Tech Industry

Grandma accidentally sends rent check to Comcast (Comcast cashes it)

Technically Incorrect: A 79-year-old New Mexico woman makes a mistake. Initially, Comcast refuses to refund her the money back in cash, instead offering a credit on her account.


Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.



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Francis Wilson sent her rent check to Comcast by accident. KRQU-TV screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

"You're stealing from an old woman like me?"

With these words, 79-year-old Francis Wilson expressed her deep disappointment with, of all companies, Comcast.

She told KRQE-TV that she'd accidentally put her $235 rent check inside the same envelope that she sends her $20 check to Comcast for her cable bill.

You might imagine that Comcast noticed the error and simply sent it back. You might also hope for eternal love on Valentine's Day.

Instead, Comcast cashed the check. "How dare you?" said Wilson, who lives in Albuquerque, N.M. "You didn't even call."

Some might wonder how Comcast cashed the check at all, given that it had a different payee. Well, when you send your check to big companies, the acceptance process is automated. The machine just took the money in.

The company, though, didn't exactly steal the money, as Wilson accuses. It simply credited her account with $235.

However, she lives on Social Security. She says she really needed that cash. In the end, KRQE contacted Comcast, which immediately apologized.

A Comcast spokeswoman told me: "Unfortunately, this situation was not handled appropriately. I assure you, this is not how we train our representatives to handle these situations and we are working closely with the vendor to further educate and coach the representative to avoid this from happening in the future."

Why, when Wilson initially called the company, wasn't the situation rectified? Why did she have to go to a TV station to get her cash?

True, Comcast not only gave her $235 in cash, but also left the $235 credit on her account.

The question that will play around many minds, though, is why it seems so often to be Comcast at the center of these customer service issues.

In recent times, the company has called customers " A**hole" and " Super B****." Yes, in writing. Its so-called retention specialists have been recorded treating customers to a certain hell of unwanted persistence.

The company's own senior vice president of customer service, Charlie Herrin, has pleaded with his staff to show customers respect.

Yet still it seems to happen. Some believe that these public examples of woeful service will actually affect Comcast's chances of merging with Time Warner Cable. This, I doubt.

But what must it feel like when you're a senior Comcast executive and you wake up to yet another story of painful -- and surely avoidable -- customer service?

Perhaps you're numb to it by now.

Updated 2:07 p.m. PT: with comment from Comcast.