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The company said it was working with Brown but would not talk about specifics."We were speechless that that would make it out the door," she said of the mailed bill, which identified her husband as "Asshole Brown." The name change, even if by a rogue employee or contractor, is the latest Comcast customer fiasco to go viral as the cable company faces intense government scrutiny over its proposed deal to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. Deal opponents have complained that Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable would be the merger of two companies with horrific national customer-service ratings.

They and others point to the huge volume of phone calls to Comcast call centers and say the overwhelming majority are dealt with professionally and satisfactorily.

Tom Karinshak, senior vice president of customer service, said Thursday of the distasteful name change that "it's out there and we have to own it." But he also noted that it was "inappropriate behavior of one employee at one of our partners." Karinshak said Comcast was making progress on improving its customer service.

Elliott said Thursday that it seemed so outrageous that he didn't believe it when the Browns first contacted him by e-mail this week.

Then Lisa Brown e-mailed him a scanned copy of the bill - which he posted - and Comcast confirmed it.

The recording has been downloaded more than five million times.

Other Comcast subscribers have since copied Block's technique of posting interactions with Comcast customer representatives on social media.

In October, San Francisco accountant Conal O'Rourke sued Comcast in federal court in Northern California, contending that Comcast got him fired after he complained to Comcast headquarters about 2.50 in overcharges on his bills and ,000 in equipment he had not ordered. In November, an X1 set-top box outage swept the nation, resulting in lost TV service.

Also in November, a Comcast billing conversion to new software created additional service outages in the Philadelphia region.

Charles Herrin, senior vice president for Comcast customer experience, personally apologized to the Browns in a phone call and said Thursday in a blog posting that it was an "unacceptable situation." Lisa Brown, 37, wife of Ricardo and the one who complained to the office that authorizes cable franchising in Spokane, said Thursday that she was "shocked" by the incident.

Comcast agreed to refund two years of her bills, she said.

"You have many, many layers [of management] now and a larger geographic region." Susan Mudambi, associate professor of marketing at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, said she has sympathy for call-center employees who have to interact with unhappy customers.

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