Comcast Says Sorry to Customer Fired After Bill Dispute

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Comcast Corp. is apologizing publicly for the latest grievance against its low-rated customer service.

The cable giant is saying sorry to Conal O’Rourke, who told publications including Ars Technica that he was fired from his job at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP after complaining about his experience with Comcast’s customer-service representatives. Comcast also said that none of its employees asked for O’Rourke to be fired.

“We simply dropped the ball and did not make things right,” Charlie Herrin, Comcast’s new senior vice president for customer service, said in a post on the company’s website yesterday. “Mr. O’Rourke deserves another apology from us and we’re making this one publicly.”

Comcast and Time Warner Cable Inc., the rival cable operator that it’s acquiring for $45.2 billion, consistently receive low marks in customer-satisfaction surveys in the U.S. Improving customer service may help the companies secure support for the combination. For instance, New York state regulators, which have the power to reject the transaction, may approve the deal only if concessions are agreed to, including improving customer service.

After almost a year of run-ins with Comcast, including a $1,820 bill for equipment he didn’t need and hadn’t asked for, O’Rourke said he was fired. He told Consumerist and other publications that Comcast contacted his employer, which worked with Comcast.

Ethics Policies

O’Rourke was fired for violating PwC’s ethics policies, Laura Schooler, a spokeswoman for the New York-based company, said in an e-mailed statement.

“The firm has explicit policies regarding employee conduct, we train our people in those policies, and we enforce them,” she said in the e-mail. “Mr. O’Rourke’s violation of these policies was the sole reason for his termination.”

Herrin said Philadelphia-based Comcast plans to get to the bottom of what happened with O’Rourke and fix any issues.

The incident joins a list of public complaints against large cable and phone companies that have gone viral on social media.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable are the two worst-ranked companies for customer satisfaction in the cable business, according to data earlier this year from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Among all industries -- including airlines, banking and other businesses that frequently rankle customers -- they placed second and third from the bottom.