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Despite Endless Improvement Promises, Comcast, Time Warner Cable Still Least Liked Companies -- In Any Industry

from the worst-of-the-worst dept

As we've noted a few times, Comcast and Time Warner Cable not only have the worst satisfaction ratings in the cable TV and broadband industries, but across any industry. While an impressive feat, it's not particularly surprising given the endless broadband and TV rate hikes, the use of obnoxious sneaky fees, and the overall lack of competition in a sector that prominently features what frequently approaches outright hostility to subscribers. Despite bi-annual promises to dramatically overhaul the way they do business, things never change -- and haven't for a decade or more.

That was illustrated again this week with the latest update to the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which measures consumer opinion on some 240 companies and brands. Ranked on an overall scale of 100, the ACSI found that Time Warner Cable (specifically its broadband arm) is the least popular company in America with a score of 54. The second least favorite company in the country? Time Warner Cable's TV division, with a score of 56. Like other studies, the ACSI finds Comcast broadband nipping closely at Time Warner Cable's under-performing heels in both broadband (57) and TV (60).
It's worth noting that while Time Warner Cable and Comcast were the worst, the rest of the broadband and pay TV sector fared only marginally better, with scores significantly lower than many other sectors. In fact, the latest study update found that not one pay TV provider improved its customer satisfaction scores over their 2013 scores, and despite numerous promises the last few years, both Time Warner Cable and Comcast managed to somehow get worse. That's of course because a lack of real competition (especially in broadband) means there's no real incentive to spend money on improving customer satisfaction, so they don't.

If you look at the actual breakdowns by industry in the ACSI rankings, you'll note that many other hated sectors (like airlines, banks or health insurance) do notably better than Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Most Federal government departments even enjoy higher ratings than the cable industry. Well, except for the IRS. Comcast and Time Warner Cable are right about on par with the nation's tax collectors when it comes to happy human beings.

Like moldy chocolate and rancid peanut butter, it's hard to even fathom the wonderful combination of awful Time Warner Cable and Comcast will be able to achieve should their $45 billion merger be approved.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:19pm

    I'm paying over $50 a month for a limited number of cable TV channels, most of which I could receive using a TV antenna instead. The broadband internet included in that TV/Internet bundling service price, is only capable of streaming one YouTube video at a time.

    Why do I put up with it? Why not take my business elsewhere? I can't, it's the only TV and broadband service available in my area.

    I could drop cable TV and save $20 a month. But once I do that I'm no longer locked in at the 'bundled' rate. Which causes the broadband internet price to shoot up from $30 a month to the 'unbundled' price of $45 a month.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:26pm

    Not a fair assessment of Comcast or Time Warner.

    I hate to say, but I am raising the B.S. flag on this survey. The reason for me doing this, Comcast and Time Warner don't have much competition to take over that spot of being the worst.
    Personally, I believe they are in the top 30 for great internet service providers in the US.Now I know what you haters will say, "Wow this man has a very valid point, especially with there being only 28 ISP in the US." But that doesn't matter, it's not like it was their fault nobody wants to create their own ISP. All of you are way to hard on them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 1:10pm

      Re: Not a fair assessment of Comcast or Time Warner.

      Not true. Plenty of people want to, but Comcast and TWC (and the other giants in the space) actively want to not have the competition and they use ma)icious lawsuits and bought-and-paid-for local ordinances to make sure no one crowds in on their cozy monopolies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Just Another Anonymous Troll, 5 Jan 2015 @ 10:24am

      Re: Not a fair assessment of Comcast or Time Warner.

      Being the worst company in an industry with few companies is one thing.
      Being the worst company in all industries is quite another.
      Also, having few competitors does not mean Techdirt should be any nicer when they decide to screw over their customers, if anything they should be chastised twice as hard.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 12:56pm

    Key word: promises.

    Like the ones they are now renowmed for breaking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 1:03pm

    Just because there is little competition

    Doesn't make their OUTSTANDINGLY BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE any less offensive. Quality customer service is NOT dependent upon the size of the market or number of competitors....it is a VITAL FACTOR of doing business which COMCAST will (apparently) never learn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 1:05pm

    BTW

    I have personally dealt with COMCAST customer service exactly one time....and I assure you that will be the last time I do so. EVER.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 1:19pm

    What's wrong with Cox?

    I don't know why Cox was rated as low as it is. I have had them for years and have been pretty happy with them. Sure, like any business with limited competition the price is too high but as far as service goes I have no problem. They nearly always can come out by the next day and if they don't show up when they promise I get a discount on the next bill. When there is an area outage it is rarely more than a couple hours until I'm back up. In the last year that has only happened maybe 2 or 3 times. I get the speeds that I am supposed to. When I had my unlimited plan installed it was not only free but they gave me (not a lease) a new modem and rerouted my phone line at no charge. A couple times when I was a few days late I called and got the fee waived. My payment is locked in for 3 years on the plan I am on. I'm always reading horror stories about other providers but I guess I have been lucky that Cox hasn't pulled that kind of crap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 2:46pm

      Re: What's wrong with Cox?

      What speed does Cox advertise? How often can you hit and sustain that speed? What speed should they be able to handle, given the state of modern telecommunications hardware, and how does that ideal speed compare to what they actually offer? How often do you interact with their employees, and how often of those do you come away wondering how anyone could knowingly employ such people?

      As a Time Warner user here, I can't think of a single nice thing to say about the company.
      - Their on-demand service can only be accessed through braindamaged set-top boxes that insist on doing the entire setup through on-screen menus (so no ability whatsoever to manage it via firewire, etc.).
      - Their set-top boxes take a long time to boot (many minutes).
      - Intermittently, though thankfully rather rarely, the set-top box will lose its mind and refuse to show anything until it is power-cycled.
      - Starting next month, they will drop analog signals, requiring everything to go through set-top boxes with the aforementioned defects.
      - The price is too high for the level of service offered.
      - The level of service offered is too low for how long they have had to work on it and the extent of subsidies they have received.
      - Their DNS server administrators are either malicious or so incompetent they should never have administrative access anywhere.
      - Their mail servers still don't have working SSL.
      - Their mail servers still don't have working IMAP.
      - Their mail servers silently lose anything that TWC misclassifies as spam, unless you log in to the webmail and affirmatively tell it to deliver anyway. They never mentioned they had enabled this. I have no idea how much was lost, since they seem to purge the Junk Mail folder fairly quickly.
      - Their webmail actively degrades you to HTTP, even when you are logged in from a non-TWC IP address.
      - Their "customer service" line is a badly done IVR system that doesn't even understand DTMF. To get anywhere, you must speak to it in slow and clear unaccented English. You must wait for it to finish prompting before it begins listening.
      - Their customer service employees and incident response employees live down to the legends.
      - Their routers constantly spam who-has queries, so either they have too little cache, too short a TTL, or are just outright misconfigured.
      - Their website is weirdly obsessed with knowing your zip code, even for things where it has no need to know it.
      - Their installation contractors wanted to drill a new hole (unsealed) in an external wall because that was the shortest path to get the cable to where they wanted it to go.

      I could go on, delving into more specific technical failings. The disgusting thing is that many of the more obnoxious problems could be fixed in a few days by someone reasonably competent, but either they have no one like that, or they have a company policy forbidding such fixes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        OldGeezer (profile), 31 Dec 2014 @ 7:31pm

        Re: Re: What's wrong with Cox?

        I don't know a lot about the technical aspects of it but my son does. He says that the speed is what it is supposed to be. When I went to the unlimited plan I had to go to a slower speed but it is still faster that my wireless so I notice no difference. I suppose they do that so one person can't share one account with an entire apartment building.

        Cox mail does not have IMAP but who needs it? Gmail is free. I can see my spam folder and it is not often that they put something in it that doesn't belong there.

        When I call customer service they give the option to speak or push keys and you can skip through the menu as soon as you hear the choice you want. If you already know the options you can get where you want in just a few seconds. I can't say I have ever had a representative who wasn't courteous and helpful. If they do not know they answer to your question they will connect you to someone who does.

        My new plan did not include TV but I didn't care because I rarely used it. They did forget to turn it off but I'm not being charged for it. They haven't announced any plans to end analog but I suppose eventually all providers probably will. Analog looks lousy on an HD TV anyway.

        No company is perfect but from everything I have read about other providers it looks like Cox is better than most.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2015 @ 9:16am

          Re: Re: Re: What's wrong with Cox?

          I don't know a lot about the technical aspects of it but my son does. He says that the speed is what it is supposed to be.
          You misunderstood grandparent's question, or your son misunderstood yours. Cox may be providing the advertised speed, but GP's point was that very few, if any, American ISPs provide the speed that they should be able to provide, given current technology, the amount of taxpayer subsidies thrown to them, and the prices they charge. If they did, Google Fiber would not be considered such a huge deal.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ltlw0lf (profile), 1 Jan 2015 @ 9:23am

          Re: Re: Re: What's wrong with Cox?

          No company is perfect but from everything I have read about other providers it looks like Cox is better than most.

          And their grades show that. They are pretty much middle of the pack.

          I have Cox as well, and have had them for many years (despite moving.) They are slightly better than average. However, I disagree that they give you the speed they advertise. If you are on a local loop with nobody else on it, you get the best speed, but most local loops are saturated and there are times of the day where I am lucky if I can access Netflix or Youtube without buffering (and we're talking SD quality, 2mbps or less.) Part of the problem I've seen is that they have so much junk running on their network that most of the traffic my router sees is stuff that really shouldn't be seen on a network (it is amazing how many Windows machines are directly connected to the network without a firewall or router.)

          And the simplest of support issues tends to flabbergast their support folks...I can't count the number of times I've contacted support to tell them that their router is offline, only to have them roll a truck to check my wiring and have the guy they send say, "hmmm, this wiring is working fine, it looks like our router is down." I can see that by going to my modem and accessing the troubleshooting capabilities of the modem. Signal to the head-end is working, but no networking... At one point I was given the phone number of their direct networking support folks so I could call them and have them reboot downed routers, but that number no longer works. And until recently, a call to support usually involved removing my router and plugging in a Windows machine so that the tech support person could determine that traffic to that machine wasn't getting through.

          I have no TV from them, but getting them to remove TV from the account was an amazing journey, that you can read about in my previous comments. It took several trips to the customer support center (and multi-hour wait times once there) to get them to finally remove TV from my account. Be happy they aren't charging you for yours...even with basic cable, I was getting charged nearly the same price as the super HD TV costs and couldn't get anyone to successfully remove it until I threatened to drop them entirely.

          I'd agree that they are better than average, but in this industry, the average is pretty easy to accomplish.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            OldGeezer (profile), 1 Jan 2015 @ 12:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What's wrong with Cox?

            I suppose as with any big company quality of service can depend on location. Speeds could vary depending on location and distance from the source. Could even have something to do with the previous infrastructure and management when Cox bought out Cablevision here. All I know is my speed is more than sufficient for HD streaming and customer service has always been pretty good for me. Outages are rare and they fix them pretty fast. The only speed problems I have ever had turned out to be because of a coax I put in myself. I'm sure that if some real competition like Google fiber came here they would be forced to up their game but considering the only other choice here is that shitty AT&T, I think they are doing alright. I had them years ago and trust me, they are so bad that you can't even consider them competition. When I used to call their customer service I could spend an hour on hold and shuffled from one rep to another only to be finally told I would have to hang up and call a different number.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Namel3ss (profile), 1 Jan 2015 @ 11:06am

        Re: Re: What's wrong with Cox?

        I agree with all of the above except the part about IMAP. They finally do have it (mail.twc.com), at least for us (Austin TX). This is within the last 6-9 months, after the rest of the entire civilized email world has had it for at least 10+ years.

        Just another example what a lack of real competition results in.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 2 Jan 2015 @ 10:50am

      Re: What's wrong with Cox?

      Same with Time Warner. The price is way too high, but I don't know of any Comcast horror story phone calls.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 2:04pm

    How did Comcast score so high?!

    Wow. I have no idea how they managed to accrue a score in the 50's.

    Unless...

    They (once again) engaged in ballot-stuffing in order to make themselves appear less hideous than they are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2014 @ 2:47pm

    like the banks, they think they are too big to fail! perhaps it's time to make the lawmakers aware of the way customers feel. write to your representative and tell them you're fed up of being ripped off because of the monopoly that Congress has put in place, just so to acquire 'campaign funds'!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Fail, 2 Jan 2015 @ 4:42am

    I've been pretty lucky, my apartment complex only has Verizon or Comcast and since I'm going to be torrenting a lot and I didn't feel like buying equipment to get around Verizon's filtering I went with Comcast internet only. I'm still on the introductory price and I'm consistently getting the advertised price. I've only had to deal with customer service when I set up my own modem and the line to my apartment was still on Verizon and they sent a tech out who took 20 minutes to tell me it was working fine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Txtotechd, 4 Jan 2015 @ 8:31am

    Canonical obsolete ISP

    First of all thank the news that appears on this site and comments from users, sometimes with great views and possibly giving solutions.

    I'll stick with the view of a user who claims to be a partner or customer of the ISP mentioned, where it has contracted services that are included in a PACK, a significant price to pay in monthly installments.

    It could be understood as rigid, the fact that the company ISP not lower the price of monthly installment payment, for if the user can not access it because the service does not exist.

    They also point well others who say that indeed is a lack of competitiveness of companies in the area of ​​the affected person (the affected end user).

    But .. I'm beyond all that, and I think they actually have to go to that makes the laws and regulations of a region or country, or state of a nation, because ..:

    If there is only one company providing telematics signal ISP, the company will not give fast and simple solutions affected user.

    The politician must create a rule or regulation (BILL) to impose guidelines forcing a competition services or puja (public and notorious auction in an area) where it provides or will provide a business ISP service communications compulsorily and minimum must have in that legislation for the auction 3 companies.
    If the bid or auction is void (not enough suppliers guarantees) the government can and should compel the nearest local company to provide the service for free, no cost, while other companies are installed in a country for such affected area.

    And those companies to bid or into auction, the local government should subsidize with aid for a while, temporarily, for work in installations, signal repeaters, several costs, etc. for profit.

    And such aid or subsidies from the state, region or area must be remunerated in taxes of all citizens of that state or region of the country, to effectively cover those areas that can not enjoy the same communications for various reasons, as can being, everything mentioned above, low signal, remote area, low coverage, weak signal, etc ..

    So, please do not forget this kind of issues in the upcoming local and municipal elections in the region, talk with neighborhood associations, collect signatures, etc ..

    For the politician, do nothing, if you do not move ..
    It ignores not want to know anything, just take its toll.

    I think in a Western country, is a genuine political backwardness, perhaps for relaxation in others, but nevertheless effect the user control ---- ---- without your consent and not seek comfort people in general, it seems that matter most to gain money for the companies that the welfare of the people.

    It is unknown whether the service provided to the user by as mentioned it is in a rural, toll, or a difficult area to access a repeater wave signal area.

    And yet, consumers take it well, so I conclude that I have become accustomed to not hearing from improved service or low monthly fee rebate, etc.

    Greetings and that problems are fixed.

    This site is very good, help users, and is reliable.

    Continue, please.

    Greetings from Spain.

    Thanked. )

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Blakebaker, 20 Apr 2017 @ 5:31am

    just like the banks, they suppose they are too huge to fail! possibly it is time to make the lawmakers privy to the manner customers experience. write in your representative and tell them you are fed up of being ripped off because of the monopoly that congress has installed location, in order that to collect 'marketing campaign finances'!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Blakebaker, 20 Apr 2017 @ 5:31am

    just like the banks, they suppose they are too huge to fail! possibly it is time to make the lawmakers privy to the manner customers experience. write in your representative and tell them you are fed up of being ripped off because of the monopoly that congress has installed location, in order that to collect 'marketing campaign finances'!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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