What you can learn from the Comcast call from hell

The case for recording your phone calls with customer service

If there is a hell, being stuck on a call like this one with a Comcast customer service representative would surely be one fitting punishment for those who sinned in life. Ryan Block, vice-president of product at AOL and a customer who wanted to simply disconnect his service, posted a delicious slice of his attempt to disconnect his cable service.

Audio: Have you ever had a cancellation as bad as this Comcast experience?

comcasthq“Why is it that you don’t want the faster speed? Help me understand why you don’t want faster Internet?” the Comcast customer service representative asks after Block tells him he wants to ditch the service. With cable companies aggressively trying to hold onto customers who want to switch providers or cut the cord altogether, it’s probably not the only time a customer service representative has fought valiantly (and, yes, infuriatingly) to hold onto a customer. “My job is to have a conversation with you about keeping your service,” the Comcast employee said. (A spokesman for Comcast apologized for the call and said it’s “not consistent” with how the company trains its staff.)

But the call also stumbles upon a new weapon being employed by consumers, much to the chagrin of some companies: make the call, record the call and post the call (for the world to hear). By recording conversations with customer service representatives, frustrated consumers can acquire powerful ammunition to have their way, experts say. Americans may be resigned to having their phone calls recorded for “quality control” purposes and being told that they may not do the same, if they decide to ask permission. But, experts say, if one party is already recording the phone call, there may be fewer legal reasons for the other party to also seek permission to do the same, particularly if recording the call means it’s no longer regarded as confidential.

The Comcast fiasco is a classic example of why companies don’t want you recording calls. While some customer service departments and call centers do use the recordings to train employees, what consumers say on the phone could also come back to haunt them later, says Glenn Conley, president and CEO of Metropark Communications, Inc., a voice and data communications company in St. Louis. Most calls between consumers and customer service staff are not just recorded for quality control, he says, but archived and used at a later date in case there’s a legal or policy dispute. “It’s more in line with covering what legal issues might arise down the road,” Conley says.

 

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