Jul 15

Best of the Best Part II

For the second installment of Rep's "Best of the Best" re-posts we're reprising his missive on Comcast's horrible customer service. It first ran on March 10, 2009 and prompted a comment, email and phone call from Comcast Customer Service and restoration of Rep's cable service.

See what you think. BTW, we welcome fresh comments on a still highly relevant topic…

Thanks for Choosing Comcast. An Additional $4.95 Will Be Automatically Charged to Your Account for Speaking to a Live Customer Service Representative

6a00d8341c39e853ef011279454d7a28a4 Comcast customer service is an oxymoron. The monopolistic cable giant is one of, if not, the worst examples of poor customer service. In fact, I'd put Comcast right at the top of my all-time "rude, indifferent and boorish behavior" rankings alongside TSA agents, NJ Transit conductors and my St. Francis Grammar School nuns.

Every few months or so, Comcast arbitrarily yanks my basic and pay-per-view service. And every time it happens, we call to complain. And, every time it Comcast happens, we're greeted by a voice mail explaining that our payment is "overdue." We then punch another button, enter our check number and are told checks typically take 72 hours to clear. Growing increasingly frustrated by the automated ineptness and our knowledge that the payment was mailed weeks earlier, we keep punching various options.

Finally, after being told we should punch "2" for Spanish and "8" for "Urdu," we're told we can speak to a "live customer service representative," but an additional $4.95 will be automatically billed to our account. Say what! You've screwed up for the umpteenth time and you have the unmitigated gall to bill me to speak to a live person to fix it? What's wrong with this equation? That would be like an innkeeper charging extra to rid my sleeping quarters of bed bugs.

But, since Comcast (like a certain law firm that shall remain nameless) is a total monopoly, what's a poor cable viewer to do? So, we punched the live person button, spoke to a nice, but ineffectual, CSR who first told us our account was overdue, then verified they'd received our check and finally confirmed that, sadly, checks took 72 hours to clear. We told this live, if somewhat dim, person that the check had been sent weeks ago. The light bulb finally went on and he promised he'd "re-boot" our system ASAP and service would be returned right away.

That was Thursday night. By Monday morning, there was still no Comcast service.

Comcast's horrific business practices are just one of one zillion reasons why America finds itself in the fix it's in. We vent and we blog, but in the end, we keep paying for what amounts to criminal performance.

Jul 14

The best of the best

Six years iWhile Repman beats back black flies, bats and mosquitoes in northern Maine, we thought we'd  reprise the very best (and most controversial) blogs in Repman's six-year run.

Today's blog first appeared on July 24, 2009.  It generated more than two dozen comments and prompted no fewer than three separate articles in O'Dwyer's. In the blog, entitled, 'Useless. Useless', Steve questioned the value of the PRSA's APR certification.

See what you think. BTW, we welcome fresh comments on a still highly relevant topic…

Useless. Useless.

I've just received an e-mail from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) encouraging me to sign up for an intensive, four-day APR preparation boot camp.

For the unenlightened, APR is an ersatz credential that has been bandied about for decades as proof positive that one is, indeed, accredited in public relations. I've been reluctant to comment publicly about APR because, frankly, I didn't want to offend some industry leaders who actually believe the APR is meaningful.

But, the time has come to take off the gloves and enter the fray. An APR is worthless. It's never meant anything to any client organization I've ever encountered. Nor has it ever made one iota of difference in considering a prospective employee's strengths and weaknesses.

Created long ago and far away, the APR has always lacked any real teeth and is based on a false assumption: that a PR pro should master rules and regulations in the same way a doctor or lawyer must. But, because PR is an art and not a science, there are no hard and fast rules, regulations, practices, policies or procedures that a public relations professional must study and then prove competence in some sort of 'bar exam.' One earns his or her stripes in PR in one way, and one way only: through the School of Hard Knocks.

The APR is even more irrelevant in today's social media environment in which black has become white, and vice versa. Controlled, top-down, inside-out communication has gone the way of the carrier pigeon. And, no four-day boot camp or three-day written exam is going to help me learn to listen or react any better to the quicksilver changes being made by consumers who now decide with whom they wish to speak, as well as when and where.

I wish Dr. Kevorkian could euthanize this bogus test (and credential) once and for all. In the meantime, I'll continue to associate the APR with the immortal final words of John Wilkes Booth who, having been mortally wounded by pursuing Union soldiers, looked at his hands and uttered, “Useless. Useless.”