In what may be seen as a veiled threat to eager viewers but a PR bonanza for FOX TV’s American Idol, an Illinois grandmother received a termination notice from Comcast (News - Alert) for daring to vote several hundred times an hour by phone for her favorite singing contestant.
Media reports say 72-year-old Ilene Henry was initially confused by the letter, as Comcast promotes its Digital Voice service as being “unlimited.” Yet after calling the Fox TV show by consistently hitting redial, Henry’s actions set off alarms at Comcast HQ, which the company said in a statement were “inconsistent with a residential number,” MyFoxDC reported.
"I've got it down to a science now and instead of counting the calls, I keep hitting redial and I timed it and I get in about fifty calls in ten minutes,” Henry told the DC-area station.
Granddaughter Andrea Holt Batalia jumped to her grandma’s defense, pointing out that “Comcast advertises their digital voice service as unlimited, and it doesn't say unlimited unless you call American Idol and you vote 10,000 times or 5,000 times or whatever the case may be."
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Since the story broke, Comcast has since backtracked, now saying it will send warning letters to users with odd calling patterns. The company also says the termination notice was sent to Henry in error.
But it’s not the first time the company has raised the ire of the elderly. The Washington Post reported a few years back about a new Comcast user who, upset with the service, went after a company rep with a hammer. And TV columnist Bob Garfield even started a blog titled ComcastMustDie.com, where unhappy customers could vent online. In his final column, Garfield claimed victory, although Ilene Henry might just disagree.