Customers Seeking Better Customer Service Buy Bundles From Telecoms, Not Cable Companies

Well done Charter, people would prefer to buy bundled services from AT&T because they think phone companies provide better customer service than cable companies. Both cable companies and telecoms rank towards the bottom of the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

A survey from a Michigan consulting group found that 54% of customers looking to purchase bundled services in the next year would prefer to patronize a phone company, compared to 44% of consumers who would buy from their cable company. The difference may seem slight, but it represents a serious threat to cable companies. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Now heavyweights AT&T and Verizon, which have enjoyed better results on customer service surveys, are encroaching on Charter’s core business in markets nationwide. That lends more urgency to fixing customer service woes, said Joe Stackhouse, Charter’s senior vice president for customer operations.

“We need to continue to improve our service,” he said. “We know we’re not where we need to be.”

Charter has worked on integrating its call centers, to get calls answered faster, Stackhouse said, and recently set up a “day of” desk, to quickly help customers with problems on the day of an installation or a service visit.

Customer service isn’t just about answering the phone quickly. People hate Charter with a seething passion because of the company’s pigheaded unwillingness to solve the most basic complaints. Telling customers “no” faster won’t help.

CONSUMERS: Telco ‘bundles’ more attractive than cable’s [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

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  1. HeyThereKiller says:

    charter was also voted the worst cable company in the US in one of the PC magazines recently… so um… fuck em…


    I’ve got Cablevison/Optimum and I’m perfectly happy with it, no need to spend a lot more money on the still unavailable FIOS and have to deal with Verizon bullshit

  2. beyond says:

    Bundling services is a bad idea to begin with. You don’t save that much unless you fit into their packages. Then if you have any kind of service or billing problem, instead of just your cable being out, or your phone being out, now your cable/internet/phone/security system is ALL out. And if you get such bad service that you decide to dump them and go with someone else, suddenly you’re looking for a new provider for 4-5 services instead of just 1 service.

    No thanks, I don’t give these companies enough credit to put all my eggs in their basket.

  3. acambras says:

    Although I’m not a huge fan of AT&T OR Comcast, I chose AT&T for local/long distance/DSL because I figured they were the lesser of two evils. Besides, when I read through the fine print for Comcast’s “triple play,” the message I came away with was “We reserve to screw the customer when we want, how we want, and as often as we want.” I realize AT&T could do this too, but their track record with me is better than Comcast’s (wouldn’t take much!)

  4. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I went with AT&T for phone and DSL because a) it’s cheaper and b) who really needs cable telephone and internet outside of home business owners? I wanted to bundle in satellite TV, but there are too many damn trees in my neighborhood. The only option is Charter.

    So instead, I’m just not having TV for a while. I miss my renovation trainwreck shows, and when football season starts I won’t be able to hold out any longer, but for now it’s actually cheaper to go out to the local sports-bar dive a couple times a month for nachos and baseball than it is to buy their stupid overpriced basic package.

  5. ShadowFalls says:

    I’ve got Brighthouse. Great customer service, well-priced bundle packages and fast internet access, Verizon does not match up in any of these areas.

  6. AcidReign says:

        As I write this, Charter Pipeline and digital cable has been out for my entire block since noon yesterday. Oddly, though the analog Expanded Basic cable (which I have) is still working. Folks are furious. Charter’s customer service basically makes up a new story every time someone calls, often saying that they were unaware of the problem. No Charter truck has been seen in the area, yet.

        My next door neighbor has been using my wireless net and DSL. Poor guy, he has to sit with a TV tray right on the property line to get a signal, and it’s about 90 and steamy outside!

  7. TehRev says:

    Screw Charter. They are the worst. I in fact just dropped all my service with them to go to AT&T. One devil for another I guess. I can’t imagine that AT&T could be any worse at customer service though. Charter was the worst company I had ever dealt with. I am glad to be done with them.

    I don’t have cable TV which is fine by me and the DSL is cheaper than cable for the same speeds. I will never have charter again.

    Worst part of Charter. Transferring service to a new apartment. They missed 7 yes SEVEN setup appointments. Those are the 4 hours block appointments too.

  8. Heyref says:

    It all comes down to customer service. My experience with AT&T has been that while they may treat you with mild contempt at first, if you escalate the call you do get competent folks who seem to want to solve your problem. Comcast, on the other hand, has always treated me with outright hostility. Escalation brings greater hostility. Is Harvard Business teaching that the customer is the enemy now? AT&T seems to realize that they actually do need customers.

  9. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I’ve had Verizon DSL for years now. Service has been consistent, with only 1 or 2 outages late at night. Download speeds are pretty close to what’s advertised. And surprisingly, I’ve had some decent experience dealing with their CSR’s. Wait times are reasonable. And they had good phone manners.

  10. homerjay says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: I’m one of those that really likes verizon. Their customer service in my area is great and my DSL is acceptable (even though I’m at a slow speed). But I too have noticed a LOT of outages late at night– like 1am. I wonder what thats all about.

    I don’t use it much in the middle of the night, but when I try, its usually either down or REALLY slow.

  11. gtr225 says:

    I’m one of the few anti-bundlers out there. Mainly because these bundles don’t offer me much savings nor do they fit my needs. I have Dish Network for TV, Cablevision for internet, and AT&T for wireless phone service. Cablevision tried their damnedest to get me to switch to triple play but I don’t need a land line because I only use my mobile phone, which I don’t use that much to begin with. I almost got TV from them. The cable guy came and was having trouble hooking it up and I knew what the problem was but he refused to listen, he then tried using coaxial cable connections to my TV when I specifically told him S-Video or nothing. So by time he figured out what the problem was I had already ordered Dish Network, set up an install date and told the cable guy to take his shit and leave.

  12. JuliusJefferson says:

    @ShadowFalls:

    Likewise. I feel lucky that I’m under Brighthouse. They recently sent a representative to my apartment and when I answered the door I thought “Oh great, another sales pitch.” Instead, he politely informed me that their upload/download speeds had both been increased and asked if I had noticed any difference. Bah!

  13. wHATEver says:

    I’m a Charter cable subscriber, with Verizon DSL and telephone service. I’ve been (im-)patiently waiting for Charter to upgrade their cable plant to add HDTV service (they added Charter Telephone about 1 year ago). I wasn’t about to go through a complete bundle/switch to Charter services if they couldn’t commit to when or if they would ever go HD here (and I’ve received numerous conflicting statements from them over the last 2 years on the subject). I find it ridiculous and kind of embarrassing that a city of 100,000 people doesn’t have full services provided by its incumbent cable provider.

    I’ve had generally good results with my Verizon DSL service – not spectacular speeds, but quite reliable and stable. And, I just found out today that it looks like we’re finally about to get assessed for Verizon FiOS install capability on our apartment complex – so I may be able to ditch Charter completely, get significantly upgraded TV service, and even faster internet speeds all at once.

  14. Juliekins says:

    We bought our house two years ago this July. It was new construction and didn’t have phone or cable lines hooked up yet, so we had to take care of contacting the phone and cable companies ourselves. We called the cable company six weeks before we took possession of the house, then four weeks before, then two weeks before. Each time they had some lame excuse about why they didn’t have the results of the engineering survey back, or why they hadn’t been to the house, or whatever. Then a week before we were to close on the house, we called them again. They said, and I quote:

    We can’t really tell you when we can be out to your house to hook your cable up, because our customer service and engineering departments don’t really work together.

    Oh, and this was July, in a college town. If we didn’t get our cable hooked up before August 1st, it probably wouldn’t happen before sometime in November because of move-in craziness. I told them this. They did not care.

    In our apartment, we had cable TV, phone, and internet through the cable company. They knew we had this bundle and they gave up a good customer who always paid their bills on time because they were too goddamned lazy to communicate within their own company. I called AT&T that afternoon who told me they could have someone to the house the next day to look things over and get the process of hooking everything up started. AT&T and their contractors showed up when they said they would and did what they said they would how they said they would do it. Oh, and with HD Dish, a DVR, phone, and good DSL we’re spending about $20 less per month than we were with our local cable outfit. A few days after we got the ball rolling with AT&T, the cable company called my husband and basically begged forgiveness, offered chocolate chip cookies and a handie if they could just come out and set us up with cable. He told them no and he told them why.

    Our local cable company can eat a dick. AT&T would have to burn my house down and kill my cats before I’d go back to cable.

  15. Pupator says:

    I switched from a cable bundle to a telcom bumdle with my recent move. The phone service was turned on 4 days late, and the DSL 6. I called each day to ask why it wasn’t on yet, and was assured that it would be on the next day. When it wasn’t I’d call back and complain. One DSL floor supervisor told me “It’s just one more day; you can deal with it.” When I called customer service to complain about the entire experience, they offered me nothing. When I told them that I was considering switching back to cable because of the poor CS, and asked if they wanted to make any attempt to keep me as a customer I was told “We don’t do that.” *sigh* Back to Time Warner.

  16. Trai_Dep says:

    For those that are considering life without cable, if you have a HDTV, most the regular broadcast stations have HD signals you can get w/ an antenna. The over-the-air broadcasts are often HIGHER resolution than the choked-back signals cable and satellite companys deign to trickle down to you.

    Add Netflix or similar – cough bittorrent cough – solutions and you’ll never look back.

    Saves me over $100/mo, just for basic. $1,200/yr is a LOT of Netflix/movie tix…

  17. mikfel1 says:

    I go with my local Bell (Verizon) because atleast they don’t telemarket and junk mail me to death like Comcast.

    I was thinking about going with Cavtel, a local phone & internet company, but I used to hear bad things about them. I’m not sure how to find out if they are good or not. Any ideas or experience with them

  18. Allura says:

    Simply, I’m keeping my landline ON my land line because the telephone system carries its own power and has NEVER gone out on me. My cable drops out regularly. Thanks, no thanks. The only reason I pay for that land line is security. I want it always on.

  19. wHATEver says:

    @trai_dep: OTA HD is really nice — if you live close enough to the towers to get a consistently strong signal (and don’t have multipath issues). I live on the first floor of an apartment building some 45-50 miles away from the “antenna farm”, and I don’t have any privately controlled exterior space (balcony, patio). So I can only use indoor antennas.

    Even with improved OTA HD tuner chips in more recent devices like the Tivo Series 3 and TiVoHD, there’s only so much you can do with minimal signal strength.