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News tagged: Comcast


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by Karl Bode 12:38PM Friday Jul 18 2014
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.

All week Comcast employees seemingly found it cathartic to describe just how broken Comcast really is on the inside, employees speaking to everyone from Business Insider to The Verge. Their gripes are supported by employment reviews at Glass Door. Numerous Comcast employees tell The Consumerist if they don't obnoxiously upsell, they face lower pay or termination:
quote:
As multiple tipsters are telling us, CSRs can only have a certain amount of “discos” — or disconnects — on their personal tallies each day, and must meet a certain quota of “saves,” for which they can earn bonuses and/or commission.
That “save” might just mean hanging up on a customer so the disco goes on another CSR’s list, or in Block’s case, a relentless attempt to keep the customer. Many employees said that with a low hourly pay rate, these saves are the only way to boost their paychecks.
An ex-Comcast employee over at Reddit makes the same point in more detail:
quote:
Comcast uses "gates" for their incentive pays, which means that if you fall below a certain threshold (which tend to be stretch goals in the first place) then instead of getting a reduced amount, you get 0$. Let's say that if you retain 85% of your customers or more (this means 85% of the lines of businesses that customers have when they talk to you, they still have after they talk to you), you get 100% of your payout - which might be 5-10$ per line of business.
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54 comments


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by Karl Bode 02:22PM Wednesday Jul 16 2014
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.
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20 comments


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by Karl Bode 04:25PM Thursday Jul 03 2014
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.

60 comments


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by Karl Bode 04:16PM Tuesday May 27 2014
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.
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20 comments


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by Karl Bode 09:23AM Monday May 19 2014
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%.
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79 comments


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by Karl Bode 02:34PM Wednesday May 14 2014
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.
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157 comments


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by Karl Bode 08:33AM Tuesday May 13 2014
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.
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45 comments


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by Karl Bode 10:40AM Monday May 12 2014
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.
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61 comments


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by Karl Bode 12:20PM Tuesday May 06 2014
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.
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5 comments


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by Karl Bode 12:25PM Friday May 02 2014
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.
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51 comments


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by Karl Bode 06:25PM Wednesday Apr 30 2014
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.

44 comments


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by Karl Bode 06:28PM Monday Apr 28 2014
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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3 comments


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by Karl Bode 10:16AM Monday Apr 21 2014
The New York Times is the latest to write a love letter to Comcast top lobbyist David Cohen, who skirts federal lobbying rules by simply pretending not to be a lobbyist. Cohen's currently in the middle of selling lawmakers on Comcast's $45 billion attempted acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and the Times pays more than a little adoration towards Cohen for his lobbying skill set, while also highlighting his close fundraising ties to many of the politicians reviewing the merger.
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77 comments


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by Karl Bode 08:14AM Monday Apr 21 2014
A few years ago we noted how a large scam ring operating in Philadelphia was offering users Comcast's entire cable TV lineup for $150...per year. The operation, which law enforcement claims cost Comcast $2.5 million in revenue, used a secret computer installed in a subcontractor's office, in addition to the IDs of subscontractors that were on disability or had been let go. Local Philly news outlets claim that the "ringleader" leader of the operation, who employed roughly two-dozen people in the operation, plead guilty last week in a Montgomery County courtroom.

13 comments


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by Karl Bode 10:39AM Friday Apr 18 2014
Al Franken has been leading a strong charge in opposition of Comcast's $45 billion Time Warner Cable acquisition, being one of the only people to hit the company with hard questions during the recent Congressional hearing on the merger. Now Franken is looking to get Netflix's help after the company recently vocally complained about the threat new interconnection and peering deals pose to the health of the greater Internet.
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34 comments


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by Karl Bode 12:12PM Wednesday Apr 16 2014
Like AT&T did when they tried to acquire T-Mobile, Comcast is using the fairly standard lobbying trick of using third party groups to parrot merger support -- since it's hard to get someone to like what most agree will be an anti-consumer merger without paying them. That includes the use of everything from minority groups to an ocean of niche associations, many of which are often willing to sell out their own constituents and support bad corporate policy just as long as money keeps flowing from Comcast.
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by Karl Bode 09:23AM Friday Apr 11 2014
The cable industry has historically found itself at the very bottom of customer satisfaction rankings across nearly all industries, in large part because of the constant rate hikes, but also because they simply don't want to pay for quality customer support. Comcast is no exception, and has spent most of the last decade trying to, as they put it, "combat consumer perceptions" that they're not very good at doing their job.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts seems to have popped up every few months or so over the last decade to make a promise that the company's rock-bottom customer satisfaction rankings are going to change soon -- yet they never do. With Comcast wanting regulatory approval for their Time Warner Cable acquisition, once again the company is promising everyone that customer service is a priority and will get fixed any day now:
quote:
Comcast Executive VP David Cohen told the Senate Judiciary Committee today that "it bothers us that we have so much trouble delivering a really high quality service level to customers on a consistent basis. It is not something we're ignoring." "We have spent billions of dollars over the last five years improving our networks to try to make them more reliable."..."We are deeply disappointed as to where we are."
Except reliable networks don't cure your customer satisfaction problems when you vehemently refuse to compete on price or spend serious money to improve your customer service systems, whether that's better training and support for front line support reps, or spending more money on better subcontractors so they don't fall asleep, kill anyone, torture kittens, dig in the wrong yard or blow up any laptops, dishwashers or homes.

55 comments


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by Karl Bode 01:23PM Tuesday Apr 08 2014
With a 180-page filing (pdf) and a blog post, Comcast today formally made their sales pitch to regulators regarding approval of Comcast's planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Most of what's included in the sales pitch are things Comcast has argued repeatedly already in the court of public opinion; namely that the two companies combined will create amazing synergies that will benefit consumers in a myriad of ways, and that the merged company can't possibly engage in bad behavior because relatively tiny operations like Google Fiber will somehow keep them honest.
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60 comments


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by Karl Bode 10:46AM Tuesday Apr 08 2014
Comcast has officially won the Consumerist's "Worst Company in America" award for the second time. According to the website Comcast beat out a significant number of heavy hitters riding massive waves of negative public sentiment for the honorary "golden poo," including Monsanto, numerous banks, and Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner Cable.
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22 comments


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by Karl Bode 12:46PM Monday Apr 07 2014
Last fall Comcast began tinkering with a new bundle that offered HBO, basic cable, and 25 Mbps broadband. While Comcast offers the bundle initially under promotion for $40-$50 a month (depending on your market), though it doesn't include HD content and the price jumps to a less sexy $70=$80 a month after one year.
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55 comments


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