Three things in life are certain: Death, taxes and rock-bottom customer satisfaction ratings for America’s two largest cable companies. Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, is touting a new survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center showing that Comcast and Time Warner Cable are two of the three least liked pay TV providers in the United States.
The survey, which was conducted among nearly 82,000 Consumer Reports readers, found that Comcast ranked 15th and Time Warner Cable ranked 16th out of 17 pay television providers when it came to customer satisfaction. Both companies received low marks for both value and customer support, which generally lines up with every other major customer satisfaction survey we’ve seen about them.
More broadly, Consumer Reports has produced a chart showing just how ridiculously high the price of cable has gotten over the past decade and a half. As you can see from the chart below, while the average monthly price for expanded cable service stood at just under $30 back in 1998, it ballooned to around $60 in 2012, or about 50% more than the price would have been if it had risen at the same rate as inflation.
“We took the FCC’s pricing data from 1998 through 2012, then compared that with what cable would have cost if it had been pegged to the standard rate of inflation as defined by the Consumer Price Index,” Consumer Reports explains. “We found that over the course of those 15 years, the average American cable-watching household had forked over about $1,760 more than it would have if the price of cable had matched inflation. That’s enough to have purchased almost six iPad Minis for each household.”
Consumers Union’s press release follows below.
Comcast and Time Warner Cable Score Low on Latest Consumer Reports Customer Satisfaction Survey
Low Scores Show Why The Companies Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Merge
Comcast and Time Warner Cable earned low customer satisfaction scores in the latest Consumer Reports National Research Center’s survey of consumers about their experiences with television and Internet services.
The low customer satisfaction scores should give the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice ample reason to be skeptical of a proposed merger between the two companies, according to Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.
“Both Comcast and Time Warner Cable rank very poorly with consumers when it comes to value for the money and have earned low ratings for customer support,” said Delara Derakhshani. “A merger combining these two huge companies would give Comcast even greater control over the cable and broadband Internet markets, leading to higher prices, fewer choices, and worse customer service for consumers.”
While the Consumer Reports survey on telecom providers found almost universally low ratings across providers, both Comcast and Time Warner earned scores toward the bottom of all companies included in the analysis.
Comcast ranked 15th among 17 television service providers included in the ratings and earned particularly low marks from consumers for value for the money and customer support. Time Warner ranked 16thoverall for television service with particularly low ratings for value, reliability, and phone / online customer support.
Comcast and Time Warner Cable were mediocre on overall satisfaction with Internet service. Both companies received especially poor marks for value and low ratings for phone / online customer support.
“In an industry with a terrible track record with consumers, these two companies are among the worst when it comes to providing good value for the money,” said Derakhshani. “The FCC and Department of Justice should stand with consumers and oppose this merger.”
In early February, Comcast announced a proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable. The deal is likely to be reviewed by the Department of Justice, which could sue to stop it. The Federal Communications Commission must review the merger to determine whether it serves “the public interest” and it must approve the licensure transfers to allow the deal to move forward.
Ratings are based on responses from 81,848 Consumer Reports readers to the Consumer Reports National Research Center’s 2013 Annual Telecommunications Service survey. The full report on in-home telecom services can be found in the May Issue of Consumer Reports and online at ConsumerReports.org.