May 29th 2014 by frankles • 37 Questions • 351 Points
Is there such thing as a "normal call volume"? Everytime I call they say it is "higher than normal call volume".
This is kind of like an ideal setting, where there would be enough reps to cover the volume of calls, provided all the calls are below a certain threshold and there haven't been any significant changes in channel line-ups, bi-annual bill increases, outages or full moons.
How often did you have to lie to customers about their service/speed whatever?
I didn't have to outright lie about speed very much. Most of the problems people called in for were with wireless connectivity, which we did not support.
It's a shady, shady game, though. We'd just have them plug the modem direct into their computer and test it. That way, it would have just gotten a reboot and any line condition issues wouldn't have enough time to start affecting the service. I'd ask people to keep it plugged in to the modem for a day to test it because I knew they wouldn't be able to keep it plugged in. The modem always connected and always resulted in speeds above what they were paying for.
I read your story in ask reddit, and all I have to say is holy shit.
Have you considered testifying in front of congress?
Yep. I would if asked. Maybe I should contact Al Franken.
When I look at my Comcast bill, what's the place they are most likely trying to screw me? What areas or services, and is there any way to tell?
You have to write the promotions down when you first arrange for them, then set calendar reminders a month before they expire. Your bill will not include the timelines for your promotions. The promotions will start and stop mid-cycle, so the charges may only go up 3.49 on one bill, but then a full 14.99 on the next.
Also, this is my favorite curveball to throw at them: The taxes and fees are never itemized, and the pro-rates for the taxes and fees calculations are never printed. This is the highest potential for shady charges because it can't be scrutinized. You can't verify their math. So if you change your services three times in a month, all those charges and credits are hidden. You only see one number per tax or fee, not three each totaling to a fourth total tax/fee column. Ask them to break the fees down. Nobody can do it.
As a 14 year call center rep for the Death Star, can you describe the office politics, pay/benefits, culture and such? We're (at the rep level), also part of a union, does Comcast hire from CWA/IBEW?
I ask because when I started here in 2000, it was like they were still in the 50's. Locally, things have gotten a LOT better, but there's still room for improvement as always. A buddy of mine has worked for Comcast for a number of years also but I've never been able to have a pow-wow with him on this.
I may have to come back to this one to answer this fully, but let me touch on how Comcast handles unions.
Every once in a while, there would be reps at various call centers talking about forming a union, or joining an existing one. This kind of talk scared the living shit out of management. At our team meetings, an HR rep would show up and talk about how well we were treated, and how unions are only necessary when working conditions are really bad. And our working conditions were really good, what with the pay and the benefits and so many days off per year, etc.
Then they'd rag on unions, saying the few at the top take all the money and the everybody people like us don't really see any benefits, and here's a handout outlining how you should respond to somebody who approaches you about starting a union. Tell them no. They did not take questions at those meetings.
Did most other billing center employee's follow your managers "encouragement"?
You know, I was convinced that her role was to weed out the people they didn't want working there any more, but couldn't find a reason to fire.
Two of my favorite coworkers quit within a couple months of being on her team because she'd pick one person to rag on, and rag on and rag on until they went away. They'd just up and "fuck it" one day after hearing too much of her shit.
That being said, there were quite a few decent people in management roles as well.
I have been on the line for 20 minutes and you haven't answer my question.
My question is, when are you going to take my call?
No, seriously, thank your for doing IAMA and fuck comcast.
Please hold. Angry Birds: Star Wars just got an update and I'm working my way through the new levels.
When you rub your nipples, do you use lotion, or petroleum jelly?
I don't have a lot of feeling in my nipples, so I don't feel much pleasure in rubbing them.
That being said, I imagine I'd probably just use the same silicon lube I use for...other purposes.
how did you end up at the call center? were there any special requirements that had to be met before you could be hired?
You had to kill a puppy in front of it's mother.
There weren't a lot of tests or anything before getting hired. I got an interview because I knew somebody who worked there. I was almost exclusively self-taught in the tech world, so knowing somebody helped get past the resume/experience hurdle.
The interview was by far the strangest I've experienced so far and since. It was a mass interview, probably 40 or so applicants sitting in a room, and at the head were three people from Comcast. Then they called us up, one by one and asked three questions. I remember two of them, "Tell us about a time you went above and beyond to help a customer," and, "Why should we hire you?"
These were the wrong people to be putting in front of a room. These were quiet nerds applying for a job taking phone calls, not public speaking. Almost everybody had shaky knees, stuttered or said, "Umm" a lot. There were some really bad answers, which helped me out a lot. Once everybody got their chance to stand up front and be judged, the three panelists up and left without a word. After about ten minutes, they came back in and thanked us all for our time, then told us to hand over our resumes on our way out. "We'll call you."
They started calling people up, shook their hand and took their resumes until about ten or so people had left, then they shut the door, leaving us there to wonder what the fuck was going on. About fifteen minutes after that, they come back in and tell us we just made it to the next level of the interview process, like we'd won a prize on a gameshow.
Then came the tests, which they'd boasted were very good at "weeding people out" who couldn't handle the math of retail. It was 45 minutes of basic addition and subtraction. That's it. I had to wait 45 more minutes because there weren't enough computers. We were all given the option to come back later and take the tests if we didn't have time to wait. At this point it'd been about three hours. I later learned that anybody who didn't wait around was not called back.
A scant four hours later, I left, exhausted and confused. There was another, more traditional in-person interview followed by one more phone interview with a higher-up. Two months after I applied, I was hired.
I also learned that this process was only used for about six months and was basically a big HR experiment. Just weird.
In the most recent years as things turned for the worse, what was the ratio of horrible money-grubbing managers like in your story to decent managers that cared about the customer?
Most cared quite a bit, and wanted to do right by the customer as much as they could. Some of them should not have been in management roles.
I had some supervisors who I respected very much, who would go above and beyond in assisting people to make sure they got what they were promised. However, as time went on, I did see less and less of this.
One lady called in to complain because she had always used Yahoo internet and now when she logged on it was Dogpile Internet... She must have downloaded some crap that changed her homepage.
I will likely be coming back to this one for a couple weeks with new answers. One of my least favorite parts was all the people who demanded we hold their hands through everything. Whether it was installation, set up, troubleshooting or whatever. All the things they need, every step of the instructions are laid out in plain English before them. All they need to do is read and respond accordingly. But no, they insist on reading the entire page, they will talk over you if you try and interject, like you're seeing the page for the first time, too and they will not provide any of their own input. They demand you tell them what to do. So the one common question that always made me roll my eyes, without fail, because it was always asked about twenty times on the same call:
"It says click next to continue. Do I click next?"