Earlier this week, AOL Vice President of Product Ryan Block released a recording of his attempt to cancel his family's Comcast service. The account manager Block encountered was aggressive, rude.
Block experienced what is known as "churn management". The practice of frustrating customers who are canceling a service. Churn management isn't exclusive to Comcast. It's common strategy in call centers across the country.
Many Comcast clients, both former and current, commented that they too have had similar experiences. The cable and internet provider was twice-voted "The Worst Company In America" by The Consumerist.
Comcast released a public apology afterwards, stating they were embarrassed.
A former Comcast employee named "txmadison" leaked information to the online forum Reddit. The anonymous user provided The Verge with both a pay-stub and tax return to verify employment.
According to txmadison, Ryan Block encountered a retention specialist, whose job is to convince customers to stay. These specialists are paid a low hourly wage, supplemented by commission for keeping clients:
"Comcast uses "gates" for their incentive pays, which means that if you fall below a certain threshold (which tend to be stretch goals in the first place) then instead of getting a reduced amount, you get 0$. Let's say that if you retain 85% of your customers or more (this means 85% of the lines of businesses that customers have when they talk to you, they still have after they talk to you), you get 100% of your payout - which might be 5-10$ per line of business. At 80% you might only get 75% of your payout, and at 75% you get nothing"
The aggressive representative we heard this week could be thought of as an employee afraid of loosing his paycheck.
For those cancelling their Comcast service, txmadison recommends telling the service rep you're leaving the country. Comcast considers it an "unavoidable disconnect", and the service agents are less penalized for the cancelation.