customers wishing to cancel services for everything from cable companies to gym memberships are often confronted with these representatives and end up not cancelling the service simply out of frustration and stress. But that doesn’t matter to the employee on the other end of the line — he doesn’t want to convince you that the company is friendly and welcoming; he just wants to make sure that you don’t leave.

But why is this so prevalent? It clearly does nothing for the company’s reputation — especially when customers like Block record these conversations and allow the entire internet to listen in. A look at Comcast’s wages and employment listings might shed some light on the issue.

Named the “Worst Company in America” in a Consumerist poll in 2010, Comcast doesn’t seem to treat employees with much dignity, either. The representatives are paid a low hourly wage which is supplemented by commissions, meaning that the reps only want to convince customers to stay so that they can get a normal and reasonable income. Technically, these employees aren’t even considered to be part of “sales,” but nevertheless, companies like Comcast pressure their employees into acting like salespeople rather than customer service representatives – which is what they are supposed to be. 

Their voracious attitudes are more of a survival technique than anything else. The practice of “customer bullying” is common in the telephone and internet industries, but a lack of viable competitors allows Comcast to put customer and employee satisfaction on the back burner. Studies have shown that between 35 percent and 45 percent of sales reps fail to meet their quotas, and that the turnover rate for sales reps is a whopping 26 percent. It’s easy to imagine that these numbers are even worse for Comcast employees, since the company clearly values quantity over quality. Regardless of whether Comcast customers are talking to sales reps or customer service reps, there seems to be an overarching idea that they should be bullied into choosing Comcast’s service – and this idea isn’t the fault of the representatives themselves; it’s the fault of the company executives. 

So what can be done about this? Unfortunately, as the customer, not much. But as more people like Block begin calling out companies on their shortcomings, it’s very possible that companies will eventually cave in and start treating their customers and employees with respect.

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