Comcast, Which Wanted To Become Even Bigger, Leads The ISP Pack In Consumer Complaints To The FCC
from the comcan't dept
We’ve talked a lot about Comcast here at Techdirt, mostly because between the company’s broadband cash-grab caps, its great big middle finger to the concept of net neutrality, and its (haha) customer service, there’s just a never ending wealth of stories to write up and Mike only lets us out of the dungeon for porridge after we write enough posts. And, as we bring 2015 to a close, it’s kind of fun to remember that Comcast wanted to be an even bigger corporate thing with its intended merger with Time Warner Cable.
Especially when you consider that Comcast is already the ISP most efficiently producing customer complaints with the FCC. ArsTechnica filed an FOIA request with the FCC to get an idea of how many complaints were lodged against which ISPs. Turns out Comcast is outpacing them all.
So we filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FCC, seeking information on three major types of Internet provider complaints: availability, billing, and speed. In those categories, Comcast received 11,812 complaints so far this year (from January 1 to November 9). AT&T got 3,896 such complaints, Verizon got 1,588, and TWC had 1,240. In total, AT&T, Verizon, and TWC received 6,724 such complaints—5,000 fewer than Comcast alone.
Digging in, the biggest factor in complaints by Comcast customers is the company’s broadband caps and the overage chargers incurred should users go over the caps. For the largest player in the field, and one that wanted to become even larger, it’s interesting that the company has a customer-angering policy that limits broadband usage at a time when data usage is growing and not shrinking. Keep in mind that Comcast itself admitted this was all about cashflow rather than capacity on the network. Its difficult to imagine how a company that is bucking the demand of the market could exist, never mind thrive, except in the barely-competitive marketplace that’s been setup in the United States.
That point is driven home even more so when you consider that Comcast is both the largest ISP and the most widely despised along with the fact that it has the most FCC complaints levied against it per customer.
It isn’t surprising that Comcast received the most complaints, since it’s the largest ISP in the US and has regularly ranked at or near the bottom of its industry in customer satisfaction. Comcast also is the subject of much negative media coverage and attention from consumer advocacy groups, which may encourage more customers to file complaints.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear Comcast receives far more complaints on a per-customer basis than do other top ISPs. Comcast has 22.9 million broadband subscribers, compared to 15.8 million for AT&T, 13 million for TWC, and 9.2 million for Verizon, Leichtman Research Group reports. For wireline broadband, that means AT&T, TWC, and Verizon have a combined 38 million customers—about 15 million more than Comcast, even though the three firms together receive far fewer complaints.
And this is the company that sought government approval to become even larger, more unwieldy, and better able to thumb its nose at its customers? Please. While it was nice to see the merger denied when it happened, missing is the dropping of the other shoe, which ought to have been the realization that the ISP market is suffering from a severe lack of options and competition. No business so reviled should be so successful as Comcast. It’s the hallmark of a broken system, yet we hear little about any attempts to repair it.