I've seen some things. And I've heard some things.
And then some things make me stop, listen, and then lie down.
This is one of those things. Some context, first. Last week, it took three Comcast reps on its little chat line to make an appointment for an engineer to come to my house.
I thought this odd. I thought this oddly incompetent, as the conversation took at least a half hour and Comcast had, at least occasionally, provided me with decent service.
Then I listened to this conversation with a Comcast rep. And I lay down. As should you. Please promise me you'll listen to the whole recording.
Posted by tech journalist Ryan Block, this is a mere part of a conversation he had with a Comcast customer service representative, who, one hopes, didn't represent his company. Or, indeed, customer service reps in general.
Block simply wanted to disconnect his service. The rep wants to do everything, and I truly do mean everything, to irritate him into staying.
"I am declining to state why I'm leaving Comcast," Block politely explains. He explains that he's moving to Astound.
The rep ignores him. "Tell me why you don't want faster speed," he says.
When Block very politely insists he just wants disconnecting and wonders why this might be a difficult task, the rep says: "Because my job is to have a conversation with you about keeping your service."
He tries to persuade Block to go into the Comcast store to disconnect his service. Why is it that Comcast wants its customers to labor on its behalf?
"It sounds like you don't want to go over this information with me," says the irritated rep. He won't let go. He wonders what is it about Comcast service that Block doesn't want. Block mentions that the rep's attitude might be a good example.
The rep cannot believe that Block would leave the "No. 1 provider" behind. He explains that he's "trying to help."
He clearly isn't. He's annoying beyond belief. He's evasive beyond tolerance. He's slapworthy beyond all slapworthiness. Could this be one example of why Comcast has twice been voted Worst Company in America?
Personally, I've had few problems with the service itself, but this conversation is beyond all humanity. The rep is so committed that you think he ought to be committed. Unless, of course, the company insists he behave this way.
He is so self-centric that one wonders who hired this person and how he might have been trained.
I asked Block how he could have possibly stayed so patient. He explained: "Actually my first job was customer service at a computer store. Customers can be real jerks. Gives me perspective."
Block told me he hasn't actually heard from Comcast yet, but Vice's Sam Gustin tweeted that Comcast told him: "We're investigating this situation and certainly want to apologize to the customer."
Comcast added: "This isn't how our customer service representatives are trained to operate."
This isn't how any customer service representative is trained to operate, one hopes.
Still, I'm sure it'll get a lot better when Comcast merges with Time Warner.
Updated 12:29 p.m. PT: Comcast has issued a statement. It says, in part: "We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize."
It adds: "The way in which our representative communicated with him is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action. While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect."
Respect might start with doing what your customer requests.