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Customer Service at its finest

Old 08-18-05, 11:14 AM
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Customer Service at its finest

Comcast apologizes

By Scott Goldstein
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 17, 2005, 9:19 PM CDT

Two Comcast customer service employees were fired for changing an Elgin woman's name to "Bitch Dog" on her August bill after she repeatedly complained about poor service, company officials announced Wednesday.

"We are appalled by this treatment of our customer and want to extend our sincerest apologies'' to LaChania Govan, the company said in a statement. "This is not the way Comcast does business. We have identified those responsible for altering Ms. Govan's bill, and they have been dismissed as a result of this incident."

Govan noted that the apology and firings came only after her story was published in the Tribune and gained widespread media attention, but she also said she appreciated the company's actions.

"That's very good," said Govan, 25. "I'm glad to see it. That's a step in the right direction."

Meanwhile, she said her phone rang steadily Wednesday as she fielded interview requests from NBC's "Today" show and numerous other local and national radio and television programs.

One of Govan's many callers just wanted to apologize: Comcast Vice President of Customer Care Mark Coffman.

The voice mail message Coffman left said he was calling to "let me know that they don't personally condone that," Govan said.

A Comcast official declined to say where the dismissed employees were based or why they made the name change.

The company is "putting things in place so that it will never happen again," said spokeswoman Patricia Andrews-Keenan, who declined to be more specific.

Andrews-Keenan, who is based in Chicago, emphasized that the incident was considered a rare occurrence in a company that deals with thousands of customers.

"We have never had this kind of thing happen," she said. "We do a large amount of transactions with customers in the market every day. So we really look at this as being an anomaly."

Govan's story sparked well over 200 messages e-mailed to the Tribune about customer service problems with Comcast and other companies, including the Tribune. One message writer faulted the newspaper and its "rude customer service people'' for not having the paper delivered to the front porch. The complaints also included barbed comments about nasty operators, late technicians--and technicians with muddy boots--as well as sacrificed vacation days waiting in vain for service.

Judy Renick, 53, of La Grange, said she was called a nasty name in an answering machine message left by an angry customer service representative from a magazine company whose sales pitch she had just rejected.

"I just said, `You know what? I really can't talk about this right now. I just have to get going.' And within seconds my phone rang back and I let the machine pick it up."

Bertie Ratliff, 59, a retired teacher from Bloomingdale, said she accidentally included a $2,000 check made out to her credit union with her monthly Comcast bill.

Once she realized what had happened, she assumed Comcast would recognize the problem. Instead, the company cashed the check, she said. Ratliff said it took weeks for her to recover the money.

Andrews-Keenan could not confirm that specific case but said because checks are processed electronically in large batches it wouldn't be that unusual.

"Because they do them in such volume, they're not actually going to say, `Oh, we made that out wrong,' " she said. "Those happen periodically. As soon as they make us aware, we turn them around."

Janet Wagner, associate chair of marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, said customer dissatisfaction may only increase as companies increasingly turn to technological solutions such as online help or automated phone messages.

While Govan's case unquestionably involved an employee who crossed the line, Wagner said it is also important to recognize how stressful it is to work in customer service.

"Customer service people have very stressful jobs," she said. "We say that they have to perform what we call emotional labor and they're under stress, so every once in a while somebody snaps."
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

Re the last two paragraphs: Oh boo hoo. Customer service is stressful. You know what else is a stressful job? Just about every job!

Re the $2,000 check: The banking system in this country sucks. Checks aren't reviewed for the right signature, the right payee, or anything else. I'm amazed that my checks get cashed for the amount I write them for -- I mean, if some ComCast employee wanted to take my $50 check and write $5,000 on the deposit slip, would my bank care, or would they go ahead and debit the $5,000 from my account.

Re the "bitch dog" incident:
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Old 08-18-05, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Re the "bitch dog" incident:
Strong agreement. It was wrong for them to do that but it's still damn_funny.
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Old 08-18-05, 11:20 AM
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to Comcast for not outsourcing!


Otherwise her name would have been:
ﻥﺩﺯ ﺭﻘ ﻥﺩﺭﻜ ﺕﻴﺎﻜﺸ ﻩﺯﺭﻫ ﻥﺯ ﻩﺩﺎﻤ ﮒﺴ ﻥﺩﺭﻜ ﻝﺎﺒﻨﺩﮒﺴ ﻝﺜﻤ ﻥﺩﺭﻜ ﻝﺎﺒﻨﺩ ﻩﺭﻴﮔ ﺭﺍﺩ ﺏﻻﻘ ﻩﻠﻴﻤ ﺭﻨ ﮒﺴ ﮒﺴ
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Old 08-18-05, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Bitch Dog
Re the last two paragraphs: Oh boo hoo. Customer service is stressful. You know what else is a stressful job? Just about every job!
Well said, BD.
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Old 08-18-05, 11:22 AM
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Comcast support drives me crazy...


...and it REALLY makes me mad when someone calls me at home and gets mad that I don't want to buy some stupid crap from them or donate to something. I simply don't WANT to talk to them!

Last edited by Th0r S1mpson; 08-18-05 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 08-18-05, 11:26 AM
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to Comcast for not outsourcing!
What's Hindu for "Bitch dog"? There's some weird Hindu writing next to my name on my cable bill.
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Old 08-18-05, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Jaymole
What's Hindu for "Bitch dog"? There's some weird Hindu writing next to my name on my cable bill.
कुतिया कुत्ता

Duh!
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Old 08-18-05, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Jaymole
What's Hindu for "Bitch dog"? There's some weird Hindu writing next to my name on my cable bill.
Before complaining, you'd best make sure your actual name doesn't translate to "Bith Dog" in Hindu as well...
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Old 08-18-05, 12:38 PM
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Comcast still owes me $50 from a few years ago. They eventually wore me down to the point that I just let them keep it.
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Old 08-18-05, 12:39 PM
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Wasn't there something about a customer service rep from a cell phone that voice mailed a customer a message like go to hell you taco bending beotch?

And does anyone else's cursor in the quick reply area look weird?????
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Old 08-18-05, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Re the last two paragraphs: Oh boo hoo. Customer service is stressful. You know what else is a stressful job? Just about every job!
Go work in a call center for a few months and get back to us.
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Old 08-18-05, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by PrincessT

And does anyone else's cursor in the quick reply area look weird?????
Yes it does. It looks like I'm pushing a dot across the screen.
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Old 08-18-05, 01:01 PM
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Did Bitch Dog ... err, Ms. Hovan get something out of it besides the publicity (like a free year of cable)? Or maybe she could be a part of one of those "Which is better: satellite or cable?" (for the satellite side, or course).

I do have to say that many years ago I worked for about 6 months at a phone center. Hands down, worst job of my life. I foolishly thought it would be a good job, since I was helping people, and just talking on the phone sounded pretty easy. I've had other jobs where I dealt with customer complaints face-to-face, but this was far worse. Something about the nature of phone communication seems to let many people bring out the worst inside them.
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Old 08-18-05, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by TracerBullet
Go work in a call center for a few months and get back to us.
Whatever. I've worked in a call center (telephone surveys). I've also worked for a catering company slaving over hot coals and as a lawyer, handling cases worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I know doctors, bankers, rocket scientists, congressional staffers. They all have stress related with their jobs. The fact that some jerk yells at you because he missed last night's South Park doesn't mean that you are somehow being subjected to some unprecedented level of workplace stress.
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Old 08-18-05, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Timber
Yes it does. It looks like I'm pushing a dot across the screen.
I thought it was the new language set I had to install that was screwing up my cursor... and it's not just quick reply, it's the regular reply. Same pushing a dot thing here.

Where can we get some customer service around here?!?! (feedback forum, say it ain't so!)
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Old 08-18-05, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Whatever. I've worked in a call center (telephone surveys). I've also worked for a catering company slaving over hot coals and as a lawyer, handling cases worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I know doctors, bankers, rocket scientists, congressional staffers. They all have stress related with their jobs. The fact that some jerk yells at you because he missed last night's South Park doesn't mean that you are somehow being subjected to some unprecedented level of workplace stress.
Pshhh... telephone surveys? That's not a customer service call center job.

That said, I don't necessarily disagree with you. There are many, many jobs that are less stressful than customer service, and many, many that are more stressful. It all depends on the type and intensity of the stress.

Also, the jobs you mentioned all carry a high level of responsibility and require specialized knowledge. For the level that customer service is on, it's stressfulness is pretty out of proportion.

Last edited by TracerBullet; 08-18-05 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 08-18-05, 01:33 PM
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So they were fired for being redundant?
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Old 08-18-05, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Re the $2,000 check: The banking system in this country sucks. Checks aren't reviewed for the right signature
Not only are they not checked for the right signature, they aren't checked for any signature. I accidentally forgot to sign a check a month ago, and it was cashed with no problems whatsoever.

Originally Posted by JasonF
I'm amazed that my checks get cashed for the amount I write them for
I had that problem a long time ago too. I had written a check for $152, and they cashed it for $15. It was back in the old days when we couldn't pay electronically, and it was a payment for a credit card. The credit card company then tried to charge me a fee, because my $15 payment was lower than the minimum payment...
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Old 08-18-05, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed
Re the $2,000 check: The banking system in this country sucks. Checks aren't reviewed for the right signature, the right payee, or anything else. I'm amazed that my checks get cashed for the amount I write them for -- I mean, if some ComCast employee wanted to take my $50 check and write $5,000 on the deposit slip, would my bank care, or would they go ahead and debit the $5,000 from my account.
Yeah.. The $2000 wasn't really comcast's fault. It was the customer's for stupidly sending it and the bank's for stupidly cashing it. Comcast likely uses a lockbox system too -- so checks probably go straight to the bank and then are copied and forwarded to Comcast.

The fact that it took them weeks to refund the money sucks, but doesn't surprise me (any company would probably take awhile to send a customer a $2000 check).
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Old 08-18-05, 02:13 PM
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Clearly the reps went over the line, but something tells me that this lady probably wasn't the nicest person.

I've taken enough calls from customers to know vouch for how extremely hateful and unreasonable people can be if they don't get everything and anything they want.

I have no problem with customers getting upset and heated, but there is no reason for someone to be an asshole to the person that answers the phone (assuming that's what she did)
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Old 08-18-05, 02:25 PM
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What's Hindu for "Bitch dog"?
Hindu is a religion, Hindi is a language.
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Old 08-18-05, 02:28 PM
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Hindu is a religion, Hindi is a language.
Second time I've been corrected today...this forum is starting to resemble my 5th grade teacher
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Old 08-18-05, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by brainee
I do have to say that many years ago I worked for about 6 months at a phone center. Hands down, worst job of my life. I foolishly thought it would be a good job, since I was helping people, and just talking on the phone sounded pretty easy. I've had other jobs where I dealt with customer complaints face-to-face, but this was far worse. Something about the nature of phone communication seems to let many people bring out the worst inside them.
I agree. I worked at Columbia House Customer Service for 6 years. To get an idea of what those customers are like check out the DVD Clubs forum! The problem is, when there are problems within the structure of a company and the rep cannot do anything about it, the rep is still getting the blunt of the nastiness.

Now, I'm not saying it is the most stressful job out there. I'm now going to nursing school and I EXPECT nursing to be more stressful, but on a different level. There is a certain kind of stress that goes along with being the little man and being restricted to what you can do or say. Also, call center customer service is seriously underpaid, or keeps getting outsourced. So you get customer complaints, very limited ways to help them, paid little and wondering if your job is going overseas. Or, for those call centers that have some people overseas and some in the USA (like Columbia House) you have to deal with people complaining about the overseas reps. Like you want them to take over your job!

So, point being, even if your life isn't on the line everyday, give phone customer service people a break. If you wouldn't talk to them in a certain way in person than don't do it over the phone.

(Running away now)

Last edited by beencrazier; 08-18-05 at 02:41 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-18-05, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Jaymole
Second time I've been corrected today...this forum is starting to resemble my 5th grade teacher
If your fifth grade teacher was anything like my fifth grade teacher, this forum really ought to have that mole checked out.
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Old 08-18-05, 02:49 PM
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I got written up for something similar when I worked at a bank. When people bought cashiers checks, we imputed their name as purchaser into the system. Well, this really annoying bitch came in screaming and yelling because she had to wait in line 5 minutes, so when I made out the check, I put her as Annoying Bitch. Seems my boss didnt find it too funny, but all I got was a verbal warning.
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