Service bytes

By now, you likely know of the Comcast call heard 'round the Internet -- the eight-minute segment of an excruciating 18-minute phone call that tech journalist Ryan Block endured with a so-called customer-service rep when he tried to cancel his service.

The rep -- clearly required to ask why Block was leaving and to offer him a better deal -- kept aggressively asking the same question, Sisyphus-style, despite receiving the same response to "Please disconnect our service," often talking over Block, pressing him again and again as to "Why do you want to leave the fastest Internet company in the world? Help me understand why you don't want faster Internet?" To which Block would counter, "Help me understand why you can't just disconnect us?" Rinse, repeat, rerun, ditto, into an infinite loop of needy, desperate, irrational, psycho-boyfriend behavior until you just want to punch the guy through the phone.

Block even asked if he was being pranked, yet remained incredibly calm and recorded the call, later posting it to SoundCloud. After it went web-wide, Comcast issued a statement expressing dismay at the rep's behavior.

But sadly, this is hardly an anomaly. Wherever this story was posted, thousands of comments poured in from people with similar tales about Comcast and other service providers. One woman said a rep wouldn't let her cancel service because the account was in her husband's name so he would have to call. "But my husband is deceased," she told the rep, who insisted she take a death certificate to a local office for proof.

Ah, customer service -- the great equalizer.

Main squeeze

You know what they say about accordions: When accordions are outlawed, only outlaws will have accordions. I don't know what that means exactly, but fortunately, the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone is still legal and surprisingly hotter than ever, as evidenced by the upcoming 74th Annual Accordion Festival, July 23 to 26 at the Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport Hotel in Burlingame, hosted by the Accordionists & Teachers Guild and including concerts, competitions, workshops, exhibits and even two accordion orchestras. Who knew?

There will be performances by world-class accordionists like Stas Venglevski, a native of the Republic of Moldova and a virtuoso of the bayan, known as a button-box. And making his U.S. debut, Ye Xiaogang, a professor at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music. And Frank Petrilli, who specializes in accordion jazz and appeared on "Mad Men" in 2011. "Mad Men," people! It has to be cool.

Concerts are open to the public at $15, www.accordions.com/atg/. Clearly there's more to the accordion than meets Myron Floren. And we can finally ditch the old joke: "What's the range of an accordion? Twenty yards if you've got a good arm."

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Contact Angela Hill at ahill @bayareanewsgroup.com.

, or follow her on Twitter @giveemhill.