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ECT News Community   »   E-Commerce Times Talkback   »   Re: Comcast: Friendlier Attitudes Aren't Enough

Re: Comcast: Friendlier Attitudes Aren't Enough
Posted by: Jeff Kagan 2014-08-28 21:15:41
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Comcast has been trying to improve customer care. It has made some headway, but reliability of its services still is a big issue. I like Comcast people. During the last couple of years, their performance has gotten better. However, the quality of Comcast's service is still unreliable, at best, and problems just don't go away. Think of Comcast as a family-owned company that happens to be the largest cable television company in the industry. It wants to merge with Time Warner Cable, making it even larger and more powerful.

Re: Comcast: Friendlier Attitudes Aren't Enough
Posted by: Lava 2014-08-28 23:19:03 In reply to: Jeff Kagan
Comcast employees being "nicer" to customers is, IMO, the very *least* of their problems. (Though I do miss their Signature Support Program. I never talked to/with a tech who wasn't professional, courteous, patient, knowledgeable. And kept their word. If a tech told me he needed to further investigate an issue and would get back to me, he did, always within 1 or 2 days. But tech support and customer service in general? A whole other story.)

One of the main (if not main) problems with Comcast is they are the Ticketmaster of the cable industry. Like Ticketmaster, you don't have a choice but to deal with them (if they are the only cable provider in your county or state). Like Ticketmaster, they are arrogant because they CAN be, like any company that has a monopoly. Like Ticketmaster, they have close 'ties' with members of Congress. And like Ticketmaster, their prices climb ever upward even if not warranted.

I miss the county I used to live in. I had the rare pleasure of living somewhere that actually had two cable companies vying for the same subscribers, so there was genuine competition. How refreshing! Both providers knew you could switch to their competitor if you were unhappy, with tech support or customer service, or with the premium. Comcast's bundle premium was nearly triple that of the competition. But if you threatened to switch, Comcast was willing, eager even, to match what their competition charged. I stuck with the competition mostly on principle, but once switched to Comcast for a year out of curiosity. It was a long, costly year. I was more appreciative than ever when I switched back to the other company at year's end. (Another thing that Comcast's competitor did that Comcast never did was reduce your monthly premium by a certain amount for *any* outages you suffered. The few times I lost service for 3-4 hours or suddenly lost it in the evening [though it was always back up by morning], they knocked $35 off that month's bill. Every time it happened. NOT a courtesy Comcast has ever extended to me.

For unavoidable reasons, I'm now back in a county in which Comcast has a monopoly (unless I switched to the dish) and paying about five times what I used to pay. Though I have only Basic Enhanced Digital (or whatever it's called; and I have the TV-telephone-Internet bundle), and no premium channels, my bill has gone UP every month for the past 3 months. As of August my premium is now $65 MORE per month than it was at the end of May. Essplain that one, Lucy!

Except they can't. Though maybe if their CEO's ~$30 million annual salary/compensation package was half that amount, subscribers wouldn't be gouged. In fact, if Roberts' compensation was just one-FOURTH that amount (I know; dream on), he would still be making more money than about 70% of working Americans.

I'm not against capitalism, but it is companies like Comcast, executives like Roberts, that reveal the ugly underbelly of capitalism. Roberts became one of the richest Americans in 1999 when he inherited the majority of his father's Comcast stock, a tidy little windfall of around $750 million. Apparently Roberts can't "make do" with anything less than at least $30 million a year.

So while good customer service matters, I'd prefer instead an explanation as to why Comcast keeps increasing its premiums. Why I'm now being charged just shy of $200 a MONTH for basic enhanced digital, phone, and Internet. Except I already know the answer: Because they can. They can charge whatever they want because they have a monopoly. Period. There's no Verizon ViOS here, so it's the dish (not an option) or Comcast. No real choice at all, as is the case for most consumers. There's only one good monopoly, and that's the board game.

Whatever happened, anyway, to the legislation (Telecommunications Act) a few decades ago that was in large part meant to REDUCE prices for consumers? Like most bills Congress passes, they intentionally (given how many congressmen hold law degrees/are lawyers) throw in a few loopholes big enough to drive a tractor through, a 'goodies bag' tossed to whatever industry or corporation a piece of legislation is meant to address/rectify. At any time since the Telecommunications Act was passed it could have been amended, but neither political party is interested in doing so.

And so as usual consumers get hosed. So no, "friendlier" attitudes from customer service reps isn't enough OR the answer, not by a long shot. In fact, they could be mean as snakes and it wouldn't matter so much IF premiums were reasonable. I will say, however, that I'd have enjoyed flicking the nose of the customer service rep I talked to earlier in the year, when my premium was hiked another $20/month (the only thing Comcast could have used as an excuse for the hike was the addition of about 5 more religious channels) and I called to find out why. When that month's bill came, I called Comcast and switched to the second cheapest plan, asked why should I be paying more to watch channels and shows that I could watch, for free, via Netflix streaming, through various cable stations that offered free streaming of most of their shows via their websites. The snotty comeback from the customer service rep was, "Let me guess: you're another cord cutter." You got it in one, Junior.

If it weren't for the fact that my elderly mother, who has no interest in the Internet or technology, is a bit of a techno-phobe generally, and faithfully watches two channels that do NOT offer a streaming format or free streaming from their website(s), I'd dropkick Comcast into a galaxy far, far away.
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