Comcast 'embarrassed' by customer service rep

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Ryan Block and Comcast logo
Ryan Block recorded his phone call with Comcast and posted it online.

SAN FRANCISCO (KABC) -- It's a story of frustration we can all relate to -- a San Francisco couple trying to cancel their Comcast cable service. It started with a simple request, but the response was anything but.

Frustrated after allegedly getting the runaround for nearly 10 minutes, Ryan Block's wife handed him the phone to deal with the unidentified Comcast customer service representative. Overhearing the conversation and knowing "this would not be very fun," Block decided to record the remainder of the call and posted it online. On Tuesday, it went viral.

During the recorded conversation, Block repeatedly asks the Comcast rep to disconnect his service. But instead, for eight more tortuous minutes, the rep tries to almost bully him into not canceling.

Service Rep: "I'm just trying to figure out here what it is about Comcast service that you're not liking, that you're not wanting to keep. I mean, why is it that you don't want to keep that service?"

Block: "This phone call is a really... actually amazing representative example of why I don't want to stay with Comcast. So can you please cancel our service?"

Service Rep: "But I'm trying to help you."

Block: "The way you can help me is by disconnecting our service. That's how you can help me."

Service Rep: "But how is that helping you though?"

Block: "Because that's what I want."

Service Rep: "Explain to me how that is helping you."

Block: "That's what I want."

Service Rep: "OK, so why is that what you want?"

Block: "Because that's what I want."

The rep continues to ignore Block's request and asks for a reason why he wants to cancel "the fastest Internet in the country."

Service Rep: "What I'm trying to find out is why don't you want the same offer a brand new customer is going to get? Faster Internet than anyone can provide you... Why don't you want those services?"

Block: "Because I'm not interested in your services any longer."

Service Rep: "OK, so you're not interested in the fastest internet in the country?"

Block: "Nope, I'm not interested."


Service Rep: "So why not keep what you know works? What you know is a good service?"

Block: "Because we're not doing that so proceed in canceling us."

Service Rep: "So you don't want a good service? You don't want something that works?"

Block: "No, I guess I don't want something that works."

And as the conversation continued, Block even asks, "Is this a joke?... Are you punking us right now?"

Eventually, Block succeeds in getting the rep to agree to disconnect his service, but only after telling the employee, "I can guarantee you right now you're doing an incredibly good job at helping your company be worse."

The experience resonated with consumers.

"No matter if it is Internet, phone, cable, whatever, I've actually dealt with the same problems too," San Francisco resident Seema Bhatia said.

Golden Gate University consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow called the conversation abusive. "There's this really toxic dynamic between a lot of people in customer service and a lot of customers, to be honest. And I think rudeness has been ramped up to new levels," she said.

Comcast's senior vice president of customer experience publicly apologized saying, "We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize. The way in which our representative communicated with him is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action. While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect."

Block, who says he is a vice president for AOL, said he expects to talk to Comcast personnel.

To listen to the conversation, click here.

KGO-TV San Francisco and The Associated Press contributed to this report.