Comcast / Time Warner merger would create customer service nightmare

Jeff Macke Yahoo Finance

There's a good chance you despise your cable company. It's OK. You're among friends. In fact, according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index cable is the least popular industry extant. Cable ranks below health care, banks and utilities on customer satisfaction.

You have to work to make Americans hate and distrust you more than banks. Say what you will about cable, they've definitely delivered the loathsome behavior we demand from our villains. Cable bills have risen at triple the rate of inflation for 20 years and will hit an average of $123 a month by 2015. Because they own the last mile cable into your home cable is able to squeeze both consumers and content providers with equal impunity.

This goes beyond numbers. If you don't believe me ask Ryan Block. Block is the tech journalist who spent 20 minutes trying to get a Comcast (CMCSA) service rep to disconnect Block's service.

Related: Comcast serves up what may be the worst customer service call in history

Block uploaded a recording of the second half of his call. It's basically every hellish, emasculating nightmare experience you've ever had rolled into eight minutes. The Comcast agent essentially refuses to unhook Block, at one point actually insisting, "My job is to have a conversation with you about keeping our service."

Comcast issued an apology, basically throwing the agent under the bus and accusing him of going rogue. I don't know what hellscape of expense control-based training the Comcast rep went through but based on the call it's pretty clear that he knew what his job was and it wasn't making Block feel valued or satisfying his very simple request.

Normally this would be just a throw away event in the Internet world. Just another story of the cable company screwing customers. But this one could be different. That's because Comcast wants to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC) for $42.5 billion. The deal would give Comcast 30 million U.S. homes; about 30% of all the cable households and 40% of the high-speed Internet market. Comcast says the deal would result in faster internet speeds and more reliable service. Common sense suggests that's a load of garbage. Companies that openly abuse customer trust this brazenly don't back off when they get more monopolistic powers. They become worse.

The deal has created a brief moment of weakness for Comcast. The FCC is accepting public comments and objections to the merger on its website between now and August 25th. This is the best and perhaps final chance for me, you and 100 million Ryan Blocks to explain to the government exactly why it is that the telecom, cable and airline virtual monopolies being created are an issue for we the people who actually pay the bills.

Don't let Ryan Block's suffering be in vain. Hit the link and raise your voice. Sound your yawp into the wind and call BS. You may not get the response you want but I guarantee your voice will be heard more clearly now than after the merger when you're only recourse will be to call Comcast customer service.

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