Sick of Comcast? Five Bucks, and It's Gone
October 6, 2015 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Comcast is famously bad at customer service, "winning" Consumerist's Worst Company in America award for 2014 and 2010. In particular, it's famously bad at letting customers go. But for the low, low price of $5, AirPaper will cancel your service for you.

AirPaper isn't going to stop there, though. They claim to be working on de-bureaucratizing other painful processes, including getting parking permits and registering for business tax in San Francisco and getting a visa to visit China, and they say there is a "huge demand" for cancelling gym memberships.
posted by Etrigan (92 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not sure if it works with Comcast, but I had to cancel cable service with Optimum when I moved and switched to FiOS and telling them that I was permanently leaving the country short-circuited their entire "no you should stay with us" pitch.
posted by griphus at 9:53 AM on October 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


Can they do canceling Sirius satellite radio? The only reason I haven't signed up again was that it was such a horrendous pain in the ass to cancel last time.
posted by selfnoise at 9:53 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is this something where you provide your data to a random company and they hire someone at piecework rates to make your calls for you? Because if it's that, I know several unemployed people I'd rather pay directly to do my concierge work.
posted by Frowner at 9:57 AM on October 6, 2015 [36 favorites]


I canceled Comcast in 5 minutes a few years ago by telling them I was moving (true) outside of their service area (false) and playing up how much I'd miss them (also false). So you can try that as well. Sorry I lied to you, Customer Service Dude.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:57 AM on October 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


Their website needs an editor. They spelled "surprisingly" wrong. Not very confidence-inspiring for things like visa applications that require massive attention to detail.
posted by miaou at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


I don't know, Comcast initially would not stop service for a local man after his house burned down, so I'm sure they could find a way to argue with you about leaving the country.
posted by superna at 10:01 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm happy to cancel Comcast myself. But I'd pay someone* to argue with them enough to get my rates lowered.

*a lot more than $5
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 10:01 AM on October 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


While I'm totally down with the idea of paying someone a little bit to go through frustrating cancellation processes (can they get rid of our mortgage accelerator?), I'm imagining a future where this is the only way to cancel things, with companies like Airpaper kicking money back to Comcast to offer the exclusive service.
posted by drezdn at 10:02 AM on October 6, 2015 [28 favorites]


Would it be excessively cynical of me to think that at some point in the near future, Comcast will offer some sort of expedited service-cancellation service, where you add $5 to your final bill and they just let you go without the runaround?

or not cynical enough? maybe they'd charge $7. . . .
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:04 AM on October 6, 2015 [23 favorites]


and you'd have to renew it every three years or they'd sign you up again
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:06 AM on October 6, 2015 [33 favorites]


or not cynical enough? maybe they'd charge $7. . . .

You're still not cynical enough. Comcast will ad this as a service-cancellation subscription, starting at $5/month, and then silently raise it to $7/month. I think they might call it something like "Xfinity Convenience Service"
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:07 AM on October 6, 2015 [15 favorites]


As someone who has to file the horribly broken SF Business Tax return at work, this makes me so surprisingly delighted. I'll regularly ask them for clarification on small points, and the answer is usually that they haven't decided yet.

For five dollars, do they also remind you that you have to register every year?
posted by politikitty at 10:11 AM on October 6, 2015


Urgh. I've had a problem with my cable line (it's sitting too low across my garage since a tree hit it) for TWO YEARS. Every time I call, it takes at least an hour to get through to an actual human in the service department, who files a "service ticket" that seems to disappear into the ether. It's like something out of Kafka.
posted by miyabo at 10:13 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


spoiler alert:

.

.

.

they mail a form letter to the address that Comcast uses for cancellations.
posted by indubitable at 10:13 AM on October 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


@Frowner: according to one of the principals of AirPaper, this is not phone call piecework. Rather, AirPaper sends a letter to Comcast on your behalf.

estsauver's response was a response to someone in the Hacker News thread explaining,
Nearly all of these contracts with Comcast or similar companies will have a postal address you can write to and cancel. Even if they provide no cancellation postal address, look up their 'Agent for service of process', this is always listed somewhere. I never call to cancel, this is a waste of time and not necessary.
posted by mistersquid at 10:14 AM on October 6, 2015 [22 favorites]


For those of you who haven't given up on Comcast yet, I have discovered how one gets service from them on technical issues at least: post in the forums.

Unlike the phone support line, your message will (a) be addressed quickly (b) by someone who speaks English (c) who knows something about how the system works (d) who has the power to make things happen, (e) won't flat-out lie in your ear, and (f) won't hang up on you after 59 seconds because the only metric by which they are judged is calls "resolved" under a minute even if "resolution" means hanging up the phone.

I must have called six times over a period of months about my issue, one particular channel not coming in, never getting any suggestions beyond resetting the modem, and being told dishonestly "we'll send someone out tomorrow" more than once. After I posted in the forums, I immediately got an actual service tech dispatched, and he was great. So were the other four who followed him, and the vice-president who called me several times until the issue was finally resolved (a bad port on a router up a pole several blocks away).

Their phone support is DESIGNED to be shitty, but the forum worked great.
posted by Fnarf at 10:16 AM on October 6, 2015 [20 favorites]


I recently canceled charter cable tv and Sirius, neither took more than a few minutes, is Comcast that much worse?
posted by HuronBob at 10:17 AM on October 6, 2015


basically, calling Comcast to cancel your service is like walking into a car dealership to buy a car: you are already screwed the moment you start.
posted by indubitable at 10:19 AM on October 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


You have to work the RNG to get good customer service from Comcast. Competent agents will appear, like rare Pokemon, maybe 1 out of 20 attempts, either on the phone or on the online chat deal. If you get a know-nothing knob, just flee and try again. When you get one of the good ones, a magical world of quick fixes, useful information, and a la carte service options await you.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:20 AM on October 6, 2015 [15 favorites]


Even if they provide no cancellation postal address, look up their 'Agent for service of process', this is always listed somewhere.

I wouldn't expect this to work in the general case; the agent for service of process is specifically for handling legal documents like subpoenas and lawsuit pleadings. It's frequently an outside contractor tasked with handling those specific documents only. I would be entirely unsurprised if all "please unsubscribe me" letters to that address promptly get discarded.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:22 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is this something where you provide your data to a random company and they hire someone at piecework rates to make your calls for you?

Yeah, the website lists "Get a Visa to go to China" as one of the next things they're working on. That requires an awful lot of personal data, doesn't it? Agree with Frowner, that's not so appealing. It's kind of a quirky-cute idea at first glance but thinking about how it would actually work turns me off it pretty quickly.
posted by aka burlap at 10:23 AM on October 6, 2015


After a frustrating ten minutes trying to get Comcast to cancel my service, I finally yelled, "Look, it's because I'm homeless, alright? I don't have a TV anymore to attach a cable line to, and even if I did, I don't have a house to put the TV in! If I do have an extra $60 this month, I'm going to spend it on food, not America's Best Value Channel Line-Up! Okay?!"

Sadly, this was all true. Happily, they quickly canceled my service.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:29 AM on October 6, 2015 [27 favorites]


Since I am pretty old I have a number of services I use for the net and for which I pay via credit card. I told my wife that when i become incapacitated, ie, die, simply cancel the credit card and take out a new one that she can use for her needs. Those services I have been getting via the card will stop service to me when they can not get paid.
posted by Postroad at 10:29 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, I'll ask the obvious question: How much does it cost to cancel your AirPaper service?

They just fuck you and they fuck you and they fuck you, and then just when you think it's all over, that's when the real fucking starts! /SeanPenn
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:30 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are literally guys who camp out in vans outside Chinese consulates offering to get people visas for a fee. I imagine this service is more trustworthy. Also, why aren't there guys who camp out in vans outside Comcast offices?
posted by miyabo at 10:33 AM on October 6, 2015


Once I told a retention rep that I was moving to a religious commune and they didn't believe in electricity. "Have you been saved?" I asked. No problems after that.
posted by desjardins at 10:34 AM on October 6, 2015 [58 favorites]


Those services I have been getting via the card will stop service to me when they can not get paid.

I had to cancel a YMCA membership that I forgot about and that followed me across three different credit cards once. I still have no idea how they managed that.
posted by Etrigan at 10:35 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Those services I have been getting via the card will stop service to me when they can not get paid.

I am not sure. I knew someone who cancelled his credit card & the company just put him in collections. He was not dead, but I imagine if he were, his estate may have been liable for it. I'd do more research on this, Postroad.
posted by desjardins at 10:36 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


> calling Comcast to cancel your service is like walking into a car dealership to buy a car

It’s just that the Xfinity+++ plan has so much more eagle, it saddens me to think of you missing out.
posted by Poldo at 10:37 AM on October 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


miyabo: "Also, why aren't there guys who camp out in vans outside Comcast offices?"

My business model for retirement on Cape Cod is to go to Dunkin Donuts every morning, go through the line and order 4 large coffees. Once I have them, sell them to people at the end of the line for $10 each. Repeat 5 or 6 times, then go to the beach for the day.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:37 AM on October 6, 2015 [30 favorites]


I'm now expecting this to be mentioned the next time a Comcast executive is talking to Congress, citing their job creation efforts.
posted by adamsc at 10:39 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or preferably, we could pass laws requiring simpler, quicker, and more transparent cancellation processes for subscription-based businesses.
posted by duffell at 10:39 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


This kind of thing is a great service. Lots of people don't have the time to deal with all the BS admin stuff we have to do in our lives. Why not pay someone to do it for you? And this extends beyond just cancelling accounts. Have them monitor your service plans, whether that is for TV, banking or anything else and when a better one comes along they can do the legwork to switch you to the new one. The fact that changing stuff is such a PITA is what keeps a lot of people with their current services, making it less of a pain should result in people actually migrating to better ones. Maybe just have it as a twice a year kind of service where they go through all your mail for the month and suggest ways to optimize things.

I went through my mom's mail last year and found out that she was still paying for life insurance. Her house is pretty much paid off and both her kids are doing fine so she has zero need for the insurance. We got that cancelled real fast. I had set up Mint for her, and I know she used it, but she never thought to look into more detail for that monthly insurance charge.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:43 AM on October 6, 2015


> I don't know, Comcast initially would not stop service for a local man after his house burned down, so I'm sure they could find a way to argue with you about leaving the country.

While the story is sadly indicative of what people have come to expect of their cable/satellite providers (certainly what I have come to expect), I like this guy's style:
"I've said to Comcast, 'Here's your choice, disconnect the service or send someone out to fix the cable, because it's not working,' " Schmidt said. "The (Comcast) guy said, 'That doesn't make sense, because the house burned down.' I said, 'Exactly, shut the service off.' "
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:46 AM on October 6, 2015 [15 favorites]


I recently cancelled Time-Warner cable, which has a similar reputation, and I just took all the boxes and cables to the Time-Warner retail store (like 5 minutes from my house) and said here's your stuff, please cancel my service. Took 15 minutes including the drive, then we went to Thai food in the same strip mall. If that's an option, I think it's the easiest way.
posted by Huck500 at 10:52 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


On the subject of Time Warner Cable... I signed up for internet only in March and they keep mailing me a letter a week to get me to sign up for more stuff. When I didn't after 3 months, they switched to mailing the letters in Spanish but otherwise just kept on keeping on.

I hate them, but the internet is actually faster than what I pay for by 10% or 5 megs.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:57 AM on October 6, 2015


I recently cancelled Time-Warner cable, which has a similar reputation, and I just took all the boxes and cables to the Time-Warner retail store (like 5 minutes from my house) and said here's your stuff, please cancel my service.

That's what we had to do to cancel DirecTV too (although they still snuck a bill for the next month of use past us when we weren't looking). Phone was worthless, a nightmare, and a shitty time sink all in one.
posted by blucevalo at 10:59 AM on October 6, 2015


It pains me to say it, but I've had consistently solid service at a Comcast brick and mortar location in SF. Cancelling was dead simple, as well as a number of other miscellaneous adjustments over the years.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:02 AM on October 6, 2015


See. Because American firms are so crooked and annoying, that is why when I buy cars I make sure I buy from VW, a firm one can trust
posted by Postroad at 11:04 AM on October 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


Or preferably, we could pass laws requiring simpler, quicker, and more transparent cancellation processes for subscription-based businesses.

In ten years, AirPaper or whatever absorbed it will have a lobby and fund astroturf campaigns to fight exactly that kind of legislation.

In the mean time, they'll soon have two sales and marketing operations, if they don't already. We've already met the B2C team courtesy of this post. The B2B crew has all sorts of possibilities! There's a tidy lead gen business waiting in the wings, if nothing else.
posted by mph at 11:06 AM on October 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


I cancelled Comcast by calling Comcast and saying "I want to cancel service" and they said, "OK, here's the address to drop off your equipment" and that was it.
posted by octothorpe at 11:06 AM on October 6, 2015


There is a real need for the "hire a thick person service". You could even pay extra for a recording of their exploits. (NSFW langauge)
posted by scodger at 11:07 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


My favorite experience with Comcast involved me calling from my 802 area code cell phone to set up service in decidedly-not-Vermont Chicago. Call the 1-800 number. Put on hold for about 15 minutes. "How can I help you?" "I'd like to set up service, this is my address, etc." "Oh, well, this is the Northeast Call Center, you'll need to call the Midwest Call Center. Let me redirect you." Put on hold for about 15 minutes. Disconnected. Rinse. Repeat.

They routed my call to the call center associated with my area code... I know a grand total of 20 people with cell phone area codes corresponding to where they actually currently live.

When I called to cancel, I found the "hiking through Alaska for the foreseeable future" line to work reasonably well.

Brick and mortar locations, at least here in Chicago, are pretty miserable. Like, worse-than-the-DMV levels of hell. They have a take-a-number things, and yelling people, and people who wait an hour to drop off equipment. Or people who wait an hour and then the associate comes out and says, "Anyone here to pick up an HD cable box.... sorry, we just gave away our last one!"

Protip: At least for returning stuff to Comcast, so you don't have to wait in line at the place, you can drop them off at a UPS store.
posted by papayaninja at 11:08 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm imagining a future where this is the only way to cancel things, with companies like Airpaper kicking money back to Comcast to offer the exclusive service.

THE FUTURE IS NOW*
* sort of, for taxes at least
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:10 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Comcast's shitty service recently inspired us to switch to CenturyLink. Better service, but an even worse company - agents blatantly lie to you about what you'll be paying, then other don't budge when you argue it, etc, etc. Apparently we're not alone in our experience.

So since internet service here is the usual two-choice monopoly (Google fiber WHERE ARE YOU?), we find ourselves in the unenviable position of...


...switching back to Comcast.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:11 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


It pains me to say it, but I've had consistently solid service at a Comcast brick and mortar location in SF. Cancelling was dead simple, as well as a number of other miscellaneous adjustments over the years.

When I cancelled, awarding Verizon the Lesser of Two Evils status by doing so, I took my stuff to the local brick-and-mortar. They handled it quickly and efficiently, though I will say that the bulletproof glass between myself and the counter drone gave me pause.

Their phone customer service drones, on the other hand, are legendarily bad. My favorite incident was after an outage left my wife unable to access On Demand movies -- she enjoyed paging through the various C-grade horror flicks they provided for free. "Error 4: Contact a Comcast representative," it kept saying. So I called up Comcast and reported the Error 4, to which she said "Well, there's nothing to be done."

"Is there an outage in my area?" "Not that I see."
"Is there a problem with my bill or my account?" "No, you're paid up."
"Is this some kind of wiring issue?" "Nope."
"So what's wrong?" "Well, there's nothing we can do to fix that particular error."
"*pause* ... so why does it tell me to contact you if there's nothing you can do?"

The customer service drone sighed softly and said something unforgettable:

"Well, sir, the On Demand service was originally meant to be something that we'd charge a fee for. We never got it working all the way so we packaged it with your normal service -- if it worked well you wouldn't have it for free."

I blinked a few times in a DID SHE REALLY JUST SAY THAT haze, hung up, went to Google, and subsequently had the service working again in ten minutes after a cable box power cycle.
posted by delfin at 11:13 AM on October 6, 2015 [19 favorites]


Yeah, the website lists "Get a Visa to go to China" as one of the next things they're working on. That requires an awful lot of personal data, doesn't it? Agree with Frowner, that's not so appealing. It's kind of a quirky-cute idea at first glance but thinking about how it would actually work turns me off it pretty quickly.

I get to see some pretty crazy stuff when it comes to ultra-personal document/bureaucracy wrangling on a regular basis (based on my particular community of service and its proximity to a Federal Passport Agency) and at least in these parts it is the norm for people who employ personal assistants to have them do everything for them right up to the part where their actual presence is required. That PA doesn't give a second thought to inputting their bosses' personal data into a website so long as the form spits out the printer correctly.

My secret daydream work fantasy is starting a company like this. I'm usually thick in it while waiting for some poor, clueless assistant to get their boss's (six kids') shit lined up straight.
posted by carsonb at 11:15 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I had to cancel Comcast, the call went like this.

Me: "I'm moving, so I'd like to cancel service at the end of the month."
CS Rep: "Oh, where to? We can set up service for you ahead of your move so that---"
Me: "Ireland."
CS Rep (disappointed): "Oh..."

I have no qualms about lying to get out of a bad deal. I have plenty of qualms about giving my personal info to some random startup that charges less than minimum wage for someone to do it for me.
posted by SansPoint at 11:17 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's something really humane about this that I love. I actually do need to cancel Comcast; dealing with bureaucracy makes me super anxious and miserable (in part due to ADHD, in part due to my personality), and I have paid for probably at least 3+ months of service I'm not even using. It's a real problem for me and I will happy pay $5 to have someone with knowledge of the most efficient process just go ahead and handle it.

Going through the form, it was super friendly and thoughtful and basically the exact opposite of anxiety-inducing forms and paperwork (even though it is mostly data entry). Makes me wonder if the same degree of thoughtfulness and usability could be applied to say, public services, and how that might change people's lives for the better.
posted by annekate at 11:19 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I canceled Comcast in 5 minutes a few years ago by telling them I was moving (true) outside of their service area (false) and playing up how much I'd miss them (also false). So you can try that as well. Sorry I lied to you, Customer Service Dude.

This didn't work for me - even though I was telling the truth. We ended up with a cozy arrangement whereby my cable provider had discontinued cable 6 months ago, but I was still paying monthly for the service that they were not being provided. When I objected to this situation, my account was updated, where "updated" means that I continued to pay the bill monthly but the rep changed my account password so that I could no-longer authorize myself to speak on behalf of the account owner, and so could no-longer object to the situation or seek a change to the cozy arrangement.

Since I was living in a new area, I had to get photo ID, rent a notary and a fax machine and other hoops to get access back to my account. Of course it wasn't that simple (they accidentally mailed the faxes to some random person in Florida or something), but for the sake of brevity let's pretend it was.

Paying $5 for an experienced expert to close an account, no muss no fuss, no chance of finding out 30 days later that what you were told doesn't match what is happening. That sounds like a great cost/risk/reward bargain to me. There is a good chance they'll get my business.

Also, the business model is hilarious. The market has created a demand for such poor service that it has created a demand for another service to offset the misplaced incentives of its service...
posted by anonymisc at 11:22 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Are we sure that Airpaper isn't actually a subsidiary of Comcast? Seems like a great idea...create a problem, create the solution, charge for both.
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:28 AM on October 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Alternate plan: join MeFi for $5, get instructions on how to efficiently quit Comcast on AskMe. Also get a lifetime of awesomeness and friends.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:40 AM on October 6, 2015 [21 favorites]


"COMCAST?"

"Yes, Customer?"

"I WANT TO CANCEL YOU..."
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:47 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the website lists "Get a Visa to go to China" as one of the next things they're working on. That requires an awful lot of personal data, doesn't it?

Not so much. As a westerner the most private information on a Chinese tourist or business visa application is name, DOB, and passport number. YMMV if you're coming from somewhere in SE Asia -- a former employer used to have a heck of a time getting Filipino employees into Guangzhou for factory tours.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:52 AM on October 6, 2015


I was able to cancel comcast this summer in under 5 minutes (after navigating through the -likely purposely- obfuscated phone menu). My trick was that I had a copy of their customer retention script in my hand. After confirming that they were definitely folllowing the script at the relate and empathize portion I called out, "STEP 4! TAKE CONTROL."

There was a long pause, and the rep said, "well you are obviously familiar with our customer retention practices, would you care to answer any more questions beyond your account details at this time?"
"No thanks."
"alright, it will be a minute.... okay it's done."
posted by onehalfjunco at 11:53 AM on October 6, 2015 [104 favorites]


On one hand, it's usually WAY more than $5 worth of hassle to deal with Comcast for any reason ever.

On the other hand, I shouldn't have to pay someone else to cancel a subscription for me, I should be able to have a quick conversation with Comcast, give them a bit of feedback on why I'm leaving, and then be done with it. So, since I'm kind of irrational when it comes to minor injustices like that, I will force Comcast to do it the "right" way or die trying.

When the day comes that I actually do have to/get to cancel my Comcast subscriptions, I plan to make sure I get the information I'd need to get routed back to the same rep and let them know that I'm cancelling my service, there is no way that I will keep my subscription, and once they have the details that they need to accomplish the request, I will not respond to them further until they tell me that my subscription has been cancelled.

Same thing with the airport service where you can get pre-checked for security for $130/year or whatever. I'm not paying for a service that lets me bypass a thing that I shouldn't have to do to begin with and I don't care how much it inconveniences me.
posted by VTX at 12:00 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


It pains me to say it, but I've had consistently solid service at a Comcast brick and mortar location in SF. Cancelling was dead simple, as well as a number of other miscellaneous adjustments over the years.

Comcast is halfway between a monopolistic giant and a conglomeration of small cable companies, so your mileage may very well vary.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:00 PM on October 6, 2015


After confirming that they were definitely folllowing the script at the relate and empathize portion I called out, "STEP 4! TAKE CONTROL."

Are you sure the rep didn't just think you were Bane?
posted by Etrigan at 12:18 PM on October 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


Cancelling AOL was so painful that I literally told the person on the phone, "It's not you, it's me. I've changed." I guess they got the point. After that they just let me go.
posted by Splunge at 12:21 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


When I was cancelling my mother's Dish Network account, I discovered three magic words that seem to silence any customer retention attempts...Nursing, Home, Alzheimers.

So, maybe calling Comcast and pretending you're your adult son and your parent (aka: you) has advanced Alzheimers and is moving to a nursing home and will no longer need Comcast will work?

...........
Tried going to the airpaperinc.com website...

Error 520 Ray ID: 2313b93a1dd025bb • 2015-10-06 19:22:00 UTC
Web server is returning an unknown error


I'm on Comcast. Hmmmmm....
posted by Thorzdad at 12:28 PM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I cancelled, awarding Verizon the Lesser of Two Evils status by doing so, I took my stuff to the local brick-and-mortar. They handled it quickly and efficiently, though I will say that the bulletproof glass between myself and the counter drone gave me pause.

If I knew I was the face people would associate with those folks on the phone you can be sure I'd insist on bulletproof glass to protect me. While I suspect that Comcast cares as little for their employees as they do their customers, they probably also have lawyers who know well how the jury trial would go if they tried to claim they couldn't possibly have seen a likelihood that one of their employees would be assaulted.

"Your honor, defendant could not have seen this coming."
"Plaintiff would like to introduce into evidence recordings of past defendant customer service calls."
"Your honor, could we recess for a few minutes to confer with plaintiff counsel about settlement possibilities?"
posted by phearlez at 12:44 PM on October 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


I had to cancel a YMCA membership that I forgot about and that followed me across three different credit cards once. I still have no idea how they managed that.

Jesus. I was curious about the "canceling gym memberships" part of the original description since when I've belonged to a gym it's always been a Y, and the exit conversation is usually: "I want to cancel my membership," "OK, sir, all done, and here's a letter of membership in good-standing*." No mess, no fuss.

*A nice touch, since if you end up starting a membership again somewhere else and present said letter, they'll waive your initiation fee.
posted by psoas at 12:46 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


A line I like to use when talking to customer service folks: "this phone call is being recorded for quality assurance reasons."
posted by el io at 12:55 PM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


It also works if you go to a crossroads, spin around seven times, and say, "In the name of God, Comcast, I abjure thee! Hie away from me, in God's name I tell thee!" Then make sure you leave by a different path than you arrived by and you should be good
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:55 PM on October 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


OMG. I just got off the phone with Comcast to close my deceased mother's account... again.

Thing is, the account has been closed for 11 months. Yet they began using the autopay my mother set up. This strange autopay restarted about five months ago.

But then, Comcast is sending the estate checks every month--not for the entire amount. So now there's more than $700 owed to the estate.

This is not okay and sketchy as hell. It takes me at least 5 minutes to talk to a human because the account isn't recognized since it is "closed." W T F?
posted by montaigneisright at 1:06 PM on October 6, 2015 [12 favorites]



Comcast is halfway between a monopolistic giant and a conglomeration of small cable companies, so your mileage may very well vary.


YMMVWV.
posted by duffell at 1:57 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would maybe be willing to talk to them one more time but you need to talk to the front-line CSR's boss first thing and probably that person's boss. That issue needs to get escalated beyond the (paltry) pay-grade of the CSR. And make sure that, after you talk to the supervisor, get their direct contact information and e-mail so that you can just e-mail them if they don't solve it forever after your next interaction with them.

A big part of the problem with every company's customer service is that the person who first picks up the phone just cares about their job enough that their goal is to get you off the phone as fast as possible while following Comcast's rules. They don't care about solving your problem forever, they just need to solve it enough that you're ready to hang up the phone. The CSR only really cares about running the race with the right technique and they don't care about the finish line. Once you go up the management chain a little bit, you should be able to talk to someone that cares about crossing the finish line and doesn't really care how they get there.

For most of the basic stuff, the proper technique will get you to the finish line just fine but it doesn't deal well with anything more complicated than that. If I had my way, I'd double the salaries of the CSR's and change the metrics to things that really matter. Then you get enough demand for the position that you can really choose good, competent employees who you can empower to actually solve problems.

Of course, if your service was actually good, you'd let people cancel online with no hassle since you know that once they use someone else's product, they come back to yours. Having an excellent product is the best retention program.
posted by VTX at 2:03 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Listen, for a larger fee than five dollars, I will pretend to be you while talking to these jerkfaces on the phone. I will record the call for your entertainment. I will let the customer service reps go round and round the script a bunch of different times a bunch of different ways. And then I will make waffles out of them, and I will not give up until I am victorious.

But seriously, for something like that I'd have to charge a lot more than five dollars. (I would, however, accept payment in certain discontinued high-end cosmetics.)
posted by brina at 2:05 PM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the website lists "Get a Visa to go to China" as one of the next things they're working on. That requires an awful lot of personal data, doesn't it? Agree with Frowner, that's not so appealing. It's kind of a quirky-cute idea at first glance but thinking about how it would actually work turns me off it pretty quickly.

Yea, and like the cell phone company they always want my SSN(or at least last four) to do ANYTHING?

What's to stop someone from starting a company like this, going under, and selling off all the data?

What's to stop them from having that plan from the beginning and "selling" the data to essentially themselves, but washing their hands of responsibility for selling it all off shore afterwards for ID theft/carding/etc?

I really don't feel like i'm an overly paranoid person, but this seems like an elaborate fishing scam.
posted by emptythought at 2:11 PM on October 6, 2015


What I have to say may come as a shock, but I miss Comcast.

Last year, I moved from Comcast territory to Cablevision / Optimum territory. I have the roughly analogous product package at the comparable price point (which is still much too high, but another issue), but Comcast's product lineup and organization -- and especially what it makes available "on demand" -- is far, far superior.

I wasn't thrilled with Comcast's customer service, but never needed much help from them. Cancelling was no problem.

Cablevision / Optimum has the mediocre customer service I expected, but does not understand the concept of a haggle (i.e., throw the customer a few crumbs for form's sake). When I challenged a price increase, Comcast always gave a little; Cablevision, forget it.

Cablevision recently announced a sale of the company to some European outfit. Dare I hope for a new and different product? (I ask this facetiously.)

Meanwhile, I cannot get Fios here, but haven't liked what I've seen of it; I'm also not keen on Verizon for more than the phone. I'm also not sufficiently tuned in to pop culture to figure out an internet option. So for five minutes I'm putting up with it.

But I just may cut the cord anyway, seeing how most of the time I'm in front of the TV, I've got my nose in a book anyway. (I have a very poor attention span for video entertainment.)
posted by cool breeze at 2:33 PM on October 6, 2015


VTX gets customer support. If you are getting nowhere with the person on the phone, get a new person. "Please escalate my ticket" or "Do you have a formal escalation process?" can get you some quicker results.
posted by Roger Dodger at 2:48 PM on October 6, 2015


Man, fuck comcast. I spent about 10 hours on the phone earlier this year dealing with their bullshit after they offered me basic cable and internet for one price, then applied no cable and slightly faster internet for a much higher price.

Took like 8 different calls, several hang ups, getting transferred, bitching them out on twitter, and then finally emailing their VP of customer service, but I did get them to honor their deal that they had made.

I'm a politely vicious asshole when it comes to customer service. Write down every single name and ID, the things they offered and what they said, record phone calls for your own records and explain everything in very clear terms. It's slow and plodding, but it works.
posted by Ferreous at 2:51 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hear you all, and I believe you all when you say that you've had terrible customer service from Comcast. But the couple of times I have called them I was helped very quickly, by competent reps.

There are of course plenty of other reasons to hate Comcast. The worst ones are that they charge an arm and a leg for Internet and that they (and other cable companies) got an exemption from antitrust regulations. So our government is perfectly OK with them colluding to run their local monopolies. Internet service is so much better and more affordable in Europe, where there is actual competition among ISPs.
posted by Triplanetary at 3:14 PM on October 6, 2015


Yes, you can turn in Comcast hardware at a UPS store, and they will give you a receipt. Do not lose that receipt. When I bought my own cable modem and turned in theirs, they continued to bill me $8 a month for about 3 billing cycles before a rep finally refunded the charges and stopped them. Other reps just promised to do it to get me off the phone, because I couldn't tell until my next-month's bill arrived.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:20 PM on October 6, 2015


Yeah, I had a terrible time trying to get Comcast to stop sending me video bills and marketing emails. The kicker: I do not have a Comcast account. Some dude gave them my email when he signed up, and there is no damn opt out, no "wrong email," nothing of any kind on their emails that lets you tell them "Hey, this is not me."

I tried calling them to report this, but even after spending all that time on the phone explaining why I didn't have "my" account number, I still got the video bill the next month... so I gave in and labeled it spam. Hopefully the dude knows he's being billed and his account won't go into collections... I have no idea how that would go down.
posted by pie ninja at 4:07 PM on October 6, 2015


I had no problem terminating my Comcast account a few years ago after they blew off an appointment for a service outage. I might have been a bit firm with them.

On the other side I went to a third interview for a CSR position at Comcast and was treated rudely throughout the interview to the extent that I would have refused any offered position.
posted by lester at 4:50 PM on October 6, 2015


OMG. I just got off the phone with Comcast to close my deceased mother's account... again

Argh, montaigneisright.

From jessamyn's article on "death hacks", when she had to deal with many aspects of her father's estate:
The cable company, when called, wouldn’t let me downgrade my dad’s service without receiving a faxed copy of the death certificate and a letter outlining my executrixship. They insisted on me changing the account into my name, pronto. I hung up. Their online chat service, however, would let “Tom” do anything he wanted as long as he had the account number and the eminently guessable-by-me password that was the same as the alarm system’s.
"I'd like to cancel my service, I'm dead." "Sorry, that's no excuse..."
posted by Melismata at 5:15 PM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Can they do canceling Sirius satellite radio? The only reason I haven't signed up again was that it was such a horrendous pain in the ass to cancel last time.

I cancled Sirius/XM recently. They required a call rather than letting me do it online (ANNOYING), but the entire call took like two minutes. "Can I ask why you are cancelling?"

"No."

"Okay."

Done, cancelled.

Seemed fine by me. (The actual reason was I only signed up to stream that last Grateful Dead concert and listen to the women's world cup final while I drove down the shore. I didn't tell them because the question was the entire reason they required me to call.)

Anyway, Comcast really isn't as bad as everybody thinks. They have some issues with tech support in my experience, but you eventually end up with somebody who knows what they are talking about if you stay on the line long enough. For some companies, I've gotten shrugs and hung up on eventually if the problem is too much. But that alone is enough to make them absolutely infuriating because their products are so buggy. I've used Netflix since before they streamed anything, and never in my entire time with them have I needed to call them because something wasn't working right. It just works. Every time. Comcast streaming? Jebus, it's like rolling dice every time you try to play something.

On Sunday the DVR just plum decided not to record any of our shows despite having plenty of space, plenty of tuners, and all the shows marked as series recordings. Tech support wanted me to reset the box (How will I even know if that works, wait till next Sunday?) but family member was watching Sunday Night Football at the time and it takes like 10 minutes to reset so...Easier solution, just pirate everything. OpenSubtitles even had the captions ready to go, unlike The Daily Show every time I record it on the DVR and try to stream it to my PC.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So, TLDR, to me the bigger problem is the product is shit and overpriced. Tech and customer support can only make up for it so much, they are generally nice competent people.

If any Mefite wants me to cancel something for them I will do it for $4.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:05 PM on October 6, 2015


That is why when I buy cars I make sure I buy from VW, a firm one can trust.

Make sure you get a diesel. The emissions control on those things is literally unbelievable.
posted by rokusan at 6:06 PM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


When you're ready for an advanced trick, try calling Comcast to cancel your TV services, only, while leaving your Comcast internet intact.

Seven attempts over ten days so far... and I'm still expecting the internet to helpfully switch itself off again at any moment.
posted by rokusan at 6:08 PM on October 6, 2015


Yeah, around here having only internet is somehow more expensive than having internet+cable unless you think 3mbs internet is acceptable.
posted by Ferreous at 6:25 PM on October 6, 2015


For $5 you could just send them a cancellation notice via registered mail.
posted by notreally at 6:27 PM on October 6, 2015


To ALL THE PEOPLE ABOVE asserting "Comcast is not so bad," COMCAST WON the Consumerist's most recent (2014) Worst Company in America (Comcast also won earlier in 2010).

That's a superlative there, mind you: WORST.

Non sequituring, emptythought, are you familiar with Hacker News? The culture there is such that it would be highly unusual for people possessed of the ethics you suspect to respond to the thread featuring their service. The principals of AirPaper did just that (linked upthread).

YCombinator neither attracts nor tolerates the kinds of scamminess (neologism, whatevs) you concocted. Your scenarios could be cross-culturally compared (for one crazy example) to suspecting MetaFilter of raising false flags in the service of misogyny. Not impossible but highly unlikely.

Moving past non sequitur…

Oh, and also, did I mention worst? Because whether or not I did: in 2014 and 2010 Comcast won WORST. Company. In. America.
posted by mistersquid at 8:08 PM on October 6, 2015


To ALL THE PEOPLE ABOVE asserting "Comcast is not so bad," COMCAST WON the Consumerist's most recent (2014) Worst Company in America (Comcast also won earlier in 2010).


Not a scientific poll. Their reputation is deservedly in the shitter, but my experience is that a lot of the total hatred comes from the reputation more than experience at least if you are comparing them to their peers. Verizon literally hung up on me when trying to get a refund when a movie labeled as having closed captions did not in fact have captions. (Multiple times, we just gave up ordering the Sunday movie because deaf family member could not watch it and every order was a multi-call hours long ordeal for a refund.)

(and all I have to say is lol at monsanto being the other guy here, see me next time we have a GMO thread. :P )
posted by Drinky Die at 8:16 PM on October 6, 2015


When I was cancelling my mother's Dish Network account, I discovered three magic words that seem to silence any customer retention attempts...Nursing, Home, Alzheimers.

So, maybe calling Comcast and pretending you're your adult son and your parent (aka: you) has advanced Alzheimers and is moving to a nursing home and will no longer need Comcast will work?


My mother, living in an assisted living home, wanted to get the newspaper. Okay fine. I called and ordered up a subscription, delivered to her address but billed to me at my address. Time rolled on and, when she had to move to full memory care, I cancelled the subscription. To save long explanations when they asked why I was canceling I said "She died." A lie, yes, but a harmless one and true in a certain philosophical sense given the circumstances.

This would appear to be the ultimate trump card. The customer has died! They no longer have any use for your and anybody else's product. AND YET, they still tried to talk me into the keeping the subscription. Would I like to change to weekend only? How about the very affordable Sunday only? I explained, repeatedly, that the subscriber had died. They finally resorted to trying to convince me to keep a subscription going FOR THE NEXT RESIDENT OF HER APARTMENT.

I wish there was some metric so that upper management could see how the anger caused by these unrelenting customer retention strategies actually hurt the company in the long run. After my experience I will never subscribe to that newspaper ever again, and the moment I can ditch ComCast they can rot in hell as far as I'm concerned.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 9:29 PM on October 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


When I first got Comcast (in their hometown!) in 2008 the tech tried one box which didn't work. He went to his truck and tried another, which didn't work. Repeat two more times. When he finally left and everything was a-OK, I curiously tapped the My DVR button on the remote, which I didn't sign up for.

It was filled to the brim with such classics as "Sorority Sluts 2" and "MILFs after Dark." My Comcast service came with free hardcore porn. Being a gay male I had no use for it and just deleted it. I didn't complain to them either because the tech was nice. In fact it was at least 1 and a 1/2 years before they realized I actually had DVR service I was supposed to be paying $9.99 a month for and they sent me a letter basically saying "You don't have to pay for the months you had it but we're taking it away now." I believe it was justifyable compensation.
posted by daninnj at 9:52 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


They did however send me a letter a couple months later explaining that they're VERY EXCITED to introduce new channels to my package at no additional cost and then send me another letter a few months later explaining I'm getting too many channels in my package and they are going away unless I upgrade.

Huh!
posted by daninnj at 9:56 PM on October 6, 2015


Comcast really isn't as bad as everybody thinks.
[snip]
the product is shit and overpriced.


I'm glad to hear you found the play otherwise enjoyable, Mrs Lincoln.
posted by phearlez at 7:12 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


When cancelling a service, I always agree with how awesome their service is and yes, it is a wonderful value.
Then I tell them that I lost my job and and since they want to keep me and I want to continue their service, do they have, perhaps an amelioratory or charitable package or plan of -- hello?
Hello?
posted by eclectist at 10:06 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Regarding the instances when the account rep still insists on saving/upselling the account even upon learning of the account holder's death or guardianship:

In Comcast's case, the Retention Handbook specifically states that "Save Attempt is not applicable when account holder is deceased/incapacitated". (pages 11 and 12 of the script)

I wonder if it has been so drummed into the reps' heads that they need to attempt "Saves" every single call, that the reps forget about this exception. Or, more likely, management still penalises reps for not making "save attempts" on every single call in order to meet pre-determined metrics. Enforcement drives actions.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 5:03 PM on October 7, 2015


On the phone with Comcast now. This is painful.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 12:25 PM on October 12, 2015


I just cancelled my cable with Bell in Ontario and it was a pretty pleasant process. I had mentioned we'd be doing construction and as a result moving in and out of the house and while the rep did say he could suspend the account he also said that would only be worthwhile if we intended to resume the service after everything is done. When I told him we'd be seeing how cable-free life suited us while this is all happening he seemed to understand and didn't say anything else about it.

I don't know if he is representative of every Bell retention rep but he was pretty good.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:41 AM on November 5, 2015


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