Comcast and Time Warner Cable both have horrible reputations for customer service but is that alone a reason to block their proposed merger? Ars Technica reports that a new petition filed with the Federal Communications Commission by telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick of the New Networks Institute argues just that.
Kushnick’s case against TWC starts with his own experience, in which he signed up for a bundle advertised as costing $89.99 per month and that within two years skyrocketed to costing just over $190 per month. But that isn’t his only issue with how TWC bills its customers — here are some more choice excerpts from his petition:
- “A recently filed consumer protection action was filed with the Albany New York Supreme Court against Time Warner and it reveals multiple issues, including customer service problems, selling broadband/Internet services that were not delivered, among other harms to customers industry-wide. These problems are not restricted to Time Warner but are industry-wide.”
- “22 Years of Continuous Rate Increases Means There has been No ‘Effective Competition’. Using actual bills, we found that Time Warner’s Brooklyn New York prices for ‘regular’ cable service increased 306% from 1992-to-November, 2014, from $22.95 a month to $93.16 a month. The “Triple Play” bill shows that this was from made up fees, deregulation of the set-top box (with no alternative), pass-through taxes, and simply because there are no other options; at best, some markets have a ‘duopoly’ which is ineffective for controlling prices or problems with service.”
- “Multiple Cross-Ties with Verizon’s Wireline and Verizon Wireless, and with Time Warner and Comcast Need Immediate Attention. The FCC and DOJ allowed Verizon Wireless to create a marketing deal with both cable companies to bundle the wireless service with the cable service in areas Verizon has refused to upgrade to FiOS.”
TWC has, of course, denied these accusations and has said they’re “full of holes,” although they declined to specifically comment on each one.
All that said, we already have a lot of evidence to back some of them up.
Regarding “selling broadband/Internet services that were not delivered,” we know that TWC has been busted offering promotions that it’s subsequently denied that it ever offered. With regards to huge price increases, we also know that cable prices have been going up at triple the rate of inflation in recent years. And as for customer service problems… well, all the customer satisfaction surveys showing TWC is loathed by its own customers pretty much speak for themselves.
Whether this merits a reason to block the Comcast-TWC merger is another matter entirely but TWC’s horrible reputation is pretty well established no matter what the company tells us.