Comcast apologizes for latest customer service travesty, but denies getting ex-PwC accountant fired

Reeling from the latest virally explosive story about egregiously bad customer service, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) has issued a public apology to a former PwC accountant who accused the cable company of getting him fired from his job.

Former Comcast subscriber Conal O'Rourke says he engaged in a long, bitter series of complaints with the MSO, which he says overbilled him and either couldn't--or willfully wouldn't--fix the problem. He alleges that Comcast, which does business with PricewaterhouseCoopers, contacted his employer about this dispute, leading to an ethics investigation that got him axed.

Charlie Herrin, who was put into the new role of senior VP, customer experience by Comcast in late September to stem a rash of customer service travesties affecting the company, apologized for the way Comcast treated O'Rourke. He stopped short of taking responsibility for the accountant's job loss, however.

"What happened with Mr. O'Rourke's service is completely unacceptable," Herrin blogged. "Despite our attempts to address Mr. O'Rourke's issues, we simply dropped the ball and did not make things right. Mr. O'Rourke deserves another apology from us and we're making this one publicly. We also want to clarify that nobody at Comcast asked for him to be fired."

In published reports that have been widely distributed through social media, O'Rourke said he started subscribing to Comcast in early 2013, right after relocating from Connecticut to work for PwC.

Billing trouble started almost immediately, he said, and quickly cascaded, with the company allegedly charging him $1,820 for equipment he says he didn't order. Numerous attempts to correct the issue with escalating ranks of Comcast service personnel culminated in threats by both sides, with the cable company enlisting collection agencies, and the accountant threatening to report Comcast to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

According to O'Rourke, it was the latter that triggered alarm bells within Comcast, resulting in the company doing research on its disgruntled subscriber and reaching out to his employer.

Reads a letter from O'Rourke's attorney (obtained by Ars Technica): "Because Comcast was a major consulting services client of PwC's, someone from the controller's office contacted Mr. Joseph Atkinson, a partner in the Philadelphia office of PwC, and falsely told Mr. Atkinson that Mr. O'Rourke had invoked his employment with PWC in an attempt to somehow obtain leverage in his negotiations with Comcast. Mr. Atkinson informed Mr. O'Rourke that the client was very valuable, was the Philadelphia office's largest client with billings [REDACTED], that the client was very angry as a result of Mr. O'Rourke's complaints, and that Mr. O'Rourke was not to speak with anyone from Comcast. While all of this was happening, Comcast continued to communicate sporadically and ineffectively with Mr. O'Rourke, setting up two service appointments that they missed without explanation on February 7, 2014 and February 11, 2014."

Through his attorney, O'Rourke has demanded $100,000 in compensation and for the cable company to work things out so he gets his job back.

Added Herrin: "We're also determined to get to the bottom of exactly what happened with his service, figure out what went wrong at every point along the way, and fix any underlying issues.  I'm a few weeks into a new role at Comcast which is entirely focused on what we can do to make the customer experience better.  We need to make sure that every interaction is excellent … from the moment a customer orders a new service, to the installation, to the way we communicate with them, to how we respond to any issues."

For more:
- read this Comcast blog post
- read this Ars Technica story

Related links:
Comcast taps product exec Herrin to fill new customer service SVP role
The Verge of obsession? Tech pub ramps up series on Comcast customer service
Fast Wi-Fi, nifty interfaces are nice, Comcast, but customers clearly want better manners
Comcast rep won't let Engadget founder cancel service

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