Comcast just found a slightly insulting way to make customers happy

At the end of such a torrid year, companies should be very careful about what they tell customers. And how. I'm not sure Comcast got it quite right.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

Xfinite inconsistency.

There's been heartache and pain. We don't know if we can face it again. We'd love to change this lonely life.

No, of course I'm not specifically referring to 2020.

I'm thinking more about some customers' feelings toward Comcast, a company that's tried very hard to rise from its America's Worst Company awards, with some success.

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Yet even its desperate attempts to be referred to as Xfinity still don't always succeed in helping customers forgive or forget.

This doesn't stop Comcast from trying to spread Xfinitely good feelings. Why, it's just spent a large amount of money creating a long ad to celebrate, well, the giving spirit of humans.

Here's Steve Carell as Santa, trying to find new ideas for Christmas gifts. He enlists the help of his enterprising elves. Via Zoom, of course.

"After the year we've had, the usual gifts just aren't going to cut it," explains Santa.

Like many a business leader, he takes responsibility: "We have to find something else. And fast. That's all. Figure it out. Good luck."

So it is left to his elves to provide the inspiration.

One elf finally has the answer: "We're going to gift the Holiday spirit."

This isn't an exhortation for free vodka. Instead, the idea is to package all the lovely warm family feelings that Christmas is all about. You know, the warm family feelings you see in Holiday ads all the time.

Santa is, naturally, skeptical. He doesn't appear to have kids of his own, so perhaps he doesn't quite get it.

Still, the lure of technology has overtaken the Santa enterprise. Bezos-like, he has drones load the gifts onto his sleigh.

Opening one of the gifts, a family snowball fight, he's miraculously converted to humanity.

Then comes the corporate gospel. He tells his elves: "You reminded us it's not about toys or ornaments. It's about the little things."

Ah, yes. Warm human feelings make a comeback, just when you thought social media had permanently perverted them.

"Thanks for believing," says Santa. And we all weep along.

Naturally, I want to embrace this spirit of togetherness. The ad describes it as "the greatest gift of all."

Yet the timing here is a touch awkward.

You see, Comcast has just announced that it's going to encourage togetherness by extending data caps to larger parts of the country. Some already have this fine gift, but Comcast wants to bring the whole of America together in being capped.

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You might think, though, that at least the company has been showing customers its spirit of togetherness all year. Yes, Comcast has, during the pandemic, suspended overage fees for data. It's also participated in the Keep Americans Connected Pledge during these difficult times.

Then again, just a couple of weeks ago Comcast customers weren't able to record many shows.

They took to the Xfinity forums to express their dissatisfaction. This was especially acute for those who had recorded sports events, such as Korean baseball, overnight. (Alright, it was me.)

It took a long time for Comcast to so much as reply. This despite the fact that many tabulated their experiences with the company's customer service.

Sample: "I called Tech Support and they have no clue what is going on; they had me restart my X1 box, but nothing. I explained to the rep that this likely has to do with some licensing issue with movies or shows or something that changed at Comcast without notifying customers. Very frustrating. Over 1 hour on the phone without help."

Of course, I'm being as mean as Santa Carell. Every company has its customer service snafus.

But when you decide you're going to spread so much love and belief in the little things, perhaps it's worth checking how you as a company are doing with those little things.

Wait, I have breaking gifts. Comcast is raising its TV and internet prices -- and with an extra-loving hike of the hidden fees you appreciate so much.

I'm not sure this promise of togetherness is going to work perfectly.

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