How to Be Dumb

     Comcast is no longer the most-hated company in America, but has slipped to No. 10, according to rankings by business professors.
     It’s surely not for lack of trying.
     For reasons that shall become obvious, I did not call Comcast for comment about this, but I know it’s true because of the way it happened.
     Three or four years ago my Internet service died. I earn my daily naan on the Internet, so I pay extra rupees for a Comcast business account. No Internet, no daily naan.
     Well, this little “outage” cost me about a week of naan, during which I learned a few things about Comcast. Because I’m curious, and a snoop, and had nothing better to do that week.
     I live in a small town. When I cannot contribute to the nation’s gross domestic product by hauling my daily barge or lifting my daily bale, it is my custom to crouch at my desk, gnaw my nails and worry.
     In that week, many a Comcast truck drove hither, and sometimes yon, by my door. “Huzzah!” I thought each time. But no. Finally, I tracked one down and asked the service techs if they had any idea about me.
     Sorry, they said, they weren’t allowed to talk to Comcast’s customer service department. They were only allowed to do customer service.
     Comcast’s customer service department told me that was correct. In other words … never mind. Here’s what happened.
     A customer service guy finally appeared. Very nice, competent. Took him about a minute to determine that my modem was dead. He replaced it, but that one was dead too. He installed a third one and it was dead too.
     But this fine fellow refused to surrender. He did not abandon me. After several hours, he devised a solution, and made me happy.
     He never said Word One to deprecate Comcast. I told him what I had found out about its idiotic service rules, and he allowed that that’s how it was, and I saw him deal with it, with considerably better humor than I did. I guess he was used to it.
     When at last the Courthouse News page flickered upon my screen, I shook his hand and asked if he was allowed to accept a tip. He declined. So I told him I would write to his bosses and tell them what a splendid fellow he is, and recommend him for promotion to regional vice president for customer service.
     I did that.
     I wrote a letter of commendation from a satisfied customer and cc’d the chairman of the board, the CEO, the members of the board, and top regional officials. I told them what had happened, suggested that they might want to consider allowing Comcast tech guys to talk directly to customer service, and said that if it were not for this fellow, whom I named, I would not be a Comcast customer anymore.
     That was three or four years ago. Recently – quite recently – this fellow came for a minor service call at my new place. We recognized one another, and I asked if he had got a raise, or at least a pat on the back, from my letter, which I had sent to him too.
     “No,” he said, “as a matter of fact, they called me in.”
     “What!” I said.
     That’s right. A bigwig had called him on the carpet and asked how I had “learned all this stuff” about Comcast’s idiotic organization.
     “Oh, man,” I said, “I’m sorry.”
     He told me not to worry about it. He said he’d laughed it off, told his boss, “But this customer was happy.”
     So now you know one way, among many, to become one of the most hated companies in America: by punishing an employee for being praised by a customer.
     Though I am sure there are other ways.

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