The survey reached over 80,000 participants, and a huge percentage of those respondents had something unpleasant to say about their providers. The highest-ranking providers only manage to look good in comparison to the competition, Consumer Reports found: “Even WOW and Verizon FiOS, which got high marks for service satisfaction, rated middling or lower for value, and out of 14 providers, nine got the lowest possible value rating.”
High prices and terrible customer service add up to a package of misery, the survey found:
When we asked Consumer Reports’ Facebook followers to tell us their telecom stories, the few happy anecdotes of attentive service technicians and reliable service were overwhelmed by a tidal wave of consumer woe involving high prices, complicated equipment, and terrible service.
“Customer service was so bad it made me really angry,” one poster said. “Slowest high-speed Internet on earth,” another said. “Cable television is a big waste of time and money,” another commented. “One of the best things my wife and I have done to enrich our marriage was to cancel cable.”
And about those high prices: the average family is spending $154 per month (or $1848 per year) on service they hate. Those rates are indeed climbing fast — much more quickly than inflation would predict.
There is wiggle room with the enormous bill, at least; about 40% of the survey respondents reported that they try to negotiate with their providers for better prices. Of those hagglers, only 8% reported not receiving any kind of benefit, promotional rate, or waived fee. The deals are getting worse and farther between, Consumer Reports says, but there are still some to be had.
The report also says that even though most consumers might not go around talking about net neutrality, they certainly want their internet service providers to demonstrate it. 71% of customers said they would try to switch providers if theirs “were to try to block, slow down, or charge more for bandwith-heavy services.”
Of course, there’s the big snag: good luck with actually switching. Many of us don’t exactly have competition in our areas. Adding comparatively well-rated Verion FiOS to an area otherwise dominated by cable does add sorely-needed competition, but even that may not help consumers much. FiOS isn’t expanding and their sinking speeds are still slowing down.
The potential merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable is poised to narrow the marketplace even further. While a small handful of consumers may see new competition as a result, most folks are looking at their least favorite companies gaining even more power and even less incentive to lower prices or improve their customer service. And that’s pointing us to a future of, at best, more of the same.
How to save money on triple-play cable services [Consumer Reports]