Customer service just won't resolve my problem.
July 24, 2008 4:02 PM   Subscribe

What do you do when poor/insufficient front-line customer service from a major corporation can't seem to address your issue?

I signed up for Comcast tv and internet service two months ago under a specific promotion. On my first bill, I was signed up for a different, much worse promotion. For the past two months, I have been trying to get my bill corrected with no success (4 online chats, 1 call to 1-800-comcast, and 3 calls and 1 fax to local office) . I have spoken with online chat representatives, who have either told me that they have corrected my promotion (not true) or that I need to contact my local office. My local office told me to fax over documentation, which I did and was completely ignored. A follow-up call to the local office said that I need to speak to the online chat representatives. This is so frustrating! Every time I make a contact, I have to wait on hold, tell my story all over again, and then the representative either pawns off the problem on another office or makes some "change" to my account, which means I have to wait 5 business days "for the changes to take effect" before I can contact them again.

The common denominator in all of my customer service contacts is that I keep speaking with front-line customer support. It seems to me that I need to be speaking to someone higher up the corporate ladder if I want any changes to be made. What would you do to get the attention of someone higher up in a major company to resolve my problem?
posted by wondercow to Technology (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
email consumerist!
posted by lia at 4:11 PM on July 24, 2008

You could threaten to cancel your service. That will get the front-line representative to send you to a retention specialist who usually has a good set of promotion options to get you to stay. You could tell them that the only way you will stay is with the promotion you were promised. It might work. I used the technique once to get a promotion extended when I was told it was for a year and it expired after 6 months.
posted by cabingirl at 4:12 PM on July 24, 2008

Call up and tell them you want to cancel. At this time they will actually give you the time of day.
posted by LoriFLA at 4:13 PM on July 24, 2008

Before you e-mail the Consumerist, try the Executive E-mail Carpet Bomb approach as detailed on their site.
posted by kimdog at 4:14 PM on July 24, 2008


If you start (I mean first thing out of your mouth) with wanting to cancel all your services with the company then suddenly you have their attention. Make it hard for them to win you back, too, but also be gracious once it is sorted out.

I've done this with either Comcast or Verizon (or both) with good results.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:21 PM on July 24, 2008

Corporations are structured in our capitalist society in a way that causes them only to respond to economic inputs. As a single end user your financial contribution to Comcast is tiny and largely inconsequential. You could cancel your service citing a failure by Comcast to keep their end of the agreement, however this won't get you anything and may likely result in further battles as they try to collect on any early cancellation fees.

Your best bet is to continue calling and speaking with representatives. Be polite but firm. Explain that you're fed up, tell the rep that this the X time you've called to get this resolved, and then ask to be escalated. Tell them that you're sure that they are competent, but that you no longer have faith that first level customer service can help you.

Some tips here:

How to Get Cable Customer Service On Your Side
posted by wfrgms at 4:23 PM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pick my battles; I have to make certain, before heading too far into this process, that I'm interested in pursuing this, that there is enough to be won for the work I'm going to invest. If that is the case, then I proceed as follows:

I begin taking notes (though I've usually already begun by this time, and it's more a case of beginning to keep an organized file), keeping track of date/time and, if the person will give me their name and/or title (or company id -- they love this one, they hide behind a number).

I pick a time to call them when I have all the time in the world, and I will not let them off the hook -- I've got a cup of coffee, I'm relaxed, I've got my notes and I'm ready to spend some quality time with these folks, I'm polite but insistent, and patient. Any swearing and/or losing of temper gets nowhere, they are ready for that, they are trained for that, it gives them an out that I do not want to give them. I've got to engage these people, or try to, though they are trained on that also, to stick to their bottom line; regardless, it's always a good thing to be considerate, though very present.

I insist upon speaking to their supervisor, regardless they tell me that I'm as far up the line as I can go.

I begin showing up at local outlets of the company in question, and speaking with managers there -- I've got my notes with me, I'm ready to spend some more quality time.

I tell them that I will cancel (as noted above) but they almost never give a damn about that, it's a numbers game for them, they realize that enough people will not cancel. And I'm usually going to cancel anyway, so it's really about my getting the money or service(s) promised before I do leave the fold.

I go up the chain in any and every way that I can. I ask every person with whom I speak their name and title, their bosses name and title and phone number and location, HIS bosses name and title and phone number and location.

I am persistent. And I let them know this, that this is not going to be over until they roll.

Again, I've got to determine if any particular battle is worth engaging, but if/when it is, I'm ready to rock and roll, and the people involved eventually begin to get the idea that I'm not going away, and begin to consider actually helping me.

The Consumerist is only useful if the people running that site find your story newsworthy, if they think it will bring them page views, and I do not think that large companies such as your describing give a damn if something gets onto The Consumerist or not, that whole numbers thing again.

Organizations have this down to an art form, and mostly you're not going to get what you want, and they don't give a damn. You've got to find that one right person, on that one right day.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:39 PM on July 24, 2008

In this specific case, Comcast has a twitter account that seems to be staffed by someone who can get things done.
posted by gac at 4:51 PM on July 24, 2008

According to today's NY Times article, Frank Eliason will probably be in touch soon.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:38 PM on July 24, 2008

If all else fails, send your complaint letter (the Consumerist offers very good advice on writing an effective one) by registered mail (requiring a signature) to the CEO of Comcast with a cc to your state attorney general. I've settled problems with Verizon and HP this way.
posted by swerve at 7:01 PM on July 24, 2008

Definitely threaten to cancel.
posted by desjardins at 7:35 PM on July 24, 2008

Dancestoblue sums up my approach, with the difference that I tend to go via email if I can (i.e. if it's not an urgent matter). This means that both parties have a written record of the correspondence and while it may take longer to resolve the issue, it means that there is never the possibility that someone says "well, we didn't know / you didn't tell us that".

If you have to use the phone, detail times, dates, and names of people you've spoken to (if they don't tell you their name on answering the phone, ask them)

In either case, remain polite at all times. The people you speak to / recieve the emails aren't usually the people at fault - they're more likely to go beyond their remit on your behalf if you're nice to them.

If someone has promised something that has previously been promised and not delivered, stay on the phone and ask to speak to someone who can confirm that the required action has been taken, pointing out that you've been in this situation before and it didn't happen (again, make sure you're not sounding like you're blaming the person you're speaking to). Ask for written (email) confirmation that the action has been taken.

If you're on the phone, then ask to speak to the supervisor of the person you're speaking to. Refuse to end the call until you have spoken to someone who can resolve your issue. If you remain polite but persistent, they won't hang up on you and eventually you will be transferred.

Remain consistent - remind yourself, and the organisation you're dealing with, what you're complaining about and what you want to happen as a result of your complaint. Try not to get sidetracked.

Worst case scenario, publicity of any sort is an option that can achieve results - but it should be a last resort.

Good luck!
posted by finding.perdita at 7:54 PM on July 24, 2008

In large companies there is often an office where all the senior executives hang out. Each executive will normally have a PA and there will probably be some PR people. The PR and PA people will often handle incoming mail on behalf of the executives. They are employed to be staunch filterers of information but something like a written letter, delivered by registered post and mentioning the media outlets you will take the case to if you don't get the response you want should get their attention. Once you have done this these people should have to power to lean on pretty much anybody else in the company to get your problem solved. You can used the techniques described in "email carpet bomb" to fix the details of the people to contact.
posted by rongorongo at 4:54 AM on July 25, 2008

Whenever I have bad service from a corporation, I contact the CEO. It always works like a charm - quick response, problem solved, often extra goodies. It is not always easy tracking down their email address but here is Comcast CEO's email -
posted by TheRaven at 4:55 AM on July 25, 2008

. Complain to your state Consumer Protection Office.
. Also, call, and don't accept No for an answer. Stay on the line, be super-polite, and keep insisting that they give you free service to compensate for your trouble, and correct the plan you're on.
. If you decide to cancel services, wait until you're 60 days behind. Most cable companies charge for services in advance, and screw you when you cancel, and they owe you for service. If you want to strike a blow for consumers, take then to small clams court. (accidental typo, left it in, cause I though it was mildly amusing.) Because you have documentation, you can get any threats to your credit report corrected.
posted by theora55 at 9:24 AM on July 25, 2008

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