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Comcast Is Reading Your Blog

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the they-want-to-know-about-your-cats dept.

The Internet 235

Paolo writes "A Washington student got a bit of a shock when he received an email from internet service provider Comcast about comments he had made on his blog. Brandon Dilbeck, a student at the University of Washington, writes a blog and used it to complain about the service he was getting from Comcast. Shortly afterwards he got an email message from Comcast apologizing for the problems and suggesting he might look at a guide it had posted on its web site. Lyza Gardner, a vice president at a Web development company in Portland used Twitter to complain about the company and was surprised to be contacted directly. Comcast is now monitoring blogs as a way of improving its image among customers. The company was ranked at the bottom of the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index."

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347589)


Is that you Comcast? (1, Informative)

twitter (104583) | about 6 years ago | (#24347755)

Apparently, reading Slashdot and your outbound email [] was not good enough. Yes indeed, Cox did correct the immediate technical problem [] , but no one is swearing off creepy practices. Comcast, as usual, is going the last mile to assure everyone that Big Brother is watching but you can be sure that other ISPs have and will be using the same "technology" to spy on their users. How else will TIA happen?

Re:Is that you Comcast? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347857)

Reading your blog is not big brother. The blog is public. They could have a few generic scripts that query Google for combinations of keywords, and when they show up, someone looks at the page. We have several newswatcher scripts set up at work that monitor news articles that mention our company. Nothing sinister here. You can remove the tin foil hat.

Re:Is that you Comcast? (2, Informative)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | about 6 years ago | (#24347875)

Don't worry AC, Twitter is just trolling.

Mod Parent Redundant (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 years ago | (#24348019)

Suggesting that Twitter is trolling is so redundant it's bordering on a tautology.

Re:Is that you Comcast? (0)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | about 6 years ago | (#24347991)

Sometimes I get the feeling that even YOU don't believe some of the insane things you ramble about on here.

I mean, if you were THAT crazy, you'd have been locked up and heavily medicated a while ago...

Re:Is that you Comcast? (3, Informative)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 6 years ago | (#24348213)

If they read blogs they are accessing public information. So it is at least not invasion of privacy as it is whenever email is read/filtered.

If the reading of blogs can help to improve the service that essentially means that the ISP in question has an internal problem with their customer satisfaction tracking. But reading blogs can of course provide more meat on the bone that any issue tracking system can't resolve.

More problematic is the cases where ISP:s are reading your web habits and are injecting or replacing information in the web pages you visit. Sometimes resulting in data corruption.

Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (2, Interesting)

ptudor (22537) | about 6 years ago | (#24347595)

Or so I expect, now. It's good PR, I saw a little segment about the twitterer on some network news program this week.

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (4, Interesting)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | about 6 years ago | (#24347655)

Not just good PR- If I ran such an unpopular company, and was serious about turning it around, I'd be looking everywhere humans go to vent, or make criticism. Then, I'd try to solve the problems I found. Where's the story?

Where's the story? Isn't it obvious? (4, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | about 6 years ago | (#24347681)

The story is that it's COMCAST.

Not JUST that it's Comcast... (5, Insightful)

KWTm (808824) | about 6 years ago | (#24348057)

Not just good PR- If I ran such an unpopular company, and was serious about turning it around, I'd be looking everywhere humans go to vent, or make criticism. Then, I'd try to solve the problems I found. Where's the story?

Where's the story? Isn't it obvious?
            The story is that it's COMCAST.

Not only that, but Comcast is actually addressing its clients' concerns and negative feedback, as opposed to being oblivious to them.

Now, to really score, Comcast would need to fulfill some additional criteria:

  • address it with more than just some mere "yeah, we saw your complaint, now we're responding to you with this feel-good letter that doesn't actually do anything, just so you feel that we've addressed your complaint"
  • address the complaint for more than just a handful of high-visibility people with popular blogs, but rather do something about the actual corporate culture. I was going to say, "I would love to see a Slashdot posting or two from someone actually inside Comcast who would describe a positive shift in the corporate culture," but they might send a shill or two to write some false praise here.

Let me tell you something, Comcast. You ruined your own reputation. Now it's going to be real hard for you to erase that. See what happened to Microsoft? (Hey, Sony, stop snickering.)

Re:Not JUST that it's Comcast... (5, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | about 6 years ago | (#24348099)

According to the article they're trying to improve their image. I say that's friggen retarded. Why not improve oh, their service? Their pricing? Their policies? When they do THOSE things then they can work on improving their image.

Re:Not JUST that it's Comcast... (4, Interesting)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 6 years ago | (#24348265)

You bring up an interesting point. A lot of companies worry so much about their image that will go on PR campaigns and other stupid bullshit that probably costs them more money in the long run, and is considerably harder.

I could be wrong here, but wouldn't the easiest and most cost effective way of improving your image to be doing what you had described? Service improvements. Better pricing structures. Better policies.

I've never understood the corporate mentality like that. Is it really better for the companies bottom line to do PR stunts instead of making their service better?

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347967)

Not just good PR- If I ran such an unpopular company, and was serious about turning it around, I'd be looking everywhere humans go to vent, or make criticism. Then, I'd try to solve the problems I found.

Then I'd say it's GOOD for Comcast to read my blog. Except that I'd replace Comcast with Microsoft and Ford [] . But then, they don't need my blog for that -- any of the 10 million other discussions of Sync will say the same thing...

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | about 6 years ago | (#24348001)

Maybe the story is "comcast, the company that actively tries to make their customers miserable, is now stalking them across the internet."

I mean, they're the company that destroys the quality of HD channels to fit more channels in...

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348029)

I'd hardly say its a story that they are reading public blog and twitter accounts...isn't that what they are their for or are those people writing it secretly hoping no one ever goes there?

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | about 6 years ago | (#24348063)

I honestly have no idea what you just said.

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (1)

penguinbrat (711309) | about 6 years ago | (#24348027)

Excluding customers with pitch forks and torchs on the front lawn, why would they need good PR? It's not like they are elected officials or having viable alternatives (in most places), if you want to know what is going on in the world you more than likely need at least one of their services. Besides - good PR is not going to change their incompetence.

But does Comcast read the newspapers? (5, Informative)

wytcld (179112) | about 6 years ago | (#24348043)

Go to and look up "Comcast Vermont." You'll see articles in every Vermont daily paper about how Comcast has dropped 8 channels from its basic analog service (including MSNBC and Comcast's own cable news station). It's telling people who miss those stations from their $18-a-month plan they can get them back by going to a $58-a-month digital plan. The state may be able to act against this, since Comcast is only allowed one "rate change" a year, and this would be the second, if dropping channels and charging the same price counts as a rate change. Comcast claims it doesn't. In Comcast's eyes, it can drop any plan to a single channel, offer more expensive plans to those who want their channels back, and it hasn't changed rates at all.

Disclaimer: My brother-in-law is a Comcast executive. He's a decent guy.

Re:But does Comcast read the newspapers? (-1, Troll)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | about 6 years ago | (#24348071)

Disclaimer: My brother-in-law is a Comcast executive. He's a decent guy.

So, are you fucking his sister, or is he balls-deep in yours?

(Only joking, I can tell it's the latter from the tone of your post ;-))

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348069)

I don't understand why this is good PR. I saw this story on one of the networks this week, and Lyza Gardner apparently called Comcast customer service first and got no useful help at all. So instead of getting help when you ask for it, you should go complain on the internet, and maybe someone at Comcast will happen to read it and resolve your problem?

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about 6 years ago | (#24348073)

I suppose it depends on how you take it. Some people would view them as stalkers hunting you down, possibly intent on silenving you. ("knock off the negative blogs or we further modify your bandwidth limits") Others would view it as an honest attempt to seek out discontent and make things right. ("do you happen to remember the name of the rep that refused to address your concern?") Or it may simply be a selfish move on comcast's part to grease the squeaky wheels in an attempt to improve their public karma level. One pissed off and motivated blogger can do a lot of hard to the image of even a large company, making for a nice David-and-Golliath type conflict that Golliath either better make peace on or take the hit.

I suppose in the end a company is a company and they really don't care about how happy or unhappy their customers are. Happy customers can make for better business, but not always. Sometimes the best business model involves pissing off quite a percentage of your customer base. (particularly when lacking competition) So regardless of what the peons at comcast look like they're doing or think they're doing, the actual intent from comcast is not to make happy customers. It's to protect the bottom line.

So lets hope that they think making their customers happier is currently the best thing for their bottom line.

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348113)

Mod parent up. What's the big deal? It's a public blog posting.

Re:Comcast is reading your Slashdot too (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | about 6 years ago | (#24347817)

If other arm of company conspires people's GPL Licensed software downloads via P2P , bittorrent, it could easily sound like "Comcast spies your blogs!" to some people.
It should be consistent you know...

Good for them! (3, Insightful)

doug141 (863552) | about 6 years ago | (#24347613)

Reading a public blog and giving free tech support about problems posted in the blog is good.

Re:Good for them! (2, Funny)

Stonefred (999097) | about 6 years ago | (#24347643)

you don't even have to call the support when you have technical problems

Re:Good for them! (5, Insightful)

griffjon (14945) | about 6 years ago | (#24347763)

No, it's not good -- it's putting out fires. Good would be training their call center employees to solve problems (instead of reading, tediously, from the "unplug your modem, reboot all your computers..." book)

This approach is not addressing the thousands of comcast customers who don't blog or twitter or have a "voice" online, like my parents. They still get the usual craptastic comtastic customer support.

Re:Good for them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348093)

Yes, it IS good. At least they will know that there are fires, what fires matter the most to their customers, and can begin to address them. The old "my parents don't blog" garbage just doesn't hold water. My Dad doesn't blog, but I -DO- blog about how angry I get when he doesn't get the service and respect he deserves (and pays for). Hopefully COMCAST will get the message and treat him better.

Complaining about them actually proactively searching out and -reading- complaints is ridiculous.

Re:Good for them! (1)

griffjon (14945) | about 6 years ago | (#24348221)

Well, my Mom blogs actually. Still, my point stands -- responding to people who've reached the end of their rope in dealing with Comcast's horrific "normal" channels of support is not a good or sustainable support model, it's a PR defense move to quiet the most vociferous critics.

Re:Good for them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348141)

Hi, this is comcast, can we get your parent's number? Also, run upstairs and make sure they're by the phone when we call.

Re:Good for them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348149)

It really depends on WHO is defining good. If it is me (and you I take it) then good would be getting decent support in the first place. If it is Comcast - it is bang for the buck. And look, they helped one guy and bang - a bunch of people now have a slightly more positive look on Comcast. That's bang for the buck, baby! From their perspective, good is anything that gets them positive spin cheaply. Training a bunch of tech support people? Expensive. Using Google to find a few blogs and help a couple of people - knowing that these bloggers will probably blog about the experience? Damn near free good PR.

Re:Good for them! (4, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | about 6 years ago | (#24348157)

Well, in my case I whined about SAS via Twitter [] and got a response the next day from their VP of R&D. I was so impressed I mentioned SAS' response to my friends (and again via Twitter) and Aaron Landry [] used it as an example in his Web 2.0 101 presentation [] about how company interactions are changing the face of customer service.

While I still think Comcast sucks, the close monitoring ofsocial networks, blogs, etc is a big step.

Bad for the customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347947)

It favors people who complain a lot. I shouldn't have to go public with a problem to get my ISP's attention. The most annoying people get their money's worth and the people who use more efficient ways to communicate with their ISPs are ignored. Well, I guess I'm going to cause a stir every time something is wrong with Comcast.

Ok Lets try this... (5, Funny)

chickenrob (696532) | about 6 years ago | (#24347625)

I'm really upset with my comcast internet. I wish it was much cheaper and even faster.

Re:Ok Lets try this... (1)

tatermonkey (1199435) | about 6 years ago | (#24347631)

Nice try....

Re:Ok Lets try this... (1)

chickenrob (696532) | about 6 years ago | (#24347691)

That's odd... I haven't been contacted yet with a solution to my problem.

Re:Ok Lets try this... (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 6 years ago | (#24347747)

Dear valued customer, we at Comcast wish to address your concerns
and request that you contact our customer satisfaction engineers at 1-800-EAT-SHIT.

Re:Ok Lets try this... (1)

Like2Byte (542992) | about 6 years ago | (#24347971)

Dear valued customer, we at Comcast wish to address your concerns
and request that you contact our customer satisfaction engineers at 1-800-EAT-SHIT.


Re: 1-800-EAT-SHIT (4, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 6 years ago | (#24348101)


"High Baby ... Thank you for calling. Beautiful girls on a virtual chat line are waiting for you in their sleek little nighties ... "

Please tell me that's the new voice of Comcast Tech Support.

Re:Ok Lets try this... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347807)

Thank you for contacting Comcast customer service. To solve your problem, please try the following steps in order:

  1. Make sure that your VCR is turned on.
  2. Make sure that the TV/VCR button on your remote is set to "TV".
  3. Make sure that your cable connector is attached firmly to your VCR's "Antenna in" jack.

We trust that this will solve any issues that you have with your issue #438475853: I'm really ups....

Have a nice day.

Re:Ok Lets try this... (1)

durnurd (967847) | about 6 years ago | (#24347961)

To solve your problem, please read our guide on "Switching to another Service Provider"

Re:Ok Lets try this... (4, Funny)

stsp (979375) | about 6 years ago | (#24348009)

I'm really upset with my comcast internet. I wish it was much cheaper and even faster.

Dude, according to the comcast article at wikipedia [] , you won't cause much of a stir with this. The bar's been set a tad higher already. Meet Mrs. Shaw:

On October 15, 2007, a 75-year old Comcast customer named Mona Shaw entered her local Comcast offices with a hammer and destroyed some office equipment before being arrested and fined for damages. Mrs. Shaw was angry and frustrated due to a previous encounter with Comcast customer service in which she and her husband wanted to speak with the manager and were forced to wait outside the offices for two hours before being informed that the manager had already gone home.

Actions versus words (4, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | about 6 years ago | (#24347627)

Contacting people on teh Intarweb directly and offering them platitudes to make them change their weblog posts is easy.

Actually making improvements to your services to improve your customers' experience when regional cable monopolies ensure that you're the only game in town? That's hard.

Re:Actions versus words (2, Interesting)

tatermonkey (1199435) | about 6 years ago | (#24347659)

I agree and to start they can actually run service to my house. When my work has cable internet 1200 feet away. They refuse to run it because I have a long driveway and it would cost them an amplifier at the pole roadside. My wife was at work when a comcast rep came in and asked her if she had their service and she said " I used to be happy with it until I moved and now you wont run it to our house". She said he was speechless.

Want a way to fix your image Comcast? (4, Insightful)

downix (84795) | about 6 years ago | (#24347641)

Quit the bandwidth throttling, or conversely, just be straight forward with honest numbers about the service. I live with bandwidth throttling with my pipe, but my ISP was very straight forward with me that if the traffic load spikes they will rebalance accordingly, and that will on occasion throttle my speed in some cases. If Comcast were at least honest about issues, they'd gain a lot of respect.

So many companies are so worried about their image, they actually hurt their image more with the tactics used to keep their noses clean.

I'll be moving in a year or so to an area serviced by Comcast, and am weighing them against the FIOS thing carefully. How Comcast handles their customers will be key to that decision. Comcast used to stand for being a great cable service company, and I would like to see them stand tall again.

Re:Want a way to fix your image Comcast? (5, Insightful)

Spittoon (64395) | about 6 years ago | (#24347915)

We tend to treat large companies like Comcast as if everything they do is the result of the considered thought of a single entity. That's just not the case. The Customer Support piece of Comcast is likely to be a distinct entity. Certainly they work with the rest of the company, but they've got their own agenda-- answer calls.

That means they have two things on their mind:
1. Are all the calls getting answered?
2. How long is each call and how can we shorten that time-- without doing such a poor job that call volume increases?

Call volumes are one area that Customer Support *probably* can affect only in limited ways. Divisions within a company are, in some ways, fiefdoms-- everybody filters up to a VP, and there is limited participation between Support, Network Engineering, and Product Management. Each of those groups will have their own area of responsibility which the other areas don't control-- they can only participate in projects and do their best to be a good team member.

So in the case of network policy or product efficacy, the Support operation can only affect the Network Engineering, Fulfillment (the people who ship equipment to customers), and Product Management operations to the extent that they can socially engineer the other team to do the right thing. If you know any Network Engineers you have an idea of how difficult that can be. The city of San Francisco recently learned this lesson, I think.

What Customer Support can affect is the tools they use to handle customer issues. This blog-watching guy is one of those.

If people in America would answer calls for the same rates as people in the Phillipines, then the balance of cost-to-quality for call centers would probably move further toward quality. But only maybe-- the more calls you handle the more pressure there is to generate efficiencies, which means less training and more scripting and less tolerance for calls that last a long time.

Of course, end users don't perceive any of this-- to us it's just "If Comcast would just make their service better I wouldn't have to call" and we have trouble understanding why they put effort into wacky new Support ideas like this when they should be spending that guy's paycheck on improving their network capacity so they stop being tempted to throttle bandwidth to control data transfer costs.

Disagree: Comcast IS one big entity (4, Insightful)

KWTm (808824) | about 6 years ago | (#24348241)

We tend to treat large companies like Comcast as if everything they do is the result of the considered thought of a single entity. That's just not the case. The Customer Support piece of Comcast is likely to be a distinct entity. Certainly they work with the rest of the company, but they've got their own agenda

While your premise is technically correct, I'll provide a counterpoint to your point.

Large companies like Comcast (or Microsoft or most others), with some good aspects and some bad aspects, do indeed tend to be treated as one big monolithic blob --because that's how they're asking to be treated. Comcast is using its name as a brand. That's what it means to be Comcast. So, while it's not surprising that there can be factions within, we will still rate whether Comcast is nice or nasty on an overall scale. The responsibility for this falls on upper management which oversees both the Customer Service Department and the Lie About Unlimited Bandwidth^W^W^W^WMarketing Department. If Customer Support wants to improve its image separate from the rest of Comcast, they can spin off into "Support-A-Tronics -- A Division of Comcast(TM)" and change their logo. Of course, I've heard quite a few not-so-good things on Slashdot about Customer Support itself.

In the same way, I disagree with people who keep saying that "companies aren't evil --just the people within them". As a whole, companies can indeed be evil, greedy, upstanding, etc, just as people can be evil, greedy, etc. even if you can break their actions down into component actions which, by themselves, are not inherently evil etc.

Oh noes! (3, Insightful)

Aminion (896851) | about 6 years ago | (#24347645)

Comcast is helping their customers, yes? They are crawling/indexing/filtering blogs that are completely public, yes? So what's the problem? What am I supposed to be outraged about this time?

"It feels like nobody ever really reads my blog," he told the New York Times.
"Nobody has left a comment in months."

Oh, that's the problem. Seriously, this is a lousy post.

Re:Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347869)

feel outraged because slashdot hates comcast.


This could be a very good thing (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | about 6 years ago | (#24347649)

As long as they are using public means like blog-monitoring or using search engines and not underhanded means like customer/IP-monitoring/stalking, this is probably a very good thing. If only every company would listen to what their customers say in public and use that information to improve customer service.

The minute they start monitoring me to see what blogs I post to, the minute they start stalking my online activities, or the minute they start using what I say to retaliate against me is the minute they've gone too far.

Re:This could be a very good thing (1)

tatermonkey (1199435) | about 6 years ago | (#24347679)

Like a human or even a 1000 person team could keep track of how many comcast customers. Imagine a sceen of IP addresses scrolling sooo fast you can barely make out the fact they are numbers.

Automated - think Great Firewall of China (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 6 years ago | (#24347725)

If an ISP wanted to and was willing to violate customer privacy, they could tap your connection for phrases like "my isp sucks" or the URLs that indicated posting to the top-1000 blogs.

This can be automated, with followup by a human if desired.

That's what I meant when I said if COMCAST starts stalking me or seeing what blogs I post to.

Re:Automated - think Great Firewall of China (1)

tatermonkey (1199435) | about 6 years ago | (#24347737)

yeah, I didnt think about that until after I posted ,sry.

Re:This could be a very good thing (2, Funny)

Random Destruction (866027) | about 6 years ago | (#24347749)

All I see now is blonde, brunette, redhead.

Re:This could be a very good thing (1)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | about 6 years ago | (#24347741)

heh... people that mention Comcast in their blogs is probably a pretty good approximation for people that are complaining about Comcast.

This Blogger Should Really Stick It To Comcast (1)

strelitsa (724743) | about 6 years ago | (#24347695)

Cancel his account and get 56K dialup through another company. Yeah, that'd show 'em.

Several thoughts spring to mind. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347697)

  1. The Web is a public place. Anything and everything you say from your webserver can and should be considered to have been shouted from the nearest corner. Sure, most people ignore that evangelist who's spruiking his faith, but "most" is not "all".
  2. Computers are really good at finding obscure facts. As somebody said, and has been widely quoted: Type in "Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire" and the computer will say, "Specify type of goat."
  3. Listening to somebody who's venting about a company is a good way for that company to find out what they're doing wrong, at least in the eyes of that particular individual. Such knowledge may not be worth much (eg: "Apple should sell its high end Mac Pro at one dollar a pop!"), or it might be worth a hell of a lot (eg: "My brand new LCD had five bright pixels in it. I took it back and exchanged it for another of the same model, but that second one had ten bright pixels. The third one was a bit better - it only had four bright pixels - but the fourth was appalling: twenty bright pixels!")

I'd basically say that if Comcast is using this to supplement its normal customer support channels (rather than replace them entirely), it's a good thing, especially if they beef up the ability of customer support to help the customer out before it gets to the venting on the web stage.

Re:Several thoughts spring to mind. (3, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 6 years ago | (#24348013)

Computers are really good at finding obscure facts. As somebody said, and has been widely quoted: Type in "Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire" and the computer will say, "Specify type of goat." particular reason for asking this, but which search engine do you know, in case I want to run that query for.....research.....purposes.

He posted a commend on a public forum.... (3, Insightful)

sys_mast (452486) | about 6 years ago | (#24347703)

...and then complains because it was read and responded to? I would be bothered if it was a private intended email sent through their email relays, but not to comcast, and they responded to that. But he put it on a public, blog, WOW maybe they are using something like google searching for these negative remarks and OH MY GOSH trying to make the customer happy by suggesting things!!! WOW...OK sarcasm off. Come on, if you don't want anyone to be able to read it, don't post it on the web. Sorry to say but the title should read "dumb blogger shocked when public blog read by someone" OK I admit I'm assuming it's a public blog, but a quick scan of the article didn't indicate it was private/secured in anyway. So unless I missed something, this is a non-issue.

Re:He posted a commend on a public forum.... (1)

Eil (82413) | about 6 years ago | (#24348197)

...and then complains because it was read and responded to?

You'd be surprised how many people go on the Internet just to complain about an Evil Corporate Entity and never stop complaining, even when a reasonable solution is provided.

I work for a hosting company that puts a high priority on customer support and service. One thing our managers do is keep an eye on the popular web hosting forums and other online outlets to see what people say about us. When someone posts a bad experience they're having with us, a manager usually contacts them directly to get the situation resolved. This isn't just to bolster our corporate image. We want happy customers because happy customers give us much more money than the unhappy ones.

Occasionally we get someone who's being completely unreasonable, though. They rant and rave about how crappy our products are, how incompetent our support is, and so on. (This is usually the person that's trying to resell 600 shared hosting accounts on a $50/month VPS.)

A few months back, we had a fiber cut in the middle of the night which took a small number of our customers offline for about 6 hours. Instead of calling us, this one guy puts up a YouTube video in which he whines about us for a good solid 15 minutes. Then links to the video on his blog and every web hosting forum he can find. A manager responded with a comment saying that A) he didn't contact us before making the video and B) we were happy to give him a free month of service and that he could call in and speak directly to a supervisor to resolve any issue he had. Well, this wasn't good enough. He posted a second video, refusing the free month of service and going on about how he was going to cancel and how much we sucked, etc. He just wouldn't stop complaining no matter how many freebies we pitched at him nor how much we tried to reason. Thankfully, a group of our happier customers banded together to put him in his place. (I believe he still has an account with us, although the manager who attempted to reason with him was sorely tempted to terminate his account and be done with it.)

What does "reading" the blog mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347709)

Are they monitoring your network traffic looking for key-words or searching the web for comments relating to them?

If they are monitoring your network traffic that would make me a dissatisfied customer right there! Maybe make a blog post about them invading your privacy by monitoring all your traffic (ie. "wiretapping" as defined by that university project that monitored Tor traffic).

you people are fools (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347715)

they're actually inserting the responses directly into their customers' page requests.

So... (2, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 6 years ago | (#24347733)

somebody else is actually reading my blog? Wow, I never thought I'd see the day my hit counter went to 2.

Re:So... (1)

tatermonkey (1199435) | about 6 years ago | (#24347759)

Who needs a blog when you have /. Then if you want to be a blithering idiot there is always 4chan, 7chan and such. No intelligent life there, just the normal cesspool.

Re:So... (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 6 years ago | (#24347863)

funny I always figured 4chan was the scum from when the gene pool was cleaned.

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347743)

I wrote a website a long long long time ago about weatherbug and they contacted me directly years ago to let us know they had changed their software. I was pretty impressed that they took the time, but it was a very good idea in their case. They had kind of screwed themselves early on by bundling spyware with their app and while they don't anymore, they still haven't fully recovered from the rep they earned themselves (I'm still surprised at how many hits that page *still* gets)

obligatory (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | about 6 years ago | (#24347765)

Comcast is in ur internetz.... reading ur blog.

meow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348107)

Comcast is in ur internetz.... reading ur blog.

O Noes!

Really? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#24347773)

Comcast is now monitoring blogs as a way of improving its image among customers.

Here is an idea don't throttle P2P connections also, don't block websites, don't keep logs, and stand up for fair use and anonymity on the internet. Do that and you might be more liked. But keep throttling P2P connections and acting as a puppet of congress/MPAA/RIAA and people will hate you for it.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347917)

You mean loudmouth antagonists like you that no one actually -listens- to will hate it. Truth of the matter is that the average Internet user doesn't give a shit about any of those save for P2P throttling, which there are ways around.

Re:Really? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#24348075)

Oh yah, like the average person doesn't care about the OS they have either... Yet I still hear people say "Well I got a new computer and it is really good, except it has Vista on it".

Think of it this way, if a restaurant wasn't looked at as a good place to get food because the food was expired and moldy, hiring a new greeter to say welcome isn't going to change people's opinion of the restaurant.

Same with this, if the restaurant/ISP is serving bad food/internet experience, being nice to customers doesn't solve the root problem.

Re:Really? (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | about 6 years ago | (#24348209)

don't keep logs


Clarify, please.

stand up for fair use and anonymity on the internet

You know, ah, Comcast is a cable company? They aren't a civil rights org.

I'd prefer my ISP take a neutral stance on everything, except delivering a quality product at a reasonable price. Be monomaniacal about that, please. :)

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348217)

How is copyright infringement "fair use?"

Sorry I'm missing a key element to your argument. Are you saying that ISPs should aid your civil infractions on others?

I too think that ISPs should for the most part just route IP datagrams and stay out of the way. However, if your argument is you're getting the bum rap because your P2P traffic is shaped, then you need to rethink your presentation.

And yes, I know P2P can be used for legit purposes. So can a .40 handgun, or LSD [the drug] for that matter. Doesn't mean we let people loose with them unchecked. Certain things at our disposal get abused and it's for the greater good that they get monitored and regulated.

I imagine in a world where P2P wasn't overwhelmingly used solely to infringe copyrights we wouldn't see any problems with this. I mean, how many ISPs traffic shape NTP traffic?

what's the big deal? (1)

Theolojin (102108) | about 6 years ago | (#24347775)

So a company has employees who read information posted to a public forum. Big deal. In the article (yes, I read it) the author wrote, "The rest of his e-mail may as well have read, 'Big Brother is watching you.'" "Big Brother" is the government, not a company employee who reads *public* opinions of the company's service and responds to the company's *customer*. I think this is great. As a Comcast customer, I *want* them to respond to customer opinion.

Oh, hey, I just got an email from Comcast myself. I gotta go.

I can't say I see the problem (1)

TurboDog99 (442475) | about 6 years ago | (#24347829)

It's a public blog. If someone who is 20 levels in the company above the minions they have in their phone support offices wants to know how their customers are really being treated, I can't imagine a better place to look...maybe aside from their /dev/null folder where all of the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General complaints go.

The only way the average person usually gets the attention of a company that size is to cough up the money for a lawsuit or quit using them along with about 10 million other disgruntled customers. Your leaving the company would need to show up on a graph so some PHB may finally ask why the customer numbers are going down.

Maybe I should start blogging about Cox Communications. I just moved into their service area, and I'd gladly take Comcast back.

Hello, this is Comcast (1)

homesnatch (1089609) | about 6 years ago | (#24347831)

Hi everyone... We just found this post.

Wanted to let you know that Comcast is striving to improve the customer experience for all of its customers...

We love you!

Do they read the newspapers too? (3, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | about 6 years ago | (#24347845)

For every blog that gets read, 100 newspapers (online or printed) get read. So one wonders if this lady will get a call too: [] If not, then Comcast is picking off small low-lying fruit instead of dealing with the larger, more widely seen issues. Silly.

Re:Do they read the newspapers too? (1)

Benbrizzi (1295505) | about 6 years ago | (#24347931)

For every blog that gets read, 100 newspapers (online or printed) get read

[citation needed]

Maybe, but blogs are probably about 100 times more likely to talk about computer issues than newspapers are.

Re:Do they read the newspapers too? (0, Flamebait)

NevarMore (248971) | about 6 years ago | (#24348087)

Why should that lady get a call?

She and her daughter made the decision to drive all over bumfuck nowhere to "see it in person" and made the decision to dork around with scads of paperwork for "automated" bill payment instead of just writing a cheque.

If you ask me Comcast should send out MORE bills for $0.01 since its mildly amusing to most of us, and apparently in Bumfuck, Delaware it yields a whole weeks worth of entertainment. In fact, its a boon to this woman and her daughter because they were out in the world meeting new people instead of watching cable all day.

This is Bad? (1)

DavidD_CA (750156) | about 6 years ago | (#24347849)

The headline and article make it sound like this is a bad thing. But is it?

A company is striving to make happy customers, and they've found that they can listen (gasp!) to what they're saying and try to help them.

They have probably found a way to scour blogs, forums, and apparently twitter and aggregate it for people to review and follow up with. I don't consider that a privacy issue if it's in a public location for all to read, as blogs typically are.

That's a whole lot better than not taking any action at all, or trying to shut down the offending blog. Normally we'd bitch about a company sending out the lawyers, but sending out someone from customer service? Sounds like a win to me.

Comcast is reading your blog. (2, Funny)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 6 years ago | (#24347871)

So am I. Be afraid.

Could have been worse.. (1)

tangent3 (449222) | about 6 years ago | (#24347873)

After reading the title i was half expecting to read on to find out that concast begins filing lawsuits against bloggers. Offering apologies and help was a pleasant surprise.

What means and methods? (3, Interesting)

TheRedSeven (1234758) | about 6 years ago | (#24347879)

Everyone so far seems to have been skirting the issue here. If Comcast now has a staff of people tasked with surfing teh interwebs and responding to comments about their service in blog postings, that's fine. Perhaps a misguided use of resources (how about some actual customer service instead of lip service responses to people you've already lost as customers?), but that's their choice.

If Comcast is using some sort of automatic filtering on their users' accounts that indicate whenever a user types the word "Comcast", and then responds with an email to that person's X& address, then there's an issue.

What we don't know, and what the article doesn't say, and what we have no way of knowing, is which of these two methods Comcast is using. A lack of transparency regarding what you pay for what you get, and a lack of transparency regarding service is already a PR issue (nightmare) for Comcast. This simply compounds that issue.

All of your calls are important to us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347887)

Please remain on the line, while our agents finish surfing the web reading blogs, Slashdot,, and the "Extra Mustard" page on

First I got scared (1)

ohxten (1248800) | about 6 years ago | (#24347897)

The headline kinda scared me. But in all reality, who cares? They're not doing it by analyzing packets; if I were a smart company I'd Google for myself and find people who have issues. If they provide a method of contact, I'd be stupid to not contact them by that method and try to work out the issue.

Can't stand Comcast as they're a monopoly and their prices are high, and customer service is terrible; however, they're service has always been reliable for me (internet, TV).

This would never have happened if... (2, Insightful)

fgaliegue (1137441) | about 6 years ago | (#24347921)

Comcast had... You know... Some kind of decent customer service or something...

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347937)

Read blogs? They have no right!

Hooray! (1)

pcgabe (712924) | about 6 years ago | (#24347943)

I know no one else is. Now I finally have an audience!

that's a bit creepy (1)

speedtux (1307149) | about 6 years ago | (#24347951)

That's not how customer service is supposed to work, and it's creepy.

They should (1) keep their systems running so that people don't have to complain, and (2) if things fail listen to people calling/mailing in and try to fix their problems.

If they do (1) and (2) reasonably well, they don't need to read people's blogs.

They read my newspaper article. (1)

Aaron32 (891463) | about 6 years ago | (#24347969)

I write a weekly column for a local newspaper. I wrote how ISP's in general are monitoring traffic and are playing with throttling.

I got a call from a Comcast PR person about what exactly they do and don't do. I just thought I myself was particularly popular and that even large ISP's were reading my articles.

Thanks for bursting my bubble!

outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24347985)

A decisions might go like this
Plaintiff :
They are reading my Blog !!
I want to sue !!
Defense :

Impossible we don't have any overseas staff that can Comprehend English above grade level 5.
So we cannot read your Blogs ,al of our English speaking staff were on holiday in Israel when we allegedly read your Blog

Judges /jury final decision .
We find for the Company/ Defense
Courts decision:
  Reading is not reading comprehension ,

I hate Comcast (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about 6 years ago | (#24347999)

I've been a Comcast customer for about 5 years simply because I have no choice...There are no other providers in my area. I use Vonage for my phone but despite that, Comcast keeps calling me and bugging me to switch to their VOIP service. I tried their TIVO service for about three months and its horrible. Their internet is slow and frequently goes down even though my line is physically fine. The word "Comcastic" has a new meaning all of its own to me and it isn't a compliment. Now, it sounds like they're playing Big-Brother. Either they read this blog or they are doing deep packet inspection. The later wouldn't surprise me, since they were throttling p2p traffic.

Not Just Internet (1)

wbav (223901) | about 6 years ago | (#24348011)

I hope they are reading and improving TV service too. I mean the fact that they send your local channels through unencrypted qam, but you have to pay for a box to get Sci-Fi in HD blows. Why should I have to do that?

As for the internet, look at broadband reports and repair some of your routers (the ones constantly showing up as problems). Their network topology looks far more complex than it should be and I suspect a number of problems come from that.

They call this improvement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348123)

Comcast is now monitoring blogs as a way of improving its image among customers.

Seems more like damage control to me-- greasing the squeakiest wheels. When customers and employees of a company have to go outside of that company's established customer service channels to get/provide something approaching decent service, that's when you know that company's customer service well and truly sucks.

I had a similar experience with American Express almost 10 years ago, when they incorrectly stuck me with $12,000 worth of someone else's balance transfers and refused to sort it out for months. I was about to lawyer up so they'd take my next attempt to rectify it seriously, and then I was contacted out of the blue by a higher-up at the company who saw my post on the now-defunct Even though everything was straightened out, I will never use AmEx again, for anything, after that experience.

I hope Comcast realizes they've got to fix their established customer service channel for all of their customers, instead of just setting up a new one to deal with the most vocal pissed-off ones.

good for them! (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 6 years ago | (#24348143)

Hopefully they'll pay attention to what they read. Their service is atrocious, anything would help.

So? I do the same thing! (1)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | about 6 years ago | (#24348167)

Google Blog Search makes it easy for me to track a phrase of something I'm interested in - like Autism Speaks [] , or a Dragon*Con [] , or even my own name, and I use that regularly to keep track of people who I can direct to my stuff or who might cause me problems later.

A simple search set up for them with "Comcast" in the search term could have pulled this up.

All it shows is that Comcast is looking out for PR blunders in the making and responding to them. They shouldn't let them happen in the first place, of course, but at least give them credit for being smart.

At least one person is reading your blog...or not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24348199)

There are several services (e.g. google) that monitor blogging sites or the web in general for key words or phrases, then alert you via email. They tend to be pretty fast, too.

So all that's probably happening is that someone set google alerts to send email to their support line when certain key words are found, someone looks at it, and responds if it is relevant.


This is what is wrong with this... (1)

MikeUW (999162) | about 6 years ago | (#24348247)

If Comcast didn't give crap service, and/or actually listened to their customers when they complain the first time...then they wouldn't have to dig around looking for public complaints and attempt damage control after the fact.

Yeah, it's good to make an effort to fix mistakes, but this is a kind of bass-ackwards way of dealing with problems related to the company's ability deliver services effectivel. Not to mention creepy.

I'm not a Comcast customer, but I'm sure they're on par with most other big telcos, who are completely happy to forget about you once they've got you paying a monthly bill.

Hurry up with DOCSIS 3 Comcast and/or FTTH (1)

Brian Stretch (5304) | about 6 years ago | (#24348259)

Hey Comcast: I switched over to AT&T U-verse for Internet because they were less slow than Comcast and certainly cheaper. I would have switched over to them for TV too but their HDTV image quality is hideous (too bad, they're way cheaper, SDTV works nicely though). C'mon Comcast, if you can't outperform AT&T you just aren't trying. DOCSIS 3 should fix this, though you might want to go ahead and replace your rotting coax with FTTH in case AT&T recovers from their rectal-cranial inversion and quits trying to shove U-verse through their antiquated copper lines (27Mbps for HDTV and Internet for the entire house, WTF?)...

If I lived in Verizon FiOS territory I wouldn't bother prodding you. You're just screwed there.

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