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Comcast’s brilliant new way to retain subscribers: Refuse to let them cancel

Updated Jul 15th, 2014 9:14AM EDT
Why Is Comcast So Bad

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Comcast didn’t earn its reputation as America’s Worst Company overnight — it took years and years of hard work. From offering customers ridiculously overpriced bundle packages, to having the highest fees among any of its competitors, to offering some of the absolute worst customer service of any company in the United States, Comcast has toiled away tirelessly to perfect its craft of angering its own customers, who have little choice but to stick with the cable giant due to the sorry state of America’s home broadband market.

However, just because it’s already one of the two most hated companies in America doesn’t mean Comcast is going to stop innovating new ways to enrage its subscribers. TechCrunch brings us word of an amazing customer service call between a Comcast rep and former Engadget editor-in-chief Ryan Block, whose wife had been trying in vain to get Comcast to cancel their home service before Block took over the phone and decided to start recording the call.

The results are about as amazing as you’d expect. When Block informs the representative that he wants to cancel his service, the representative refuses to do so and instead asks him why in the world would he even think of canceling Comcast, which in the rep’s mind has a sterling reputation for customer care. So instead of promptly agreeing to cancel Block’s service, the rep aggressively peppered him with questions such as:

  • “Why don’t you want the faster speed? Help me understand why you don’t want faster Internet.”
  • “We are the No. 1 provider of Internet and TV service in the entire country. Why is it that you’re not wanting to have the No. 1 rated Internet service, the No. 1 rated TV service available?”
  • “I’m just trying to figure out what it is about Comcast service that you don’t want to keep?”
  • “For nine years, you’ve been a Comcast customer… all of a sudden you’re moving and you want to change?”
  • “So you’re not interested in the fastest Internet in the country? Why not?”

Block brilliantly responded at one point that this particular phone call was actually an “amazing example” of why he didn’t want to stick with Comcast.

We’d be tempted to say that this is just a particularly overzealous customer service representative, but it’s actually the second such incident we’ve seen in the past couple of months involving a prominent tech writer finding it nearly impossible to cancel Comcast’s service.

Former Time tech columnist Harry McCracken said on his Twitter feed this past May that he had been trying in vain to get Comcast to cancel his mother’s Comcast subscription without any success. When asked what the big roadblock to canceling the service was, McCracken said that Comcast customer service reps “refused to do it for her for reasons which are unclear” and that “they won’t let me do it because I’m not her.”

Check out the whole audio of Block’s call with Comcast below.

UPDATE: Comcast passes along the following statement: “We’re investigating this situation and certainly want to apologize to the customer. This isn’t how our customer service representatives are trained to operate.”

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.