Employee Gets Fired After Complaining to Comcast

CommunityJournalismBLogFIA Comcast customer recently complained about services. Complaints were escalated, next thing you know the company called his employer to discuss the complaint. Pink slip was issued.

What?!

Conal O’Rourke was overcharged by Comcast for 11 months so he ended up contacting the company’s controller’s office to complain about their billing practices. Here’s where it gets sticky, apparently. His employer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, does consulting business with Comcast. And Comcast called a partner at the firm to say O’Rourke used the employer’s name during a complaint. Per a recent report, O’Rourke insisted he didn’t use the company name.

Then Comcast issued a public apology. According to a recent segment on CNN, O’Rourke and his attorney indicated they heard about the apology but it wasn’t directly sent to him by Comcast. Here’s an excerpt:

“What happened with Mr. O’Rourke’s service is completely unacceptable. Despite our attempts to address Mr. O’Rourke’s issues, we simply dropped the ball and did not make things right.  Mr. O’Rourke deserves another apology from us and we’re making this one publicly.   We also want to clarify that nobody at Comcast asked for him to be fired.”

O’Rourke has called this apology a “little bit disappointing and a little bit short.” If they were sincere, he said, “They would have just reached out.”

We’re still making sense of this. Should you avoid complaining to a company if the bill is incorrect? We’re thinking you have every right to speak up as a paying customer. It sounds like he was charged for set-top boxes that weren’t activated, some of his bills weren’t being delivered due to a typo in his last name and more.

After a nine-month promotional deal ended, several months later his bill increased by $20, plus he was still being charged for inactive devices in his home. Then they charged him $7 for a second modem he didn’t even have. Per reports, they did this twice.

Sounds pretty frustrating to us! And the fact that he approached them more than once and issues remained unresolved.

Things got worse before they got better (check that, it sounds like they never got better). Last October he wanted to cancel services but Comcast convinced him services were going to improve. Plus, they were throwing in free DVR services and The Movie Channel for three months.

Alas, they ended up sending him equipment he didn’t order. Then they billed him for $1,820 representing the miscellaneous equipment.

At this point, he outlined every charge and payment in a spreadsheet. Per the report, this didn’t convince the company there was an issue and their customer was being overcharged.

This is where it sounds like things took a turn — last February 6, he contacted the controller’s office. Someone called him back and O’Rourke referred to that call as “bizarre.”

The rep insisted a technician showed up for an appointment yet didn’t provide specifics as to the appointment itself. She continued to ask him for the color of his house which resulted in him calling the controller’s office again about this weird call.

As an accountant, during the call he mentioned their billing and accounting issues should be investigated by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), a private-sector oversight operation. This resulted in two service calls yet no one showed up at his house.

Well, this is where things definitely took a twist. After that call, someone from Comcast called a partner at his employer.

Then he received a call from a partner in the Philadelphia office of PricewaterhouseCoopers. He was instructed to “back off, to stop calling Comcast.” The client was apparently “very angry” and also “very important.” This is per his attorney, Maureen Pettibone Ryan.

An ethics investigation ensued and then he was dismissed from his job. Per reports, he said he only received positive feedback for his performance on the job.

We’re not here to point blame and we feel like some facts may be missing from reports but if there’s anything we can learn from this situation is to remember that at-will employers are just that — they can  dismiss an employee for any reason and without warning.

According to ABC, PwC issued this statement:

“The firm terminated his employment after an internal investigation concluded that Mr. O’Rourke violated PwC’s ethical standards and practices, applicable to all of our people.”

While O’Rourke has stated he didn’t mention his employer by name, he thought someone in the controller’s office looked him up online to figure out the employer’s name.

When he was fired, PwC apparently explained the reason for the dismissal: An email from Comcast summarizing conversations between him and Comcast employees. The kicker is that the Big Four firm and Comcast do business together in the form of consulting services, not auditing their books.

O’Rourke has mentioned he hasn’t seen this email and Comcast hasn’t released any tapes from the phone calls. The issue here is customer service. If bills were addressed and fixed on the first attempt or even second, third or fourth try, he wouldn’t have had to raise the compounding issues up the food chain.

This sounds like an extreme case of losing one’s job over escalating customer service issues but it’s still disconcerting nonetheless.

We should add his attorney has mentioned if his demands for $100,000 and his job aren’t reinstated by tomorrow, a lawsuit will be filed.