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Complain About Comcast, Get Fired From Your Job 742

ub3r n3u7r4l1st writes When you complain to your cable company, you certainly don't expect that the cable company will then contact your employer and discuss your complaint. But that's exactly what happened to one former Comcast customer who says he was fired after the cable company called a partner at his accounting firm. Be careful next time when you exercise your first amendment rights. From the article: At some point shortly after that call, someone from Comcast contacted a partner at the firm to discuss Conal. This led to an ethics investigation and Conal’s subsequent dismissal from his job; a job where he says he’d only received positive feedback and reviews for his work. Comcast maintained that Conal used the name of his employer in an attempt to get leverage. Conal insists that he never mentioned his employer by name, but believes that someone in the Comcast Controller’s office looked him up online and figured out where he worked. When he was fired, Conal’s employer explained that the reason for the dismissal was an e-mail from Comcast that summarized conversations between Conal and Comcast employees. But Conal has never seen this e-mail in order to say whether it’s accurate and Comcast has thus far refused to release any tapes of the phone calls related to this matter.
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Complain About Comcast, Get Fired From Your Job

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @12:47PM (#48084009)

    Break them up, don't let them merge so that the abuses can continue.

  • by hawkinspeter ( 831501 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @12:47PM (#48084017)
    Can't he just sue his ex-employer for wrongful dismissal or does that not exist in the U.S.?
    • by chubs ( 2470996 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:19PM (#48084457)
      It depends on the state. In many states, an employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all (with exception of legally protected statuses that cannot be used in hiring/firing decisions such as race, age, gender, etc).
      • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:31PM (#48084607)

        So you can (in reality) be fired for race, age, gender, etc. All the firing boss has to do is to insist it was because you wore a bow tie (which, as we now know, denotes insubordination). Or because you were insufficiently productive, against an arbitrary standard chosen by him. Or because you were rude (according to another employee who must remain anonymous to avoid causing them stress, in that employee's opinion). Or...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mythosaz ( 572040 )

          Of course there's the alternative, where you can't fire anyone, and you keep incompetent employees forever.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:50PM (#48084831)

            Yeah, there are only two options here.

            • Agreed with the AC, actually.

              If the guy indeed has a paper trail of good-to-excellent reviews and promotions, then suddenly got fired after the employer willingly admits the reason was over some petty vengeance from Comcast, then the guy can indeed sue the employer initially. All it would take is a subpoena of the alleged Comcast email/recording, and once Comcast fails to produce a valid (as in independently verifiable) version of either, suddenly he can go after Comcast for perpetrating all kinds of fraudu

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sexconker ( 1179573 )

            Of course there's the alternative, where you can't fire anyone, and you keep incompetent employees forever.

            s/the alternative/unions/

            • by Splab ( 574204 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:18PM (#48085131)

              Ah bullshit, but thanks for playing.

              We have unions in Denmark and you can fire people easy enough. And then there are countries like France, where you can't fire people at all, not thanks to unions.

              The unions in the US have way too much power, and that is a business stifling problem; but that doesn't mean unions are a bad thing.

              • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @03:42PM (#48085955)

                The unions in the US have way too much power

                LOL! Union participation is at an all time low, other than police and sometimes fire unions the public unions have been destroyed or weakened to the point of irrelevance. Heck, even the UAW and Teamsters, some of the strongest unions historically have little power and have given up almost all protections for new members to keep some of the gains for past employees. I'm no lover of the UAW (actually, have many fun stories about how they messed up things for me when I worked for IBM) but even I will say that the idea that they have too much power today, or any time in the last decade or so is silly.

                • by evilRhino ( 638506 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @03:53PM (#48086039)
                  I believe the idea that unions are still relevant is a popular message among the corporate media. For example when Hostess went bankrupt in 2012 due to mismanagement, the press reported mostly that the business would have to close if the unions didn't make concessions. Never mind the fact that they had previously made many concessions in the past, and the new contract would result in wages barely over minimum wage yet would not touch executive bonuses. OCP owns the police.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:51PM (#48085395)

            That's a nice false dichotomy you've got there. Be a shame if something happened to it... But seriously, there's a huge gulf between at-will and what you describe. I know of a small business where the receptionist is frequently rude to clients and spends more time on places like Facebook than actual work. So even if this small business had to show good cause for firing this receptionist, it wouldn't be that difficult a bar to meet. You just have to show some business related reason for firing the person, as opposed to "I don't like the color of your shoelaces. Get out, you're fired!"

            What I don't get is that the US was founded upon the principles of everyone being equal and entitled to some kind of due process... Except when it comes to private business, when suddenly that whole idea goes out the window according to certain political philosophies. Ironically the same political philosophies often espouse ideals about freedom from oppression and decry dictators petty, tinpot, or otherwise. I've never been able to figure out how they reconcile such a disconnect where oppression from governments is the single greatest evil, but the same kind of oppression from private business is not only perfectly acceptable, it's a desirable outcome.

            • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @05:00PM (#48086759)

              What I don't get is that the US was founded upon the principles of everyone being equal and entitled to some kind of due process... Except when it comes to private business, when suddenly that whole idea goes out the window according to certain political philosophies. Ironically the same political philosophies often espouse ideals about freedom from oppression and decry dictators petty, tinpot, or otherwise. I've never been able to figure out how they reconcile such a disconnect where oppression from governments is the single greatest evil, but the same kind of oppression from private business is not only perfectly acceptable, it's a desirable outcome.

              Because private businesses can't impose the same sort of oppression that a government can. They have to follow laws and they can't shield their employees from criminal actions. And you can always leave an abusive employer. It's much harder to leave an abusive government, especially, if it has imprisoned you.

              This stuff is not in the same league. It mystifies me how people can equate the huge power of governments with the far weaker power of businesses.

              • by bingoUV ( 1066850 ) on Wednesday October 08, 2014 @03:50AM (#48089529)

                Yes, businesses can be less powerful than governments. But your arguments for it are faulty.

                They have to follow laws

                Laws which they helped write.

                you can always leave an abusive employer

                Unless they blacklist you. If Comcast can ask an employer to fire an employee, it can also ask them to not hire him. Or like Apple and Google "agreed" to not poach each other's employees. Or was it Microsoft? I keep losing track of which company did which illegal thing.

                Now, essentially same arguments can be made for governments :
                1. Governments have to follow constitutions.
                2. You can always vote out an abusive government.

        • by Jaime2 ( 824950 )

          If you take it to court, the judge (or jury depending on what court) is going to listen to the employer's explanation of why the person was fired. If it makes sense, the employer wins. If it doesn't make sense, then it's assumed that the employer is covering up for one of the illegal reasons. They will also look for consistency. If the person was fired for being rude and the employer has a history of not firing people who are rude, then there is an alternate explanation.

          This is why people are always so care

          • " If it makes sense, the employer wins. If it doesn't make sense, then it's assumed that the employer is covering up for one of the illegal reasons. They will also look for consistency".

            All very reasonable. Unfortunately, it's much harder (and usually impossible) to establish truth or falsity. A lone employee up against a stack of managers and their HR department is rather like a single infantryman armed with a rifle trying to fight a tank regiment. It will only end one way.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) *

        It depends on the state. In many states, an employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all ...

        No.

        In "right to work" states, you can fire someone for no reason at all, but even in these states, if you cite a reason, everything changes.

        • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:18PM (#48085141)

          In "right to work" states, you can fire someone for no reason at all, but even in these states, if you cite a reason, everything changes.

          "Right to work [wikipedia.org]" laws govern whether unions can force employees in an organized company to pay dues even if they do not want to be a member of the union. This has nothing directly to do with at will employment [wikipedia.org] which applies to every worker not covered under a contractual agreement (including union contracts) stipulating conditions for termination. At will employment means you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all unless it impacts your status as a protected class [wikipedia.org].

        • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

          Yup. Anyone who has been in the workforce and not at a place thats small and full of happy people should have been able to piece this one together on their own. Whenever someone leaves a company it is always either "He has moved on to other opportunities" (he left on his own) or "He is no longer with the company" (we fired him)

          You just about never get more than that officially, anything else will be off the record hallway talk. About the only exception to that I have seen was an old manager of mine who had

        • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @03:08PM (#48085579)

          You actually mean "at will employment" where they can terminate your employment for any reason.

          However, this gets further confused when you consider "termination for cause" -- are they firing you just to terminate your employment or is there some rationale for termination like insubordination, unexcused absences, criminal activity.

          Most employers don't like terminating employment without cause because employees are often eligible for unemployment insurance which impacts their employer's premiums.

          • by PRMan ( 959735 )
            This is why they handle it be having a "layoff" and only laying off the people that they want to fire.
    • by MouseTheLuckyDog ( 2752443 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:26PM (#48084557)

      It might be hard to sue the employer but he could sue Comcast for tortuous interference.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      He doesn't have a case against his employer unless they were stupid and gave a reason for termination. He likely does have a case against Comcast under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as the company is not allowed to contact an employer about a debt or matters relating to it. Since this is Comcast we're talking about though, they'll settle, claim this settlement was never recorded in their system, not pay, make the plaintiff call 37 times, then apologize to the plaintiff, offer him 3 months of HBO
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @12:47PM (#48084021)

    Be careful next time when you exercise your first amendment rights.

    As the government did not arrest this person for what they said, it has nothing to do with the first amendment.

    • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:27PM (#48085227)
      Not quite that clear. Congress makes all sorts of laws to enable companies to exist in the first place. If some of those laws enable companies to unreasonably stifle free speech then that would be a violation of the first amendment by proxy.
  • What did anyone expect. This is the only way Comcast knows to respond to criticism. Did he think they were going to change? Improve? What a laugh, they have monopoly power and can do as they please.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @12:50PM (#48084045)

    If the guy really did name-drop his employer in an attempt to intimidate/coerce Comcast, what's the problem?

    If the company name was used it would be entirely fair to contact the company to make sure the policy stated by the employee was in fact the policy of the company. If not, if the employee did misrepresent the company, than getting fired may be appropriate.

    Cable companies may be evil but not everything they do is necessarily wrong. Pushing back against a bully would not be wrong.

    • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:20PM (#48084469)

      If the man's account is to be believed, EVEN if he name dropped his employer, it was only in an effort to get fair service from comcast to begin with. And get all the crap charges removed.

      And comcast should get bad press for contacting their customer's employer to begin with. Who the hell does that to a customer? Comcast, that's who. Time to go to congress, and get all this cable and telecom monopoly crap gotten rid of.

      • Amen. This shit has to stop. Break up Comcast/Xfinity/whatever-the-hell they're calling themselves already, they'll a criminal thug organization these days more than anything.

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      If the guy really did name-drop his employer in an attempt to intimidate/coerce Comcast, what's the problem?

      Without the tapes of the conversation from Comcast, we don't actually know what was said. It's a he said/she said sort of deal.

      For instance, the customer works at an accounting firm which audits Comcast's books. If the customer called up Comcast and used his position as an associate at the firm in order to gain leverage, that'd be an ethical violation, and yes that would warrant an investigation and termination... if it were true. He wouldn't have had to exactly name the company either (which he says he ne

  • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @12:50PM (#48084055)

    I can't help but think that there's more to this story. I hate Comcast and it's fun to rail on them, but there's no proof yet that they've done anything horrible here. What appears to have happened is that a customer used his position (or knowledge he gained through his position) at work to escalate his own personal billing issue to someone at Comcast who had zero to do with the situation, and it backfired. Until or unless the recording of the phone call is made public, nobody really knows what went down and everything else is useless speculation.

    There are plenty of 100% legitimate, proven reasons to hate Comcast. This might not be one of them.

    • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:25PM (#48084539)

      I fully believe they Google'd the guy. He basically threatened them with reporting them to the IRS and SEC for violating accounting standards, and he didn't just threaten a nobody, he threatened another accountant. Very very serious allegations. They likely ran those accusations right to their legal department who did a full investigation and realized he worked for someone that worked for them. A quick call to a partner threatening to pull the account and the guy is fired.

      I completely believe this happened even without knowing their side of the story. Even if he did mention who he worked for it would have been irrelevant and treated just the same way it would have been if he was talking to low level support. Without Comcast releasing the actual call recordings we shouldn't trust any spin they put on it, nor should we outright believe everything the guy says. But the fact is they called his employer and got him fired. There is almost nothing he could have said on the phone to them to justify that.

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:09PM (#48085005)

        He basically threatened them with reporting them to the IRS and SEC for violating accounting standards, and he didn't just threaten a nobody, he threatened another accountant.

        Then he's an idiot. When I had trouble with AT&T DSL back in the '90s, I couldn't ever get anyone to talk to me. I used my "work position" to try to escalate. "I work for a tech company doing tech, I understand these things."

        Nothing worked.

        I didn't push the issue after the 6th month or so of problems. I sent a letter to the FCC about the deceptive practices, copying the 12 divisions of SBC that were involved in delivering AT&T DSL at the time, and to AT&T's corporate council.

        Within 48 hours of putting the letter in the mailbox, I had an AT&T tech at my house and the problem I was told for 6 months was "impossible" to fix, was fixed.

        Don't ever threaten to go to a regulatory body. Just do it. Of course let them know, so that when the FCC got back to my complaint another 6 weeks later, I could tell them it was resolved.

  • the whole being fired part has a lot to do with working for a shitty company, regardless of how "prestigious" it is.
  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @12:53PM (#48084101) Homepage Journal

    Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by being evil incarnate, dripping with pure unfiltered malice for all your customers.

  • The loser wasn't fired for just complaining. He was fired for going over the top and calling someone from accounting using his work identity, and that person from accounting said that the charges were legit and this guy shouldn't have bothered him, so that controller called the accounting firm this loser worked for, and out the door he went.

    • He was fired for going over the top and calling someone from accounting using his work identity,

      As far as we know, he only has one identity.

      and that person from accounting said that the charges were legit and this guy shouldn't have bothered him, so that controller called [...] and out the door he went.

      And because the person from accounting says the charges are legitimate, that makes it true?

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @12:54PM (#48084113) Homepage Journal

    If this person is telling the truth, and they had NOT been name-dropping, he's got a hell of a lawsuit on his hands.

    Granted, Comcast can tie it up in the courts for years...

  • Would be my advice... (IANAL)
  • by emagery ( 914122 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @12:54PM (#48084123)
    Anyone calling in from comcast here would get a scorched ear for their time (and complete and utter lack of transparency, support, value, ethics, et cetera.)
  • Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by being pure evil incarnate, with a seething hatred for all your paying customers.

  • If he's telling the truth and wasn't name-dropping, then Comcast has some explaining to do. To a judge and jury.

    Granted, they have deep enough pockets to tie it up for years. But...

  • Possible grounds for lawsuit, Slander or Libel?

  • ...is who said what and did what. There's simply not enough info to say.
    • I have worked support for a ISP before, If I had a dime for every time a conversation started with I'm a lawyer, technician, or etc.. so I know what I'm talking about. I would be a millionaire. To get a response like this a customer would have had to threaten a lot of physical harm and it probably would have been the police not their job that was called.

      You are right there is only one side of the story and no proof presented for either so there is not really any way to know.

  • If you have not already sent the links to the Comcast call from hell and other comcast stores on the net
    Then
    send a strongly worded email with the links to your congress people;
    Else
    Add this to your list of strongly worded emails sent to your congress person about comcast;

    Add "please oppose the comcast merger".

    This is an election year.

  • is not news. But I still smell a lawsuit in the works if things went down as described.
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:00PM (#48084209) Homepage Journal

    of the telephone convo. Comcast like most others of its ilk record all conversations and should be easy enough to get with a court ordered discovery during a lawsuit. Should be a slam dunk case.

    Unless this guy wasn't telling the truth and he really did invoke his employer's name while ranting at some poor Comcast employee ("F**k you, do you know who I am? I'm the CXX at YYY!") Then he won't sue.

  • That someday the world governments will fall just like in the science fiction future novels. One day the world will be ruled by corporations. Those corporations will then have to have large armies to protect themselves from the masses they control. Things like this is why.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:00PM (#48084221)

    Look, we all hate Comcast, but something is fishy here about this guy. I will go as far as saying that the write-up is one-sided, and if "true", the employer has opened themselves up to a lawsuit, and I really don't think HR and their lawyers would do this.

    We are not hearing the full story.

    • Look, we all hate Comcast, but something is fishy here about this guy. I will go as far as saying that the write-up is one-sided, and if "true", the employer has opened themselves up to a lawsuit, and I really don't think HR and their lawyers would do this.

      We are not hearing the full story.

      I'm not so sure (and suspect that it depends on which state he's in). My state, for example, is "right to work". Which means, unless it expressly violates some protection (disabled, race, gender, etc): I can fire you for anything at all. I can fire you because my astrologer said I should fire anyone who wore a red shirt in today.

      I would think *comcast* might be actionable *if* they actually lied. Otherwise, and unless he's in a state with more signifigant protections than mine, he's SOL.

  • Comcast maintained that Conal used the name of his employer in an attempt to get leverage. Conal insists that he never mentioned his employer by name, but believes that someone in the Comcast Controller’s office looked him up online and figured out where he worked.

    But he might have, and it's he-said, she-said.

    He went outside of Comcast customer service and started throwing names and threats around, and it got back to his boss.

  • clear violation of civil rights and probably of his employment contract. the lawyers will probably form a double line a block long outside his house to take this case on contingency.

  • Did they change something? I can't see a single comment
  • don't do this. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nukenbar ( 215420 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:03PM (#48084253)

    1. Talk bad about our boss' clients in public
    2. Get fired.

    This is not a first amendment issue.

  • He has a lawyer but he hasn't filed a lawsuit and demanded the recordings as part of discovery?

    Is there some reason they wouldn't back up his version of events? It's not hard to imagine that many courts would award him significant damages if the story is true and many attorneys would take such a case on commission.

  • If he's on the level, sounds like a wrongful termination suit against the firm, and possibly something related against Comcast? Not a lawyer, or anything. IF he's on the level.
    I'm not sure what he could have said (with regards to his employer) that anyone at Comcast should have taken into consideration with regards to whatever his problem was. If he did, he shouldn't have. If he did, Comcast shouldn't have cared. If he did, and Comcast cared, I don't think his employer should have cared.

    Long story sh
  • by alex4u2nv ( 869827 ) * on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:04PM (#48084275) Homepage

    Question: Why would you like to terminate your service?
    Answer: Because I will lose my job.

  • It's simple (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:04PM (#48084281)

    It's simple... he's in collections, who, by default know where he works. It's freely available to all collections agencies via Experian. One of the first things a collections agency will do is call your employer. If his employer does a large amount of business with Comcast he'd be out the door faster than he can blink.

    This is his employers fault for selling his employment data in exchange for free employment reference services.
    http://www.learnvest.com/2013/... [learnvest.com]
    Your employer is likely doing the same...

    And then again their fault for firing him over some minor missed payments.

  • Because this really does look like a corporation bent on its own destruction.
  • I can't imagine that it's Comcast's policy to try and get their customers, angry or not, fired from their jobs.

  • I'm going to need to hear a lot more than he said she said to believe a word of this.
  • Comcast sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:06PM (#48084313) Homepage
    One time I tried to explain to a customer service rep that the problem was on Comcast's side of the service box, I went without Internet access for a whole month. Comcast eventually sent a technician who discovered that the last technician installed a bypass filter backwards in the service box. That, neighbors and friends, describes Comcast technical support perfectly: ass-backwards.
  • by Alan Shutko ( 5101 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:12PM (#48084393) Homepage

    This seems like a natural evolution of the freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences [facebook.com] doctrine.

  • by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:14PM (#48084401)

    Welcome to the new world...

  • Issue? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:14PM (#48084409)

    The submitter says "be careful when you exercise your first amendment rights," which attempts to frame the issue as one of "free speech."

    Really, it sounds like the guy called up Comcast, was a total asshole, bad enough that a guy at Comcast told his employer what kind of person they kept employed. Bad enough that his employer would fire him for it, so we can only guess at the content, but I'm willing to bet it was pretty abusive. Those customer service people put up with a whole hell of a lot on a daily basis, so this was probably something above and beyond the normal abuse people hurl at Comcast (justly or unjustly).

    You could argue that the employer should have shown the guy the email summary, but that's on the employer's conscience.

    Like, I know that Comcast is a terrible company, and it sounds like he was right to be pretty upset with them for the terrible customer service he received. But given that he makes no attempt to explain or defend what he said on those calls, I'm guessing he crossed *way* over the line. If you're a terrible person, maybe you should be fired.

  • Bollocks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rodrigoandrade ( 713371 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:15PM (#48084425)
    I know it's cool to rip on cable companies, but this story smells fishy from where I'm sitting. I want to hear the other side of this story.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:19PM (#48084455) Journal
    So far it's just a "he-said/she-said" story, but the only one saying anything is the complainer himself. The writer didn't seem to make any attempt to contact the "large, prestigious accounting firm" to see why the guy was actually fired.

    I dislike Comcast as much as anyone, but there are real things to be upset about......I don't have time to be outraged by every bit of hearsay found on a blog somewhere.
  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:21PM (#48084483) Journal

    ...of linkedin.

  • by volvox_voxel ( 2752469 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @01:26PM (#48084551)

    This incident sounds like a good case for recording all of your conversations with such companies. It is my understanding that you have to tell them that the conversation is being recorded; something they may not agree to. Does anyone here know more about the terms and conditions of this CYA method?

    This example seems pretty hard to believe / outlandish but unreasonable and vindictive if true. It would be interesting to hear if there were similar stories from other people.

  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:21PM (#48085193)

    We've gone from "too big to fail," to "too big to complain about."

You are in a maze of UUCP connections, all alike.

Working...