Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Goodbye Melody

Four days after the painful July 25 MFP meeting, Melody Khalatbari resigned her position as Public Affairs Manager of Comcast of Montgomery County. Melody had been Comcast's spokesperson at the MFP meeting, a meeting which I described as blowing up in Comcast's face. Comcast had been attempting to lay the cause of their woes at Verizon's feet but instead ended up looking even worse than before. Melody's attempts to explain, excuse, and misdirect were feeble - although I didn't blame her so much as her superiors who handed her this stinking pile of ....uh, difficult job.

One hypothesis is that Melody got handed her walking papers based on her performance at the meeting. However, I'm not sure that makes sense given the lack of Comcast management at the meeting to observe her! (Before you suggest my blog had any influence, I'd say my poor service from Comcast has to discount that theory.)

Whatever the reason, Melody left Comcast on August 8 and began working at Verizon's Maryland offices one week later, August 15, according to Comcast allegations as reported in a Washington Post article by Cameron Barr. Interestingly, Barr reported that only three days later, Melody was no longer employed by Verizon.


The Post article goes on to report that Comcast alleges that they found evidence that Melody mailed confidential documents to her personal email account. The documents included Comcast's "top customers", "VIP customers", and "happy customers" (going by email subject names), emailed in the "days immediately preceding her resignation." Comcast sued Khalatbari in federal court and seeks compensatory damages of "more than $75,000" according to the Post article.

Where's The Beef?

Of course, these are only allegations and not proof. Conceivably, Comcast could have created evidence of sent emails to provide grounds for a lawsuit in order to force Verizon to release her. Indeed, I don't see why lists of good customers are particularly valuable. In some other businesses, like say, catering, good customers are worth soliciting by a competitor. But in the cable business, good customers aren't the kind likely to move to a competitor. Rather, it is the unhappy customers that want an alternative. If Melody wanted to deliver valuable information to Verizon, she should have given them unhappy customers.

Of course, that's only one type of confidential information that would be useful to a competitor. Marketing plans, future technologies, packages, and pricing - these are things that a competitor would find valuable. But they are not the documents reported as taken. So this all raises many questions about whether these allegations are true. For me, I'll need to hear more. Stay tuned.

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