The Verge of obsession? Tech pub ramps up series on Comcast customer service

In the cable business, seeking regulatory and public approval on a $45 billion merger means you can never say you're sorry.

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is finding this out this out the hard way, with Vox Media-owned tech publication The Verge biting onto the "notoriously bad customer service" angle and refusing to let go.

Inspired by the early-July kerfluffle over an embarrassing Comcast customer retention call that went viral, The Verge just launched the ongoing series "Comcast Confessions," a series of posts based on interviews and leaks from what the blog describes as more than 100--apparently anonymous and disenfranchised--Comcast employees.

"We heard the same stories over and over again: customer service has been replaced by an obsession with sales, technicians are understaffed, tech support is poorly trained, and the telecommunications behemoth is hobbled by internal fragmentation," wrote series author Adrianne Jeffries in the initial Aug. 4 post introducing the series.

Comcast irate customer card

Comcast reps reportedly can hand out special "no-wait" cards to a limited number of irate customers. (Source: The Verge)

Jeffries soon followed that post up with another featuring the allegedly leaked handbook used by the Comcast customer retention team. And on Friday, Aug. 8, she exposed a "semi-secret" customer service line that Comcast reps are told to selectively use in the case of especially irate customers.

"For years, Comcast has been giving its employees special cards to hand out to customers who had 'a negative or unpleasant experience that is unresolved,'" Jeffries explains. "Once called 'Make It Right' cards and recently rebranded as 'We're On It' cards, the cards are printed with a unique ID number and a 'no wait' hotline that connects to a dedicated team of 250 customer service agents. Employees receive 12 cards a year, which they can hand out at their discretion."

Jeffries has justified her digital media assault by repeatedly referencing Comcast's customer service reputation, which includes a second-worst ranking on the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

As for the reaction of the Comcast corporate PR team?  "They have been doing the normal PR things, confronting me, calling everybody over my head, threatening to not talk to us for stories, then deciding it's better to talk to us, etc.," she tells FierceCable. "They may have pulled their ads, although that's not my department so I can't say for sure. [Verge managing editor Nilay Patel] has been dealing with a lot of it, thankfully. Standard stuff."

Comcast reps had yet to respond to FierceCable's inquires as of the time of this posting.

For more:
- read this story from The Verge

Related links:
Comcast COO: Customer retention rep recording was 'painful to listen to'
Comcast apologizes after service call gets 4M viral listens, exposes customer retention policy
Fast Wi-Fi, nifty interfaces are nice, Comcast, but customers clearly want better manners