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Comcast introduces no-wait hotline. Will it cool customers' anger?

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Gene J. Puskar/AP/File

(Read caption) The Comcast logo on one of the company's vehicles in Pittsburgh. Comcast has launched a no-wait hotline for some customers to get their complaints resolved in 24 hours, but it is only available to people who receive a special ticket from a Comcast representative.

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Comcast is one of the most hated companies in the United States. Thanks in part to incidents like this, its Internet service division was ranked second-to-last this year by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. And when the company made a bid to buy Time Warner back in February, it generated even more vitriol from the general public. So how does the cable giant plan to mend its bruised image? With semi-secret customer service cards.

Branded as "We're On It" cards, these tickets let customers bypass the traditional customer service hotline and go straight to a dedicated team whose job it is to resolve your complaint in 24 hours or less. Comcast reps get 12 of these cards per year, which they can hand out at their discretion. The cards are meant for customers who've had negative or unresolved experiences with Comcast customer support. Each card has a unique ID number that connects you with a no-wait hotline where one of 250 special reps will take your call.

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The concept isn't unique to Comcast. Today's customer service reps work 24/7 on the phone, online, and even through video. Just last year Amazon launched Mayday, a live, video-based customer service hotline that's cooked into its Kindle Fire tablets and smartphone. Other companies like SouthwestChase, and JetBlue also have a strong presence on social media to address their customer complaints.

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Unfortunately, Comcast admits that its "We're On It" agents don't have any special privileges over the company's traditional reps. Instead, the company says they're similar to its digital care team, a small group of customer service reps that live on Twitter and Facebook. Both are dedicated teams trained to diffuse tense scenarios through different mediums.

Tech blog The Verge reports that these cards don't always work and quotes a former Comcast rep as saying its "simply a palliative to pacify the public."

Louis Ramirez is a senior features writer for DealNews, where this article first appeared: