Greg Hatcher has those words in big letters on the side of The Hatcher Agency in downtown Little Rock — “The Home of Outrageous Service” — and we all understand that he means outrageous in a good way, and anyone who has worked with his agency knows he means it.
But last week, outrageous customer service took on a completely different meaning when a man named Ryan Block released a recording of his excruciating experience trying to cancel his Comcast service.
This is an Opinion
If you haven’t heard the recording, listen to the recording below and get ready to be outraged on his behalf. Unfortunately for Comcast, Block isn’t just some random customer. It turns out that he’s a technology journalist and product manager for AOL. He has an audience and isn’t afraid to use it.
I have an audience, too, but discretion can be the better part of valor. For instance, I haven’t publicly called out the repair shop that demanded that I come and get my boat immediately when I asked whether their 12-day delay in asking for a deposit meant a delay in getting the boat fixed. It’s the only time I’ve ever been fired as a customer.
Ryan Block probably wishes Comcast had fired him as a customer. Instead, his wife handed him the phone after many minutes spent trying to cancel a service they no longer wished to buy. The customer service rep spent another 18 minutes insisting that Block couldn’t close out his account without satisfactorily answering his questions.
“I’m just trying to figure out here what it is about Comcast service that you’re not liking,” the unidentified rep said.
“This phone call is an amazing representative example of why I don’t want to stay with Comcast. So, can you please cancel our service?” Block answered.
Comcast has had a bad reputation for service for a long, long time. When I heard about Block’s experience, I was immediately reminded of Mona “The Hammer” Shaw, a 75-year-old woman who became a folk hero back in 2007 when she took a hammer to the Comcast office in Manassas, Virginia, after being jerked around for days on end. Unlike Block, “The Hammer” actually wanted to become a Comcast customer, and Comcast couldn’t even make that part pleasant.
My family and I left Comcast about 10 years ago for Dish Network, and we briefly flirted with the idea of signing up for AT&T’s U-verse service but it wasn’t available at our house and now the urge has passed. I say this because I actually had an experience with Dish this month that was almost as bad as Ryan Block’s.
Here’s what happened: Our new dog, Scully, chewed up the remote control for the TV in our bedroom. I know this is a common experience for dog owners, and I suppose it’s because our remotes smell like the hands our dogs love so much. I called Dish, and a new remote — free of charge, to my delight — arrived two days later.
I probably could have found the instructions for programming the new “flipper” to communicate with our TV on the Dish website, but I was too lazy for that. Instead, I just called customer service and said, “Hey, thanks for the replacement remote. Can you tell me how to set it to work with my TV?”
I spent the next 40 minutes working with a customer service rep who could not have been more pleasant or less competent. I’m not sure I counted every trip, but I know I walked from the upstairs bedroom to the downstairs receiver unit and back at least 15 times. I’m not in good enough shape for that.
She wanted me to check the cables. She wanted me to unplug the receiver. She wanted me to unplug the television, but I refused because that involves moving a very large piece of furniture. I kept telling her, “Listen, listen: It’s not an equipment problem. It’s just a new remote control.”
Finally, when she said, “Mrs. Moritz, I’m afraid I will have to send you a new receiver,” I said, “No. The receiver is fine. The cables are fine. The TV is fine. It’s just a new remote control. I think I need to insist on talking to someone else.”
She promptly transferred me to another guy, who had my remote working in just a couple of minutes. He expressed a mixture of amazement and embarrassment that the problem was so easy to solve and that I had been so poorly served.
And I was amazed and embarrassed, too. As I thought back on it, I concluded that my customer service nightmare was actually the result of 10 years of outrageously good service by Dish. With any other company, I would have insisted on talking to someone else much, much earlier in the process.
Gwen Moritz is editor of Arkansas Business. Email her at GMoritz@ABPG.com.