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Calling Comcast for help? Expect a sales pitch

Many of the cable giant’s employees are reportedly evaluated based on their sales, regardless of whether they’re in a sales position.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 25, 2014 12:06PM
This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyI imagine it would be incredibly frustrating to call Comcast's customer service line to cancel your service, complain about an issue with your cable or get help with a billing question, only to have the customer service representative try to sell you additional channels or faster Internet or some other Comcast upgrade.

Unfortunately, that is what's happening.

According to The Verge, the cable giant wants its employees to make sales, regardless of what position they hold within the company.

Despite the fact that Comcast has departments devoted to both inbound and outbound sales, the company encourages its employees in customer service, tech support, and other departments to make sales as well. This often puts the employee's interests at odds with the customer, who may be calling in to report a technical problem, billing issue, or to downgrade their service.

According to Ars Technica, Comcast call center employees are trained to follow a four-step call flow process. Each step begins with an "S" -- start, solve, sell and summarize. You read that correctly, "sell" is actually one of the four steps. You can view some of Comcast's training guidelines here.

What's more, as explained in the training material, 20 percent of a call center employee’s performance rating for a phone call is dependent on the employee making a sale.

Horror stories about Comcast's shoddy customer service abound online. Just search for "bad Comcast customer service" and you'll see what I mean. One of the latest customer service snafus that went viral was a customer who tried to cancel his services and ended up waiting on hold for more than three hours until the office actually closed.

A number of current and former Comcast employees told The Verge that excessive sales pressure, which is implemented through monetary incentives or the threat of being put on a corrective action plan or worse, makes it difficult to do their job. Some said they were fired as a result of not being able to make sales. Other former employees said they got fed up and quit.

When The Verge asked Comcast about pressing employees to sell, the company's response was this:

"I don't want any of our employees to feel that pressure to go through and sell … or feel like they’re going to get fired," Tom Karinshak, Comcast's senior vice president of customer experience, tells The Verge. "That's not good for us."

If you're a Comcast customer and you don't want to deal with a sales pitch when you call for customer or technical service assistance, there's good news. The Verge said there are a few things you can do to avoid high-pressure sales techniques. They won't try to sell you services if you're irate, unhappy with the resolution of your problem, or you simply ask them not to.

In April, Comcast earned the dubious distinction of being named America's worst company.

Are you a Comcast customer? Share your experiences below.

Aug 25, 2014 6:34PM
COMCAST SUCKS>>>>Highest rates,PLUS you pay extra for service calls,Customer service call $100 or more.Customer Call centers in NICARAGUA, GUYANA  you can't even understand what they are saying it is so far away HOW ABOUT SOME AMERICAN JOBS???? How much worse can it get.????????..........These are the monopolies they do what they want!!!
Aug 25, 2014 6:04PM
Aug 25, 2014 6:27PM
We have had bad experiences with nearly all the major cable and dish companies.  Comcast has infuriated us to no end.  Unfortunately, they still have the fastest internet in our area, so we are still customers.  However, we have cancelled our cable and bought an antenna (just to get local news and PBS for the kids) instead.  We also stream to our TV using Amazon Prime and individual TV program websites.  One word of advice regarding Comcast - we have had much better luck going to one of their local service centers than trying to talk to them via phone or chat.  They can't run away, or put you on hold indefinitely.  :)
Aug 25, 2014 4:22PM
Sounds like AOL as they were circling the drain.  In an industry where innovative alternatives are popping up all over the place, the only way to hold your customer base is to keep them hostage.
Aug 25, 2014 6:36PM
My name is John Nickle... or to Comcast johnnickle3217.  They owe me hundreds for equipment they charged me for but I didn't have.  They installed two recorders and one remote player.  After months, the supervisor told the tech that was at my house that a house can't have two recorders and a remote... it doesn't work.  The tech left, without correcting the problem and then I was charged for a field visit for this pleasure.  I would have taken a picture of the way the tech left the box on the side of my house... open to the weather with splitters simply sitting on top of the box.  Trashy.  I cancelled the home service, and they sent me boxes to load and ship, which I did through UPS as instructed.  They have now told me that they do not show that the shipment (with their own return label) has arrived at their plant.  Go figure!
Aug 25, 2014 9:02PM
Why do we not have choices for cable?  It is past time to break up the cable companies. 

Our choices are one cable company, all are bad, or Direct TV or Verizon, equally deplorable. 

We people need to demand choice.  Our elected officials work for us, not for Comcast. 
Aug 26, 2014 3:41AM
I used to work for a contractor in Pensacola, FL that handled customer service (billing) for Comcast. At first, we were only encouraged to "pitch" to callers, but that eventually changed to a mandatory "pitch" on every call. We were threatened with bad evauationsl if we did not. That then changed to making at least one sale per week and the only products concidered to be a sale was what they called an RGU (revenue gererating upgrade-a service upgrade of either phone, internet or tv). I eventually was fired for not making my quota of sales. Those who say Comcast is evil are absolutly correct. 
Aug 25, 2014 9:39PM
Can't wait to give them the boot. I can't get TNT, or Science Channel, but, they send me the Jewelry Channel and loads of other home shopping crap? No.
And this is why I'm terrified these asshats will buy Timewarner. We never have any issues with our Timewarner and i can only expect it to go straight to hell if Comcast gets it. I think before they do we'll cancel and just watch the internet.
Aug 26, 2014 9:14AM

To be honest I am past. Getting weary, about this Up Selling or Plus Selling Crap. I even had it happen in a Restaurant, I ordered a meal with an Appetizer that came with it and the waitress asked me if I wanted a salad extra and I asked that the meal I ordered comes with one, and her reply was if she did try to sell me something that she would be Fired. Same thing happens at sales counters. I don't mind a sales rep asking if there may be anything else (not to make a suggested sales Item pitch) before they do the final ring up.

Businesses don't like to have Panhandlers on their Property so why are they making their employees Panhandle for them or be Fired. I would like it better if they had their Employees just stick out their hand and ask for a Dollar for their Boss. Panhandling is Panhandling.

Aug 26, 2014 1:44AM

What's worse about having everyone from the janitor to the tech support geek sell you up is that if you do bite and add/order a service that is offered to you, that great price you were quoted is quickly forgotten once you receive the bill!! And good luck trying to call and complain, you will talk with a snotty and bored rep who claims that the quoted prices/conversation do not show up on your account, therefore you are lying. Doesn't matter if you write down EVERYTHING about the employee (name, ID#) you originally dealt with, and time, prices, dates, etc. when you fell for the deal- you will be told "He/she shouldn't have told you that price", "He/she was never authorized to give those price quotes", "We have never offered that service for that price", "We do not know who you are talking about", "Well, that's only for NEW customers"  blah blah blah.

This has happened to us 3 times, and it is maddening and absolutely the worst kind of customer treatment and is what I'd expect from a hustler or street dealer.

And yes, we are still also waiting for our prepaid Visa cards....they love to throw that one out, we'll give you a prepaid Visa! Don't fall for it!!!!!

Aug 25, 2014 9:46PM
I get over 30 channels... FREE with an antenna. All I ever hear from people is how there's never anything on TV, yet they STILL continue to pay for cable/satellite. I don't get it...???
Aug 25, 2014 9:05PM
I am still waiting for the $150.00 Visa card they offered when I signed up with them-14 MONTH'S AGO! And that is the best thing I can say about Comcast.
Aug 26, 2014 10:29AM
Why wouldn't Comcast do this? It obviously works. Their revenue is up every year. 

They don't care if their customers are unhappy. They found a way to make even more money. Until it stops working they won't change.  
Aug 26, 2014 10:11AM
Being the worse corporation in america yeah Comcast wins that hands down. Right now there is a bunch of baffoons running the company. What a bunch of nitwits. I'm a recent cable cord cutter thanks to comcasts incompetence of rising prices and customer no service I've discovered the world of FREE HD Channels over the air with an $60.00 antenna. Now that I get my local and PBS channels for free i ain't never going back.
Aug 25, 2014 10:31PM
Hard to believe that COMCAST is any worse the TIME WARNER, which is absolutely horrible !!! 
Aug 26, 2014 10:10AM
I worked for Comcast for six months and it was the worst experience I have ever had. You must make customers wait otherwise it skews your numbers. So it is okay to put a customer on hold while you talk to your friend, go to the bathroom, get coffee, or get in your car and go to Wendy's to get lunch. There is no respect for the customer. It is all about the numbers. Management is no where to help the employees, the supervisors in the Miramar call center are a bunch of puppets, The manager Marcelo is a tyrant with a Napoleon complex.
Aug 26, 2014 9:42AM
My experience was they added a service I did not ask for when I inquired about it they told me that I did in deed order the service, I informed them that I did not and that I specifically told the sales person that I did not want service with a contract yet I was put on a contract without my knowledge, Comcast is in deed the worst cable company in the Country. and it seems that Congress and State and local officials need to address the complaints of the people against Comcast for unfair service practices, also more cable companies need to be allowed in the mix to lower price, I will be dropping Comcast in the very near future because of cost and customer service.
Aug 26, 2014 9:38AM
I'm surprise the company is still in business with their shoddy customer service, not to mention how they treat their employees.
Aug 26, 2014 12:02PM
cable is not going to make it in the future. when is the last time you wanted a hamburger and got told you have to buy the entire dollar menu? yeah 150 channels watch 10. no thanks mamma didn't raise me for other to steal from. leave the stealing to the thugs in ferguson
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