In the “5 Reasons to Admire Comcast” column, contributor Gene Marks even admits that criticism of the cable giant for its stance on net neutrality and its poor serviced is “deserved.” But then he goes on to come up with perhaps the lamest reasons ever given to provide Comcast a pat on the back.
“Comcast is a tech company that has improved the lives of its customers”
Marks, like many of us over a certain age, recalls the time when we had only a few channels to choose from and when most of those channels shut off after midnight. And then came cable…
“From nothing (and Comcast literally started from nothing) billions were invested to lay cable and build networks,” writes Marks. “Smaller companies who were unable to sustain this kind of investment were swallowed up by larger companies, like Comcast, who could.”
So we’re supposed to admire a cable company because it bought smaller cable companies?
Marks even states that a lot of the new channels that all this innovation has brought to us is “bad,” and that “you can complain that the bill is too high” or “that you have no choice” but this is okay because other companies, like Apple, Google and Microsoft have “been accused of the same thing.”
Last I checked, consumers weren’t really complaining about the cost of Google, and neither Apple or Microsoft have regional monopolies where consumers are told “you must have an iPhone if you live in this ZIP code” or “your only choice for video game consoles in this city is Xbox.”
But the big problem with Marks’ argument on this point is that nothing he’s said is specific to Comcast. It’s not like Comcast created cable or broadband Internet. It’s just one company that happens to provide these services to lots of people.
That’s like pointing to all the new variations in Oreo cookies and saying Safeway should be admired for it.
“Comcast technology is reliable”
Again, Marks opens up by trying to preempt criticism of Comcast.
“Sure, there are plenty of cases of customer complaints,” he admits. “And as I write this there are many people who are in pockets of the country that continually suffer with poor service from Comcast.”
Then Marks pulls out the hyperbole stick and beats his column to death with it, claiming that “Comcast blankets most of the continental U.S. and covers hundreds of millions of homes, individuals, families and devices using their services to access the internet, watch movies or make phone calls (let alone attend their amusement parks or take a tour of 30 Rock).”
Last we checked, Comcast had between 20-30 million customers, and its service does not (yet) blanket the U.S. There are, thankfully, entire swaths of the country that only know of Comcast through news headlines.
But because Marks “rarely” has a Comcast service outage and only “sometimes” has to deal with a “less-than-amazing” customer service rep, the company is apparently deserving of admiration.
Perhaps it’s just a reflection of the ill will held toward cable companies that doing a somewhat adequate job is now deemed and admirable asset for a company.
“Comcast stands behind its employees”
Marks uses the recent Comcast retention call debacle as evidence that the company has its employees’ backs.
After all, contends Marks, the company came to that employee’s defense saying he was only doing what he’d been trained to do.
But what Marks overlooks is the fact that this was not a public statement. It was only published on the company’s in-house website and then leaked to Consumerist. And those Comcast employees who shared the memo with us were doing so because they believe the company needs to be shaken up and needs to treat its employees better.
If your only evidence of Comcast “standing behind its employees” is a memo that was leaked by employees who don’t feel supported by the company, you’re standing on shaky ground.
“Comcast is a ruthless, competitive, take no prisoners tech company…and good for them”
Rather than make defensible points about Comcast’s stock price and how it’s a publicly traded company that makes good on its obligation to stockholders, Marks instead points to all the ways in which the company tries to manipulate the market and its image:
According to him, Comcast is “fighting the net neutralists, battling the press, and waging war on competitors like Time Warner (who they’re now trying to merge with) and Verizon.”
That’s funny… if you ask Comcast, it’s the biggest supporter of net neutrality, and it has never waged war against Time Warner Cable because the two companies have never overlapped. Even in the markets where there is some overlap with Verizon FiOS, Comcast doesn’t really care, as Verizon has made it clear that it has no plans to expand that fiber network anytime soon.
“They are employing teams of lobbyists, marketing experts and PR consultants whose job is to persuade us that the growth of their company is good for America and not anti-competitive,” writes Marks.
Again, why is this admirable? If the company was indeed putting out the adequate product that is making our lives so much better, it wouldn’t need all this spin control.
Mr. Marks, a fellow Philadelphian, also admires Comcast for doing all this ruthless stuff “from Market Street in downtown Philadelphia.”
Um… The Comcast HQ isn’t on Market St. It’s a block north on JFK Blvd.
[UPDATE: Marks has removed the Market St. reference after I pointed out his error on Twitter]
If you’re going to try to prove your hometown cred, at least get the address right.
Wait — Isn’t there a fifth reason?
No, not really. Much like the company Marks claims to admire so much, the author doesn’t deliver on all of his promises. But instead of retitling his column to indicate that he could only come up with four threadbare reasons to give Comcast an attaboy, he simply shrugs and throws out the jokey “reason” of Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon.
“You may hate his employer, but who doesn’t love Jimmy Fallon?” he asks.
There you go America. Let Comcast run roughshod over the cable landscape, because Jimmy Fallon is hilarious.