How Soon Can I Dump the Cable Company?

August/19/2013 6:50AM
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I get to deal with two cable companies, Comcast and Cox. They are equally bad. How many TV subscribers plan to cut the cord with cable? I will, will you?

Here are some numbers. In the 12 months ending March 31, Time Warner lost 557,000 residential subscribers(4.5%), Charter lost 199,000(4.8%), and Comcast lost 359,000(1.6%). These types of losses have been going on for years.

Just as telephone land lines in homes have shrunk over the years, TV cables and satellite signals into homes are shrinking. With phone land lines it was the young people who made the moves first. They could live with cell phones first since that’s all they ever used. Then the cash strapped followed since our ever-generous government gave them cell phones free. Now, everyone tired of the incessant political and charitable harassment calls are ready to follow.

No one deserves to lose every last customer more than the cable company. Brunts of jokes for years, they ignore the image they so richly deserve and continue to provide the worst possible service to their customers. They still believe they are the only game in town and will believe that when the last customer brings that box into the last retail facility.

Here’s my latest experience with Comcast. I put a new TV in the basement and wanted to go to HD. I called their 800 number to see if the closest Comcast retail outlet had a box. I went there not too long ago and found they were out of boxes. To get an answer to this question I was asked for the last four digits of my social. When I gave it I was told that’s wrong. When I suggested she fix the problem, I was told I need to present that card to the retail office to get it changed.

When I arrived at the office people were lined up outside the door. The same three obese ladies were lined up in their little seats looking very much like the post office. The same  three who told me they were out of boxes a month ago.  One was on break. Most of the people in line were turning in equipment. The place was so small you could hear people tell the large ladies why they were dumping Comcast. A couple were going to AT&T, a couple more to Direct TV, one was using Amazon to stream TV to her laptop, some were moving and not getting cable, and some just said they were done with Comcast.

After 45 minutes of watching three Comcast employees express monumental indifference to customers and ex-customers, I got my new HD box and left.

I hooked it up to the new TV and watched as nothing happened, as always. You see, you must have someone from Comcast boot you up. This is the honest truth from here on even though you may think it can’t be true. After 2 hours and 14 phone calls, every time giving my name, address, phone number and new last four digits of my social, new to Comcast, not me, I found the solution. The nice 250 pounder at the Comcast office forgot to input the serial number on the box and activate the box. If any other new customer, or someone else like me tried to give them new business that day, did porky treat them to that fine Comcast experience as well? Chewing gum, singing her latest rap tune and checking her new manicure were more important than customer service or even casual interest.

Right now I’m not ready to go to Google, Amazon, or, but when they get it right, I’ll be right at the front of the line. Both Apple and Microsoft are experimenting with bringing TV to homes in test markets.  You see Comcast, Cox, and AT&T, and even Direct TV(tried them and lost picture every time a cloud went over) are among the most disliked companies in this country and will never recover. They never believed customer service was important to stay in business.

Now as hordes of customers depart they will cut services even more. There used to be a Comcast retail in my town, but now it’s 20 minutes away. Soon it will be an hour. But, the same three porkers will be waiting on twice as many departing customers. Just as slowly as just as indifferent.

But, the great thing about this country is competition. When an industry abuses customers for years it gets attention. Others see opportunity. Here’s an example.

A slick new Internet and TV provider just stomped into Kansas City residents’ living rooms.

For $120 a month plus a $300 installation fee (that’s waived if you sign up now and commit to two years), customers get the fastest broadband web access in the country, hundreds of channels (minus HBO, AMC, and some other notables), and a DVR-like service that records up to eight shows or movies at once and stores 500 hours of HDTV–or your photos, video, and music, which you can then access from any device in your home. Along with the service comes a shiny new tablet loaded with the remote control app that lets you search all of your stored content (it also works on Android and iOS devices).

It’s not cable. It’s Google Fiber.

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