As more and more evidence continues to show that the pay-for-tv via cable or satellite is dying an epic death, I wanted to share some of my own experiences in the Cable industry with a broad focus on why this is happening. Sure, cable cutters and cable nevers want the flexibility and convenience that streaming platforms provide, but the negative issues that cable companies like Comcast, Verizon, Cox and many others can’t seem to shake are well known.
As I mentioned yesterday, over the space of several articles, I will continue to explore some of the problems I saw over a decade working for a large cable company in the northeast. I will also explain why many of these challenges have come back to bite them in an era where you can get top-tier programming in many different ways. One such issue that can’t be ignored is the installation of new customers as well as repair calls. While working for cable, and as a customer recently, these frequent negative interactions have spawned considerable outrage, and rightly so. There are, as I see it, two issues that seem to spring up during these service calls that create challenges:
1: The first is quite simple: the cable company does not want to come out to your house in the first place. They are hoping that when you order service, it can be connected via some sort of self-installation kit and that your home is prewired for their service. And many times this is the case—saving the customer and the company a lot of money.
But, of course, not all customers can hook up their new equipment on their own and some have a wiring issue that they can’t resolve. The trouble is that any of these scenarios will usually cost you. Also, with the rise of cable competition, if your home was serviced by say Verizon Fios and you now want Comcast Xfinity, you must have Comcast come out to your home and reconnect you to their network—usually at your expense.
Remember, the goal is never to go to your home—that costs money and lowers profits. But when they must come out—watch out.
2. Service Calls as Nightmares: As a customer and an employee, I have seen my share of nightmare service calls. The reason for a lot of this is the pressure the actual technicians are under. They are to move from job to job quickly, and are rated for raises based on how fast they can get through install and repair visits. This is why many times the cable tech coming to install your high-speed internet wants to get in and get out fast—no time for small talk, to show you how the equipment works or to walk you through anything. Many times, techs work through their lunches or dinners to get their work done, as they are tracked all day via GPS and must constantly check in to let their bosses know of their progress. This means botched wiring jobs, poorly-working wi-fi, cable boxes hooked up wrong—and many upset customers.
My own experience with Xfinity back in 2016 mirrored all of this. I had to have three different techs come to my small apartment in Washington, D.C. at the time to get our high-speed internet working. We were supposed to receive speeds of 300 megs per second download—we could not get more than 10 megs and that was with a wired connection. Each tech had a different excuse. I begged and pleaded for help to Comcast over twenty different phone calls.
The problem was only resolved after I complained to the D.C. Public Service Commission. As “lead tech” came out and discovered the issue: a bad splitter. After a month of drama, I received no credit on my bill, no apology—nothing.
I could go on, but you get the point. The cable company does not want to come to your home.
Tomorrow, I will talk about cable TV’s technological inferiority, and how it never quite came up with a response to steaming. See you then!
Harry J. Kazianis is a Senior Director at the Center for the National Interest. His work and ideas have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, USA Today, The Week, The Hill, the American Conservative and many other outlets across the political spectrum. Harry enjoys writing about technology issues and products from a real-world perspective. You can follow him (or yell at him) on Twitter: @Grecianformula.