Caution: This post contains language that may not be appropriate for a family audience.
The most shocking thing about a revelation that a Comcast employee changed a customer’s name to “a**hole” was how shocked everyone was.
Readers reacted with indignation at my report that the company with the worst customer service scores in America would have employees who hated their customers enough to put it in writing.
All the while, the cable TV giant has implied this was a single action of a disgruntled employee they would soon terminate.
But that may not be entirely accurate.
Comcast is no stranger to the insult by invoice. In 2005, it called one woman a “b*tch dog” on her bill. And over the last few days, I’ve been contacted by several Comcast customers who claim the same thing has happened to them. One customer says a Comcast employee changed his name to the phonetic spelling of a profanity that is unprintable in a family newspaper. Another says Comcast changed her name to “whore” and another says her name became “dummy.”
Comcast says it’s investigating these incidents. In a blog post, it also promised it would be investing in technology to prevent future name-changing incidents. It has already terminated the entire subcontracting company responsible for the “a**hole” incident.
Tom Karinshak, Comcast’s senior vice president of customer service, told me the company is taking steps to prevent unauthorized name changes from taking place in the future.
“We’re retraining our teams on the importance of making name changes properly,” he said. “We’re looking for automated solutions to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Comcast says it will follow up with each customer, offer an apology and “do whatever it takes to make things right,” says Karinshak.
Until then, let’s let the customers decide whether these following examples are an anomaly — or a reflection of what some Comcast employees really think about their customers. Let me repeat my warning about the salty language.
You’re a “whore”
Julie Swano says her December Comcast bill was addressed to “Whore” Julia Swano. She sent it to me.
“What’s most interesting is that Comcast said the ‘whore’ was added on Dec. 6,” she says. “I have no record of any recent contact with Comcast until Dec. 16. So whoever chose to re-name me picked my account out of a hat. That says there are probably millions of us out there who Comcast employees have renamed. We need to find all of them.”
The word “whore” remained on her account until Jan. 6, when she told someone in the Comcast billing department about it.
“What amazed me then was that I had talked with at least 20 people at Comcast between Dec. 16 and January 6 who could see that my name was ‘whore’ and they did nothing about it.”
Carolina is a “dummy”
Carolina Heredia also got in touch with me after Comcast changed her name to a playground insult.
“They changed my name to ‘dummy’ in my online account, so that the greeting was ‘Hello, dummy,'” she says. “I had to call several times but they said they didn’t see it until I went in person to Comcast and they removed it.”
Comcast didn’t offer her any apologies or explanation for why her name would have been changed to “dummy.”
F*ck you, Bez
Garbis Bezdjian’s son, Sako, emailed me on Wednesday to ask for help with his father’s Comcast bill.
“After my dad contacted Comcast to remove the TV and phone services — they only kept the internet service — the name on their bill mysteriously changed to ‘Fakoe Bez,'” he says. “The bill used to have my mother’s full name on it, so it really makes no sense why the name changed so drastically.”
His mother’s name is Maida Bezdjian.
“I have nothing to do with my parents’ bills nor is my name on any of their bills,” he says. “This is not a mix-up associated with my name.”
“This ‘Fakoe’ name is nowhere near either of their monikers and seems to be an insult in the form of the F-word aimed towards my parents,” he says.
I first contacted Comcast yesterday about getting the name corrected. As of this afternoon, it still hadn’t fixed it.
What’s going on?
Are these the actions of a single Comcast employee or multiple employees with an axe to grind? Have these name changes been happening all along without any media attention, with customers quietly suffering? It’s difficult to say based on just four cases that I know of and without a full investigation by Comcast.
We do know they didn’t happen by accident. Todd Loiselle, a former subcontractor for Comcast who worked with technical support, describes the company’s internal systems as tricky to navigate and “just hellish.”
“There are no confirmations or prompts asking you if you want to do something or not,” he says of the systems involving customer names. “But it does take some serious navigation to get to the portion of the biller, or the software they used to make changes on accounts, where you change account names and information. So the rep who changed the customer’s name to ‘a**hole’ couldn’t have done it by accident.”
But one thing is clear: At least one person, and maybe more than one person, really doesn’t like Comcast’s customers.
Enough to put it in writing. Repeatedly.
In an odd way, this is a little bit like a whistleblower who leaks secret documents proving what everyone suspects — that the government is spying on us, that cigarettes are deadly or that a company is fixing prices. That person is just verifying what people already thought they know.
Maybe that’s what’s so shocking.