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July 14, 2014 10:04 PM   Subscribe


 
Meanwhile, my problem is that sometimes I have to hang up when they actually start to process the cancellation instead of continuing the discount to stay.
posted by michaelh at 10:07 PM on July 14


I know what this sounds like and because of that I can't listen to this.

Flames.
posted by montag2k at 10:18 PM on July 14 [16 favorites]


I was prepared to buy a used car from the guy by the end.
posted by 724A at 10:22 PM on July 14


"This phone call is actually a really amazingly representative experience of why I want to disconnect Comcast."

Beautiful. I am usually reduced to spitting and cursing by that point.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:23 PM on July 14 [24 favorites]


I once gave up after 20 minutes and full-on lied to a Verizon customer retention expert and claimed that I was moving to another country and that's why I wanted to close my account instead of transferring it to my new apartment. It was clear nothing else would work. I'm surprised I didn't have to claim that the "new country" was actually Antarctica. Or possibly the moon.

Cancelling Comcast cable tv went reasonably smoothly when I went to the store, though you trade the 20 minutes of phone badgering for 30 minutes of standing in line.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:24 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


This is where familiarity with They Might Be Giants' first children's album comes in handy.

"No is no
No is always no
If they say no, it means a thousand times no

No plus no
equals no
All no's lead to no no no

Finger pointing, eyebrows low
Mouth in the shape of the letter O
Pardon me—no!
Excuse me—no!
May I stay? Can I go? No, no, no

Do this—no!
Don't do that—no!
Sit, stay, roll over
No, no, no

Finger pointing, eyebrows low
Mouth in the shape of the letter O
Red means stop; do not go
No, no, no."
posted by vverse23 at 10:25 PM on July 14 [26 favorites]


Shades of CANCEL. THE. ACCOUNT. (previously)
posted by milquetoast at 10:26 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I successfully cancelled my cable service because when she asked me why I wanted to cancel, i said my boyfriend dumped me and was kicking me out of our apartment. There was a pause on the other end of the line and she asked if I knew where I was moving yet.
posted by Amanda B at 10:31 PM on July 14 [59 favorites]




"Okay, if you really want to know, I'm cancelling because of an incredibly bad customer service experience."

"And when did this occur?"

"Just look at the clock on your wall and write down the time that you see."
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:38 PM on July 14 [132 favorites]


MetaFilter: I was screwing together some speaker wires in an empty living room
posted by trip and a half at 10:38 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]



I know what this sounds like and because of that I can't listen to this.

Flames.


this is how the world ends
posted by philip-random at 10:39 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I dumped my cable provider (Time Warner, not Comcast but just as awful) by lying and saying I was moving in with someone who already had internet. I didn't even try to be honest from the start because I didn't want to deal with "customer retention". This guy is a saint for putting up with it. I would be demanding supervisors and cursing the heavens about five minutes in.
posted by downtohisturtles at 10:39 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


...Years ago I had a summer job, briefly, as one of the cold-callers for U-Conn's pledge drive. And they drilled into us just how important it was that we not give up at the first "no" - so we were really surprised when we heard one guy apologize to someone and hang up after only 15 seconds. When we all looked over at him, he told us what she'd said - "She said that she's just taken a Vow of Poverty."

I mention that because it seems to be a perfect answer to "why would you not want to donate/cancel your service/etc.". No one really knows how to argue with that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 PM on July 14 [33 favorites]


"Okay if you really have to know I was blinded in an industrial accident and can't watch TV or use a computer anymore SO ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? ARE YOU????"
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:44 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


When we were resolving my Aunt's estate my mother had the misfortune of calling to cancel Comcast. They kept asking where my Aunt had moved and could they set up service in her new home. It ended with my calm, polite mother screaming that my Aunt was DEAD. Which then lead to cable rep suggesting that perhaps we should continue cable at the house until it sold.

It was worse than unloading the my Aunt's timeshare.
posted by 26.2 at 10:44 PM on July 14 [31 favorites]


Ha, I was putting together a post on this. Second time I have been gazumped on the Blue today. You lot are just too quick for me.

WTF is wrong with Comcast? Your customers don't owe you an explanation for not wanting your service. And that guy is such a pushy, aggressive douche.

What's worse is that the recording starts 10 minutes into the conversation; it's more like 20 minutes of trying to cancel Comcast.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:45 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


I once navigated a call like this by letting the guy shpiel for one minute and then saying approximately: "I am more stubborn than you. I am more patient than you. And I am lying comfortably on my bed in my pajamas with plenty of food and water, and have no qualms about taking the phone into the bathroom with me. Your options are to continue harassing me for as long as is required by your job guidelines and then cancel my account, or to just cancel my account immediately, and possibly have a snack. How long should I hold the phone near my ear until this call ends?" The call ended two minutes later. I hope he had a nice snack. I guess it's all about luck of the draw.
posted by Mizu at 10:49 PM on July 14 [152 favorites]


I should note though that the reason I had that whole monologue prepped in my brain (and the actual provisions I'd brought to my room) was because of a previous cancellation call, which was, yeah, 20 minutes and ended in seething anger and a nearly-crushed phone.
posted by Mizu at 10:52 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


When I canceled AT&T TV/internet service for a far better local ISP a few years ago, I was actually kind of disappointed that I didn't get any pushback beyond a token protestation by the representative. So, good on them, I guess. Maybe they hope I'll come back to them some day, remembering how it wasn't an awful experience to cancel.
posted by zsazsa at 10:53 PM on July 14


I once subscribed to the Philly Inquirer for a year. I cancelled it but they kept calling and calling and calling and I didn't answer. One day I answered and said I moved to San Diego and get the Tribune (lie). This stopped it for a few months but then it started again. One day I answered them again saying "I told you guys, I moved to California!!!" and they calmly said "Oh yeah I have that info right in front of me" and hung up. Dah!
posted by daninnj at 10:57 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


"Wasn't it Sting who sang 'If you love somebody, set them free'. Comcast, don't you love your customers? Don't you love me, who is one of your customer? Then set me free. Free, free, set me free."

<start playing never-ending free jazz guitar solo jam until rep gives up>
posted by benito.strauss at 11:00 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


But if they don't retain you as a customer, how else can they use your money to lobby the FCC for ludicrous rules that will allow them to also push to get revenue from the companies you pay for online services?
posted by JHarris at 11:07 PM on July 14 [21 favorites]


Holden: You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.

Comcast: What do you mean, I'm not helping?

Holden: I mean, you're not helping. Why is that, Comcast?

Comcast: Well, I guess I want to understand a bit better why the tortoise doesn't enjoy being on its back. Lying on your back is much more comfortable than crawling I don't think it's possible to dispute that, everyone knows that. And before I proceed to turning the tortoise over I just want to make sure that this is what the tortoise wants, I mean the tortoise would feel pretty silly if it started crawling along again and then thought 'hey you know I really enjoyed being on my back after all' and I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't take that into account and help the tortoise make the best possible decisions. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I need some help, help me help the tortoise by explaining why it's better to crawl along on the sand, you know, with sand kind of getting in your face and in your mouth and just sweating and going really slowly along the sand, and why that's better than just lying on your back in the warm sunshine, why would anyone want that. And the tortoise hasn't even inquired yet about some of the extras that are available when lying on your back, I really think that flipping the tortoise over may be the wrong decision and I'm sure we can work something out that everyone is happy with what do you say?
posted by um at 11:08 PM on July 14 [70 favorites]


Well, I'm sure all of this will be solved once Comcast is the *only* internet provider available in the country.

I know, right now it's only time-warner that they are about to own, but soon it'll be all ISPs. Their customer service will improve then, I'm sure.

I mean, why cancel, when your only option is no internet.*



(* I may not want an internet if the only internet is a Comcast one)
posted by el io at 11:22 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


15 seconds in and I'm ready to reach through a presumed wireless home or cellular phone across a multiplexed voice and data network to murder this "customer retention expert" with my bare fucking hands wrapped around his pasty throat.
posted by loquacious at 11:37 PM on July 14


Yeah I lasted about twenty seconds. Aaaargh!
posted by carter at 11:39 PM on July 14


Now now loquacious. We have no way of knowing what color his crushed and ruined neck is.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:42 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Look, I just want to know why you're breaking up with me. I mean, why would you want to give up all the great things about being in a relationship with me? Do you even have reasons? I'll bet that if you stopped and thought about it for a few minutes, you'd see that breaking up with me is a very bad idea. The worst, really.

# It only just now struck me how much this is like Put Another Log on the Fire.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 11:57 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


While I was in the business world I learned that sometimes one has to discover a willingness to out-asshole the person on the other side of the transaction. Meet stubbornness with outlandishness. In cases like this, where it was clear that I was being harassed, my stock answer to any questions that touched on "why" was: "Because the wind cried Mary."

Once I kept repeating to the obnoxious salesman that I couldn't buy his product because: "My epistemological integrity is at stake here, man." Followed by silence and no explanations.
posted by CincyBlues at 12:05 AM on July 15 [32 favorites]


Of course it's okay to lie to a customer service representative if it will get him to cancel your service. A conversation assumes a good faith attempt to communicate from both parties. The very fact that his department is called Customer Retention signifies he's not going to make a good faith effort to recognize your intent.

It's just a game to him. A game he plays to keep his job, but still, he isn't going to be rewarded for giving you what you want.
posted by JHarris at 12:06 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


In addition to Mediaite (and MeFi) this is now on The Consumerist and Boing Boing, which means it'll be on hundreds of sites tomorrow. We can assume by now that somebody at Comcast has been made aware of the play that this is getting and by tomorrow pretty much everybody at Comcast with an interest will be aware of it. I'd be curious to find out if they go to the trouble of finding out who the rep was and whether they are going to do any PR or just let it blow over...
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:15 AM on July 15


I too have had some experience with the people you need to call to do anything. Getting through the 'your call is important to us' nonsense, and the press 1 for English (in the USA!) to a real person is a plus unless that person is that Comcast retention jerk.
posted by Cranberry at 12:16 AM on July 15


You could just do what my dad does when he has to deal with customer service: enjoy it.

If someone asks my dad why he would want to cancel his cable service he goes complete onion-belt and suddenly he's walking them through what the Air Force basic training induction process was like in 1971.

Forty five minutes later, when the phone call concludes, the customer service rep knows a lot more than they ever wanted to about say, The Moody Blues, and probably needs to take a long break.

So long as you keep talking they have to listen.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:26 AM on July 15 [71 favorites]


Holy shit, this is like listening to Jerky Boys. Good on him for getting an audio capture.

Note to self: if I ever have this problem, I'll tell them I'm moving to Calgary or Stockholm.. or just repeat the request verbatim over and over without absolutely no change in the wording. Wear him down instead of try to outsmart him.
posted by crapmatic at 12:35 AM on July 15


Wow, I thought this was going to be just the usual "aren't phone monkeys totes the worst" type of post but that monkey is hilariously awful. I've heard text to speech machines with more humanity.

I would've been on the phone for hours, just asking him questions about his life until one of us was crying.
posted by fullerine at 1:06 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


Actually, come to think of it I'd love to have been in on this call, so would any number of sadistic/masochistic network-aware techs.

(Warning: This teleplay is not and shall not be fact checked. Certain creative license has been taken to protect trillions of innocent, lost UDP packets.)

"Why am I canceling? Oh, joy! I can tell you exactly why! I can tell you why backed with metrics and shiny graphs! We don't even have to address the fact that you're a fucking tool and a shining example why Comcast sucks so hard that it blows! Hang on, let me fire up a few terminal windows and some shiny tools."

"Yes, why do you want to cancel your service with the number one super best intern..."

"No, shut the fuck up phone jockey. I can talk faster than you, I have a better headset than you and I can type faster than you at the same time I'm crawling up your network's unwashed, crusty backside and probing it like a trailer park alien abduction."

"No one can promise you 105 megabit connects like we..."

"No, you can't, either. Shut up and listen. Sure, various peered speedtest sites have me churning at generally less than 50 down and a paltry 1 megabit or so up, which is generously inflated by your peering arrangements and less than half of your promised speeds. However, tcptrace, Wireshark and suchlike are actually only showing about 700k to my remote, dedicated server hosted on a gigabit fiber link on the LAN side and tapping some really serious data center fat pipe, and that server is perfectly idle except for serving this one uncompressable test file. To me. Through Comcast."

"We're not responsible for peak loads or that external tra..."

"Still not shutting up. I'm now remoting into second server that's physically on the total other side of the entire fuckin planet crossing through multiple peering hosts and a transatlantic cable and ending up on a similar hosted LAN-side link at a similar data center and it's blasting away at a whopping 250-500 megabit with bursts to nearly a full gigabit with - suspiciously, even less ping, even before we account for the lag in the speed of light and increased distance."

"W-we don't allow ping on certain p-ports..."

"I noticed. I'm not using "ping". I'm using traceroute and NMAP."

"Wait, what? That's not actually a reason to canc..."

"Yes, it is. I'm not done yet. Ok, you get some props for mainly keeping your internal pings under 100ms, but honestly? That's kiddie stuff these days. I want to see less than 10-30 ms across everything you own before it exits to a peer. I should not be seeing these fucking 300 ms pings or timeouts inside your backbone."

"...ten hundred million movie titles on dema..."

"Still flapping your idiot talking face meat. That brings up an excellent point. Let's see, I'm pulling down one of your streaming on demand titles now, why, just look at that massive throughput. Much data. Such wow. Wait, did that burst actually almost approach a full 50 megabit for about a second there? It looks like it did! Now here I am firing up uTorrent..."

"...bittorrent is illegal!!"

"No, it's not, you stupid feckless halfwitted git and you know it. And now I'm starting to download a completely legal Linux ISO, fully compressed, with something like 10,000 seeders available in my bittorrent network and it's churning away, all those little bits just flying totally legally to my computer from thousands of other computers and now..."

"...a-and?"

"And it's mysteriously slowing down to a trickle! Why is that, do you know?"

"Sir, we have the super bestest interbits in the web wide wor..."

"No, we've already disproved that several times with ease. Why is it slowing down? I can tell you. No, I can show you. Let's tunnel out through an encrypted VPN to the remote server I used earlier, hiding all of those nasty, dirty not at all illegal Linux ISO bittorrent packets from your poor little network and, wait, what's this? I can't connect at all? I can't see enough peers to download my incredibly boringly legal linux ISO?"

"You c-can't? You can't! Because Comcast is the..."

"Worst. No, I lied. Obviously. I'm now connected to a full list of peers and downloading at an aggregate speed of a bit under 50 megabit, which, strangely, seems to be what my 105 megabit connection caps out at, which is far less than what TCP/IP overhead should ever need. Strange that there should be that, ah, limit everywhere, no matter how I connect or use it. It's almost like, I don't know, Comcast might actually be lying to me and delivering only half of what I'm supposed to be paying for."

"Well, yes, our service agreement allows for..."

"Bandwidth shaping? Caps? Port filtering? Have you been naughty, inspecting my packets, my precious, private packets? Have you, say, engaged in the highly promiscuous act of deep packet inspection? Huh? Is Comcast sniffing my ass, maybe? Have you been helpfully protecting me from those nasty, dirty ports?"

"O-of course! Er, not!"

"Of course you have My, look at that. I have two copies of uTorrent running on identical machines, both hard-wired into identical ethernet ports with identical, tested ethernet cables on an actual, honest-to-Bob Metcalf active and balanced switch wired to that poor little Motorola Docsis 3.0 POS surfboard modem, and the naked connection is barely downloading anything at all, but the VPN tunneled connection is downloading like it's drinking from a fire hose."

"What is... what? We just want to know why you..."

"Because you're filthy liars, that's why. Because you don't deliver what I paid for. Because you, your customer service is actually less pleasant than a combined trip to the DMV and dentist for a root canal! Because you dare to limit how much I can download in a month when my service is billed in bits per second, like packets actually have a non-infrastructure cost beyond easily managed and scalable congestion. In the nearly 20 years that "Comcast" has been in the business of selling cable data internet, you've never, ever met your end of the signed bargain."

"Y-you'll never find a f-faster provider! Never! No one will ever take care of you or love you like only Comcast can!"

"Well, we know that's obviously not true, either, and I'm more than a little reluctant to call that brisk, unwanted, unlubricated buggery you do so well anything close to 'love'."

"B-but you owe us an explanation of why you're leaving..."

"Because I don't owe you shit except my last due bill and this cable modem. Which just spontaneously burst into flames for some strange reason."

"SEE! This is why Bittorrent is ILLEGAL. It's too much data. You probably got hacked!"

"No... Wait, I think it might have been the propane blowtorch I was using on it. I wasn't expecting it to burst into flames for at least another minute or two. Well, consider this account cancelled. 'click'"

"Sir? SIR! OH GOD MY QUOTA! SIR? ARE YOU THERE? DID YOU HANG UP?"

"No, I just said 'click'."

*click*
posted by loquacious at 1:12 AM on July 15 [142 favorites]


Not many people know that Sláine's first warp spasm started out exactly like this.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:31 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


:::loquacious drops mic; walks off stage:::
posted by sara is disenchanted at 1:35 AM on July 15 [10 favorites]


A few months ago, I closed my Comcast broadband account. The process took a few minutes at most. Yes, I had to fend off a few unwanted offers, but it really wasn't that much of a hassle.

I say this as someone who profoundly hates Comcast and all of the other oligarchic broadband providers in the US (particularly those that are publicly against net neutrality). If it were up to me, I'd have the SEC smash them all into separate, competing corporations, so the US can finally have speed/price ratios in the vague proximity of what the rest of the modern world experiences.
posted by dephlogisticated at 1:41 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


That is some very good eponysterical, loquacious.
posted by you must supply a verb at 1:43 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


It's like if you had cable with Walter White.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:30 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


Yeah, l canceled my Comcast in about ten minutes last week. The CSR asked me once if there was anything they could do to keep my business, but otherwise just processed it. Of course that is in Boston where they have competition from Verizon and RCN.

Tl;dr: #NotAllCSRs
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:32 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


The agent was trained to do this. He didn't wake up one morning and think "How can I best be an asshole to people who want to leave?" It's his job which he probably doesn't really enjoy thanks to the shitty targets and constant cajoling to maintain save rates etc. It was fucking embarrassing however and I'd have given up long before, but then that's why I am on a final written warning since I have a sense of shame and decency.
posted by longbaugh at 2:33 AM on July 15 [22 favorites]


:::loquacious comes back on stage and lights dropped mic on fire with blowtorch:::
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:34 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]


If you don't know much about Comcast, I strongly recommend reading their wikipedia page. It's a long read, but you will probably come out disliking the company more than you already did (ie: more than the IRS).
posted by el io at 2:42 AM on July 15


I called TimeWarner yesterday to figure out why the Magic of the Internet wasn't working properly. The poor staffer had obviously been required to tell me that I should sign up for some alternative ("faster," the same as Comcast, I think? I tuned it out) every 90 seconds or so. I may have been projecting, but she sounded really embarrassed every time.

Unlike this recorded Comcast nut whose assholery is clearly something he enjoys.
posted by miss tea at 2:58 AM on July 15


I have no love for Customer Service reps that do their job, but there were two people playing that particular game..

The simple and quick way to handle this is just to say "I no longer have a computer/tv"... Done....
posted by HuronBob at 3:25 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


This can't really be a real thing, can it? Surely! How does this win the hearts n minds of the customer base? Madness! Do they just expect people to crumble and give in?

Does Comcast have a ludicrous monopoly thing going in certain parts of the USA? They would never get away with this kind of thing here in Australia! From where I'm sitting I have the choice of at least 10 different ISPs, all providing similar- and for the most part quite decent!- levels of service and at competitive pricing. This kind of customer service would achieve precisely one thing: customers leaving in droves and never looking back. Come on Comcast! Lift your game!
posted by Philby at 3:35 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


The trick with dealing with any kind of troll that you have to give a response to, is to give the same response repeatedly. The exact same response. When asked why you want to cancel, say "I just do". Every time. No matter what questions they ask or how they try to get you to open up, "I just do". It's the equivalent of Miss Manners' "I'm afraid that won't be possible". Once you start giving explanations, people can argue with and twist that. They can't argue with "I just do". They'll probably try a few times, at first. It's a matter of using the tricks they use against them. Verbal judo, I think it's called.

Ultimately, it's really difficult to deal with a non-responsive response. I recall seeing a Youtube video once, where someone made a nasty comment about it. The creator of the video said "thanks for watching". Someone else asked why the creator of the video would thank someone for leaving a nasty comment. Again, the creator replied "thanks for watching". Conversation over.

Being nasty to people who are doing their jobs is a shitty thing to do. I guess it's possible that the rep enjoys hassling people on the phone all day, but it's more likely that he has targets to meet so he can put food on his table and a roof over his head. I can't imagine there are many people out there who actively enjoy behaving in the way that rep did. It's frustrating for the customer, but the customer has to deal with one phone call. They don't have to behave like this so they can continue eating. #capitalism
posted by Solomon at 3:41 AM on July 15 [20 favorites]


I called to just cancel the cable tv portion of Cox and my end of the conversation was basically like this:

"I would like to cancel the cable tv, but keep Internet... Because I want to... I don't have to tell you why... Okay fine, just cancel everything... Because you're asking too many questions...Great, thanks..."

But yeah, the face-to-face interaction at the comcast store is much better. People don't like to make you cry in front of potential customers, I think.
posted by empath at 4:10 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Being nasty to people who are doing their jobs is a shitty thing to do. I guess it's possible that the rep enjoys hassling people on the phone all day, but it's more likely that he has targets to meet so he can put food on his table and a roof over his head. I can't imagine there are many people out there who actively enjoy behaving in the way that rep did. It's frustrating for the customer, but the customer has to deal with one phone call. They don't have to behave like this so they can continue eating. #capitalism

I've done lots of phone support. I've had lots of customers be rude to me. And I'm sorry, I'd expect people to be rude to me all day if I was forced to follow their idiotic script. I'm sure they get used to it, and don't take it personally.
posted by empath at 4:13 AM on July 15



Being nasty to people who are doing their jobs is a shitty thing to do. I guess it's possible that the rep enjoys hassling people on the phone all day, but it's more likely that he has targets to meet so he can put food on his table and a roof over his head. I can't imagine there are many people out there who actively enjoy behaving in the way that rep did. It's frustrating for the customer, but the customer has to deal with one phone call. They don't have to behave like this so they can continue eating. #capitalism


I'm sorry, but the customer has a right to not provide an answer. Something is wrong either with the rep or with Comcast (or both!) if they literally cannot move on to the disconnecting step with "I don't want your service anymore" as a justification (!) for termination. The customer is -not- at fault here.

I terminated my service with Comcast five months ago and I had to state 3-4 times that I didn't want to go through the retention script with the person on the phone, after which they proceeded to disconnect me. Of course then I received another bill a month later (even though I had paid my final bill when I'd dropped off my equipment). So I called back and told them, in really firm terms, that my service was disconnected and any further attempts to bill me for anything would result in a complaint to the BBB. That finally worked.
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:15 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Getting through the 'your call is important to us' nonsense, and the press 1 for English (in the USA!) to a real person is a plus

Also catering to the 38 million people who have Spanish as their primary language doesn't sound like such a bad idea.
posted by ersatz at 4:23 AM on July 15 [15 favorites]


I love this recording.

"Ok? Yeah! Why don't you love our fucking awesome internet. Ok? Ok. Ok? Yeah. So you aren't interested in the fastest internet in the country? So what, what is it about this internet that you don't like? What doesn't work? You don't want something that works? We'll go ahead and cancel, but you're not going to get those guarantees like us, I mean, I could save you so much money on HBO, and I mean like, we could just totally hook you up, and I'm totally interested in that process, but I need to know why you aren't interested in the service? It's disconnected, but thank you. I don't have a confirmation, but you'll get a final statement in three weeks. Have a great day."
posted by oceanjesse at 4:25 AM on July 15


We recently canceled Comcast in about 2 minutes thanks to the magic phrase "I'm moving outside your service area." We gave them our new address to send the final bill (if you weren't actually moving, I'm sure "out of the country" or "just let it forward from the old address" would work just as well), and they were even kind enough to send us a "the cable system is not at all a noncompetitive oligopoly" postcard that said "thanks for being our customer, we'd like to introduce you to the cable provider in your new area:     Cox Communications     
posted by Partial Law at 4:37 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


My default line for "customer retention" scenarios like this is "Personal reasons".

99% of the time that triggers something in the script that immediately skips the rest.

The one time that it was went beyond that, the line "Death in the family" put a stop to it.
posted by sektah at 4:50 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Wow. That was really aggressive and bullying. I would not want to be an ex-girlfriend of that Comcast guy.
posted by headnsouth at 5:02 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Several years ago I called Comcast to cancel the TV part of the service, but keep the Internet service. Please note: This was in Massachusetts (otherwise the ending makes no sense).

"Sir, just so you know, if you just keep Internet service without the TV service, it will cost you more."

"That's silly. How could both cost less than one?"

"Well, it's a package and it's our way of encouraging customers to choose it."

"Ok, fine. Just cancel everything."

"What? Sir, I'm not sure I understand. Why would you want to cancel the TV part of your service?"

"I don't want it. I don't watch TV."

"You don't watch any TV?"

"No."

"You don't watch any shows? At all?"

"No."

"What about the news? The weather?"

"No."

"Baseball? You don't watch baseball?"

"No."

"You don't watch baseball."

"No."

-- long pause --

"Sir, can I put you on hold for a minute?"

"Sure."

-- doot doot doo doo doot --

"Hello, sir? I just had a word with my supervisor and we're going to offer you a special deal of Internet only service for a reduced rate. How does that sound?"
posted by jammy at 5:02 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


When I called to downgrade my comcast to internet only they made no attempt at all to talk me out of it. I was actually shocked. The phone rep I got must have been tired.
posted by interplanetjanet at 5:14 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


When I called to downgrade my comcast to internet only they made no attempt at all to talk me out of it. I was actually shocked. The phone rep I got must have been tired.

I used to enjoy quickly cancelling a contract (not Comcast) when someone was clearly calling up to chance their arm at getting money off. Yes, a bit unpleasant, but you get a bit misanthropic in a call centre.

"Yeah, sure, no problem - let me do that for you right now!"
"Oh. Er. Thanks."
posted by liquidindian at 5:18 AM on July 15 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure if they've changed, but Vonage used to be one of the worst at this. Which is a shame because the service was actually pretty good when I had it. What initially was my desire to put the bill on hold for a few months turned into me swearing them off for life...took a full 35 minutes to cancel with them where they pulled out ever trick in the book trying to wear me down.

Verizon on the other hand, piece of cake to cancel. They just keep billing you, tell you it's taken care of when you call to dispute extra bills, and bill you again until it goes to collections.
posted by samsara at 5:20 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I once had to cancel my Time Warner broadband account because I was moving to a different country and was surprised at just how easy it was to cancel it. A very quick, efficient phone call and a general feeling of "wow, good customer service".

About 6 months later I noticed that I was still paying a Time Warner bill every month. I rang TWC from the UK and learned that my cancellation request had been cancelled and no one knew why. They made no effort to phone, mail or email me to inform me that my service had not been cancelled. They could see I hadn't used the service in 6 months but because they provided the service they insisted they had to charge for it and refused to refund me.

In the end I just put it down to one of life's lessons. America is shit, don't go there.
posted by 13twelve at 5:24 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]


Some time ago I was moving, and called Charter Cable to disconnect. The rep wanted my social security number for verification (something most cable and cell phone providers ask for). I provided it. He said, no, that's not the correct number. I said, yes, it is the correct number, but maybe you have it recorded incorrectly. This went back and forth for a while. Finally he confirmed that his number differed from mine by only a digit or two. But, after 20 minutes or so, he still refused to cancel. I managed to track down a local manager, who got it done for me.

OTOH, I have not had this kind of experience with Comcast, for example when I cut the cord a few years ago and downgraded to broadband-only; and I've generally had pretty positive experiences when I called them about technical problems.
posted by beagle at 5:24 AM on July 15


When I canceled Verizon internet, I spent about 20 minutes on the phone, but nothing so bad as this. The end of the conversation cracked me up, though.

Me: Okay, so we're all done here? My service is canceled and I won't be receiving another bill, correct?

Them: Yes, sir. Have a good day and thank you for choosing Verizon.
posted by GrapeApiary at 5:26 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


When AT&T try to upsell me TV service I tell them I don't have a TV (lies! I just don't have cable). They tell me I can watch on my computer and there's a lot of top-notch programming on these days, and I tell them, "Well, I have preschoolers and you know that pediatricians say your children should definitely not be having any screen exposure that young." If they persist I get a little "hysterical" and start demanding, "Why are you trying to tell me how to raise my children?" "What sort of company ARE you, that you're trying to convince me to HARM my child?" I just keep illogically insisting that their attempts to sell me television are a direct threat to my child's health and development and getting more hysterical with every attempt.

Their script doesn't handle "I don't have a TV" and "I don't let my children watch TV" very well, so they get flummoxed and usually give up. If they keep pushing and get you to "hysterical parent" stage, they start giving you all kinds of discounts just to get you off the phone.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:35 AM on July 15 [13 favorites]


Bell Mobility sent my "last" bill to a collections agency(despite me having paid it off- and besides, I was only changing to prepaid), and a party unrelated to the collections agency verbally threatened me and called me daily. On my Bell phone. A company that I never stopped using for my phone. Eleven years after my "last" bill.

Fuck you Bell and fuck you Aktiv Kapital.
posted by Yowser at 5:35 AM on July 15


No matter what they say or ask me, I just repeat, "Please cancel my service and close my account." This has always worked for me (gym memberships, credit cards, cable, any kind of "customer retention").
posted by chickenmagazine at 5:37 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


"Sir, just so you know, if you just keep Internet service without the TV service, it will cost you more."

"That's silly. How could both cost less than one?"


I need to remember that line for my yearly phone call to AT&T to try and keep my internet rate down, as they usually try to get me to sign up for a bundle by using the same line. Do they really think people are that dumb?

Although, this one worked pretty well the past time:

"You don't want TV with us? But what will you do?"

"I've got rabbit ears; we only watch over-the-air TV."

"But won't you miss your favorite shows?"

"I've never had cable in my entire life. No, I won't."

::silence::

"Alright, ma'am, we'll get you set up for internet only..."
posted by damayanti at 5:37 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Just start soliciting their advice about a painful and disgusting dermatological condition. Say it looks like an octopus trying to eat a pineapple and see how quick they get off the phone. I caused someone to audibly gag with this one weird trick
posted by clockzero at 5:43 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


I find that "the theta rays Jerry Springer is sending thorough your wires are making my cochlea vibrate on a strange new frequency I'm finding far too erotic" makes them just get on with it
posted by waraw at 5:44 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]


Property insurance tends to be cheaper when bundled with car insurance. This fact should be in Retentions Training 101 . Oh no, I've just added something to their arsenal! Ah well.
posted by Yowser at 5:46 AM on July 15


About halfway through that exchange, I became convinced that the phone was going to spew knockout gas, and Ryan and Veronica were going to wake up in a cozy seaside village in matching blazers.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:49 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Solomon: "Being nasty to people who are doing their jobs is a shitty thing to do."

I resent the fuck out of corporations that take advantage of my inherent niceness, politeness, and reluctance to be rude and use that to try to convince me to purchase products and services that I don't want or need.

This is literally the same thing as the creepy guy who believes when a girl says "no" it's actually just the beginning of a negotiation and who takes advantage of her cultural reluctance to deliver a categorical and universal "no" and labels her a bitch if she does.

These strategies violate normal social conventions of conversation and interaction, and they do so ON PURPOSE, trying to make us feel so uncomfortable, guilty, and bad about cancelling that we'll agree to retain a product we neither want nor need just so we don't hurt the CSR's feelings, and have the clear social threat that we will be labeled a "jerk" or a "bitch" or "nasty" or the kind of person who does "shitty things" to people just doing their jobs.

It is the worst possible form of manipulation and I hate it. HATE IT. Worse, by violating these standards of interaction so consistently, corporations are constantly upping the ante and creating customers who are ever-more-suspicious of corporations and their representatives, building a new normal where even honest and straightforward speech is automatically suspect and all interactions require game-playing by both parties to reach even a mutually-desired result. Free markets and liberal economies require a presumption of fair dealing to remain even minimally functional; they're not just damaging their own brand and their own sector, but commerce generally and even society as a whole. This kind of behavior is immoral; it's considered, pre-planned manipulation to force others to do something they don't want to do, taking advantage of their human reluctance to be unkind.

It seriously could be an ethics textbook example of immorality: manipulation and dishonesty in the service of a cause the employee doesn't even care about, in a way that punishes others for their kindness and encourages social standards of unkindness, dishonesty, and suspicion.

THIS SHIT IS LITERALLY THE WORST AND IT IS LITERALLY ATTEMPTING TO DESTROY SOCIETY.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:54 AM on July 15 [188 favorites]


Like everyone who deals with them, I've had some not-great Comcast experiences. But I was able to cancel an account a while back with a minimum of effort, and just a short while ago I had a minor but irritating service issue that with only one phone call (and no yelling or threatening or anything other than politely expressing my disappointment to the random person who answers the 800 number) was escalated way up into the corporate office and Solved From Above in a very satisfying manner.

So maybe it depends on who you get on the phone or just plain luck? I listened to just a section of the recording (it was too painful otherwise) and it was like they were stuck in a loop.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:58 AM on July 15


Wow. That recording is ridiculous. I wonder if the cusomer service rep was trying to get the guy to hang up and call back so that the disconnect wouldn't be on his record? Is that how it might work?
posted by geegollygosh at 6:08 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


I guess I'm really just super-lucky. I had to cancel Comcast just once in my life, about 3 years ago, and I told them the truth: I was moving to a new apartment that didn't have cable lines installed. Took maybe 5-10 minutes to cancel my service and I've never dealt with them since.

I've also canceled AT&T DSL because they're service was atrocious, and when I told them so, they refunded my last month's bill. So maybe they all just have their shit together in Atlanta. I dunno. Maybe they're terrified of Atlanta becoming a test city for Google Fiber.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:08 AM on July 15


Nice use of the killmenow tag.
posted by Mchelly at 6:08 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


A couple of years ago my ISP was bought up by Sky. Quite apart from any qualms I had about giving money to Murdoch, I didn't want to be at the behest of such a large corporation. I immediately phoned up my provider - the excellent Be - for a MAC number and got one immediately. However, there was no good alternative and BT were dragging their feet over installing fiber and I thought I'd wait until they did. It was about two years, by which point the phased takeover by Sky was almost complete. So I called up their customer support for a MAC number.

That's all right sir, while we're waiting for the number to come through, can I ask you some questions?

(How can a process that a small company managed almost instantaneously take such a long time?)

Why did I want to change? I didn't want to be a Sky customer. But why not? I just didn't want to. But why not? Shouldn't I at least give them a chance? Everybody loves their service, why don't I want this thing that everybody loves? I don't have to. Of course, you don't have to, sir, but you should be able to give a good reason.

I didn't take it very well, and certainly didn't conduct myself in a dignified way. I always suffer badly when I'm caught out by people trying to Socratic me into doing what they want. I know that they have a strategy, and I don't want to give them the kind of answers that will support their strategy, so it ends up getting messy. I start out trying to stonewall, then try to seque into surrealist whimsy and end up doing full-on tantrum. I think I said that I didn't want their sevice because I thought Murdoch was evil. I imagine he played choice bits of the recording to his colleagues and they had a good laugh at my expense.

But, happy ending, after twenty minutes of wheedling on the part of the Sky support and irrational tantrumming from me I was told that I'd be sent the MAC number by email (so actually the last fifteen minutes of the call were completely irrelevant), which I did. And I changed ISP, and it'll all be wonderful until Sky by the new ISP in a couple of years, at which point I have to go through the whole process again.

So it's not just the US.
posted by Grangousier at 6:22 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I cancelled my Comcast service due to a move. They were actually fine because I was moving to a different service area, so it was a seemingly easy process. However, the next month I was automatically billed for days after the cancellation. I called and complained. This happened for two more months before I was really pissed and asked for a supervisor, and then another supervisor. After about 45 minutes on the phone, I had the following exchange:

Me: I don't understand why you keep billing me. I cancelled my service three months ago, and your representatives keep saying that my service is showing up as cancelled in the computer. You've got to stop billing me and give me my money back. This is ridiculous.

Comcast: Well, the problem is that you cancelled your SERVICE but you did not cancel AUTOMATIC BILLING.

Me: ... What?

Comcast: I have cancelled automatic billing for you.

Me: Umm... thank you? How exactly is it my responsibility to cancel automatic billing when I cancel service? Shouldn't it be obvious that if I'm no longer receiving the service I don't want to pay for it anymore...?

Comcast: You will receive a check within sixty days.
posted by gatorae at 6:28 AM on July 15 [12 favorites]


Some years ago I waited out a Verizon Wireless Customer Service Representative and then a Retention Specialist by spending 60+ minutes on the phone.

I kept calmly repeating that Some Damn Thing They Had Done "represented a material change in the service that they provide, which according to my contract entitles me to terminate the contract without penalty." I was as maddeningly consistent as a tape loop, and eventually they gave up. Hurray! It was worth the hot ear!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:38 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Never give a reason for canceling. A reason implies some option where you remain a customer. A reason can be debated. Do not even acknowledge the question. Say, You have my account infromation and Ive informed you that I've elected to discontinue service, you have what you need to finish this transaction. Where do I drop off my equipment. If they persist, demand to speak to a supervisor.
posted by humanfont at 6:39 AM on July 15 [10 favorites]


Verizon on the other hand, piece of cake to cancel. They just keep billing you, tell you it's taken care of when you call to dispute extra bills, and bill you again until it goes to collections.
posted by samsara at 8:20 AM on July 15 [1 favorite +] [!]


When I threatened to cancel/switch, Verizon reluctantly offered me $20.00 off. That was in May. Every month since I am still being billed at the higher rate, and every month I call, explain, get a credit, and a promise that it won't happen again...until the next month.
Wash Rinse and Repeat every two years because the "new customer" rate is $25.00 cheaper than a repeat customer rate.
posted by Gungho at 6:41 AM on July 15


I think it took me about 16 minutes when I canceled Comcast the last time. There were a few reasons. I'm pretty sure I got a confirmation number.

First, I told them I was switching providers. Then I told them that the provider was faster - fiber vs cable (this was back in the days just prior to them rebranding xFinity. Then I told them that we didn't go two months without having to call and dispute a bill / charge or have someone out to to fix something. I told them that the price of cable through them had gone up x% annually for little / no improvement for service - and that yes, while they were keeping up with the industry standard rate - that by their size they were in fact quite capable of setting the industry standard rate, or retarding the increase.

When he launched into the structural improvements and the costs going towards that I told them - fantastic. That it is wonderful that they have made those improvements, but that at no point was the user experience improved by those improvements - and many of which had actually inconvenienced me through outages. In fact, what they called improvements were inconveniences for the user. I told them to take a more user-centric view and realize that if I don't see immediate and noticeable improvement via a piece of infrastructure that it isn't actually an improvement for me and burdening me with the cost is basically poor planning on their part.

When the guy pushed again, I said "give me your manager". I repeated the conversation, he started in again... I said, "Look. Next I ask for your manager and believe you me, when I do that I'll not only get my service cancelled, but by the end of that conversation, I'll have the last two months of my bill credited as well since both you and the other gentleman I talked to were unwilling to do this for me when I asked. I'll go further, find out and contact your division manager, take the time to write him an actual letter and give him everyone's name and ID that I've talked to - inform him of how broken the system is - explain to him that both of you were unwilling to provide adequate customer support. I'll recommend he listen to the calls and use them as what not to say to customers. In essence, I will do everything possible to not only cancel my contract, but to make sure that you have a big black mark against you before your next salary review and promotion. Now, when a customer calls up that is willing to be this much of a pain in the ass - I want to know: Are you going to cancel my service now, or are you going to have me have someone else cancel my service and provide me with a few evenings entertainment of working to get you fired?"

Amazingly quick after that, albeit initially verbose.

BTW - best service provider that I ever canceled with (because I moved) - RCN in Somerville... Hopefully they are still around and are still as good and as pleasant as I remember them.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:41 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I currently live in a home where the only viable option is Comcast. Once a year I call them up and open the conversation intentionally as "I would like to cancel," even though I do not intend to cancel. This pushes me down the same phone call path as this FPP, but in the end I get what I secretly called for, a rock bottom deal (relative to Comcast customers not going through this effort), so I've sort of turned the tables on them.

But, I have to do this once a year, because whatever deal I get expires in a year and then goes up to something ridiculous and I have to call and "cancel" again.

I actually hate this process so much I have looked into moving to a different house because of my broadband service, which is of course insane. But that's how bad Comcast sucks.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:02 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


Not cable, but last time I had to cancel something that required a phone call so you could go through this kind of song and dance, I just emailed the following to their customer service:

"I was recently sent a renewal notice for my policy, and do not want the policy renewed. Please cancel the policy as of the end of the current coverage period, details are below. I do not wish to speak to someone about a policy review. I dont care if you can get me a better rate, and dont wish to discuss this matter with your customer service representative. Please cancel the policy #xxxx, details are below, and send me a confirmation of the cancellation. Thank you."

I got the confirmation of cancellation back by email in short order. It was amazingly effective, quick and drama free.
posted by freejinn at 7:13 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]




I'll go further, find out and contact your division manager, take the time to write him an actual letter and give him everyone's name and ID that I've talked to - inform him of how broken the system is - explain to him that both of you were unwilling to provide adequate customer support. I'll recommend he listen to the calls and use them as what not to say to customers. In essence, I will do everything possible to not only cancel my contract, but to make sure that you have a big black mark against you before your next salary review and promotion. Now, when a customer calls up that is willing to be this much of a pain in the ass - I want to know: Are you going to cancel my service now, or are you going to have me have someone else cancel my service and provide me with a few evenings entertainment of working to get you fired?"

They laughed at you after you hung up. Neither their manager, nor their manager's manager, nor anyone all the way up the CEO cares about whether you had a nice time cancelling their service.
posted by empath at 7:34 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


Sympathy for the Comast Rep from Hell

Of course, it's absurd that a company like Comcast is able to force two humans into combat like this in the first place. If you don't take the existence of a near-monopoly company like Comcast for granted—and why should we?—the situation is as clear as can be: The rep didn't abuse Block, and Block didn't torture the rep. Comcast, the organization, is tormenting them both.

The worst thing that Comcast and the like do is focus people's fury on other people, rather than the institutions that put them both in situations such as these.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:45 AM on July 15 [13 favorites]


One of the things I learned when I used to sell cars for a living is that sometimes you can win an argument or you can have a chance at making a sale later, not both. Sometimes your customer is going to leave even though you know that they aren't going to get a better deal anywhere else. So your options are to just let them go and hope they find out that you're right and come back or keep arguing with them until you "win" the argument but ensure that there is a 0% chance that they come back. Comcast has chosen the latter strategy. I've had enough negative interaction with Comcast that I will happily pay more for worse service out of spite.

If Google Fiber ever comes to Minneapolis I'll be signed up so fast it'll make your head spin.

I'm also reminded of the scene in "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" where Martin (the serial killer) explains,
"You knew something was wrong - you even knew what it was - but you came back into the house. Did I force you? Did I grab you and drag you in? I just offered you a drink.
(pause)
You’d never think the fear of offending could be stronger than the fear of pain - but you know what? It is. They always come willingly.
In fact, the next time Comcast call me to try and get me to add internet and phone service (I have their cable TV service because of reasons) I think I'll explain to them why the company they work for is just like a serial killer. We'll see what kind of reaction that gets me.
posted by VTX at 7:53 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


The only people who thrive in these jobs are the assholes who not only follow the script, but follow it doggedly and wear people down.

The nice people who will go off-script or talk to you like a human get fired.
posted by emjaybee at 8:05 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


One of the things I learned when I used to sell cars for a living is that sometimes you can win an argument or you can have a chance at making a sale later, not both. Sometimes your customer is going to leave even though you know that they aren't going to get a better deal anywhere else.

The car dealer I bought my last car from was pretty honest with me about that, surprisingly. I came with an internet price, he tried to sell me a bunch of options and upsales and stuff. I said: "Look, I'm going to be the easiest sale you've made today. Just sell me this car at this price. Get the paperwork, I'll sign right now, otherwise, I'm going to just go to one of the other two dealers offering the same price." I drove out with the car an hour later.

He said later that he probably could have sold squeezed some more profit out of a sale to someone else, but you have to learn to take yes for an answer when you're a car dealer. He even apologized before asking me to buy overpriced floor mats. I probably could have haggled the price down by a percent or two in a few days of wheeling and dealing with different dealers, but I just wanted the car. Win-win for both of us, really.

I think in a lot of these interactions, it really helps to understand the motivation of everyone involved. The guy on the phone has retention metrics he has to fulfill. He doesn't give a shit about comcast, he just needs to fill out the form in such a way that he doesn't get fired. So if you're stuck in an interaction like this, just ask the guy -- "look, I know you have metrics. You have to ask the questions. I'm going to tell you in advance that nothing you are going to say is going to prevent me from cancelling. So let's just get through it as quickly as possible so you can get to the next call." Also, ask him his name and how his day is going. You'd be surprised at how much a question like that will throw people off and get them off script. Any kind of genuine human interaction with people on the phone is a nice change from unending rage and frustration.
posted by empath at 8:06 AM on July 15 [16 favorites]


Common Ground.
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:11 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I've had enough negative interaction with Comcast that I will happily pay more for worse service out of spite.

When my wife and I first moved in together, she wanted cable, but I insisted against it because terrible, overpriced service and all that. She promised she would be the one to deal with it and it wouldn't be my problem. So, I was like, OK, but you have no idea. It was one problem after another for years and years, but she wanted her cable TV, so she put up with it.

The final straw was cancelling service when we sold the house and moved across the country. It took her over two hours just to do that simple thing.

We moved into a new house and I asked her if she wanted cable and she says "Fuck those assholes, I'd rather pay to watch paint dry".
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:14 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


The next time I have to cancel cable service I'm going to print Eyebrows McGee's excellent rant above and just read it to them.
posted by KathrynT at 8:29 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


If Google Fiber ever comes to Minneapolis I'll be signed up so fast it'll make your head spin.

We continue to hear mythical tales of the US Internet fiber installation that is creeping forward in trendier parts of town. At the rate it's going in, I expect it will reach us in Nordeast sometime just before the heat death of the universe.

Alternatively, I could die and be buried in Lakewood Cemetery and get it right now. And have a lake view!
posted by gimonca at 8:36 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Yeah, like some others have mentioned, my strategy is just to lie. They get to fill in their boxes, I get to carry on with my life. Win-win! When I signed up for the slowest internet package TWC offered a couple of years ago (which was about the same speed as the DSL I had been using previously), they asked me about my typical internet usage and how I would not be able to stream video at that speed, yadda yadda yadda. I told the person on the phone that I'd upgrade if the speed turned out to be a problem (hint: it wasn't). They called me back at least twice afterwards, again asking about what kind of things I use the internet for, so I just made shit up. Yeah, I pretty much only go online for email. I don't have Netflix, or use Skype or anything like that. Really, I barely use the internet at all.

I can't figure out what magic words I could have used when I called to cancel my Citibank credit card, though. Not having used the card more than twice in 5 years wasn't a good enough reason to close my account. I'm sure I could have used it if I had "moved overseas" as well. Maybe I should have claimed to be somebody else and that gueneverey had died.
posted by gueneverey at 8:40 AM on July 15


METAFILTER: THIS SHIT IS LITERALLY THE WORST AND IT IS LITERALLY ATTEMPTING TO DESTROY SOCIETY.
posted by philip-random at 8:44 AM on July 15


"I can't have cable as a condition of my parole. They say it would be triggering or something.

What did I do? Oh, I bludgeoned a customer service rep to death.

Got a suspended sentence."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:47 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


You want to know hard, try to reduce service when a parent dies. They had managed to up-sell my Dad to a ridiculous package, and I called to reduce it. I now realize that I should not have told them that he passed away. They absolutely refused to do it. (They would have had no trouble increasing the package, and even tried to sell me on this). They told me that to cancel the service and restart it in my Mom's name, I had to bring his death certificate to the office,

I'm at the office with the death certificate. "We can't do it." "Why not?" "Your Mother has to be here."

Now that is utter BS. Anyone can start service in their name with a phone call. But their replies were so fast and practiced that I have to think that this is a general policy--to rip off the elderly. I was so mad I probably had smoke coming out of my ears.
posted by eye of newt at 8:52 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


eye of newt -- I'm speechless. Seriously, I was going to make a dark joke suggesting that one response would be to say "I've been diagnosed with a fatal illness and I'm winding up my affairs", thinking that the need to project the merest semblance of human decency would stop them in their tracks. But it sounds like their policy is well beneath even that. I actually don't want to believe you.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:02 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I resent the fuck out of corporations that take advantage of my inherent niceness, politeness, and reluctance to be rude

I feel the same way about the groups with the two college kids on like very corner of new york city: Hi! Can I talk to you? Do you care about gay rights? I do, actually, but I just want to walk down the street right now with my ten minutes of time I will have alone today and you have no right to talk to me or engage me in conversation with your eager smile and cheerful greeting when all you want is money, about 10% of which will help your cause. I have stopped giving to planned parenthood because of these people.

I did tell one of them to fuck off, and he got mad so I offered to buy him a hot chocolate, which he would not take from me, and tried to convince him to do something, anything else for a living.
posted by shothotbot at 9:12 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Man, I feel terrible for that Comcast guy. He sounds like he's tied to a chair with a gun to his head.
posted by koeselitz at 9:17 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Comcast just posted this on Twitter:
.@Ryan we are sorry & embarrassed by what happened. We're determined to be better. We clearly have more work to do. http://bit.ly/1ro91jn
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:19 AM on July 15


Wow. That sounds eerily like the last conversation I had with the guy who ended up stalking and trying to kidnap me. I can only imagine that those tactics would actually be triggering for a lot of people.

I get it's standard sales practice to push past resistance, but there should be a very clear line when someone gives you a clear, unqualified no. Someone who ignores that sends off serious danger signals, even if they're just a customer service rep.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:19 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Maybe I should have claimed to be somebody else and that gueneverey had died.

I can't remember if any of my grandparents' credit cards didn't require a Power of Attorney or death certificate to close the accounts. They'd put a hold on the account for so many days, but we had to send in proof or it would have reactivated and new cards sent.

I think their cable was pretty straightforward to cancel.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:21 AM on July 15


When my father died a year and a half ago the cable company looked up his funeral notice online while I was on the phone to confirm the cancellation. It went surprisingly quick. I didn't tell them my mother was in a nursing home though.
posted by rfs at 9:22 AM on July 15


We are investigating this situation and will take quick action.
Translation: we will fire this single customer service rep to try to save public face, instead of taking corrective measure against the executives and management that not only set up the system of bad service, but have been monitoring CSR calls to make sure they give bad customer service in an effort to squeeze out barely better metrics.
posted by Llama-Lime at 9:24 AM on July 15 [14 favorites]


What is needed is some State AG to launch an investigation of these cancelation practices in the interests of consumer protection. Going after the cable company would be extremely popular with the voters and a great springboard to higher office.
posted by humanfont at 9:25 AM on July 15 [10 favorites]


The way in which our representative communicated with him is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives.
Bull. Shit. That man was on script. What Llama-Lime said, they'll fire that poor desperate schmuck for cover but he wasn't doing it just because he's an asshole, the guy had flop sweat coming off him in rivers.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:27 AM on July 15 [10 favorites]


Never give a reason for canceling. A reason implies some option where you remain a customer.

How about, if you fire the CEO and dissolve the Board and take half the shareholders' dividend and give it to the ACLU, I'll happily retain the service. Oh, and free HBO.
posted by philip-random at 9:28 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


If you (the caller) make $40/hour and you spend 15 min on the phone cancelling a service, then you have just thrown $10 into a gaping void, plus now you're frustrated. The last time I had to cancel something, I just repeated "cancel my account, cancel my account, cancel my account" in a monotone to literally everything she said and it was over pretty quickly. (I had to learn this lesson the hard way because I hate being rude.)
posted by desjardins at 9:28 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I don't have anything like the stories you sorry bastards have — the best thing I can say about Time Warner is that they tried only a minimum of this bullshit when I called them last month to cancel. They went into the retention spiel, but I said "I've already switched to Grande, so it's too late," and that settled it. Apparently that doesn't settle it for Comcast.

The most infuriating experience I had with TWC was about a year ago when I did their online chat-with-a-representative thing to upgrade my internet speed, foolishly thinking that it would be less stressful than a phone call since I could at least multitask. Even with hold time, shit took twice as long.

And then they pulled some bullshit on me: I was prepared to spend more for the internet, but the dude said that the new package would also increase my cable TV bill by twenty dollars a month after the six-month promotional period. "Wait, why? I'm not changing anything about my cable TV. Just the internet." And he explained that it was no big deal — after six months I could just* call back in and ask for the promotional rate again. I persisted, because the dude didn't answer my question, and after 30 seconds I get [name of rep] has disconnected from the conversation.

It was a happy day two months ago when I realized I'd be moving into Grande's service area.

* "Just" is a dangerous word. "Merely run through a bureaucratic gauntlet every six months! No big deal!"
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:31 AM on July 15


Bull. Shit. That man was on script.

and even if he was straying a touch, he remains stark evidence of a culture that (to quote Eyebrows McGee) "... is building a new normal where even honest and straightforward speech is automatically suspect and all interactions require game-playing by both parties to reach even a mutually-desired result."

This aggression will not stand, man
posted by philip-random at 9:34 AM on July 15


BTW - best service provider that I ever canceled with (because I moved) - RCN in Somerville... Hopefully they are still around and are still as good and as pleasant as I remember them.

They still exist here in DC. Cheaper than Comcast and pretty reliable. I hope they're as pleasant when I have to cancel in a few months.
posted by psoas at 9:41 AM on July 15


Holy Fuck - 17 seconds in and I want to punch the fucker in the face. Seriously? Goddamn.
posted by symbioid at 9:43 AM on July 15


WHY DIDN'T YOU BUY THIS CANDY BAR??? YOU BOUGHT IT IN THE PAST!!!
posted by symbioid at 9:46 AM on July 15


philip-random: "I know what this sounds like and because of that I can't listen to this.

Flames.


this is how the world ends
"

Consumers of the world Unite! You have nothing to lose but your high Cable Prices!
posted by symbioid at 9:51 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I wonder if cancellation of service on religious grounds would work? "I recently joined the Church of First United Apostles Adventist, and [TV/internet/credit cards/etc] are against our doctrine. These services were brought to man by the devil, and I can no longer submit to their slavery, praise be to god."
posted by gueneverey at 9:53 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


By the way, I totally get why people are declining to state why they're leaving their shitty cable companies just so it'll make the call go more smoothly. I chose to give reasons to TWC because I wanted to show up in their metrics. I wanted to be in the X% of people who said they were leaving because they could get better service from someone else. I doubt it will effect change on their part, but it's a tiny thing that makes me feel a tiny bit better.
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:56 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Since Comcast sucks but has a monopoly, are there alternatives?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:09 AM on July 15


I called to ask about a cheaper internet plan, since we're paying $97 for internet and basics cable that we don't watch--we don't eve have a working cable outlet. She said that the "package plan" for $97 was cheaper than internet alone. She said for $2 more, that I could have 500 channels and faster internet, and it would only cost a $30 installation fee.
The guy came out, installed it, and now we have an extra $60 for the work he did without telling me or asking, and it turns out there's nothing worth watching on those 500 channels (I'd hoped there'd be a lot of good summertime educational stuff for kids).

Soon I have to call back, demand a sub $70 internet plan, or look elsewhere...I'll have to record it. Down here it's just AT&T and Comcast, so there is no lesser evil.
posted by whatgorilla at 10:09 AM on July 15


I was actually disappointed that I couldn't continue my Comcast internet service at my new house (tip: get a business-class line if you want a quality connection and no CS hassles) and I had no troubke canceling because of that, plus it turned out my new cable provider's standard residential service was even better. Now I'm getting 110/10 for $70 which is less than I was paying Comcast for 1/4 the speed. If fiber came to my hood I'm not even sure I'd switch.
posted by bizwank at 10:21 AM on July 15


How about, if you fire the CEO and dissolve the Board and take half the shareholders' dividend and give it to the ACLU, I'll happily retain the service. Oh, and free HBO.

So what you are saying is that there is a possibility that you would continue service.....now you are not canceling your service, you are entering into a negotiation.
posted by humanfont at 10:41 AM on July 15


Since Comcast sucks but has a monopoly, are there alternatives?

Depends on the area. Here in Bloomington, MN (Suburb of Minneapolis) my choices are between Comcast or CenturyLink DSL. Not exactly robust competition.

You can see what ISPs are available in your area here: http://www.broadbandmap.gov/internet-service-providers/

Just plug in your address. I have no idea how inclusive it is but it's a .gov domain so it should be somewhat impartial.

I'm paying $50/mo for 12Mbps down/3Mbps up from CenturyLink. In the three years since I've had their service I've only had one major outage, I've had to call their tech support three times, and had to have a tech visit once (for a DSL modem that died as it turned out). Now that I think about it, it's been nearly a whole year since I've had any issues that couldn't be solved by power cycling the modem and I think I could count the number of times that's happened on one hand.

It's not as fast as what I could get from Comcast but the connection seems to be MUCH more stable and I get lower pings which is a big deal to me since I play a lot of online multi-player games.

Oh, and they don't call me once/quarter to try to up-sell me to some kind of bundle.

I had Comcast for about three years at the last place we lived and I had more problems that required a tech visit than all of my calls to CenturyLink combined.

CenturyLink is FAR from great (it was Qwest when we first signed up and their customer service got a LOT worse after CenturyLink bought them) but they look FANTASTIC compared to Comcast.
posted by VTX at 10:58 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


That broadband.gov map is grossly overstating Comcast's speed in my area. They're reporting speeds of 100Mbps to 1Gbps, when the packages they offer only range from 6Mbps to 105Mbps. I'm not even finding those speeds available for businesses here.

Coincidentally, when I had Comcast internet, the speedtest on their site always tested about 10Gbps faster than independent test sites did. Weird, huh? I can't even imagine how something like that would happen!
posted by ernielundquist at 11:51 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Come to think of it, what's worse (because so far I've only had to leave Sky once) is my bank, NatWest. Every few months, someone claiming to be "from my branch" (in scare quotes because I don't believe it for a second, though they've probably got some kind of legal thing in place to make it technically true) calls me up to try to get me to come in for a "routine meeting" with an adviser. I did go to one of these once, and it was largely an attempt to get me to give up all the info on other bank accounts and so forth that I might have, so that he could try to convince me to switch to their products and to sell me credit cards and so forth. So, essentially, I'd be losing a half-day's work in order that my bank could do a sales dump on me.

Further attempts to get me to toe the line have gone badly: the manipulative tactics that modern companies use on people depend on the average person's desire not to appear to be an asshole. I share this desire, but am, sadly, actually an asshole, something which comes out quite quickly.

Each time, when it's clear that I'm not interested in their meeting and hoping to appear helpful, I'm asked if there's anything they can do to "improve my experience" and I reply that it would be good if they could fix their website* and to stop cold-calling me. The time before last I was cold-called the following day. I will now not answer the phone if the number is blocked, which might slow them down a bit. I've certainly stopped going into the local branch because if I do, any transaction no matter how simple results in a similar, lengthy sales pitch.

I realise I should change banks, and if I ever manage to achieve a middle-class lifestyle I will. In the meantime they're more threatening than an ISP because if someone there decides to fuck with me they can do me serious damage.

*NatWest's website seems to be comprehensively fucked: they've basically bolted layer upon layer of extra security onto the same site they've had since the late nineties. So every time, or every other time, I try to log on, I find that access is locked and I need to reregister for internet banking. And each time that happens - once a month or so - I get an automated email from them to say Welcome Back to Internet Banking! Hooray, isn't it exciting?.

On the other hand they've a team of people who stalk Twitter and (I assume) other social media for negative comments so that they can ooze fake concern at them without the power to actually improve anything. Hopefully the $5 charge will keep those fuckers out of here.
posted by Grangousier at 12:03 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I feel the same way about the groups with the two college kids on like very corner of new york city

We turned down a grant proposal from an organization that pounces on people in Union Square with their sidewalk stoppers because everyone in my office was mad at them.
posted by elizardbits at 12:08 PM on July 15 [11 favorites]


Dealing with sidewalk petitioners used to be a matter of shoving my hands in my pockets and avoiding eye contact as I walked by. And that's terrible, because it makes me feel defensive in a place I have every right to be.

I don't know where I picked it up, but the method I've started using is 'Sorry, I don't use ________.' Works like a charm on the sidewalk, on the phone.

'Sorry, I don't use newspapers.'
'Sorry, I don't use holiday wreaths.'
'I'm sorry, I don't use surveys.'

'Sir, excuse me, do you have a moment for starving children?'
'I'm sorry, I don't use children.'
posted by mikurski at 12:51 PM on July 15 [10 favorites]


Yes, I'd like to cancel Comcast service. Well, yes, I will tell you why I'm cancelling, although I shouldn't have to and really it saddens me to say it, it's a personal issue really, but... I'm dead.

Yes, I'm dead, I died, I passed on, I'm no longer alive and so cannot enjoy Comcast internet service, I'm no longer around and so can't watch cable TV.

Sir, of course I'm dead, who better than me would know? Honestly you insensitive jerk, have some respect for the departed.
posted by JHarris at 12:57 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


'Sir, excuse me, do you have a moment for starving children?'

This is my personal favourite tbh because when someone stops me and asks "don't you care about starving children?" I can honestly and with great amusement say "i don't care about any children" which tends to leave them flummoxed.
posted by elizardbits at 1:21 PM on July 15 [14 favorites]


So that everybody can save face, customers should just always say that they're "moving to Brainerd, MN, because my entire family has died". Brainerd, MN is an arbitrary place which, AFAIK, does not have Comcast coverage. It's also obscure enough such that the evasive intent is obvious. And yet, the gruesome detail of the dead family makes it so that no customer service representative could press it too hard as a ruse.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:26 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Comcast has apparently issued an official statement, as quoted in this Ars Technica bit about the story (bottom of the page):

"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."
posted by whir at 1:31 PM on July 15


Seriously, in his position I'd say "write down whatever you need to that will allow you to cancel my service. Say I said whatever the magic words are."
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:32 PM on July 15


The calls are recorded on Comcast's end too, though, and I guarantee his supervisors listen in, so your ploy will likely just get the CSR in trouble.
posted by desjardins at 1:45 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I was able cancel Comcast without too much mental anguish, although apparently in retaliation my apartment got put on their business mailing list twice, so every few weeks I get two letters at my apartment that say COMCAST BUSINESS CLASS on them that get tossed unread.
posted by ckape at 1:45 PM on July 15


In his position, I would just say, "bad customer service. I would never subscribe to a service which was this difficult to cancel. I am aware that this script has been engineered by your supervisors. It is my stated opinion that they have done a horrible job. I have already informed you that I am canceling your service. Our business relationship is over. I am no longer a customer of yours. I will send a TaskRabbit to return your equipment. I will never again in my life purchase any services from Comcast. All attempts to bill me for service will be forwarded to the FBI's wire fraud division. And now if you'll excuse me, I am going to turn into a wolf, but I am not going to hang up the phone. AROOOOOOOOOOOOO! AROOOOOOOO! I'M A WOLF! I'M A WOLF! I HAVE PADS ON MY FEET, FOR WALKING ON SNOW, AND STURDY CLAWS, FOR DIGGING! I AM A PACK ANIMAL! I HAVE A DENSE COAT OF FUR! AROOOOOOOO! AROOOOOOO! I HOWL AT THE MOON! MY FUR BEARS A BRINDLE PATTERN! MY TAIL IS FLUFFY AND BRUSHLIKE! I HAVE STURDY CANINE TEETH, FOR TEARING RAW MEAT! AROOOOO! AROOOOOOOO! WOLVES DON'T USE CABLE! WOLVES DON'T EVEN WEAR CLOTHES! LORD KNOWS I'M NOT! AROOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! AROOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Presumably, they would eventually hang up the phone.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:48 PM on July 15 [17 favorites]


I don't know where I picked it up, but the method I've started using is 'Sorry, I don't use ________.' Works like a charm on the sidewalk, on the phone.

A guy I went to college with responded to all sidewalk people with "No thank you, I already own a penguin". Mostly because it amused him how many people didn't seem to notice that that's what he'd said and didn't react.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:50 PM on July 15 [8 favorites]


When I receive calls from organizations that I support asking for more support, which is now about five per day, I answer and desperately ask, "Hi. How is my brother doing? Did the amputation go ok? Oh, wait, you are not from the hospital? I am sorry, I need to get off the phone as I am waiting for important news."
I would rather tell the truth, but the truth always results in a phone bonding session, from which I ultimately hang up anyway, regardless of our agreement that things need to change and my money is important.
I appreciate that folks working in call centers are receiving low wages, and that bonuses are received for retention, renewals, or additional business. It is like when checking out from any major brick and mortar store when one is asked, "Do you have our frequent buyer card?" My pat answer is, "No, thanks." Or, when insurance for my cross-over Cat5 cable is offered, "Thank you for making options available, I will pass this time."
The people going to work each and every day are required by their rich overlords to nickel and us.
posted by breadbox at 2:03 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I've generally managed to avoid painful consumer breakups like this, using the same advice others have outlined. These people are just working at their jobs, trying to follow a script an make quota. Don't engage, don't give them reasons, don't have a conversation with them. Just insist you want to cancel your service. Don't give them anything to latch on to. It's not a real social interaction, just a standard high-pressure sales dance.

If the conversation lasts more than a couple minutes, lie and say you're moving to another country. If that doesn't work, just hang up and try again.

Also, it's a good idea to periodically call all the services you pay for and threaten to cancel and see what deals you'll get.
posted by heathkit at 2:03 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I just say "I can't vote, I'm a felon." Most of the petitioners out here are for our fucked up initiative process and you have to be a registered voter to sign.
posted by KathrynT at 2:04 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: "Since Comcast sucks but has a monopoly, are there alternatives?"

I have "naked" AT&T DSL, which is a little slower and has slightly more frequent outages than Comcast in my area, but has the dramatic upside of NEVER HAVING TO DEAL WITH COMCAST EVER. I actually kind-of want TV service now that there's so much good stuff on TV? But not nearly enough to deal with Comcast. AT&T customer service isn't thrilling, but it usually doesn't take me more than 15 minutes to reach a desired result, and they even BELIEVE YOU NOW when you tell them you already tried rebooting and so forth, the script allows them to advance!

(I will say, however, that for YEARS I was pissy that AT&T made me pay $9.50 as a "line fee" to get my DSL + a phone that only took incoming calls, a fee that allegedly paid for the high "rural" maintenance costs of my dense, urban, 70-year-old neighborhood's phone lines. (Chicago customers got to pay $2.50 at the time.) When the state finally mandated "naked" DSL and I switched to that? THE MAGIC LINE FEE WENT AWAY EVEN THOUGH IT IS THE SAME DAMN LINE. A shocking number of taxes and fees that were supposed to be about maintenance of the system -- $17.85 monthly towards physical system maintenance -- disappeared. But AT&T still services the same lines with the same crews for my naked, fee-free DSL. I hope the utility regulators are on that.)

elizardbits: "This is my personal favourite tbh because when someone stops me and asks "don't you care about starving children?" I can honestly and with great amusement say "i don't care about any children" which tends to leave them flummoxed."

My favorite is "Will you donate a dollar to breast cancer?"

I always act shocked and say, "No! I'm AGAINST breast cancer!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:08 PM on July 15 [13 favorites]


I moved recently, and my Time Warner cable/internet service got transferred over. Not only did I not get their promotional rate, their CSR denied that such a rate was even advertised anywhere. It got to the comical point where I asked her to click in a certain sequence while I did the same, and she claimed that she was seeing the exact same page as I was except for the promo offer. And she couldn't see a screenshot I'd uploaded to imgur either.

I gave up - what's $5 extra per month compared to my sanity?

Well, this month, I found out that I'm being billed for service at both the old and the new address. On the same account.

It's a perfect world where Comcast is buying Time Warner.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:10 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


"There is one thing that would convince me to keep my Comcast service."

"What is that, sir?"

"Cancel the fees you're charging Netflix to reach me. This is a stealth rate increase as it forces Netflix to either raise rates or buy fewer titles; either way, Comcast is charging me twice. So carry Netfilx traffic at no cost to them and I'll stay."

"I have nothing to do with that sir."

"Well, since you don't have authority to do what it takes to retain me as a customer I guess you're off the hook. Cancel my service please. Here, I'll play some hold music while I wait for you to do that." [Start playing the Dead Kennedys "Too Drunk to Fuck" at top volume]
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:21 PM on July 15 [11 favorites]


This is my personal favourite tbh because when someone stops me and asks "don't you care about starving children?" I can honestly and with great amusement say

I used to like their early stuff but ever since they signed to EMI, it's all been one huge suckage.
posted by philip-random at 2:32 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


When accosted by sidewalk petitioners and Plan Canada donation solicitors here in Vancouver I just tell them "Sorry, I'm visiting from the States!" which is sort of half true. I highly recommend masquerading as a Canadian tourist in NYC.
posted by makonan at 2:38 PM on July 15


Metafilter:
- No! I'm AGAINST breast cancer!
- No thank you, I already own a penguin.
- AROOOOOOOO! I'M A WOLF! I'M A WOLF! I HAVE PADS ON MY FEET, FOR WALKING ON SNOW, AND STURDY CLAWS, FOR DIGGING!
- I'm sorry, I don't use children.
posted by JHarris at 2:38 PM on July 15 [9 favorites]


When the day comes that I can finally end cancel my relationship with Comcast I think my plan will be to get their name and extension (or whatever I need to be able to contact that specific person). Then I'll tell them, "You've told me that you can cancel my subscription, I will now be silent until you can confirm that it is cancelled. If you hang up without cancelling my subscription, I will call you back, restate my request and then continue in silence until you confirm that my subscription has been cancelled."

That or maybe hold music. Either way it gives me a way not to engage at all until they complied with my request.
posted by VTX at 2:58 PM on July 15


Could one not just stop paying their cable bills? Seems like they'd disconnect pretty quick if you did that. This is how I get most things disconnected, it's surprisingly effective.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:01 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


"Well, since you don't have authority to do what it takes to retain me as a customer I guess you're off the hook. Cancel my service please. Here, I'll play some hold music while I wait for you to do that." [Start playing the Dead Kennedys "Too Drunk to Fuck" at top volume]

You will actually need all the songs from Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death to make it through the typical Comcast retention spiel. Little known fact, the name of the compilation was actually inspired by a terrible Comcast customer service experience.
posted by Llama-Lime at 3:03 PM on July 15


If you don't pay your bills, your credit will suffer. Why punish yourself willingly? That's called "letting them win."
posted by oceanjesse at 3:13 PM on July 15


Oh so that's why nobody wants to hook the power up at our new place. I thought I just had crappy phone manner.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:15 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


Today on a very special episode of turbid dahlia they learn about the mean people at the credit bureau.
posted by winna at 3:17 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I've had to end service with Verizon on four separate occasions over the years. EVERY TIME they've sent me a "final" bill two or three months later for less than a dollar. The last time it was, literally, for thirteen cents. I've had a collection agency bugging me about this bill for over five years now (it is now over seventy bucks). I don't care if my credit rating goes to zero or that bill grows to a bazillion dollars, Verizon or their lackeys will never get another penny from me.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:37 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I've worked in cable for eight years now. Here it is:

A) Call your provider and button-mash 1 or 0 until you get a live operator.

B) Say you want to cancel services.

C) If they take more than 3 minutes to do it, say you are now recording the call (you should be) and would like to speak to a supervisor.

D) Tell the supervisor, or retention rep that you would like to cancel services and that you are recording the call.

E) Get names, numbers, escalate it again. Just have fun with them. Supervisors get in trouble by their supervisors when they hear from the customer.

F) Just stop paying them. Works every time. Don't forget to offer the recording to Dish, or Directv
posted by Flex1970 at 3:40 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I always act shocked and say, "No! I'm AGAINST breast cancer!"


I recently realized that when telling stories about a trip to southeast Asia, I kept saying I was visiting a friend who worked for a "human trafficking organization."

---

We have Time Warner, Uverse, and a DSL option or two here in Milwaukee, but I'm boycotting out of general principal. T-Mobile is happy to take my money for unlimited 4G and I'm more than happy to spend the extra 30 seconds it takes to set up tethering if it means sticking it to the regular providers.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 3:40 PM on July 15


i tried to cancel the phone portion of my triple play (the year deal had ended so we were paying full price for all three services) with optiminum and somehow ended up with another triple play with way more channels and it costs like $50 than i was paying before and i still have no idea how that verbal manipulation flew by me. at least i have showtime now?
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 3:50 PM on July 15


Showtime has some high quality programming. Presumably.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:02 PM on July 15


he goes complete onion-belt

I have never seen this referenced as an idiom and I am delighted to see it, and I plan to insert it into a conversation as soon as possible.

'He went all onion-belt'*.

I cannot wait.

*(As was the fashion of the time.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:20 PM on July 15 [9 favorites]


Same here.

"He went full onion-belt on me."

"He was onion-belting for like fifteen minutes."
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:34 PM on July 15


I found the original:

We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere - like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you'd say.

Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...



Try coming back from that, Comcast.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:47 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


T-Mobile is happy to take my money for unlimited 4G and I'm more than happy to spend the extra 30 seconds it takes to set up tethering if it means sticking it to the regular providers.

Is T-mobile not one of the regular providers? Confused as they sure do advertise a lot.
posted by headnsouth at 4:51 PM on July 15


I know what this sounds like and because of that I can't listen to this.

Flames.


On the side of your face?
posted by um at 5:27 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


If one were an investigative reporter with time on their hands, I think one could sell an article attempting to cancel accounts from various subscription services to see if comcast is just flat out lying about what they train their employees to do.
posted by empath at 6:00 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


If that doesn't work, just hang up and try again.

And then the asshole wins because he doesn't have a mark against him. Instead you've just hurt the quota on a reasonable person making it more likely for the reasonable person to get fired down the line. And the asshole keeps his job because he badgers people into hanging up and trying again.
posted by aspo at 7:43 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Brainerd, MN is an arbitrary place which, AFAIK, does not have Comcast coverage. It's also obscure enough such that the evasive intent is obvious.

Brainerd is only obscure to those unfamiliar with the Tool Master of Brainerd.*

* Trip Shakespeare went on to (largely) become Semisonic. I partied with these fools at a frat party at UofM sometime in 1990-91. Maybe 92. I was pretty drunk, so whatevs.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:59 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I am sooooo glad I've never gotten cable upon reading this thread. Also, what Eyebrows McGee said in her rant. I run up against the "won't take no for an answer" thing all the fucking time and it gets so old and exhausting and flat out scary.

You know what would be fun to do someday? A bracket of the worst, most evil companies. My vote goes to UPS, but Comcast sounds like it'd be right up there.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:05 PM on July 15


Consumerist does that every year and the winner gets a giant golden poop.
posted by elizardbits at 9:06 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


And they say that you can't polish a turd.
posted by JHarris at 10:05 PM on July 15


Is T-mobile not one of the regular providers?

A regular cell phone provider but not a traditional ISP, and certainly not a mon/duopoly like Time Warner and Comcasr.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:33 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


'Sir, excuse me, do you have a moment for starving children?'
'I'm sorry, I don't use children.'


'Sir, are you registered to vote in Cook County?'
'Which answer gets you to go away?'
posted by dnash at 5:23 AM on July 16




Comcast says it's very, very sorry.

"We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize."
posted by BrashTech at 7:00 AM on July 16


T-Mobile is happy to take my money for unlimited 4G and I'm more than happy to spend the extra 30 seconds it takes to set up tethering if it means sticking it to the regular providers.

If you mean that you've rooted your phone and are bypassing their restrictions on hotspot use, please don't do that. Spectrum is limited, and that degrades the experience for the rest of the customers in your area. T-Mobile is awesome in that their unlimited plan is really, actually unlimited, and for the sake of customer satisfaction they aren't (yet) very aggressive about detecting and restricting abuse. But their service isn't designed to be used that way and it violates the TOS. Within 10 years, wireless connections may be able to partially replace home broadband in urban areas (once cities are filled with microcells) but that day hasn't arrived yet.

/derail
posted by gsteff at 7:08 AM on July 16


"We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize."

Not by phone, I hope.
posted by headnsouth at 8:44 AM on July 16 [3 favorites]


"We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize."

Yeah, I want to hear how that conversation goes…
posted by mazola at 8:44 AM on July 16


What does "personally" mean in that context? Do they normally just use a text-to-speech bot?
posted by ODiV at 9:07 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Oh, I guess rather than letting the statement serve as the apology.
posted by ODiV at 9:07 AM on July 16


EVERY TIME they've sent me a "final" bill two or three months later for less than a dollar. The last time it was, literally, for thirteen cents.

Many, many, many, many years ago I had an old-school pager from Sprint. I was mildly miffed at them at the time, didn't need the service, so I cancelled it. They sent me a final bill for some weird tiny amount like 59 cents, but--explicitly on the bill--it said that because it was less than a dollar, no payment was necessary at this time.

So, fine. I didn't pay them. Technically, it's not past due. And every month for the next two years, they spent probably more than that 59 cents to print, mail, process, etc. a bill for me that I didn't have to pay, until they finally gave up. I got a certain minor amount of self-satisfaction from it.

(Oddly enough, today I'm a relatively satisfied Sprint cell service customer with no complaints, while most people I know seem to really hate them. The wheel turns, I guess.)
posted by gimonca at 9:24 AM on July 16


That CS Rep. is almost certainly monitored and measured, and if not enough customers are retained, his job's in jeopardy. And he may not have many job options. Or maybe he took the training to heart and leads his unit in customer retention. I hate this kind of corporate behavior with a passion; they literally require employees to be assholes. I might have kept my cable service, but I hate calling Time Warner so much I dropped it entirely.

Meanwhile, the stranglehold on Internet service, unimpeded by the Supreme Court, stifles innovation. We could have lots of bandwidth for less money, we could have better quality, but they adhere to the American corporate way - pry every dollar you can out of customers. They own the cables that provide the service, and they'll continue to treat us like crap.
posted by theora55 at 9:43 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


But their replies were so fast and practiced that I have to think that this is a general policy--to rip off the elderly.

Wouldn't surprise me. DirecTV does this as well -- I processed a credit card dispute for a guy last week who had paid the final bill for his deceased mother's account, was assured that the account was closed and no further charges would be coming... and then they hit him for about $500 in "early termination" fees and bogus equipment charges. We managed to fight them down on the equipment portion of the bill, only because we had hard proof that DirecTV had received their equipment back (they had issued the RMA, for god's sake, and the tracking info showed that the package had been received and signed for at their facility), but they would not budge on the early termination part.

I honestly am on the verge of just buying a prepaid Visa card that I can reload with funds so I can use that for any recurring bills with any provider of any service I might want to use... that way if I cancel, I can real quick wipe out that card and they'll never be able to charge me again.
posted by palomar at 10:39 AM on July 16


palomar, I've read that some (many?) services don't allow setting up accounts with those cards for precisely this reason. (I assume they can tell it's a prepaid by the code.) I've also heard of people being sent to collections. Think about it - from their perspective, you're supposed to pay them and this doesn't change just because your payment method is invalid. You still owe them, so they are going to try to collect and it's going to go on your credit report. It's not like the cable company doesn't know who you are.
posted by desjardins at 12:12 PM on July 16


I am so glad that Verizon didn't get even remotely shitty with me when I closed down all my mom's accounts. They actually kept asking me again and again if I was really sure I wanted to keep the cell phone number active and I was too embarrassed to tell them the truth, that no fucking way was I going to give up a viable 917 number just to save 10 bucks a month, so I was just like IT WILL BE AN ENORMOUS COMFORT TO MEEEE and they stopped asking.
posted by elizardbits at 12:23 PM on July 16


really though if someone asks you to help starving children the best response is explaining you had a vasectomy already
posted by mikurski at 12:31 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


the best way to help starving children is to regurgitate into their cheeping mouths
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:42 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


A Former Comcast Employee Explains That Horrifying Customer Service Call
Comcast uses "gates" for their incentive pay, which means that if you fall below a certain threshold (which tend to be stretch goals in the first place) then instead of getting a reduced amount, you get 0$. Let's say that if you retain 85% of your customers or more (this means 85% of the lines of businesses that customers have when they talk to you, they still have after they talk to you), you get 100% of your payout—which might be 5-10$ per line of business. At 80% you might only get 75% of your payout, and at 75% you get nothing.
...
The CAEs (customer service reps) watch these numbers daily, and will fight tooth and nail to stay above the "I get nothing" number. This guy went too far; you're not supposed to flat out argue with them. But Comcast literally provides an incentive for this kind of behavior. It's the same reason people's bills are always fucked up: people stuffing them with things they don't need or in some cases don't even agree to.
So in short, yesterday we were all listening to a deeply fearful employee trying to hold onto his paycheck. I've contacted txmadison, who kindly provided images of some Comcast pay stubs to confirm his employment there. I’ve also reached out to Comcast for comment, but haven’t received a response so far.

In the meantime, if you’re considering canceling your Comcast service, here’s a simple tip: Tell them you’re moving out of the country. As txmadison wrote in his post, “it's called an unavoidable disconnect and it's the least impactful to the rep's numbers and there's nothing he can do about it. If you talk about price, competitors, lack of choices, service problems, etc, a good retention rep will do everything they can to try to save you.”
I hear Elbonia's nice this time of year.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:20 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


Am I reading that write tonycpsu? You don't get paid unless you retain a certain %? meaning you don't get your hourly rate? or you don't get your bonus?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:26 PM on July 16


It's incentive pay that the quote mentions, which I take to mean pay above the base.
posted by JHarris at 1:39 PM on July 16


Yeah, it's a bonus per line of business, on top of a low hourly rate, quoted in the original reddit post as in the $10.50-$12.00 range. Even if each rep only successfully retained one person per hour, that's a ~50% raise above their base hourly rate. Quite an incentive, and unsurprising that it would lead to this kind of desperation.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:59 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


the best way to help starving children is to regurgitate into their cheeping mouths

A while back, in Seattle's University District, there was a group of aggressive fund raisers who would challenge passersby with: "Will you help feed the children?"

I would respond, "Feed them to whom?", chuckle unwholesomely and move along.
posted by Pudhoho at 2:13 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


gsteff, T-mobile is pretty reasonable about allowing tethering. Also they seem to be the only mobile provider who is more than happy to give bandwidth away. My old plan with them had unlimited tethering and my new one includes at least a gig of it. No need to post a long screed about TOSes and assume that tethering = abuse.

when your main business model is "get billion$+ bonus payments for failing to merge with companies" like T-mobile, you don't tend to nickle and dime your customers as much.
posted by grandsham at 2:14 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


The thing about shit like this is that it's a sure way to eliminate any chance that customers who cancel their accounts will ever even consider returning.

Think about it:

"I'd like to cancel my account."
"Okay. Done. Anything else I can do for you?"

If your final interaction is a pleasantly hassle-free breeze, what'll be going through your head when you're signing up with the competition and they're trying to upsell you the super premium deluxe unlimited family bundle? Maybe, just maybe, you'd be thinking, You know, Comcast was better than these sleazebags; maybe I should go back.

Then maybe you'd call Comcast and they'd try to upsell you just as hard, because of course they would. But you called back, and that's more than they'd get if your last call felt like a custody battle over your money.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:33 PM on July 17


when you're signing up with the competition

Ha!
posted by ODiV at 5:45 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: "Brainerd is only obscure to those unfamiliar with the Tool Master of Brainerd. yt *"

There's an MST3K connection there, too.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:10 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


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