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Comcast bosses: THAT pushy sales rep was only obeying orders

But those orders are now being revised

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Comcast management has said the staffer who was recorded endlessly haranguing a subscriber over the phone was doing what he trained and paid to do.

The ISP's customer-retention worker was recorded by Ryan Block, a VP of product at AOL and a former tech blogger, repeatedly refusing Block's request to cancel his subscription. The phone call recording was uploaded to SoundCloud, and caused Comcast real headaches after it went viral and was listened to more than 5,300,000 times.

"The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do," wrote Dave Watson, chief operating officer of Comcast Cable, in a memo to staff, which was obtained by the Consumerist blog.

"This situation has caused us to reexamine how we do some things to make sure that each and every one of us - from leadership to the front line - understands the balance between selling and listening. And that a great sales organization always listens to the customer, first and foremost."

Presumably this reexamination will include an estimation of how pissed off a customer has to get before the sales techniques persuading them to stay are halted. But whether that changes the strategy of remunerating staff for fiercely keeping subscribers onboard remains to be seen.

The Register asked Comcast how such staff are paid in light of this brouhaha, and we're still waiting for an answer. But, according to former employees, wages start low and are topped up from a large bonus based on the number of people they manage to persuade to stay with the service rather than cancel.

Such a system has a built-in incentive for staff to try every trick in the sales manual to get people to stay, since it directly impacts their livelihoods. Until that changes El Reg suspects Comcast customers will still find it hard to cancel a service they no longer want. ®

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