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Proposed Comcast and Time Warner Merger Draws Fire From Pretty Much Everybody
February 27, 2014
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
So Time Warner Cable and Comcast (News - Alert) want to be one company, do they? While both the companies and the nation await a decision by federal regulators – the $45 billion all-stock deal would create the largest cable company and Internet services provider in the country – others are asking themselves what, exactly, American customers will get out of the deal.
The answer is: not much. While it may do great things for the two companies’ stockholders and its executives, from a customer service perspective, it promises more of the dismal same.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), both Comcast and Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable have truly rotten customer service ratings, often dropping below 60 percent in previous years. (Charter was ranked with 64 percent in 2013, and Comcast one point below at 63 percent.) Both scores represented improvements from the year prior, but these scores still put them among America’s most hated companies when it comes to customer service.
It’s not only the ACSI. Both companies also have the dubious honor of appearing on this year’s MSN Money’s “Customer Service Hall of Shame,” an annual survey of 1,500 consumers polled by Zogby Analytics. The ranking, which includes 150 American companies in 15 industries, has a special place for both Time Warner and Comcast: on its top 10 list. Time Warner clocks in at number nine, and Comcast occupies the number two spot. A quick perusal through ratings sites such as Yelp (News - Alert).com finds endless lists of tirades against both companies.
A savvy customer and business person might ask him- or herself, shouldn’t they be using all this money to stop antagonizing their customers? Apparently, there are no savvy people in either company.
International Business Times notes that the companies’ failing grades can be seen as a broader referendum on the entire cable industry (although competitors such as Cablevision do a slightly better job in the customer service arena…but not much.) IBT recently spoke with Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com. Barrington noted that, probably because they have geographic monopolies, cable companies have simply failed to adjust to customer needs in the face of rising competition and increased cord-cutting.
“The poor customer service record of cable companies may be a hangover from a time when they generally held monopolies in their areas,” said Barrington. “Now, with competition from Internet providers, satellite services and phone companies, cable companies may have to raise their customer service standards or lose out.”
This “cord cutting” Barrington refers to is the increasingly popular practice of consumers, disgusted with high cable bills and little to watch but infomercials, of keeping only Internet connections and using a mix of online content such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube (News - Alert) and Amazon Prime for entertainment. Given the types of bills Americans are receiving for cable, the “do-it-yourself” option is far cheaper. (Consider that it costs only a little over $8 a month for Netflix streaming, and about $75 a year for Amazon Prime.)If these cable behemoths continue to party like it’s 2009, they may find themselves surprised when they have no customers left to antagonize.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson
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