Comcast is a company people love to hate. Between its virtual monopoly in most of its markets, its high and constantly escalating prices, its abysmal customer service, and its attempts to take over the cable, broadcasting and entertainment worlds, how can you not hate Comcast?
The Curmudgeon has written about various Comcastic shenanigans on several occasions (including here, here, here, and here) and we all remember that now-legendary exchange between a guy trying to terminate his Comcast service and a Comcast customer service representative who just refused to provide that particular customer service.
Just a few weeks ago The Curmudgeon had his own little Comcast drama. When his internet service died during the workday, the most a telephone customer service representative could do was permit The Curmudgeon to go to a Comcast store and swap his modem for a new one – and install it himself. (Actually, the customer service representative didn’t know what to do, didn’t even suggest that, so The Curmudgeon, who has been down this road with Comcast many, many times, had to suggest it himself.) When the new modem didn’t work, the best Comcast could do was offer a service technician house call – two days later. After two more calls The Curmudgeon managed to wrangle a same-day service technician visit.
When that technician couldn’t immediately fix the problem he traced The Curmudgeon’s line to “the box” – The Curmudgeon has no idea what or where that is – and came back with an explanation: someone had unplugged The Curmudgeon’s line in the box. And who can that have been? Well, since the box is locked, the only person who could have done it was…
You guessed it: another Comcast service technician.
After that it still took an hour to restore The Curmudgeon’s service because the new modem turned out to be defective. The technician said that’s not uncommon because the inferior modems Comcast rents its customers are so cheap. (In fact, he said he went through a whole carton of defective modems the previous week.) The technician also blew a half-hour fussing over the lack of speed of The Curmudgeon’s internet connection because he misread his service call’s specifications and thought he was shooting for a much greater speed than the account stipulated.
Comcast knows it’s the company people hate, too. How else to explain why it’s trying to erase its name from the public consciousness and become known as “Xfinity” instead even though Xfinity isn’t even a word? (Maybe they hope all our head-scratching over the strange word will distract us from remembering that it’s related to Comcast.)
But just lately The Curmudgeon has observed that Comcast continues to show a real knack for doing things that will make even more people – even non-customers – hate it.
The latest: the home page for The Curmudgeon’s web browser is philly.com, home of Philadelphia’s two major daily newspapers, the Inquirer and the Daily News. He visits this web site numerous times every day, and when he does, and even though he employs a powerful ad blocker that had virtually eliminated the annoying problem of pop-ups, every time he visits, up pops – an ad, strangely, for Comcast and not for Xfinity.
And not just once when you visit the site, either: it pops up on every second or third article you view. You have to wait while it sloooooooooowly scrolls down to cover virtually the entire screen before you can remove it. It is incredibly irritating and it’s hard to believe that anyone who visits that site to read more than an article or two doesn’t start swearing about Comcast and its employees’ relationships with their female parents.
The really amazing thing is when you realize that a reasonably high-level executive at the company, based on the recommendation of a committee of people whose work is highly respected, decided that this was a good way to reach customers with a new message, would appeal to people, and would not in any way alienate those who encountered both the ad and its constant repetition.
When it comes to having a knack for doing things that will make people who don’t even know you hate you and people who already hate you hate you even more, nobody – nobody – does it better than the tone-deaf folks at Comcast.