Before you listen to this phone call, do me a favor: Open another tab to an online listing for a Chromecast
(NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple TV
(NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon Fire TV
(NASDAQ:AMZN), or any media center you might've been eyeing for some time. Hit play on the embedded player below and see how long you can last before you scramble to click on the "Add to Cart" button.
However, be forewarned: This is painful to listen to, especially if you're currently a Comcast
(NYSE:AOL) product manager Ryan Block and his wife were put through the corporate-retention ringer when they tried to cancel their Comcast service. Ostensibly a very simple and straightforward process, canceling a subscription is the last thing a cable giant wants, and customer service representatives are trained to keep folks on the line and offer incentives to keep customers forking over monthly fees. But the rep that Block and his wife unfortunately landed wouldn't take "I want to cancel my service" for an answer and badgered them both to give him a reason why.
After a 10-minute stalemate, Block's flustered wife handed him the phone and he began recording the interminable call.
"Being that we are the number-one provider of Internet and TV service in the entire country, why is it that you aren't wanting to have the number-one Internet service, number-one TV service available?" the representative asked Block. "I'm just trying to figure out what it is about Comcast service that you aren't liking, that you aren't wanting to keep. What is it about that service?"
Knowing that he doesn't owe the rep any explanation, Block firmly stated that he will not provide a reason why he and his wife are canceling and, displaying a phenomenal amount of restraint, asked that they move on to finishing up the process.
Unsurprisingly, they don't.
Block: I'm declining to state. Can you please go to the next question so we can cancel our service?
Rep: I'm just trying to figure out here what it is about Comcast service that you're not liking.
Block: This phone call is an amazing representative example of why I don't want to stay with Comcast. So, can you please cancel our service?
Rep: I'm trying to help you. You're not letting me help you by declining answers, by doing all this.
Block: You can help me by disconnecting our service.
Rep: How is that helping you?
Block: Because that's what I want.
Rep: Why is that what you want?
Block: Because that's what I want.
Rep: There has to be some sort of reason behind it. We just want to find out what it is that's causing a customer who has been with us a long time to leave.
No matter how adamant Block is about refusing to divulge personal information, the rep relentlessly needles him for an explanation.
Rep: You've been a Comcast customer for nine years. After a decade, clearly the service is working great for you. All of a sudden you're moving and something is making you want to change. What's making you do that?
Block: That's none of your business. Your business is to disconnect us.
Rep: As a company that is a cable and Internet provider primarily, that is our business. If we don't know why our customers are leaving, how can we make this a better experience for you next time?
Block: That's a fantastic question and something that you can hire a firm to figure out. Can you disconnect us by phone? Can you disconnect our service? Yes or no?
Rep: Why don't you want those services? You're not interested in the fastest Internet in the country?
After eight harrowing minutes, Block reaches the light at the end of the tunnel when the rep begrudgingly cancels the service -- which then takes three weeks to process.
As Block stated, this call is a perfect example as to why many folks are sick of cable companies, not just Comcast. Customer satisfaction surveys consistently rank them the lowest of any industry in America
-- even below airlines and health-insurance companies. Horrible service, exorbitant rates, and a lack of choice between providers make those negative feelings obvious. But now, with the dissolution of net neutrality and a merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable
(NYSE:TWC) looming on the horizon, there doesn't seem to be any relief in sight.
So, as you listen to this call, think of how much you're paying in cable service each month, if you're really satisfied, and whether you want to continue supporting these corporate behemoths. Then click over to the tab with the media centers and think of being free from the their stranglehold.
But try to forget you'll still need them for Internet access.
No positions in stocks mentioned.