Comcast 'Call From Hell' Makes Waves

Ryan Block tries to disconnect his service, painfully

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 15, 2014 5:15 PM CDT | Updated Jul 20, 2014 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – It's the customer service call heard 'round the world: Eight minutes of audio has been played more than 1.7 million times since Ryan Block made it available (via Soundcloud, posted on Twitter) Monday night. The crux: The AOL product manager was calling Comcast to disconnect his service in favor of West Coast broadband provider Astound. He didn't start recording until about 10 minutes into the call, noting "the representative had gotten so condescending and unhelpful I felt compelled to record the speakerphone conversation on my other phone." At Gawker, Andy Cush calls it a "Kafkaesque nightmare" that kicks off with the unidentified rep asking, "Why is it that you don't want the faster speed? Help me understand why you don't want faster Internet."

Eight "mind-numbing," repetitive minutes follow in which the rep keeps demanding explanations. Says Block at one point: "I don't owe you an explanation ... so please proceed to the next question." The rep doesn't. At Consumerist, Mary Beth Quirk calls it "the 'I will not let you break up with me' speech." Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzick sees Block's struggle as illustrating "the necessity of killing Comcast's pending deal to absorb Time Warner Cable, a combination ... that would make Comcast even less responsive to its customers' needs than it is now. This call should be part of the evidence package placed before [the FCC and the Dept. of Justice], and before Congress too." Comcast, for its part, tweeted at Block, "We are sorry & embarrassed by what happened. We're determined to be better. We clearly have more work to do." Listen, if you dare, here.

A silhouetted coaxial cable is photographed with the Comcast Corp. logo in the background.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)
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