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.

Filed Under: broadband, broadband caps, complaints, consumer complaints, customer service, fcc, television
Companies: comcast


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  • identicon
    anon_cow, 29 Dec 2015 @ 12:24pm

    The future is comcastic

    For a company that wants so much to be a part of the future of media, these guys are pretty bad at it. I doubt that anybody is really pulling for them to succeed. Having customers love would seem to be more important than ad spend or short-term revenue goals, in the long run... http://icdn5.digitaltrends.com/image/comcast-its-comcastic-screen-650x240.jpg

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2015 @ 12:25pm

    For convenient math

    Customers of AT&T + Verizon + TWC = 38 million
    Customers of Comcast = 15 million
    -> Comcast has 60% as many customers as the group. Or, the group has 253% as many customers as Comcast.

    Complaints of AT&T + Verizon + TWC = 6724
    Complaints of Comcast = 11812
    -> Comcast has 75% more complaints than competitors, before adjusting for size.

    Comcast received ~515 complaints per million customers.
    AT&T + Verizon + TWC received ~177 complaints per million customers.
    -> Comcast has 2.9 complaints for every 1 complaint against the competitors, after adjusting for size.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2015 @ 12:48pm

      Re: For convenient math (you call this math???)

      OK, the first line is correct. Of to a good start.
      The second line is wrong, Comcast has 22.9 million customers. This may mess up the rest of your math...
      Third line - since when has the inverse of 60% been 253%??? Last time I checked, it was a lot closer to 166%. However, 22.9 is roughly 60% of 38, so congrats there, even if you didn't happen to use your own figures...

      Actually, your numbers are otherwise correct (if you use the real Comcast subscriber count...) and thanks for providing this service, but those first two glaring errors are rather painful.

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

  • icon
    Binko Barnes (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 12:51pm

    Lately our comcast cable goes out on a regular basis. Always the internet, sometimes the TV. Usually for half an hour or so but sometimes for an hour or two.

    Call them and you will spend an hour or more in phone hell. They will deny that anything is wrong on their network and will immediately force you through a massive checklist of diagnosing your home setup.

    Tell them that this happens on a regular basis and service always comes back which means the problem is at their end and they will ignore you and mindlessly continue to force you through a battery of annoying checks on your home system.

    I hate that rat-bastard company. They know they have me bent over with my pants around my knees because they have a local monopoly on high speed internet. All thanks to the graft-masters in congress.

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 30 Dec 2015 @ 12:34am

    Mixed up

    Comcast is mixed up: it's going for billions of complaints instead of billions of dollars.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 30 Dec 2015 @ 1:16am

    I loved how they did a breakdown of the numbers considering the number of subscribers versus complaints. Comcast managed to be the worst by far even with the complaints normalized.

    Technically this company should have gone bankrupt already.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2015 @ 5:17am

      Re:

      Technically this company should have gone bankrupt already.

      That's the nice thing about having a business with government protection and assistance. You can get away with all kinds of stuff and stay in business.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2015 @ 7:32am

        Re: Re:

        How about we ask them to act without any of those bonuses for a year. See if they last until december without getting SMASHED INTO THE GROUND OF BANKRUPTCY where they should be with this level of complaints.

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

  • identicon
    Truth Is, 30 Dec 2015 @ 8:23am

    What is the remedy?

    Okay, so their customer service stinks. What can anyone do about it? Have the FCC shut them down? Unconstitutional. ( There are lots of strong companies with terrible service.)
    No, if you don't like Comcast, cancel your service!

    I dare you.

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 7 Jan 2016 @ 5:42am

      Re: What is the remedy?

      Permit other companies to compete in their monopolised areas, i.e. free up the allegedly free market. Giving the supply-side an advantage over the demand-side is picking winners and losers, where consumers are "loooooooserrrrrrs! LOL!!"

      This is why I always laugh at free-market enthusiasts. A market that is actually free is the last thing they want.

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

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 30 Dec 2015 @ 9:53am

    "ISP most efficiently producing customer complaints with the FCC"

    +1 for funniest sentence to mr. Geigner.

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


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