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Stop arguing with Comcast and let this bot negotiate for you

Stop arguing with Comcast and let this bot negotiate for you

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San Francisco startup Trim’s latest creation is a bot willing to wade into the darkest waters for you: negotiating service changes on your Comcast account.

Trim has previously helped users ditch unwanted subscriptions. Its new AI, spotted by VentureBeat, works as a Chrome extension. It uses natural language processing to chat with customer service reps on your behalf.

“Our goal is to help Trim users save money,” founder Thomas Smyth told The Verge. “Most folks are paying too much for things like cable and internet. Comcast is a quintessential example.”

Trim does require users to hand over personal information such as their email, address, and phone number on the account to proceed. When asked whether or not Trim holds on to that information, Smyth said company stores users session logs.

“This helps the bot's magical AI powers improve over time,” Smyth says. “As more users try out Trim, the bot gets smarter.”

I’m not a Comcast customer myself, but I wanted to see how well the bot handled chat. It was a little surreal watching it introduce itself as me. When prompted, the bot handed over the information I’d provided, all while maintaining a friendly demeanor. It continued to barter with the rep, pushing for lowered rates and credit to my account, until I manually stepped in and ended the conversation.

Smyth says the company “would love to do this for all of your bills,” but for now it’s focusing on one thing at a time. The Comcast bot itself is clearly still a work in progress; you can only select the “I just want some money!” option. Other tabs labeled with “coming soon” include prompts about internet speed, outages, and paying too much. The website claims that its success rate at the time of publish is 70 percent, with the average user saving $10.

The site warns that conversations will progress slowly, and that different service reps might respond in different ways. While you wait, you can play Pong, Brickbreaker, Snake, or Tetris to pass the time. Each game pops up as an on-screen overlay to the ongoing conversation, meaning you can keep an eye on things as you play.

Trim’s bot is firm, but polite

Comcast is notorious for bad service, scoring Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” title twice. When asked if Smyth had concerns about Comcast’s reaction to Trim, he declined to answer directly, instead highlighting feedback the company has heard from people using their service.

“We hope that, based on our example, Comcast will put a Tetris game on their customer service website next week,” Smyth says.

Arguing with any company is one of life’s small pains. Persuading said company to lower your bill is a task requiring patience and persistence. Trim’s bot is firm, but polite. At the very least, it’s a role model for how you should talk to fellow humans working on your account.