If you asked the average American consumer to list off the companies they deal with, but really don't like too much, there's a good chance that the local telephone and cable companies will be near the top of the list. Years of operating in situations where competition was basically non-existent made customer service similarly invisible: consistent rate hikes, long hold times on the phone, service call appointments with huge windows they still somehow manage to miss, and so on. Now, with cable companies trying to steal the telcos' customers with their VoIP services, and the telcos getting into cable TV, they've apparently realized that -- gasp -- maybe they should stop treating customers like crap. It's not totally clear, though, how much of this is just window dressing -- like having technicians wear hospital-style booties over their shoes when they enter peoples' houses -- and how much of it is actual fundamental change, though the companies are making all the right noises. It's still not clear if they really understand some of the problems, too. For instance, the original article mentions the video of the sleeping Comcast tech that went around the web a few months ago. A Comcast exec says the guy got fired, and the company sent a VP out to fix the customer's internet connection. The sleeping tech wasn't exactly the problem, but rather the ridiculous wait time he had to endure with the Comcast call center. Has that bigger issue been fixed? Who knows. But at least they found a fall guy so they can look like they're taking things seriously.
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