back to article Listen: WORST EVER customer service call – Comcast is 'very embarrassed'

Comcast has apologized to a subscriber who was subjected to a haranguing customer service call when he tried to cancel his account. Ryan Block, a VP of product at AOL and a former tech blogger, was moving home and taking the opportunity to scrap his Comcast service after nine years. The only problem was that the customer …

  1. Irongut

    VP of product at AOL

    He probably deserved it for his sins.

    1. Ron Christian

      Re: VP of product at AOL

      > VP of product at AOL

      > He probably deserved it for his sins.

      No kidding. I have fond memories of that entire working day I spent trying to cancel my AOL membership. Sometimes I still wake up screaming.

      1. Mpeler

        Re: VP of product at AOL

        And who could ever forget those indestructible, un-recyclable, toxic-metal-waste plastic packages their CDs came in?

        "We won't do the needful".....

        "America offline..."

      2. Maryland, USA

        Re: VP of product at AOL

        Here's how I finally got AOL to cancel my account:

        AOL: "Good afternoon, my name is Raj. How may I help you today?"

        Me: "By canceling my account without asking me why or trying to change my mind."

      3. Tom 13

        @Ron Christian

        I'd still assign 55% of the blame to you. I may have still had a Compuserve account about the time that AOL was starting up, but I don't think so. I think I had move to local bulletin board services which were much easier to navigate. I looked at the AOL once. Couldn't stand the kiddie interface which at the same time communicated a Compuserve style service. Also the internet was just coming online and I had access to the raw internet without the need for a Compuserve/AOL/MSN front end. So I never signed up for the service. So it's not like the signs weren't there to warn a discerning consumer.

        I did eventually grow to loathe them, but only because when I eventually started tech work, some of our clients were using them for their internet front end and I had no choice but to use them. Windows updates via their dial-up were nearly impossible.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VP of product at AOL

        "No kidding. I have fond memories of that entire working day I spent trying to cancel my AOL membership."

        If there's an award for consistency, then AOL ought to have it. They were a bunch of cunts when I cancelled my subscription back in 1992. Which means that (even assuming they'd only just started that policy in '92) if they can keep it up for another few years they'll be able to proudly boast "Quarter of a century of the World's Worst Service".

        And this consistency makes a mockery of the pathetic corporate apologies. The values of AOL (or "Comcast" as they now wish to be known) are inculcated in this history.

    2. Bob Vistakin

      BT did this too

      There was this 1 asshole, in Birmingham I think it was, who's full time job was to take up calls *after* customers had cancelled and already been through the same shit you hear on this recording. The impression was given to customers that unless you'd been subjected to his drawn out rantings you hadn't really cancelled. It was you they answered to, you see.

      1. blokedownthepub

        Re: BT did this too

        I had a painful experience attempting to cancel my BT broadband. Not quite as bad as this, but very long-winded. After the first person had finished their long routine, they passed by to another who would supposedly cancel my contract. The second person just started going through the same script as the first...

        Who else have I had terrible call centre experience with...


        Philips Whirlpool

        Yorkshire Water

        Nationwide Building Society

        I like it when the recorded message says the call is being recorded for training purposes. It usually means that the operative knows they're being watched.

        For balance, just one company who are really do call centres properly: Coventry Building Society.

      2. Alistair MacRae

        Re: BT did this too

        Barclays too, I kept on saying, for 10 minutes I didn't want their credit card anymore but they kept on asking why.

        Then I got all kinds of offers later on from them too. Credit card free now though.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: BT did this too

          You could always just have some fun at their expense rather than spend hours on the phone (unless you are making it a point of principle of course - in which case fill yer boots).

          Rep: Why are you leaving us? <insert crying> What is the new ISP going to give you that we won't? We can save you £100/year!!

          Me: The really nice sales rep offered me a blow-job if I signed up with them.

          Let's see them put _that_ in their call log :D

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: BT did this too

            Let's see them put _that_ in their call log :D

            The problem is that they seem to recruit from Jehovah's Witnesses for these roles, they generally don't even register humour and are tenacious as f*ck. Oh, and don't expect any answers to make a difference - they won't actually read it (it's a bit like an exit interview when you have resigned - nobody cares and you're just wasting time better spent with, say, drinking a cocktail at a beach somewhere). The *only* thing that counts for the company is retained customers. If they had any real interest in what you have to say they wouldn't use this vermin to hang on to your money.

            Generally, I have a fairly short fuse for things like this. My reasons for leaving are mine, my personal life is non of their business and I will not engage in an exercise that costs me even more time and is geared towards hammering me into staying with the provider or to massage their statistics.

            You have no obligations here, and most of this questionnaire is just there to ensure you don't hang up immediately so they can work on you some more. If I have decided to leave, there is certainly no way I will further remain with a provider who subjects me to this crap (switching me to a retained department is for me more a sign that so many customers are bailing that it is worth paying these people's salary - money that should have spent on the actual service). Screw that.

    3. JLV

      Re: VP of product at AOL

      Funny thing is the Reg ran this exact same storyline about 3-4 years back, with someone trying to cancel his AOL service and recording this exact same BS.

      Shows these guys never learn. And, why should they? They can probably browbeat at least some of their customers most of the time.

      On the other hand, it does look silly when it gets aired. Then, it is time for the company PRs to earn their salary, do their bit and swear that it was a rogue employee. Not like Comcast, or AOL, would ever condone aggressive and abusive customer retention tactics as a policy, oh no. Cross our hearts.

      Scapegoat ahoy!

    4. asdf

      Re: VP of product at AOL

      I would hate to see the punishment for their sins of Best Buy and MSN (whatever its called today) VPs. They had to settle a rather large class action because Best Buy sales people were automatically signing people up for MSN's crappy service without their permission whenever punters bought a computer there. Karma at least will see that only old farts like me remember either's name in a decade.

  2. GreggS


    I had a very similar 30 minute exchange with one of Three's "customer representatives". Best part of it was I was actually calling them in the Three shop so every customer that came in could hear my exchange. Even the shop staff were incredibly embarrassed

    1. Bradley

      Re: Three

      I had the same experience with Bell Canada. Came to the point where the store manager had to go on the line to finally get it done.

    2. Vector

      Re: Three

      I have six words for idiots like this:

      "May I speak to your supervisor."

      1. Franklin

        Re: Three

        I had almost this same conversation a year back with Clear Wireless. I tried invoking the "may I speak to your supervisor" conjuration, but they were too clever for me--I got the exact same treatment from the supervisor[1]. Wish I'd have recorded it.

        [1] At least she claimed to be a supervisor. I have no empirical evidence this was the case.

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: Three

        "May I speak to your supervisor."

        Tried it on a numer of occasions, I haven't seen this make any difference other than speaking to a different droid.

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          "May I speak to your supervisor."

          I politely phrase it in such a way, that I get what I want very quickly.

          "Would you care to put me through to someone who is paid well enough to handle the torrent of abuse, name calling, swearing, and threats of legal action, or do you want to bravely face all this alone?"

          If they don't give me what I want, then you can't say they weren't warned.

        2. Feargal Reilly

          Re: Three

          The trick is to not ask bluntly, just steer the conversation until you reach the point where they realise they are no longer the right person to be talking to you. Something along the lines of:

          You: I'd like you to do this for me.

          Rep: I'm sorry sir, but I can't do that.

          You: Okay, so who can do that?

          Rep: I'm sorry sir, what do you mean?

          You: Well somebody in the company must be able to do that.

          Rep: I'm sorry sir, it is not a part of our procedures to do that.

          You: Okay, so who can change the procedures?

          Rep: I'm sorry sir, we are not allowed to change the procedures.

          You: Well somebody in the company must be able to do that.

          Rep: I'm sorry sir, but we do not have a procedure that let's us do that.

          You: Okay, so who decides what to do when there is no procedure?

          Rep: I'm sorry sir, but I do not know.

          You: Well then, would your supervisor know what to do?

          Rep: I'm sorry sir, but my supervisor will tell you we cannot do that.

          You: Okay, that's great, you can transfer me to him so.

          Rep: I'm sorry sir, but you do not need to speak with my supervisor

          You: Well I don't mind. He might be allowed decide more than you realise.

          Rep: I'm sorry sir, but I don't think he can help you.

          You: Okay, so remind me, this call is being recorded yes? Are you telling me your supervisor doesn't have any discretion? Perhaps you could transfer me to his manager?

          Rep: Uh... I'm sorry sir, uh, let me transfer you to my supervisor.

          I've never been failed to speak with a supervisor when I've wanted to, sometimes there's a few levels to work through so you may have to pull the same trick with the supervisor. Just remain polite and reasonable, don't expect them to do something they are not allowed to do. Eventually you'll reach somebody with the relevant powers.

          My favourite was when UPC had overcharged me a few months worth of bills. They told me they would credit it from my next bills but I wanted them to pay it back immediately. The rep stonewalled for a while, but eventually passed it to his supervisor who told me there was nobody in UPC who could write a cheque. I rather reasonably asked for it to be taken out of petty cash. I was told they don't do that so I asked what happens if they run out of milk in the canteen on a Friday afternoon. He had his manager call me back and I received a cheque in the post the following week.

      3. Tom 13

        Re: I have six words for idiots like this:

        I've tried that a couple of times. It hasn't worked. They won't transfer you to their supervisor.

      4. Randy

        Re: Three

        Same thing happened to me, with Comwave, in Canada.

        The first guy wasn't a problem. The "supervisor" was the guy who haranged me for 20 min.

    3. Hyphen

      Re: Three


      A few years ago my sister wanted to leave 3 for Giffgaff. She was very clear to the retentions bird that she wanted to leave, that she'd found a better deal elsewhere, and that she wanted her PAC. 3 kept offering her different packages at different pricing levels (which, to be fair, were fairly generous for 3 at the time) but none of them satisfied her requirements or price point like the £10 GG did (with its unlimited internet at the time).

      At one point, she was put on hold whilst the retentions woman looked up Giffgaff, and when she came back, outright told my sister she was LYING about the deal she was moving to, and that she'd be paying £25/mo for what she claimed. She literally could not accept she had a customer who wanted to leave.

      It eventually turned into my sister just repeating "No, thank you - I'd just like my PAC". 3 eventually gave up after just under 45 minutes...

      1. StripeyMiata

        Re: Three

        I've posted my Three retention story on The Reg in the past, but here it is again in case you missed it.

        "First time I rang, 40 minutes I spent and they just refused to hand me over my PAC Code. After reading up this was the norm, I decided a new tactic, I decided to come up with a load of lies that even they couldn't argue with. I told them I was the new CEO for Vodafone Northern Ireland and because of that it would be bad for my staff to see me using a Three phone and I get all the latest Vodafone phones for free with no cost to me. Still they wouldn't give up, took another 20 minutes of them, then their manager before I could get my PAC Code. I reckon they were googling my name in the background to see if it was true."

        An interesting thing is how hot a mobile phone gets when you have been talking to someone on it for 40 minutes.

        1. wowfood

          Re: Three

          As soon as I saw 3 I knew something bad was going to follow.

          Many moons ago I had a contract phone with 3, it was the best deal available to me at the time, and 3 had the best coverage in my area. About a month before the end of my contract I wanted to sign up to a new deal elsewhere. It was the period of half price for 6 months, with £150 cashback on top of it, basically made my new phone free for half a year. Signed up for that with somebody else, then called 3 to cancel.

          I was on the phone for half an hour repeating the word no as the salesperson tried to get me to sign up for a new contract. I repeatedly refused stating I already had a new contract and was not interested, in the end he agreed and disconnected me. The next month I got a letter informing me about my new contract.

          Cancelled all direct debits, called my bank an informed them not to process anything regarding 3 due to dispute etc, contacted 3 several times and the refused to do anything, they called debt collectors on me etc etc. Eventually got instructions from consumer advice to go through their... ombudsman is it? I can't remember. Effectively what 3 did was entirely illegal, but the process wound up costing me a fair bit of money in phone calls and a lot of stress. End result I got nothing back and 3 cancelled the contract. They lost nothing I lost money.

          I can only imagine the number of people who have gone through the same thing but didn't bother fighting it. Since then I advise everyone to avoid 3 like the plague.

          1. TheTick

            Re: Three


            I don't know if it was too long ago for you to do this, but I had a similar experience with Vodafone and ended up taking them through the small claims court process at which point they coughed up for both my costs and my time (I settled for less mainly because I originally put my time at £50/hour which was my current contract rate).

            They also put a black mark on my credit record, previously I couldn't care less what they did but when they did that it got serious (I was looking into getting a mortgage at the time).

            If you can gather up provable costs incurred by their mistake, and a reasonable estimate of the amount of time spent messing about with it, then you can write to them to bill them. If they don't respond or refuse after a couple of attempts (give them a reasonable chance to make good on their error) then put in a small claims action at

            It may sound like a lot of hassle but it's really just a couple of letters and an online form and the courts sort the rest out for you. You might be surprised at how quickly they jump once the court letter comes through the door...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: small claims court

              It may sound like a lot of hassle but it's really just a couple of letters and an online form and the courts sort the rest out for you. You might be surprised at how quickly they jump once the court letter comes through the door...

              Isn't there another rule somewhere that if they owe you more than £750 you can actually shut their doors until they have paid? It's been a while since I heard that, but apparently that has been used for some fairly spectacular cases.

              Upvote for small claims - it does indeed help a LOT.

          2. StripeyMiata

            Re: Three

            I gather if you want to cancel a Mobile Phone contract it is best not to cancel but get a PAC Code instead even if you want to lose the number for good. Buy a 99p PAYG sim card in Tesco and get your number ported over, then let the Sim Card die naturally. It seems that this way because you are porting the closure of the old contract is done automatically and very rarely goes wrong.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Vodafone UK

      Slightly different tactic from Vodafone UK ... got cold called and was sold a 4G sharing device, which turned out to not be quite what it was sold as. (doesn't have its own bandwidth quota, yet you have to pay for an extra line for it).

      So, I phoned back the _very next day_ to cancel it under the mandatory cooling off period. Can't be cancelled apparently, the device has already been dispatched. Am told I simply need to return it when it arrives.

      Ok that sounds straight forward.

      Device arrives in mail a few days later. I check that its undamaged but do not open it, and carefully ensure that the separate SIM card is kept with it. Realise after some research that I cannot simply drop it back at a store, I'm gonna have to mail it back - and for that I need a special return envelope.

      Another lengthy phone call, during which they try to persuade me that I'll have to pay a cancellation fee. Not so I remind them, this is covered by the cooling off period. No such fee is required. Am told that an envelope has been dispatched.

      Days pass, no envelope arrives.

      Another lengthy phone call, again during which they try to persuade me that I'll have to pay a cancellation fee ... etc ... no return envelope has been despatched, transferred to another team ... another lengthy conversion, return envelope is finally arranged.

      Days pass. Envelope eventually arrives a week later. I package up the device and SIM card and mail it straight back.

      A couple of more days pass, I ring again and confirm that the package has been received and is being processed. Relieved that this is all over, I finish the call satisfied that the device has been returned and the new line will be cancelled.

      A week or two passes. I then realise that the new line is still included in my bill!

      Another lengthy call, during which they try to persuade me that I'll have to pay ... oh for fucks sake. Eventually arrange for someone to cancel the new line.

      More time passes. The new line remains stubbornly on my bill.

      A final lengthy phone call is made to Vodafone. Am suprised I don't get told about the cancellation fee yet again, but get transferred through about 4 different departments as one operative after another laboriously checks that the device was received back at the warehouse and then passes me to another colleague. I remain calm and stubbornly stay on the phone until I finally get confirmation that the line is indeed terminated and that my bill is being credited back - this is the accounts department I am speaking to by this point, so have some confidence that this is indeed the case.

      At last, weeks and weeks after the original cold call, the line disappears from my bill. I have not yet seen any refund for the charges made after I had originally thought I had cancelled the order.

      This little saga is still nothing compared to a company called "Reach Telecom" who set up a new line in my name but physically connected to a neighbours line and kept billing me for it. It took 9 months, during which debt collector threats started arriving, and escalation to OFCOM (the UK communications regulator) to get them to cancel the line and reinstate my neighbours BT phone line.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vodafone UK & Reach (in general, all of them)

        You have two levers here: the regulator itself, and consumer sales laws. The problem is that users don't always know their rights, and shop staff as well as telesales staff *pretend* not to know them, or pretend to know them but in, umm, a strangely "modfied" form :)

        I buy mostly on credit card because it gives me extra cooling off rights under the Consumer Credit Act.

        In general, my experience is that sale recovery people pretty quickly realise I'm a lost cause - I quote chapter and verse at them and generally fairly quickly and firmly convince them they are better off not wasting their time with me. Oh, and I start with explicitly asking their name upfront and warning them that I'm recording the call - for some reason they don't seem to like that, despite them doing the same without me giving the option to avoid that (which you should actually have, btw).

  3. Swarthy

    Having once dealt with Comcast

    I can believe this. They were loathe to let me cancel my 'service' two weeks after signing up, apparently "It doesn't work, never has, and your engineers never showed up to fix it" wasn't quite a good enough reason to cancel.

    Then they tried to bill me $500 for the Engineer Callout.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Having once dealt with Comcast

      That sounds like VM.. tried to cancel their 50mb broadband back in the day after it'd failed to work properly since install - it took several calls, and they attempted to charge me a £300 termination fee (which they stuck on my bill without telling me - I only discovered it when one of the CS people mentioned it in passing).

      I don't know why companies behave like this, because they just end up on my shitlist and I never give them any business again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Having once dealt with Comcast

        I don't know why companies behave like this, because they just end up on my shitlist and I never give them any business again.

        That's why I have a well known bank on my permanent black list. I have some friends who have high end contacts there, and they have been trying to convince me to unlist them (as word gets around that they are refused service from us), but that's not going to happen.

  4. Mark 85

    Quote: The recording has now been listened to by over half a million people and may well factor into their decision about who their next ISP might be.

    Probably won't affect any decision because here in the States there really aren't "options" in spite of what Congress, FCC, etc. tell you. In any given area and if you're really lucky, you get a couple of cell companies, a DSL provider, and a broadband cable ISP.

    With Comcast, I suspect that this is pretty much SOP for them as it is with the rest including satellite TV providers. If "good" customer service really mattered to them, they would have fixed the problem when the surveys said they were at the bottom of the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

    1. Preston Munchensonton
      Big Brother

      Not surprising

      Given how US federal regulations have turned into protection for established market players (aka. campaign contributors) instead of fostering competition, it should come as a surprise to no one. It's a crime that such a nation can call itself "Land of the Free".

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Not surprising

        All I can say is thank you, Ofcom. I don't agree with all they've done but compared to what I hear about the US in these cases I think they deserve some credit. Most of us can at least choose the DSLAM or backhaul provider and when it comes to cost and customer service we all have lots of choice.

        It's also quite cheap here which is nice but the flip side of that is the damage it does to the case for investment. Swings and roundabouts but I think on balance I prefer what we do. Someone stuck on a sub-2Mb/s line might not agree :-/

        1. goldcd

          Indeed. Ofcom gets a smooch from me

          As does Neelie Kroes in our apparently reviled EU.

          I can't really think of any example of where awarding a monopoly to anybody benefits the end user. Competition is messy, but good.

          BT and Virgin are both doing rather well at getting fibre into the ground (as they trash-talk each other)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not surprising

          I'd give as much or more credit to consumer surveys as Ofcom. Ofcom are good for the really bad stuff that people have to go to some trouble to complain about, but I find consumer groups like Money Saving Expert and their surveys more useful for making a decision on which provider to use.

          I suppose we're lucky that, being such a small nation geographically, pretty much every provider covers most or all of the country, and there's no monopoly. So if providers are shit (I'm looking at you, BT and TalkTalk), they get called out pretty quickly. When I called Sky with the intention of leaving, they were walking on eggshells when asking me why I wanted to leave, and ended up offering me an awesome deal to stay.

          And like another poster said, once a company wrongs you, it makes your shitlist. After reporting me to a credit reference agency as a "defaulted account" for failing to to pay my final £50 bill (which I was disputing with them officially as they'd charged me long after the service had stopped) and wrecking my credit for years, BT (Bastard Telecom) has earned its place on my shitlist for LIFE.

      2. fruitoftheloon

        Re: Not surprising


        I always thought of it as "the land of the fee", or am I being too cynical?


      3. Gray
        Big Brother

        Re: Not surprising

        "and may well factor into their decision about who their next ISP might be – if they have any choice at all.

        CHOICE?? What effing choice! As others have pointed out, here in the US there is no choice. In our community, Comcast has the local municipal franchise and others are locked out. There is absolutely no recourse ... except dial-up ... bwaaahaahaha ... competition?

        The tape is only a small indicator of the contempt Corporate America shows the consumer.

      4. Fatman

        Re: Not surprising

        It's a crime the truth that such a nation can call itself "Land of the Free".

        FTFY! (Hint: look closely at the 'last word'.)

    2. Rob Isrob

      Comcast v. Verizon

      Actually... Comcast's greatest fear is when Verizon FIOS hits a neighborhood. I've watched our neighbors one by one switch to Verizon. I can tell collectively we are still with it by the wireless routers available. I got tired of the nickel and dime. I'd call them up to get the discount after my "special" expired, get sent to "retentions" and quite politely mention the great Verizon deal I am staring at, Comcast would do the right thing and give me the "special" pricing. After last go-round , I tired and switched to Verizon with lifetime DVR+triple-play, etc. they don't play the game , after special, my price went up all of 10-15 bucks, no biggie. The in-laws went with Comcast... I spent 3 months and a number of phone calls on their behalf just to get that $200 Visa debit card. You have to fight tooth and nail for those things.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Comcast v. Verizon

        Yes, competition works. It's the only thing that strikes fear into them.

        Sadly most people who have a choice prefer to whinge rather than switch. Quite why anyone is on Comcast when FiOS is available is beyond me.

    3. Maryland, USA

      Of course there are options

      No one needs live pay TV. Gen Z doesn't buy it. And my family has never had it; we do just fine on a diet of NetFlix, Amazon prime, and over-the-air broadcasts. Some of the best shows ran years ago; if it's good, it's worth waiting for.

  5. frank ly

    Just tell them you've sold your house

    That should do it. Ask them to send you an info-pack and say that you'll be sure to recommend them to the new owners. They always lie to you so why shouldn't you lie to them.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Just tell them you've sold your house

      Then they just insist you should take their service at your next place of abode.

      They'd probably still say that if you told them the account holder had died...

      1. Jonski

        Re: Just tell them you've sold your house

        "Then they just insist you should take their service at your next place of abode."

        Then tell them you're emigrating to the Outer Hebrides.

        -Oh, you don't have coverage there? What a pity.

        -Oh you do have coverage there? My mistake I meant to say I was emigrating to Mururoa Atoll.

        1. JB77

          Re: Just tell them you've sold your house

          I tried something like that back in 2007 when I called AT&T and asked to have my cellphone service cancelled.

          The nice lady said, "Oh, we can move your service to another location".

          I said I was moving to India (true). She hesitated and then said, "let me check".

          A minute or so later, she says, "Nooo, sorry. We have no service plans there. You'd be on roaming- very expensive."

          But, she was not done.

          "How about keeping the number until you get back?" "No I said, I'll be gone for 2 years-minimum."

          "How about a relative who would like that number?"

          "No", I said.

          She finally gave in and cancelled the service.

          Her parting shot...

          "When you came back give us a call here at AT&T."


        2. Anonymous Blowhard

          Re: Just tell them you've sold your house

          Up-voted; as always, the "way of the weasel" can overcome any obstacle!

      2. Maryland, USA

        Re: Just tell them you've sold your house

        Indeed, on another discussion thread, someone said that when he said "We're moving," the Comcast rep insisted he provide the street address so Comcast could confirm whether the new address was served by Comcast.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just tell them you've sold your house

          Indeed, on another discussion thread, someone said that when he said "We're moving," the Comcast rep insisted he provide the street address so Comcast could confirm whether the new address was served by Comcast.

          "Dunno, I must ask the Witness Protection marshals about that, can you hang on?" :)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just tell them you've sold your house

            Better: Actually it's Rikers Island.

  6. lotus49

    Just refuse to discuss it

    I had a similar start to a conversation when I left O2 after 15 years. I was asked why, I explained that Three was giving me a better deal. The CS representative asked what was better about it and I told him that I was contacting them to cancel my service, not to give them the opportunity to sell me anything and that I had no intention of answering any further questions. That was that.

    I wasn't rude but I brook no nonsense and I made that clear. It really isn't that hard.

    1. Evan Essence

      Re: Just refuse to discuss it

      You clearly haven't listened to the recording.

      1. JB77

        Re: Just refuse to discuss it

        Recorder ON..Dials number.

        I think the guy was expecting a hard sell - and he was prepared. He knew what was comming and would retaliate by posting it on the innertubes :)


        1. Sebastian A

          Re: Just refuse to discuss it

          @JB77 - It states he only recorded the last 8 minutes of the 20 minute call. There's 12 minutes of other hard-sell we ddin't hear before he started recording it.

          To be honest, after 3 minutes of listening to that I was ready to blow my stack. I have no idea how he remained that calm for that long.

          1. blokedownthepub

            Re: Just refuse to discuss it

            I think he was so calm because he was recording it and knew what was going to do with this.

            I've thought about doing this in the past with some call centres, but I read somewhere that it's illegal (in the UK anyway) to record a call without the other person knowing. Chances of being prosecuted in cases like this is very slim though.

            I'm surprised that more people don't record calls like this - they're far too common.

            1. David Beck

              Re: Just refuse to discuss it

              Often the CS prologue says "The call may be recorded, ...". I take that to mean I am allowed to record the call. If they mean something else they should use less ambiguous language.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Just refuse to discuss it

              I think he was so calm because he was recording it and knew what was going to do with this.

              I've thought about doing this in the past with some call centres, but I read somewhere that it's illegal (in the UK anyway) to record a call without the other person knowing. Chances of being prosecuted in cases like this is very slim though.

              Unless UK law has changed in that respect (which may happen with RIPA, so check), it is not illegal to record someone without their knowledge, but using such a recording is problematic - it is, for instance, not admissible as court evidence. Even if you use it to just correct meeting notes, it invalidates those notes to for legal use, and I'm not sure you're allowed to use the recording publicly.

              Having said that, is it really a problem to explicitly mention you're recording it (and this make that recording legal)? As they are doing it, it should not be a problem you do so too, but I suspect it'll make the rep nervous. Which is again a good thing IMHO :). If they don't want to be recorded they should stop recording you too.

              Or you should just play a recording of a similar notice ("your call may be recorded for quality and legal purposes") as part of your "hold music" while you pretend you have them "on hold" and see if that changes the conversation afterwards.

            3. Truth4u

              Re: Just refuse to discuss it

              record it then put your half through a voice changer and post it on every video sharing site under a fake name.

  7. keithpeter Silver badge

    Other way round

    I was having problems with the adsl from Orange. Kept phoning the nice (and remarkably informative) chaps in Mumbai. They could not seem to do anything their end. On the fifth call, the chap suggested I phone up the accounts number and ask to cancel the service. I didn't especially want to leave, they are all the same in the UK basically, but I did phone. I got asked why I wanted to leave, told the (obviously UK based) account staff member about the problem (capped connection speed) and the five phone calls.

    Miraculously, original problem sorted in a day.

    The tramp: very low AMRC

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Other way round

      "I was having problems with the adsl from Orange"

      You've said quite enough on this site with that statement.

      1. I Am Spartacus

        Re: Other way round

        I am always amazed when people spell their name "Orange". For years I thought it was "Zero Range"

  8. R 11

    Oh crap.

    Whenever my discount ends I go through the 20 minute call saying match what you gave me or just cancel the service.

    You mean now they're going to answer with 'okay, we've turned of your interwebs' rather than offering me a discount on my bill?

  9. tekHedd

    Sounds normal to me

    I have Comcast (ultimate everything) and this seems pretty normal to me.

    My contract ends July 30. I've had a countdown running for 6 months.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds normal to me

      My contract ends July 30. I've had a countdown running for 6 months.

      And you really believe they will respect that cancellation and not renew you? Poor soul..

  10. Evan Essence


    Maybe Comcast is embarrassed, but I found it hilarious! At one point, Block asked sarcastically if it was a joke. I thought he was remarkably even-tempered (though we don't know what occurred before he started recording).

  11. channel extended

    Service Call.

    I had a problem three days ago. Some channels working some not. I called and as usual got the IVR. 10 minutes later talked to rep, Indian accent, named John? Said he wouldreset the box and it would take up to 30 minutes for it to work, if it didn't work call back. Not working, I called back and they set up a service call, because some channels werew working it was set as non-emergency and a week later. I got tired of crappy service and decided to check for myself. Using a wrench I undid and cleaned each connection/splitter back to the incoming wire. A month ago we had someone take out the pole that the cable had been attached to, and the tech said that regulations now required that it come in at a different point. The new cable was installed and everthing worked. They left cable laying all over the yard said someone would be back to bury it. After a week no one had shown up so I ran it under the house myself. Everything was fine. Back to the prob,so when I checked, all of the connections each was good exept for the one leading up to the pole. APPEARENTLY the installers idea of tight is - As long as it doesn't fall off!!!

    The real problem is that there is no way to actually complain to someone at Comcast. They want you to send an email, If I sent an email with all of the profanity that I would like to use, it would no doubt be ignored. There is no response or even a feeling that anyone cares from them.

    PS: Thanx for letting me vent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Service Call.

      How do you spell APPARENTLY?

      No wonder you're stumped by the world of technology.

    2. BitDr

      Re: Service Call.

      With many businesses there is no way to actually register a complaint. If means to do so is given it is usually email and the canned response you eventually receive makes it obvious that no one actually read and understood your attempt to communicate. Businesses today only want to sell product, sign you up for a subscription, and most offer only email as a means of contact. There is a feeling of general apathy when it comes to customer service.

      I recently posted a query to an ISP about their high speed wireless business services (4G/LTE) for rural businesses. asking if they had plans for a more symetrical Upload/Download service as I might become a customer if they did. I explained that their service of 10MB/s down and 1MB/s up was not conducive to running a business that uses VOIP phones, hosts their own email server, and their own colloboration tools, allows staff t remote into their desktop from the field, and remotley admins customer's servers.

      I got a message back from their support staff saying they couldn't discuss this kind of thing in email and that they would be happy to look into my account and resolve my issues if I would just call them.

  12. Craigness

    Same here

    I had the same problem with some wiseguy who wanted to leave an ISP in the UK. He gave me the runaround for 10 minutes before swearing his mouth off and cancelling his direct debit. What? Oh...I'll get me coat.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry but

    anyone who cannot articulate the required words to deal with these cretins within a few seconds of dialogue is indeed the bigger cretin.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He is a better man than me

    I would have lost it after 2-3 minutes

    As a former Comcast customer and now on FIOS you could not pay me to switch back. The few times I have had an issue with my FIOS it was fixed in minutes and the people on the phone were great.

    The sum of all intelligence in the universe is not enough to comprehend how much I hate Comcast.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Karma is a bitch Ryan..

    "Ryan Block, a VP of product at AOL".. AOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL has a clear history of creating its own unique consumer Hell!!! I should know..

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    America Fuck Yeah...

    After 20 years in that hell hole, I can tell you that the US has the worst customer service in the world. I've lived in over 20 countries and hand-on-heart nowhere else is as bad... The problem is this, every law is written to 'look after' the corporate, while the consumer always gets watered down. America is sinking fast.... Case in point:

    -------American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's "news" media)," he writes. "The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious 'electoral' 'democratic' countries. We weren't formerly, but we clearly are now - The wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power. - BBC News - Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy

    1. bill 36

      Re: America Fuck Yeah...

      Fuck yeah..

      best comment I've ever read.

      have a pint.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "you don't want to know where I would rate the UK on the list"

          We don't disagree there. But the US has hands down the worst customer service because the game is heavily rigged against the consumer...

    2. ckm5

      Re: America Fuck Yeah...

      You've apparently never lived in France, where 'customer service' will hang up on you because 'all lines are busy'. That's at 11pm and calling France Telecom....

      There's a reason I don't live there anymore....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      TTIP- Forcing 1%-Benefitting, 99%-Screwing US "standards" on Europe- and Coming Soon!

      And if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)- which governments have been trying to keep remarkably quiet for something that's supposedly in Europe's interest- goes through, expect standards in an extremely wide range of areas to go down to American levels in the name of "harmonization".

      If you're in favour of American health care (i.e. sword of Damocles and threat of bankruptcy over every American that gets seriously ill), food standards (e.g. pink slime and hormone-filled "beef") and want to give American companies the ability to sue European countries that don't play free market ball (e.g. by not letting US healthcare businesses get their claws into the NHS) and the ability to hollow out and hold the European middle class to ransom by moving their jobs to low-security, low-pay countries- like NAFTA is already doing in the US- then you'll *love* TTIP.

      (Yes, deary, of *course* the Americans will increase their standards to meet Europe's instead. By the way, did you get the paperwork for that bridge I sold you?)

      Of course, none of this should be a surprise, as the treaty is basically a way for the corporate interests that already have America sewn up to get their claws into Europe.

    4. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: America Fuck Yeah...

      It thought that: America is sinking fast.... read as America is stinking fast, which would also apply,

      Pints for everyone!

  17. phils11

    This could have been made so much easier if he just went down the freak the CS rep out route.

    “Well... if we really have to get into this... I have been diagnosed with acute carpal tunnel syndrome and upon physical and physiological diagnosis my doctor has advised that a permanent disconnection from internet service at home is the only way I shall be able to prevent further issues and ultimate amputation of my arm... plus the lotion bills are getting ridiculous.”

    1. Phil W

      I dont know, in this case I think the guy would of just tried to offer parental controls be turned on or something.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Only works if you can place the liability at their door. About the one way you seem to be able to fight back is the threat of making them liable for the condition if they don't cancel. At least an opportunity to use that "sue anything that moves" culture for something positive.

  18. crumpled

    Yep. Yep. Yep.

    I've used Comcast twice and both times swore to never give them any more of my money ever (fool me twice, shame on me). When choosing a provider on a recent move I opted to have an internet speed of about 10% of what Comcast offers. If you get a choice at all, choose someone else as your ISP. Anyone else. No matter the value.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AOL and Monitronics

    I had a very similar conversation with a customer service rep with monitronics alarm company. I explained the reasons for wanting to cancel service and not 1 had to do with money. The rep proceeded to offer me discounts which I declined. I ended up, after asking for a supervisor several times, losing my temper and yelled and cussed at this rep to the point he finally got me to a supervisor who cancelled my service.

    I also had the same problem with a rep from AOL who actually told me the FCC would not let them refund my money. I had cancelled my service but AOL continued to bill me for 6 months. After calling the FCC I called back and notified the AOL rep that the FCC was on the line and asked for a supervisor. After explaining my situation, the sup promptly refunded my money.

    I do not care to help companies market their services. I am very capable of researching companies for a service I need. I do not need to be up sold or marketed.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is NOT an is how these people do business

    I worked for both AOL and Verizon, and can report from personal experience that the poor customer service representative would like nothing more than to simply comply with a customer request to cancel service. What most people don't know is that the customer service representative is then harassed by a supervisor for failing to "save" customers from canceling the service. If said customer service representative has too many failures to "save" customers from canceling, they are taken off the phones and forced to review their "techniques" for saving customers. If there is no "improvement", they are written up or terminated. I've witnessed some supervisors warning employees that they were not allowed to cancel a customer account without supervisor approval. Wow. I feel for the people working in call center sweatshops. I'm willing to bet the poor guy on this call was only worried about keeping his job. The players from AOL and Verizon usually migrate to other companies with large customer service workforces. Make no mistake, this is exactly how companies like Comcast do business.

    1. BlueGreen

      Re: This is NOT an is how these people do business

      This, this, and thrice this.

      The rep on the end of the phone is in a pressure sandwich between the client (that's you) below and the corporation above. The corp pays the rep so the corp might as well have rep's kids in a cage in the basement. Your proximal target of anger is the anonymous voice on the phone, the real cause is an evil business policy, get it straight.!

      A certain UK high street health-food chain uses similar tactics - buy anything and it's "would you care to buy our magazine / do you want a loyalty card / can I sign you up for one of our special offers / it's 50% off the second item sir, buy something else?" plus immediately being pounced on when entering. Turned out it wasn't the staff being genetically bred to annoy, but company policy. The shop staff told me it pisses off a lot of customers but they don't have a choice.

      1. Evan Essence

        Re: This is NOT an is how these people do business

        @BlueGreen - Exactly why I avoid shopping in Holland & Barrett...

      2. Spleen

        Re: This is NOT an is how these people do business

        If you walk into a health food shop you have already made a conscious decision to get fleeced, and deserve what you get.

  21. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Adobe Flash?


    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Adobe Flash?

      Seriously, can someone rip the sound from soundcloud and post it somewhere in a standard-compliant format?

      First it complained that my RaspBian install doesn't have flash. Fair enough (and by that I mean "utterly idiotic but rather common").

      So I try today from a computer that does have Flash installed. Oops, my browser is "not supported by Soundcloud" apparently, and "please download one of our supported browsers: Chrome | Firefox | Safari | Internet Explorer".

      It's beginning to be ridiculous, back to the eighties and the infamous "please install IE6 to view this site" but I must admit that Midori is not a very commn browser so maybe it can't play sound the exact way Soundcloud wants, and hey, OK, why not since it's Let's Be Stupid day apparently, I'll try from a computer that has one of the 4 supported browsers.

      Ah. Doesn't work either; I suspect Soundcloud doesn't like this version of IE (no idea why: too old, too new, not the right default font or perhaps it's just that bit of salad on my teeth: it still gives the same "NOT SUPPORTED" error message).

      EDIT Apparently xxxterm works. Why it didn't want to talk to Midori is anyone's guess...

      1. robmobz

        Re: Adobe Flash?

        Here is a link to it on dropbox:

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least you can tell what he's saying

    Every time I speak to his equivalent in Virgin Medias Indian outsourced call center I can't even get to the point where I'm discussing anything because their accent is too thick for me to make out! Plus the line is crap, well it is Wirgin Media after all. Oops, Virgin Media.

    1. Phil W

      Re: At least you can tell what he's saying

      I've always got through to UK operators when calling VM I think it relates to time of day and load at the UK centres. I'd suggest approximately 10:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 16:00 on weekdays are best as most customers are in work and can't call.

    2. Dave Stevens

      same here

      I had a similar experience trying to cancel my service with Rogers. The first rep transferred me to a phone that no one was answering. The second rep almost immediately hang up on me. I was on the line 20 minutes waiting for the supervisor who did not listen to me, as she seemed already in possession of all the needed information. I just lost it.

      The next day I re-assigned my phone number to another provider, effectively terminating my contract which could no be terminated. When my last bill came in the mail, they were threatening to send me to collection even though all the previous bills had been paid on time and I only owned them for 2 weeks of service which hadn't been billed yet.

  23. king of foo

    I feel sorry for these guys

    For exactly 10 seconds.

    Then I shout then to submission.






    It works best when you are standing outside a church or primary school.

  24. Len Goddard

    Amazing patience

    I really cannot understand why the cancelling customer put up with the guy for so long.

    1. JB77

      Re: Amazing patience

      The quality of the recorded audio is the answer. He planned to do it. Notice how calm and even speaking he was. He was "playing" the guy. Let the salesman run with it. Giving him all the rope the salesman needs to look the fool.

      And then like the icing on the cake, he put it on the net for all to enjoy.


      1. Evan Essence

        Re: Amazing patience

        The story says he only recorded the last eight minutes or so. There's nothing great about the quality – you can hear from the room echoes the phone was on speaker and the recording was made with a microphone. Giving the rep some rope? Hardly, when the rep repeatedly interrupted him.

  25. Someone Else Silver badge

    At the end of the day...

    No matter how many layers of veneer and fluff they try to slather on it, at the end of the day, Comcast is still TCI.

    With apologies to Mythbusters, some turds you just can't polish.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At the end of the day...

      What the hell is TCI?

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        @theodore -- Re: At the end of the day...

        TCI, Tele-Communications, Inc. is the seed company from which Comcast emerged. It was the sole cable provider in the NE Illinois area in the 80's and 90's, before several mergers and such created Comcast. It was widely known and reviled for the absolute worst service and customer relations in the civilized world; it became the poster child for what is wrong with monopolies.

        Wikipedia has a decent history of this WSH (Warm Steaming Heap) here

  26. Slow Joe Crow

    This makes me so glad I dumped Comcast cable in 2005 and currently have Fios via Frontier, who have actually been both quick and efficient in fixing the minor issues I've had. Actually the the pre Frontier Verizon DSL service was pretty good too since I was only a few blocks from the central office and the worst outage I ever had was a few hours of bad DNS.

  27. Gannettt

    I hope alot more people start to record their encounters with these corporations. You wouldn't even have to tell them: don't they always state that "This call may be recorded for training purposes"? doesn't specify who is recording it, does it?

    1. Diogenes

      "This call may be recorded for training purposes"

      By using the passive voice they are not being explicit. From the "may" I would take as permission :-)

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: "This call may be recorded for training purposes"

        "This call is being recorded for my amusement."

        Let me do absolutely anything - I never said what I find amusing, did I?

      2. thomas k.

        Re: "This call may be recorded for training purposes"

        I was going to suggest this exact thing.

        When the live person finally answers, simply tell him/her that you, too, will be recording the conversation for quality assurance purposes and if you do not receive the quality of service you expect you can assure them that the tape will be posted to youtube posthaste.

    2. Roger Mew

      Make sure you tell them the conversation maybe recorded

      If you suspect a problem, always say that you are in line with their statement recording the conversation. If you do not you could be prosecuted!

  28. Slx

    I'm based in Ireland and while our equivalent of the FCC or Ofcom doesn't tend to get much love, this is one area they've got *very* right.

    If you're switching provider, your old ISP or telco doesn't need to be contacted.

    For mobiles you simply provide your new service provider with your mobile number and the account number if you're on bill pay (contract) or if you're on prepay they just verify you own the phone by calling or texting you with a verification code.

    Your port is completed automatically within 1 minute usually. Sometimes it can take a little longer, but I've never had to wait more than an hour.

    Old service ceases and number ports.

    To move a DSL, FTTC, Cable service or VoIP/PSTN service, every billing account has a UAN number printed on your bill (required by law). You simply contact your new provider of choice and the service ports. This can take anything from a few minutes to a couple of days depending on the technologies involved, but you never have to speak to your old operator.

    If you're using satellite TV or something outside the porting system, you have to negotiate.

    Also the companies are banned from calling you for a number of months after you leave to allow a cooling off period.

    All in all, it's created a very decent market where switching provider (especially mobile) is totally painless.

    If you're in a minimum term contract, switching can result in the entire remainder of the minimum term billed or, the port request being refused.

    The nice thing is that it's a completely automated process using the regulator as the broker.

    They also have third party verification if its done by phone. You're transferred to a call centre where you must state that you're agreeing to move to the new operator and confirm that you've understood what services are being moved. That's independently recorded.

    All in all, I think we've actually got a pretty decent setup. Shockingly, the government and bureaucrats actually seem to have gotten it mostly right!

    The incumbent telco tried to impose a 30 notification period on this and got in serious trouble with the regulator

    1. foo_bar_baz


      This is how it works in northern European countries too. We have in common with Ireland the fact that we're pretty small, I guess that plays a part. The system has been set up to foster competition and protect the customer.

      1. Slx

        Re: @Six


        I guess you mean Scandinavia? Ireland and the UK and Iceland are Northern European countries.

        It really should work like that all over the EU though and anywhere claiming to have an open telecoms market. Too many regulators seem to work for the industry rather than the consumer.

        The porting systems in the UK, France, Belgium and Spain (not familiar with others) all seemed to be very slow, somewhat bureaucratic, cumbersome and gave too much power to the telco you're trying to move away from.

        If it works here, it should work anywhere else. We're all using rather similar technologies and systems. I don't really see how there can be technology barriers.

        Also it doesn't matter whether Ireland or a Nordic country is small vs the UK, France or the US being big. It's about having a regulator that's empowered to work for the citizens and consumers rather than the industry.

        If anything, a bigger market might make it easier as you'd have the volume of customers and economies of scale to sustain a lot more players than we do.

  29. tempemeaty

    Call center as usual....

    In the past I worked on two call center contracts for two separate major ISPs. The agent call flows and scripting to do the kind of thing we heard was not unusual. Consequence to the agent for not getting sometimes inane information from a customer would result in the agent's call flow screen not allowing access to the part of the account because it was required in certain data fields to unlock it or go to the next step. Faking data or work-arounds were out of the question. The call center's "Call Monitoring" would give the agent a "Failed Call" score for that agent's "Metrics" for that call and an automatic firing process would occur that was out of his/her supervisors hands. Business as usual with the major ISPs...

  30. Hud Dunlap

    No different than ATT

    Nothing new here. It took me two hours to cancel Uverse. The phrase " I never watch it" just didn't seem to get through.

    1. JetSetJim

      Re: No different than ATT

      Standard upsell to that is "you obviously need more channels". At least that's what Sky used to say

  31. tempemeaty

    Desperation and an unreasonable number of points to cram into calls....

    After listening to that call again I can hear the ~ dozen Scripted Bullet Points, Required Offers, Statements and number of attempts/efforts the agent is "Required" to make(or force fit) on the call in order to meet his metrics. In my past two contracts missing just "one" of those would result in a instant firing with a "Failed Call" score on your metrics.

    Like other agents I've heard, this one has the same desperate tone any agent gets into when their metric driven requirements don't fit into the call.

  32. Shannon Jacobs

    Freedom <> Obscene profits

    Freedom is about meaningful and unconstrained choice, but that is NOT equal to monopolistic profit maximization, which is fundamentally about removing choice. If the consumers actually have meaningful options and can freely choose among them, then the free market will effectively minimize the profits. Not eliminate profits, but certainly prevent monopolistic price gouging. Heaven forbid, but you'll have to actually WORK for a FAIR profit against your competitors. Don't you just hate that?

    Intuitively obvious to the most casual observer, but any questions?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait, Comcast trains their customer service employees?

    Number 1 in service? Just because you are the largest doesn't make you number 1 in service. 105Mbps is the fastest service in the US? Hmmm, I have faster than that and it is symmetric. The CS rep also mention 105Mbps guaranteed? I'm pretty sure that is not the case.

    Just because someone that was with them for 9 years doesn't mean that the service worked and they never had an issue. For many, they have no choice in providers so customers stay with them just because they have too.

    I just record calls to companies and when I run into what this guy ran into, I just tell them I'm recording the call as proof I requested the service to be disconnected and state the date and time. If the service is not canceled and I get billed for service beyond that date, I'm not liable for the charges and if need be will use the legal system for relief and damages of which this conversation will be used as evidence that I requested that service be terminated.

    That stops them from asking any further questions and promptly gets the service disconnected.

    I wonder if the Comcast employee won't get fired over this, not for what he did but he probably didn't try hard enough and didn't list even more of the "great" features that Comcast offers.

  34. lforsley

    Sprint's no better in the States!

    I went through the same nonsense with Sprint! First, they conveniently forgot I'd cancelled not once, but twice, and then they kept billing me! I ended up paying at least 2 months beyond what I wanted to. My last bill was for $0.00. I'm sending a check for the amount to get them to finally CLOSE my account!

  35. John Savard

    Famous call

    This news item brought to mind the famous case of someone trying to cancel his AOL service, who was at one point, despite being an adult, asked to put his parents on the line.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Comcast are losing a customer who has been loyal for a decade and it is really useful for a company to understand why the customer is leaving so they can offer incentives to retain the customer or fix anything they are doing wrong. This dude could have been a lot more cooperative and got his service cancelled a lot quicker of he wasn't so obstructive.

    1. Justin Case

      Re: Hmmm

      "This dude could have been a lot more cooperative and got his service cancelled a lot quicker of he wasn't so obstructive."

      Yebbut... who is working for whom? He doesn't owe Comcast anything.

    2. Down not across

      Re: Hmmm

      Comcast are losing a customer who has been loyal for a decade and it is really useful for a company to understand why the customer is leaving so they can offer incentives to retain the customer or fix anything they are doing wrong. This dude could have been a lot more cooperative and got his service cancelled a lot quicker of he wasn't so obstructive.

      Yes of course it would be useful. However the customer is under no obligation whatsoever to give a reason for terminating the service.

      Obstructive? Hardly. All he was trying to do was to cancel the service regardless of the CS rep talking all over him repeating the same sales pitch over and over again without actually listening to what the customer was saying. Excellent way to ensure that the customer is lost forever and will not ever come back.

      It is truly astounding he managed to stay as calm as he did. I think most people would have lost it.

    3. Nuke

      @AC - Re: Hmmm

      Wrote :- "Comcast are losing a customer who has been loyal for a decade and it is really useful for a company to understand why"

      Now that this is all around the Internet they will lose thousands. However, this time they will know why.

    4. Maryland, USA

      Re: Hmmm

      If it's valuable for Comcast to understand why the customer is leaving, why won't they pay him to tell them why?

  37. Scaffa

    The most reliable tactic I've seen involves just staying silent after you've done the data protection malarkey, and stated you'd like to cancel the account.

    Nothing is more jarring than just hearing someone breathe over the phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nothing is more jarring than just hearing someone breathe over the phone.

      I'd be careful. He could get excited, and then you're in no end of trouble.

  38. Jimmy.Reload

    Oh please!

    WORST EVER customer service call...? Are you joking? Try cancelling a Sky subscription!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I moved to Australia from the UK I rang up to disconnect my mobile phone from the airport.

    "You need to speak with retentions to cancel your phone and they're not available, can I arraneg a callback"

    "I'm at the airport now, I wont be available"

    "Unless you speak with them your account won't be cancelled"

    "I'm paid for the next 3 months, I don't want a credit, just cancel it"

    "It will keep billing and get passed to a debt collection agency"

    "Good luck chasing me down for that, I'll be in Australia"

    *hang up*

    *destroy sim*

    *enter airport*

    Never did hear anything back from them. Lol.

    1. foo_bar_baz

      I can't understand how this can even be legal. "You can't talk to the guy who'll try to refuse to end our business relationship, so we'll keep billing you and send the repo man for you." Fucking fucks.

  40. Christoph

    Use a small ISP

    If you have the option (which I gather the USA hasn't?) use one of the many small ISPs.

    They are helpful, knowledgeable and responsive.

    When I've emailed my ISP (Merula) with problems, I've had helpful, responsive, friendly emails, often from the company boss (he sometimes emails after midnight!). When I emailed to cancel one service they simply went ahead and did it. No quibble whatever.

    Same with my web provider (ICUK). They respond to problems. They fix them. They are helpful and friendly.

    There's lots of other small providers. Use them! Or see them taken over by the big boys and reduced to the same "service" level.

  41. davetalis

    NTL Hell

    In the UK, before ISP competition became prevalent there was much the same problem, if you wanted fibre cable you generally only had one choice dependant on where you lived, which actually got worse before it became better as one of the useless companies (Comtel) was taken over by another (NTL). With Comtel I spent hours on the phone to these people trying to cancel an account, in the end (even after being told I couldn't), I drove round to their corporate headquarters just down the road and dumped their set top box in reception. I moved to another area and had to get internet, the only fast choice was NTL.With NTL I again spent hours trying to solve the smallest network connection issue with them , being passed around departments until being sent to one that just cut me off without answering. Actually when i got to talk to a technical person, they were great, it seemed to be the customer service reps that were useless. When I'd finally had enough and asked them to disconnect me they said they had and would send a courier round to collect the box. I disconnected it and put it aside, and waited and waited, and phoned and was told to wait and wait. Finally two months later i got sick of it and dumped it at the nearest NTL shop i could find. Then found out they'd charged me for an extra 2 months despite confirming to me that they had disconnected me. They then got taken over by Virgin media, and i unfortunately I moved to a place which had Virgin media, my one encounter with them over the phone proved to me thay had kept the same customer servce policy. Same reason I finally left the undead grasp of Vodafone, and would never recommend it to anyone, horrible customer service!

  42. CheesyTheClown

    I have actually charged companies for my time

    Honestly, I spent three hours trying to sort out a billing problem with my cell phone provider because their customer representatives pull stunts like this.

    I took the time to find the correct method to invoice them and billed them my normal business rate of $300 an hour for the time used as well as the charges that they hit me with which needed to reversed, a total of $2200. Then I hired a collections firm to go after them and the fees increased to $2900 and I got paid.

  43. Spleen

    Whenever I have to make one of these calls and the salesman attempts the retentions patter, I simply say "Thank you, my decision is final and I will not discuss it, please just cancel the account". Then if they still persist I say exactly the same thing, word for word, but in a sterner tone of voice. (You must repeat yourself word-for-word. If you try to argue with them you are entering a dialogue and if you are in a dialogue they will think they can win you over.) So far I've never had to repeat myself more than once.

    As soon as the drone realises that there is no chance of retaining you, you can be assured that they will get your account cancelled with maximum speed and efficiency. They need to get you off the phone as quickly as possible so they can get on to someone more pliable.

    I admit that this approach will never get me on YouTube though.

  44. Christoph

    A note for the blokes here

    A note for the (mostly) male audience on El Reg:

    Now you know how a woman feels when trying to tell a persistent idiot that No means No.

    And no, she isn't going to explain her reasons so that he can argue about them with her.

    1. JAK 1

      Re: A note for the blokes here


      Any other slurs you'd like to pointlessly throw our way?

      1. Christoph

        Re: A note for the blokes here

        Asking you to think about what happens, about what those women feel like when subjected to that behaviour, is a slur?

        Only a few men do that, but a hell of a lot ignore it when they see it happen, or laugh about it.

  45. stu 4


    that is class.

    I like the fact he keeps going and keeps going - does he really think that as he pisses this customer off more and more and yet thinks he's gonna keep the guy.

  46. Maryland, USA

    Maybe one of these excuses would work

    1. My parents hate Comcast so much that they've put in writing that if I don't cancel my account, they'll cut me out of their will.

    2. My wife hates Comcast so much that if I don't cancel our account, she'll divorce me. She doesn't bluff.

    3. My child is dying and canceling our Comcast account is her fondest wish.

  47. Zot

    Opening statements.

    When I hear, "this call may be recorded for training purposes."

    I tell the person as soon as I can, "I'm also recording this conversation - for YouTube purposes" in a very clear and well enunciated accent. Even if their first message was automated.

    I get a variety of interesting reactions.

    Also it may change the way they speak to me, but I have no way of really knowing how effective it is, as they probably just forget and rant on anyway.

  48. JAK 1

    Publicly told off

    but in private he was probably rewarded.

    He was doing exactly as he has been told/trained to do, and whilst I certainly would have lost my rag a lot sooner, it's slightly disingenuous for Comcast to cast him as a rogue employee

  49. Javapapa

    Switching providers

    In the Colonies, when switching providers, we often have to talk with a rep from a third party company which provides legal protection against charges of "slamming" on part of new provider. Been a while, so don't know if still in effect.

    Btw, all governments are or quickly become oligarchies. In fact, the leader of our Revolution was one of the richest men in the American colonies, so knock it off, ok? At least we get to choose from the fortunate few with the stamina to run for election and endure a form of Question Time which we laughingly call debates. Representative republics with divided power and terms of office do tend to reflect the will of the people. Can't help it if the people are insane.

    God save the Queen, y'all!

  50. A K Stiles

    Madasafish similarities

    Had that a few years ago when I wanted to get a MAC (I think) code to shift from Mad As A Fish (not the original name of the company I was with, merged or rebranded a sub-company) to O2 broadband (who I am also no longer with). Spend 10 minutes with the woman in the retentions department

    Q: "why do you want to leave"

    A: "You're too expensive and I can get a cheaper and faster connection elsewhere"

    Q: "If you stay we can reduce your bill by £5 a month?"

    A: "Which is still more expensive and slower than I can get with O2, so No."

    and repeat ad nauseam.

    At least the last time I cancelled a BT phone contract was straightforward:

    Q:"Why don't you want the service any more?"

    A:"I'm moving house"

    Q:"Ah but you'll need a line at your new address?"

    A:"Nope - that's my other half's remit in the new place"

  51. Vlad

    And no mention of Sky cancellations?....Until now

    Nobody has commented so far on cancelling a Sky TV subscription?

    It 'only' took me about 45 minutes and four disconnected calls. I had researched doing a cancellation by registered post but, oh noooo, you can't do that! The reps were very polite, though.

    I'm very happy with the zero subscription costs of my YouView HD PVR.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to work for an [ISP]

    I won't name who the subcontract firm was. It was many years ago now.

    I had a call from an old woman in tears asking to cancel her husbands account as he had just died. I obliged with no questions asked, even though we had previously been told to pass account closures to the 'Save Team'.

    Problem was, after the call, I got pulled into the supervisors office, and they tried to give me a bollocking. Then they called in the manager, then, to my surprise, his boss too.

    None of them realised that making this poor old ladies life easier (and possibly financially more stable) would be better than herranging her for half an hour to scrape an extra £14 a month out of her at her lowest point.

    The worst of it was that the husband only had it for his course, she had no interest in the internet at all. They had the recording with all the details on.

    I quit my job there and then, literally walked out, but I have never forgotten.

  53. Slx

    These companies seem to fail to understand that by frustrating a customer like that, you can lose their business and get bad publicity.

    While customers may leave, if you attempt to punish them or make them stay like some kind of clingy psycho ex girlfriend/boyfriend, they'll run a mile, badmouth you to friends or all over social media and never go near you again.

    The human mind is also evolved for self protection. So, if you hear one negative thing about someone or something it takes a lot of positive things to change your opinion again. We tend to give negative stories, especially ones we can relate to huge weight.

    Someone might leave an ISP, telco or other provider of services because they get a better deal or higher speed elsewhere.

    They might come back later if they get fed up with the new provider.

    Annoying them like that when leaving just means they depart with a bad taste in their mouth and fully reassured that they've made the right choice.

    I actually left a mobile provider here in Ireland because they kept calling me with special offers I didn't want and doing a hard sell. They also had a customer 'care' department that was outsourced to an Indian script reading service who has no access to their systems and seemed to know nothing other than to try to placate with nonsense.

    I left when I called them to complain that when I called some UK land line numbers I wasn't getting a ringing tone. I'm an academic who knows telecoms networks inside out and I knew it was some kind of issue on their network. I could call the numbers perfectly from other phones.

    All I wanted them to do was note the fault and raise a ticket with their technical team.

    Instead they told me that what I was describing was impossible and patronised the hell out of me. Then told me that 'sir, mobile signals are very sensitive and fragile. The bad weather that they often have in London maybe causing this problem'.

    Now, I had called them to let them know that there was a problem. Not to be angry, not to complain but just so that they would be able to trouble shoot an issue that was happening intermittently for two weeks.

    I gave up and moved our entire business' account to another company after a few incidents like that. Basically we took about 18 high spend customers to another company simply because their corporate attitude was that we were an annoyance or an inconvenience.

  54. cordwainer 1

    This old article from NPR shows Comcast hasn't changed a bit, and is lying...


    It's a VERY long article, and worth reading in its entirety....but if you haven't the time or patience, just read the beginning, i.e., the past stories about other Comcast customer service outrages, all of them ALSO, nationally and internationally broadcast and discussed on major networks and in major newspapers, seen and read by millions of people.

    They obviously aren't embarrassed at all by negative publicity, no matter how pervasive. They don't care. Their executives are simply liars.

  55. Roger Mew

    Sounds like Sky to me!

    The easiest way is to send a recorded letter, and a copy to the bank and stop the payments. If they then try to press for the bills you have the notifications. Do however write on the letter that should the supplier not disconnect etc after a given time then you will assume that it is a free gift.

    Should the bank allow a payment then you also have a claim against the bank.

    I was a bailiff and found that one out very early, also if you can change the payment to another sort or a different bank so that the new bank does not realise that it is an account to stop direct debits!

  56. Instinct46

    Being a C**t

    I rarely raise my voice on the phone, but I've found that the best approach to cancelling a "service" is to be a proper kn**head on the phone. I was with talk talk for 2 - 10mbp/s and I on average got 1.8mbp/s and had trouble disconnecting. Just switch to EE for the same service and my average speed is 8mbp/s ....not really relative I know, but still I would of finished with more than a few companies sooner if I'd just gone straight to being a be*lend.

    This guy did himself no service by no commenting. He should of just said he isn't getting the service.

  57. slacouve

    Comcast is the worst

    Well even when they agree to cancel, they don't refund your deposit...I have been struggling for the past 4 years to try to get my deposit back, and every time it is the same story: check lost in the mail, we cnnot send checks abroad and a bunch of other irrelevant arguments.

    I called last month and went through 13 représentatives (literally speaking) to end up with "Mikael" who simply stated "it's too old now, you'll never see your money again".

    Comcast, or the art of robbing customers...

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pah - that's nothing... :-)

    At least he didn't just stick £500 on his bill if he insisted on leaving, and then black his credit rating,

    and then threaten court action and bailiffs, and get debt collectors involved, etc etc... like NTL did to me some years ago!

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