Remember that tale of a fired accountant who blamed Comcast? It's kinda true, says telco

ISP denies getting the guy sacked – but promises probe

Updated Comcast has publicly apologized to Conal O'Rourke, the accountant who claims he was fired for moaning about the ISP's lousy service.

"What happened with Mr O'Rourke's service is completely unacceptable," said Charlie Herrin, Comcast's recently appointed VP of customer experience, in a company blog post.

"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."

O'Rourke went to the media earlier this week after he suffered a catalog of cock-ups with his Comcast connection, including being billed for equipment he neither ordered or used – and being quizzed about the color of his house.

He claims he was fired from his accountancy job at PricewaterhouseCoopers after a Comcast staffer got in contact with a higher-up at his firm and triggered an ethics probe.

In his apology, Herrin denied that anyone at Comcast had asked for him to be fired, although Comcast has refused to deny that anyone from the firm got in touch with O'Rourke's employers. Herrin has promised a full investigation into the matter.

This interest in the fate of O'Rourke may be linked to the fact that the ex-accountant threatened legal action against Comcast. In a letter to the telco, his lawyers alleged that Comcast employees researched O'Rourke online and then got in contact with his employers claiming that the accountant had threatened to use his position at PwC as "leverage."

The lawyers point out that PwC does contract work for Comcast that is worth up to $30m a year to the accountancy firm. It should be easy to check the veracity of Comcast's comments, the lawyers claim in the letter, since recordings of the conversations should still be available.

O'Rourke's lawyers are demanding Comcast issue a full public apology for the incident, refund him the extra charges on his bill, get him reinstated in his old job, and pay $100,312 and 50 cents in restitution. The ISP has until October 14 to comply.

What's probably going to happen here is that both parties will agree to settle out of court with no admission of liability, as is so often the case with such disputes. As such we'll probably never know the full truth behind the matter.

But this case, and others like it, points to one key takeaway from all this. If you are dealing with Comcast, or any other firm, record all your calls (taking care to inform the call recipient that that's what you're doing) if you want any kind of leverage in the future. ®

Updated to add

We contacted PwC for comment, and the firm sent us this statement:

Mr O’Rourke was employed in one of our internal firm services offices. 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. The firm has explicit policies regarding employee conduct, we train our people in those policies, and we enforce them. Mr O’Rourke’s violation of these policies was the sole reason for his termination.

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