Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shedding Light On The Comcast Employee Brouhaha: He Was Fighting To Keep His Job

As is now known to many of us, customer Ryan Block made an attempt to disconnect from Comcast and was met with steadfast resistance by an employee who responded with dreck like: "Okay, so help me understand why you don't want faster internet". Which, of course, is beside the point and no reason is needed if the customer simply wants to disconnect.  All Block wanted to do was cancel his cable account and get on with his life, but the Comcast retention agent he was speaking to just wouldn't take "no" for answer.  The employee, as if under compulsion,  pressed on and on with Block, who - after ten minutes- began recording the balance of the exchange. The result went viral and onto the corporate network news as well as the media wires and social media online.

Headlines erupted such as:

'Recording of Man's Attempt to Cancel Comcast Will Drive You Insane'

'Could this Comcast rep be the worst in the world?'

'Is This the All Time Most Horrible Cable Service Ever?'

 And the corporate media - as well as social media - just piled on and on.

But most of them had no clue why the employee was so determined not to lose his grip: because it meant losing his shitty ass job.

Commentator Thom Hartmann brought this point up yesterday afternoon in his call- in show on Free Speech TV. He noted that one of the worst jobs in the world - along with telemarketing - was being a customer "retention agent"  at a cable -internet service where you have very little leeway to fail before you're released. He cited a  critical customer "loss" rate threshold of no more than 14 percent for most retention specialists. That means you're allowed to "lose" no more than 14 percent of customers on your watch before you're fired.

Hartmann, while trying to account for the Comcast employee's absurd levels of persistence in refusing to disconnect Ryan Block , explained that the  guy was likely at or close to his critical customer loss percentage.  In other words, to give in and disconnect Block might have cost him his job. (Of course, the disconnection would have to occur eventually anyway, but give the guy kudos for trying to save his job the only way he knew how.)

Now, we can argue forever on whether the guy could find another job, but the point is he felt insecure enough to put up that enormous resistance to simply letting the customer go. And before we leave this issue, let's bear in mind that more than 70 percent of the jobs in this country are underpaying, menial, repetitive crap jobs. So even if the guy left Comcast, what would he do next? Become a telemarketer where they have quotas to fill, else they're fired? Or maybe a burger flipper some place that requires a certain number of customers be served?  Or an order fulfillment agent at where your every move is tracked during the day while you fulfill hundreds of orders in a giant warehouse?

Sure, pile onto the dismal customer experience and maybe sympathize with Ryan Block, the customer. But before  you go ape shit over the Comcast rep's behavior, think of being in that position yourself one day - and being just one lost customer away from losing your job and maybe having to go on food stamps or see your kids hungry.

The ultimate fault isn't the rep's so much as the company's that upholds such a misbegotten policy, and the country that enables it because of so few labor regulations!

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