Even before the coup de grace, this sounds like a bad service epic in the making. FORTY calls to Comcast over a single issue?
Here's an update: two Comcast employees fired:
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."
Link to story.