The Comcast Game
It’s free to play and you can win real money!
Amidst a backdrop of companies stumbling over each other to provide the simplest and most hassle-free customer experience, Comcast has opted to focus on customer engagement. Which is to say, engagement of all their customers’ frustrations. Their reputation for shady, monopolistic behavior has earned them the rarely disputed title of Worst Company in America — a designation that has not fazed investors over the years:
Indeed, as long good ol’ Comcast is raking in part of your paycheck every month, they’re going to pay little heed to your frustrations. Let’s face it: the fact is that for me and many others, Comcast is the fastest and most reliable (and in my case only) cable provider that services my home. Honestly, it’s a great service. Fast enough for my needs and very reliable. So why does Comcast need to make their customers miserable? Because it makes good business sense and it’s fun.
That’s right, the simple and hassle-free ideal of customer service is also the most boring, and Comcast understands that better than anyone. Being an engaged Comcast customer is inevitable, so instead of letting that engagement ruin your life, why not embrace it in all of its vibrancy? With that attitude and a few simple tips and tricks, you too can enjoy the Comcast Game.
You Are a Valuable Customer
Or so you hear every 3 minutes while on hold. But it’s actually true.
Comcast is able to secure monopolies in so many areas buy buying up all the existing infrastructure. It is prohibitively expensive to build new infrastructure, so any serious competitor would have to possess mountains of capital. Even Google Fiber is backing off from laying physical fiber optics and is instead exploring next-generation wireless alternatives, which are not cheap either.
After the infrastructure is in place, it costs next to nothing provide service to you in particular. This means Comcast’s goal is to get your monthly bill as high as possible without raising alarm. This can take the form of small incremental changes or more often, the expiration of “promotions”. Of course, you’re on to them! You know they will prefer some money to none every time, especially if that keeps you away from a competitor. They’re not going to take the chance of you quitting them, and this is your main bargaining chip.
I’ve been a happy Comcast customer for over 3 years. I started with a basic Internet package for a 12-month promotional rate of $34.99/mo. Every year, my promotional rate has expired and by bill has jumped into the 60s, and every year I have negotiated another 12-month promotional rate below $40.
How easy this is depends on your location, since different areas have different rules about what deals can be offered. The first year, when I lived in Salem, I simply went on their live chat and got offered acceptable speed for $39.99/mo. The second year, in Portland, things got hairier. The live chat representative could only offer me $49.99 for the same speed, so I told him to go ahead and slate my service for cancellation after my contract was up, figuring that they would call me at some point to give me what I wanted. They did call me! But the guy still was only able to offer $49.99, so I said no. One day, I got home from work to find they had actually turned my internet off. I went to Comcast.com on my phone and signed up like a new customer for the same service at a promo rate of… $39.99. Then I called Comcast and guy just switched my old account back on.
The third year, I went on live chat and basically demanded my price: $39.99 for my current service or $49.99 if they give me a bit higher speed. The guy offered me $54.99 for the higher speed, so I told him to go ahead and slate me for cancellation (I tried to be generous, I really did). He couldn’t cancel me, I needed to voice call to do that! It seemed like the chat representatives had been stripped of any real power to offer decent deals.
I called their voice line and they gave me my current speed for $39.99. Perfect. Except the representative didn’t apply it correctly because my bill was still 60-something. I called again and got told they couldn’t do the $39.99 now. I told them to please cancel my service. They said hold on let me transfer you to our cancellations department, where I quickly got what I wanted.
You don’t need any fancy negotiation tricks to play the Comcast Game. You just need to know what you want and what you’d like to pay. Then call up Comcast and say you’re calling to cancel your service. This is important, as it will get you to the people that can offer you the real deals. They will come back with an offer, and you can accept or not. If not, just let them cancel your service, possibly wait a couple weeks until their system assumes a new resident moved into your house, and then sign up for their latest promo offer.
The other major lesson is by negotiating with Comcast, not only will you get a great deal, but you’ll derive a deep sense of satisfaction for having worked for something. For having fought back against the Worst Company in America and having emerged victorious! For being a truly engaged customer.