The Infamous Comcast Cancellation Call
Posted at 9:12 a.m. on July 16, 2014
“Painful to listen to.”
“The telecommunications version of the clingy ex-boyfriend.”
“Beyond all humanity.”
Those are a few of the ways articles have described Ryan Block’s recording of a call with a Comcast representative in an effort to cancel his service, which has gotten a lot of attention and resulted in the company issuing a statement.
While it appears that much of the coverage focused on the call itself, it looks like a few pieces bring up the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.
The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hiltzik writes that the call shows “the necessity of killing Comcast’s pending deal to absorb Time Warner Cable, a combination of the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 cable/Internet providers that would make Comcast even less responsive to its customers’ needs than it is now.”
He contends that the call should be submitted to the agencies reviewing the merger as well as to Congress.
“If the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger goes through, America comes more under the thumb of a single cable operator, and its phone reps will be even more noxious than the one Ryan Block encountered,” he writes.
Jon Herrman in his piece in The Awl defends the representative, writing that the “customer service rep is trapped in an impossible position, in which any cancellation, even one he can’t control, will reflect poorly on his performance. By the time news of the lost customer reaches his supervisor, it will be data – it will be the wrong data, and it will likely be factored into a score, or a record, that is either directly or indirectly tied to his compensation or continued employment.”
And he also goes on to place the situation in the context of the Comcast-Time Warner merger, writing that he hopes the recording is played in front of lawmakers.
“Comcast’s call script could not account for the possibility that a customer might choose to switch to another company that isn’t ‘number one,’ as the rep repeated out of distaste. A merger might fix that: It brings these companies one step close to making sure there’s no number two,” he writes.
CNN Money’s Brian Stelter doesn’t write about the merger, but points out in his article the broader matter of cable and satellite companies trying to keep subscribers. He writes that “setting aside specific tactics like the pestering experienced by Block and Belmont, customer retention is a critical component of the cable and satellite business.” Stelter earlier in the story referenced Block’s wife, Veronica Belmont.
They “work hard to keep ‘churn’ – a term for customers coming and going – as low as possible,” he writes, adding that it’s been “particularly important for cable-based companies such as Comcast, which have been losing television subscribers in recent years to satellite (DirecTV) and fiber-optic (Verizon),” he writes.