Buried deep in the Washingtonian’s feature on how Meet the Press’s David Gregory lost his gig as host of the long-running NBC show after Comcast took over the network is a note about the influence peddling that goes on, not through campaign contributions, slush funds, or promises of high-paying executive jobs, but through the promise of getting your cable/Internet fixed in a timely manner.
“Comcast also had an even more personal way of sucking up to Washington,” writes Luke Mullins. “Its government-affairs team carried around ‘We’ll make it right’ cards stamped with ‘priority assistance’ codes for fast-tracking help and handed them out to congressional staffers, journalists, and other influential Washingtonians who complained about their service.”
Now, a Comcast rep rightly points out that this tactic is nothing new, nor is it exclusive to Capitol Hill. In fact, the cards — which are no longer called “We’ll make it right,” but “We’re On It” — are something that all employees are given and which can be distributed at each worker’s discretion to whomever he or she chooses.
It just helps that even though plenty of lawmakers are from parts of the country without Comcast service, they spend many months of the year in the D.C. area, where Comcast is the dominant cable and broadband provider.
So these cards, which only promise a dedicated customer service team for your particular issue, can help to convince a lawmaker from a non-Comcast area to think that the company is not the absolute worst in customer service.
Perhaps that’s why PA Senator Pat Toomey, who lives outside of Comcast’s service area, felt so compelled to demand that the FCC stop futzing around and approve the Time Warner Cable merger already. Or maybe it had something to do with the more than $70,000 his campaign received from Kabletown during the most recent election cycle. The world may never know.
Don’t underestimate the motivating value of decent customer service, and not just on legislators who are easily won over. Take, for example, the case of journalist Bob Garfield, who was so annoyed with Comcast that he created the site ComcastMustDie in 2007. Two years later, after finally being treated not-horribly by Comcast, he abandoned this crusade, declaring that Comcast “has finally seen the light.”
Except that it’s still at the bottom of most customer service rankings and has earned the Worst Company In America title twice since then, while spending billions to gobble up NBC Universal and trying to acquire Time Warner Cable.
Instead of handing out these cards to a select few, how about improving customer service for everyone?