Comcast Delivers Great Customer Service—If You Complain to the CEO's Mother

At this point, I almost—almost—feel sorry for Comcast. It seems as though the beleaguered company makes headlines every day thanks to its abysmal customer service practices. While Charlie Herrin, senior vice president of customer experience at Comcast Cable, recently vowed that the company will do better, it still consistently fails its customers.

One enterprising reporter decided to skip incompetent, double-talking, and insulting contact center reps and go straight to the top. No, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky didn't contact Comcast CEO and chairman CEO Brian Roberts. Instead, she called his mother, Suzanne Roberts, who is also the wife of Comcast founder Ralph Roberts. Mrs. Roberts is an Emmy-award winning actress, who described herself as a "voluptuous blonde" at the age of 90, and hosts the ironically titled show "Seeking Solutions with Suzanne."

Polaneczky felt compelled to call Mrs. Roberts when a couple wrote to Polaneczky after Comcast screwed up 14 appointments, causing them to miss 13 days of work. "Enough!" Polaneczky wrote. "It's time his mother hears what he's been up to!"

The columnist wasn't able to reach Mrs. Roberts directly, but explained the situation to her assistant, who promised to relay the conversation to her. Just three hours later, an army of Comcast workers arrived at the couple's home. While the story had a happy ending for the couple, it came at the expense of another hapless customer whose appointment had to be cancelled, a Comcast technician told the couple.

"We have great people at Comcast, and we need to treat customers with the respect they deserve," Herrin wrote in response to a recent story of a Comcast customer who was addressed in Comcast correspondence with an expletive.

"Respect is not just how we speak with customers, but also respect for their time and making it much easier for them to interact with us...whether it's solving a problem, ordering service, or simply asking a question. We're working hard to transform the customer experience, and all of our employees play an important role in making that happen. We'll take every opportunity to learn from our mistakes and fix issues to make their experience better," Herrin said.

That message appears to have failed to trickle down to the company's rank and file, so if you want efficient customer service, maybe you should look up Mrs. Roberts.

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In a study by equity insight and analytics provider 24/7 Wall Street and research company Zogby Analytics, Comcast was named one of the worst performers in customer service, while Amazon was named the best. More than 1,500 Americans were asked to evaluate companies across 17 industries.

Posted August 26, 2016