Comcast: Rep did "a lot of what we trained him and paid him...to do"

The Comcast logo is seen on one of the company's vehicles in Pittsburgh on Feb. 11, 2011. AP

A week after a phone call of a Comcast representative trying to persuade a customer not to cancel his cable service went viral, the company is admitting it needs to make some changes -- and that its own training may have played a role in the embarrassing incident.

In an internal memo, first reported by the Consumerist, the company's Chief Operating Officer Dave Watson says he regrets that the incident occurred and that it was "painful to listen to this call."

Then he goes on to acknowledge that the representative had been doing "a lot of what we trained him and paid him -- and thousands of other Retention agents -- to do."

"He tried to save a customer, and that's important, but the act of saving a customer must always be handled with the utmost respect," Watson wrote. He promised to review training procedures and reevaluate incentive programs to make sure the company isn't encouraging the wrong behavior.

Last week, former Engadget editor Ryan Block recorded the call that went viral when he tried cancel his Comcast service. In the recorded conversation, the Comcast representative repeatedly refused to do so -- arguing, delaying and making disparaging remarks about the Internet provider Block mentioned he was switching to.

The company apologized repeatedly after the very public incident, saying that the actions of its employee were unacceptable. A Comcast spokesperson said last week that the company was investigating and would take quick action, saying that it was important to "always treat our customers with the utmost respect."

The bad publicity comes at a time when federal regulators are reviewing Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner. Both companies, two of the country's largest cable providers, have fared poorly in consumer approval surveys.

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