As part of the company's attempt to shore up lagging customer service (or to at least shore up the perception of lagging customer service) Comcast today unveiled a new app that will let customers track where a technician currently is located. Waiting all day for a technician that never shows up is a large reason for the cable industry's abysmally low customer satisfaction rankings, and Comcast and their new "Customer Experience" VP Charlie Herrin hopes the new app helps to change that.
According to a Comcast blog post
, the new app will eventually be made available for free through the company's MyAccount app, and begins trials outside of Boston this week.
According to Comcast, customers with scheduled appointments will be alerted by the app when their technician is about thirty minutes away from arrival, with customers able to track the tech's location on a map. If the tech is running late, Comcast says, users will be provided with real-time updates explaining precisely why.
"We’re hoping this will prevent our customers from just needing to sit at home and wait," says the company. "If all goes well, we’re hoping to bring this new experience to customers in the new year."
The solution sounds promising, assuming it works. Customers have all-too-often been paid lip service by cable phone support, which will often claim a technician is right around the corner -- even in cases where they have no idea where the technician is. If the app accurately tracks technicians it sounds like a great idea; if it's the equivalent of a digital pacifier that falsely promises that the tech is "right around the corner," it obviously won't solve what ails Comcast support.
Charter board member and minority stake holder John Malone says that he'd push to have Charter Communications make another pass at Time Warner Cable if regulators block Comcast's attempted acquisition. "Oh yes," Malone said
when asked if a Charter buy would still be on the table in such a scenaior. "That said, we're happy with the deal that was negotiated. In many ways it's a better deal than going after 100% of Time Warner Cable." To get regulatory approval, Comcast's current deal involves spinning off 2.5 million subscribers
to create a company named Greatland Communications that's co-owned by Comcast and Charter.
Comcast says their merger with Time Warner Cable is on schedule despite potential new legal skirmishes over net neutrality rules. While Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus recently stated the deal was taking longer than he expected
, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts insists that the deal is still on schedule to meet its early 2015 completion projection. That's assuming that regulators don't block the deal, something most analysts don't see as likely. "We are in the final stages of public comment," states Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. "Sometimes things get slowed down in that phase," Roberts said, but "we are full steam ahead."
Last month reports emerged
suggesting that policy folk and lawyers at larger ISPs like AT&T and Comcast were annoyed with Verizon for suing the FCC and successfully overturning the agency's net neutrality rules. Those rules, as we've noted repeatedly, omitted wireless and didn't really do much of anything outside banning the outright blocking of websites (something ISPs have no interest in).
Several weeks ago, I wrote about
how the new NBA TV rights deal would likely raise everyone’s cable bill whether you watch the NBA or not. But slowly, TV providers are realizing that customers have in fact had enough with paying for absurdly expensive regional sports networks that only a minority of customers actually watch.
During the recent rash of Comcast horror stories, Tim Lee posted this piece
exploring what it's like visiting one of Comcast's service centers which, much like the company's historically-bad phone support, isn't a particularly enjoyable experience. Comcast's now eliminating the need for you to visit one of their 500 service centers in order to return gear, striking a new deal with UPS that lets to drop off your equipment at most UPS locations. According to the announcement
, you can drop off your equipment and they'll wrap and ship it back to Comcast at no additional charge. Comcast states this new effort is "just one example of the work Comcast is doing to rethink every aspect of the customer experience."
Comcast this week stated that the cable giant has deployed around 5 million of the company's shiny new "X1" set top boxes after beginning the deployment two years ago. Comcast says they're on target to have X1's in the majority of homes within the next three years
, though that doesn't include potentially-acquired Time Warner Cable customers who are getting new set tops of their own
. Comcast's 5 million deployed X1's are only a fraction of the company's 22.3 million video subscribers, however. Comcast states that those customers on X1 are 20% less likely to leave the company.
Comcast's latest earnings
indicate the company's third-quarter net income jumped nearly 50% courtesy of income tax "adjustments," leading to profits of $2.59 billion on revenue of $16.79 billion on the quarter. Comcast lost 81,000 net video subscribers on the quarter, but managed to add 315,000 broadband users and 68,000 voice users. Those voice additions are down from 169,000 the previous quarter, and most analysts expect voice totals to slow then start to reverse as users look for ways to reduce soaring TV costs (read: cut digital voice and go cell only). The average Comcast customer bill climbed 4% to $137.24 per month, largely courtesy of early 2014 price hikes for most users.
The FCC today announced that the regulatory agency is pausing the 180-day "shot clock" on both the Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV mergers. According to the FCC's order
, eight content companies including Disney, Time Warner, CBS, Twenty First Century Fox and Viacom raised opposition to competitors and other companies being able to see confidential carriage agreement details, even though companies that view this information must sign non-disclosure agreements.
The National Advertising Division (NAD) is telling CenturyLink to stop lying
when they compare their Internet speeds versus those offered by Comcast. As noted previously NAD is essentially an industry self-regulatory firm that avoids regulatory intervention by settling marketing disputes in house.
At the tail end of September I noted
how Comcast had hired a new VP of "Customer Experience," Charlie Herrin. Herrin was monumentally tasked with shoring up Comcast's dismal customer satisfaction reputation and being the face of damage control for what seems like an endless stream of consumer missteps.
Quite some time before 1 Gbps fiber to the press release
became the industry PR trend du jour, Comcast had started offering a 505 Mbps down, 100 Mbps up tier
. The tier isn't cheap -- it runs users around $300 a month, comes with a $1,000 ETF, a $250 activation fee, and
a $250 installation fee.
is running a unique Comcast complaint story in which an individual claims he was fired for simply complaining about Comcast service. According to the story, the individual spent years battling the kind of service issues and errant billing mistakes Comcast is well known for, including receiving and being billed for $1,820 in equipment he never asked for.
The FCC has announced that they've extended the comment period for Comcast's $45 billion proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable and paused the "shot clock" on the review. According to the FCC announcement
, the agency has extended the comment period for interested parties until October 29. The FCC notes that Comcast and Time Warner Cable belatedly filed a 850-page document supporting the deal, and the agency wanted to provide all parties time to digest the filing and respond. The agency also paused their 180 day shot clock limit on making a decision on the deal, currently on day 85. The agency also made it easier to comment on the deal by creating a ComcastTWCMerger@fcc.gov you can use to file your thoughts.
While most large incumbent ISPs have rushed head-first into the home security and home automation market, few of those companies have been willing to specify how many users have signed up for such services -- suggesting they're not yet seeing quite the uptake they'd like. One other threat has now arisen for ISPs looking to be home security experts: lawsuits. story continues..
With Seattle city leadership complaining about the lack of broadband competition in the city
and making noise about building their own networks, Comcast has taken to a unique approach to win the hearts and minds of the cities apartment dwellers. According to the local news outlets
, Comcast has taken to throwing pizza parties to warm locals to their brand, insisting that if "we can we can get people in front of our products they can see the advantages we have over our competitors and learn to like those products."Reddit users
are having a little fun at Comcast's expense in regards to the new marketing strategy, offering up some pizza party advice -- Comcast style:
1.) Take all the pizza before it arrives.
2.) Call up the party host AS the pizza company.
3.) Inform them the pizza delivery is down between the hours of "Now till now+3 hours." But if they want to buy the pizza+hotdog bundle together for an additional 100 bucks, it'll increase their pizza delivery speed by 10 minutes.
In February of 2012 Comcast unveiled Streampix
, their effort at trying to prevent cord cutting by offering a Netflix-esque service of their own. Like most ISP run services however, Streampix was really just a substandard "me too" offering, as cable companies are always very afraid of offering an over the top offering that could cannibalize existing TV services.
ISPs have already been whining quite a bit
about the fact that the FCC wants to raise the current minimum definition of broadband from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up -- to something ranging from 10 to 25 Mbps. Now AT&T and Verizon are whining about the possibility that the FCC would like to make sure bandwidth caps are considered when defining the quality of a broadband connection.
Comcast last night filed their reply comments to the FCC as the agency considers approving the company's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The filing is filled with the sort of arguments we've seen countless times already
over the past few months, including Comcast's repeated claim that they face so much competition on every front
there's simply no way they'd ever engage in anti-competitive behavior.
To get their acquisition of NBC approved by regulators, Comcast proposed a merger condition requiring they provide $10, 1.5 Mbps broadband to all of the homes that qualify for the National School Lunch Program. This "Internet Essentials" program has seen significant criticism
(and even protests
) over the years for being a political show pony that in reality was intentionally hard to qualify for.
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