Comcast's historically abysmal customer customer service has many causes, not least of which is the company's fairly obvious lax standards when it comes to subcontractors, which over the years has resulted in installers falling asleep
, murdering people
, digging in the wrong yard
, blowing up laptops
or even animal cruelty
. But to hear many Comcast insiders tell it, another major reason for Comcast's problems is the fact that the company has spent much of its existence growing for the sake of growing.
That results in a collection of discordant dysfunctional systems Comcast never really spends time or money fixing or integrating, because they've already got their eye on the next prize. Or, as one former Comcast employee tells The Verge
in a good piece on the merger:
“This is not getting bigger to provide cheaper service, or economies of scale, or to provide better service,” the onetime Comcast staffer explains. “This is getting bigger for the sake of bigness. This is really like, ‘I own 10 Subway stores and now I want an 11th one.’
Well, if your 10 Subway stores have Cs from the health department, I don’t know if you should get an 11th one. Maybe you should work on getting them cleaned out."
Granted growth for growth's sake is an investor-driven disease that is not unique to Comcast, Comcast's just exceptionally gifted when it comes to gobbling up companies and then being immensely, undeniably bad at customer support. The full Verge article
is a must read, as is this ongoing article allowing Comcast employees to dish internal details
While Comcast certainly has its faults
, the cable giant has led the way when it comes to IPv6 deployment while many larger ISPs have napped. Comcast recently announced they've officially completed their residential IPv6 deployments
, and around 30% of their customers are now actively running IPv6.
For years our users have complained of phantom Comcast charges -- especially Comcast's tendency to charge customers modem rental fees
even when they own the modem. Another classic Comcast blunder is the tendency to charge users for unreturned equipment fees -- even when all of the equipment has very clearly been returned.
Ever since Ryan Block recorded a Comcast support representative refusing to let him cancel service
, we've seen a swarm of recorded videos showing precisely why Comcast has the worst customer support rankings across any
industry. Earlier this week Comcast was recorded defending $182 in phantom charges
until a customer provided a recording of them promising the user wouldn't be charged.
In June of last year Comcast announced
that the company was launching a new, Fon-like effort that involved new router firmware that turns your gateway into a publicly-accessible hotspot. More specifically, updated routers would now offer two signals: one being yours, and the other being a "xfinitywifi" SSID signal providing free Wi-Fi to other Comcast users in your general area.
Back in January we were the first to report
that Comcast was again doubling speeds on many of its tiers, starting first with the company's Midwest division. As noted then, upgraded Comcast users will see the company's "Performance" tier bumped from 25/5 to 50/5 Mbps, their "Blast" tier from 50/10 to 105/10 Mbps, and their Extreme 105 speeds bumped from 105/20 Mbps to 150/20 Mbps.
As we noted last week
, two different cities with their own broadband networks (Wilson, NC and Chattanooga, Tennessee) have formally asked the FCC to declare that laws in their states hindering community broadband aren't enforceable, giving FCC boss Tom Wheeler the perfect opportunity to back up claims that he'd take action. Such bills are written and lobbied for by companies like Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable, and often restrict local citizen rights to determine for themselves what the best course of action for their community is.
Comcast made the wrong kind of headlines this week after a support representative was recorded simply refusing to let a customer cancel
. Comcast was quick to insist that the company was "embarrassed" by the employee's behavior, claiming that the employee was "unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives." Except since the story broke, numerous Comcast employees have come forward to point out that obnoxious upselling is the rule, not the exception.
To get their acquisition of Time Warner Cable approved, Comcast has been telling anybody who'll listen that the deal will somehow create more competition. They're making this claim at a time when AT&T and Verizon are looking to exit unwanted DSL markets, literally shoveling customers in Comcast's direction
, resulting in less competition than ever before across huge swaths of the country.
Not to be outdone by the family that sent money to Comcast for seven years for an alarm system that never worked
, an 88-year-old woman in Florida has paid Comcast for TV service for thirteen-plus years -- without ever receiving a working signal. A local Florida news outlet
(via the Consumerist
) notes the woman's development switched from Comcast to Charter service (apparently included in her rent) back in October of 2000, but Comcast kept billing her $29 a month for the next thirteen and a half years. When approached about the error by her grandson Comcast initially said they'd only provide a six month refund ($174). Once the issue received news attention Comcast stated they'd offer a full refund.
Comcast has argued that people shouldn't worry about their $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable because the two companies don't directly compete. They also have thus far brushed aside concerns about the company's mammoth scale leading to the kind of leverage that could harm smaller competitors in the pay TV space, insisting that companies like Google Fiber and Hulu
will keep them on their best behavior.
A new report by the FCC
(pdf) on the cost of television services in the United States found that prices have risen four times the price of inflation over a one year span. The report notes that basic cable prices jumped 6.5% during 2012 while expanded basic cable prices rose by 5.1%.
The writing has pretty clearly been on the wall as Comcast slowly but surely has expanded their usage-cap trials throughout less competitive Southern markets
. Speaking at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit today in New York City (see transcript
via Fierce Cable
), top Comcast lobbyist David Cohen was asked whether or not he sees a future where users only have a choice of capped plans.
In the hopes of further cementing support for their $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, Comcast this week took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal
. In it, Comcast offers a checklist of the wonderful things that users can expect if they support the deal.
To get their acquisition of NBC approved, Comcast proposed a condition requiring they offer $10 1.5 Mbps broadband to low income homes (dubbed "Internet Essentials"). As we pointed out when the program first surfaced
, Comcast proposed this condition because once potential applicants jump through a number of hoops, Comcast knew that very few low income families would actually qualify.
There has been a recent rash of proposed deals in the wake of Comcast's attempted takeover of Time Warner Cable, including AT&T's rumored takeover of DirecTV
, as well as Sprint's unflagging interest in acquiring T-Mobile
. Regulators choosing poorly in terms of which deals they let through will have a major impact on user wallets.
In the wake of the government's latest cash-drunk stumbleabout on net neutrality
, most consumer advocates are urging the government to solidify FCC authority over broadband by regulating ISPs as common carriers (essentially utilities). Former FCC boss Michael Powell, now the cable industry's top lobbyist at the NCTA, this week fought back against such ideas while patting himself on the back for his deregulatory policies -- policies that put consumer interests and the FCC in the precarious position they are in today.
Last June Comcast announced
that the company's new customer gateways would be configured to start sharing user Wi-Fi with local passers by, noting that the service could be disabled and that other peoples' usage wouldn't count against your usage cap. Today Comcast announced
that they're expanding this service further, now turning on shared Wi-Fi across 160,000 customer hotspots across the greater Atlanta area. Many users were rather confused to learn their hotspots were suddenly being used by strangers when Comcast enabled the functionality in the Chicago area back in March
. Users interested in disabling the feature can do so via the preferences page of their Comcast customer portal.
To help sell regulators on their acquisition of Time Warner Cable, Comcast has been suggesting that the larger company could start offering an MVNO-like wireless service
that heavily relies on the company's growing number of Wi-Fi hotspots. Now Sprint MVNO Scratch Wireless has announced they've been talking with cable operators about a wireless phone service that would lean heavily on Wi-Fi.
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