Comcast Thinks Using Misleading Polls Will Somehow Fix Its Horrible Reputation

from the my-truth-is-better-than-your-truth dept

Comcast is currently trying to negotiate a new franchise agreement in its hometown of Philadelphia, but is running into the kind of fierce consumer disgust for the company that ultimately helped derail its failed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Back in April, the city was criticized for refusing to publicize a city survey on Comcast that took two years to conduct, but only Comcast executives were allowed to see. When the 571-page report (pdf) was finally released, the results weren't surprising: Philadelphia locals by and large loathe Comcast and its documentably atrocious customer service.

Of the roughly 1,700 people who submitted online comments for the city’s survey, around 99% of those were negative. Comcast, as you might expect, denied that the survey's findings were accurate, and promised the Philadelphia city council that it would provide evidence proving as much.

Fast forward a few months, and Comcast is now facing allegations that it's engaging in misleading polling in the Philadelphia region. Apparently, Comcast hopes to use garbage polling to "disprove" the obvious reality that Comcast just isn't very good at what they do. ISP lobbyists have leaned heavily on inaccurate polls for years. Especially push polls -- often using them to scare locals away from municipal broadband ahead of local votes, sometimes by implying that tax dollars will be used to fund pornography, or that the government would come in and try to ration their TV viewing.

The effort was first spotted by Eric Rosso, Political Director for Pennsylvania Working Families:
Rosso notes that the questions were phrased in such a way as to generate positive responses to controversial programs like Comcast's Internet Essentials, a low-income broadband program we've noted as being intentionally restrictive and a bit of a PR show pony. Rosso says questions focused on Comcast's employment and tax record were also phrased in such a way as to generate limited or positive responses. Other locals well-versed in the practice of polling science agree that Comcast is up to no good:
"Chris Rabb, author of Invisible Capital: How Unseen Forces Shape Entrepreneurial Opportunity and a professor at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, also took part in the phone survey. He tells Consumerist it was one of the most egregious examples of non-electoral push polling he’s seen in decades. This was particularly true, says Rabb, when the survey transitioned to questions about demands Philadelphia could make of Comcast in the company’s renewed franchise agreement, and how these could increase costs for the company."
Comcast has confirmed that it has hired a "reputable third party, independent company" to conduct polls in the city, but has, rather unsurprisingly, been unable to provide an exact copy of the precise language used in the poll questions. Of course, in a few weeks the findings will be trotted out by city leaders as a shining example of Comcast's sterling reputation, and Philadelphia city leaders will likely grant Comcast a very cozy new franchise agreement that helps cement the cable giant's monopoly power in the city for another decade.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 6:31am

    Comcast has confirmed that it has hired a "reputable third party, independent company" to conduct polls in the city

    Inevitable names like Rightshaven, Prenda, Alan Cooper and My Little Pony come to mind. I mean that's as reputable as Comcast manages to be in my mind. And I'm not even American!

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

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 6:55am

    Customer Service Feedback

    1. How many problems have you had with your Comcast service?
    [x] Zero
    [_] Less than one

    2. Which of the following problems have you experienced with Comcast? (Please check all that apply.)
    [_] Was unable to express in words how happy I was with Comcast service!
    [_] Could not reach enough Comcast people to express my joy with Comcast service.
    [_] The online payment system has a bug that will not allow me to pay more than the actual price for the service.

    3. How would you rate your Comcast service?
    [_] Fantastical
    [_] Amazing
    [_] Wonderful
    [_] Marvelous
    [_] Good

    Thank you for your feedback. As a reward for sending us feedback, would you like to receive craptacular email offers from selected Comcast partners?
    [_] Yes! Please fill my inbox to overflowing!
    [_] No. (but fill my inbox anyway)

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

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 7:25am

    Of the roughly 1,700 people who submitted online comments for [Philadelphia]’s survey, around 99% of those were negative.

    I have to wonder about that survey, based on the very simple observation that it's Philly. Keep in mind that the City of Brotherly Love has so much hate floating around that the locals booed Santa Claus!

    Having said that, Comcast still sucks.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 8:36am

      Re:

      ...I have to wonder about that survey...

      Me too. I've seen surveys and even exams poorly written and with answer choices that makes me think the issuer wants certain results, even if everybody else disagrees.

      As an example I received a customer survey from a convenience store chain that questioned every aspect of a visit except the customer/clerk interaction. Or in this case lack thereof. Yes that would have been the only line I would have given negative marks.

      But the worst example for me was a professional license test with a multiple choice question that not one choice correctly answered the question! Turns out the only way to get credit for a correct answer was to protest that question after the test.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 7:37am

    Philadelphia city leaders will likely grant Comcast a very cozy new franchise agreement that helps cement the cable giant's monopoly power in the city for another decade.


    The current (expiring) franchise agreement was a 15-year term, so actually it'll probably be another decade and a half.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 17 Jun 2015 @ 8:06am

    Your Jedi mind tricks won't work on me, Comcast!

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

  • icon
    DOlz (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 8:19am

    Time to hold their feet to the fire

    The city ought to give Comcast a one year renewal with a list of things that have to be COMPLETED by the end of the year. If they fail that they should be prohibted from competing for the next contract. At the same time the city should solict bids for the franchise to compete with Comcast at the end of the year. All future contracts should have a strict timetable for any goals in the contract with the option of the city finding a new provider should the timetable not be meet.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 12:01pm

      Re: Time to hold their feet to the fire

      The city ought to give Comcast a one year renewal with a list of things that have to be COMPLETED by the end of the year.


      They should give them a range of months (say between month 8 and month 5) and then call them at month 7 and tell them no one was home so they lost out on the deal.

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

  • icon
    JustMe (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 9:28am

    Re: professional license test

    \Citation needed

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 10:22am

    And when customer service managers are so bad that even Comcast fires them...

    they go to work for Suddenlink.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 12:12pm

    "And a little something extra for your family..."

    Of course, in a few weeks the findings will be trotted out by city leaders as a shining example of Comcast's sterling reputation, and Philadelphia city leaders will likely grant Comcast a very cozy new franchise agreement that helps cement the cable giant's monopoly power in the city for another decade.

    If they manage to score another agreement, I'm guessing it will have less to do with the public 'survey' they gathered, and more to do with the private lucrative 'offers' made to the various decision makers.

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

  • icon
    Shel10 (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 2:21pm

    "And a little something extra....."

    Amazing how a few dollars contributed to a political campaign can shift thinking. Nothing will be done about Comcast and its lack of customer service.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 3:21pm

      Re: "And a little something extra....."

      What's insulting is how few it takes for some of them. Really, if you're going to sell out your constituents(and integrity, and honor, and self-respect...), at least get some decent money for it, don't put yourself on the dollar menu.

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

  • icon
    AlexanderSMD (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 8:33am

    Why don't..

    These company with reputation of bad customer service ever learn. If you know most people don't like the way you are doing thing now, just owe up to it, publicly apologize, then change your practice. Their current practice were designed to maximize profit. But if customers leave your service in drove, and not enough new one sign up, what good does it do to try to squeeze blood from stone? They are cocky because they are near or are monopoly. That's why you need competition in the market. In the market where there is competition, successful companies are the one with good service.

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


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