Philadelphia Finally Releases Results Of Comcast Customer Service Survey; It’s Not Pretty

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has been a vocal supporter of Comcast and of its efforts to acquire Time Warner Cable, in spite of the company's low customer satisfaction scores and high prices in its home city.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has been a vocal supporter of Comcast and of its efforts to acquire Time Warner Cable, in spite of the company’s low customer satisfaction scores and high prices in its home city.

Earlier this week we told you how the city leadership here in Comcast’s hometown of Philadelphia appeared to be dragging their feet in getting around to releasing the results of 15-month-old survey of city residents about Comcast service, even though the cable company had already been shown the report. Today, the city finally got around to sharing this info with the public and it’s about as unpleasant as you’d expect.

We’re still working our way through the massive 571-page Needs Assessment Report [PDF], but here are some figures that instantly pop out.

• Even though Philadelphia is the place Kabletown calls home (and which Comcast execs apparently actually refer to as “Kabletown”), the consultant who put together the report notes that the customer satisfaction level was the lowest, by as much as 11%, of other Comcast franchise areas studied over the last six years:

Of other Comcast-dominated markets studied by the consultants in recent years, Philadelphia has the lowest level of customer satisfaction.

Of other Comcast-dominated markets studied by the consultants in recent years, Philadelphia has the lowest level of customer satisfaction.

• Even though Philly is home to Comcast and gives the company huge tax breaks, Comcast services are significantly more expensive here than in other markets:
phillycost

• 64% of Comcast customers in Philly had to call customer service in the last year. Nearly 1/3 of those calls were related to billing issues.

• 15% of Philly residents who called Comcast customer service reported getting a busy signal. That’s five times the level specified by the FCC and Philadelphia’s Franchise Customer Service Standards requirements.

• 61% of callers said their call had not been answered within 30 seconds; more than six time the FCC and city franchise standards.

• Of the 1,759 residents who provided additional written comments on their surveys, 99% of the responses were unfavorable.

Here are the top 9 most commonly used phrases in the written comments:

1. Price (375 times) – Comcast’s rates were frequently described using terms like: “Overpriced,” “Price Gouging,” “Prices are too High,” “Ridiculous amount,” “exorbitant price,” “High prices,” “quarterly price increases,” “Prices are outrageous,” “need affordable prices,” “prices arbitrary,” “stop price hikes,” “unfair pricing,” and “need lower Prices.”

2. Customer Service (316) — Here customers said Comcast service “needs improvement,” is “poor,” “bad,” “terrible,” “awful,” “lousy,” “horrible,” “frustrating,” “nonexistent,” and our favorite, “not kind.”

3. Internet Services (312) — Comcast’s Xfinity service was painted with the following terms: “intermittent issues,” “poor,” “need better prices,” “no other options for provider,” “quite slow,” “service not worth the cost,” “not reliable,” and “need free internet service for low income and senior citizens.”

4. Pay (300) — The use of this term covered a variety of sentiments, like “They should pay their fair share of taxes,” “wish we could pay per channel,” “we pay high prices for slow internet,” “I pay for channels I don’t want,” “They don’t pay taxes,” and “I pay a low introductory rate and then have to pay a huge rate for same service in 6 months.”

5. Monopoly (297) — Respondents feelings on this topic were pretty clear with statements like “Comcast has a monopoly,” “Comcast is a monopoly,” “horrible monopoly,” “Comcast’s Monopoly is ridiculous,” “the City should break this monopoly,” and “unfair monopoly.”

6. Competition (217) — Of course, if there’s a monopoly, then people are going to mention the lack of choices with sentiments including “need competition,” “the City should promote competition,” “Comcast has no Competition,” “the City should make sure there is competition,” “there is no competition,” and “there is zero competition.”

The release of the Needs Assessment report kicks off the process of the Philadelphia City Council actually reviewing Comcast’s franchise agreement with the city. Many advocates and some members of the Council believe this is a chance for the city to curb rate hikes, demand better service and conditions that would require Comcast to provide more low-cost broadband access and perhaps funding for educational programs for the city’s cash-strapped schools.

“Now it’s up to the City to take these voices collected in the needs assessment – and the many more who will speak across neighborhoods, and at public hearings – and use them to inform any future deal with Comcast,” says Hannah Sassamann of the Media Mobilizing Project, which helped to put pressure on the city to release the report. “This is a once-in-a-generation negotiation determining the communications future of our city… We need affordable cable and communications services in the poorest big city in America, real choices and competition in our communications market, protection for Comcast workers and consumers, and a Comcast that pays its fair share in Philadelphia as a condition of any new franchise agreement.”

“We were elected by our constituents to leverage our public investment and assets to benefit the 99% of us, not the wealthy one-percent,” said Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr. in a statement.

UPDATE: Comcast has come out swinging against some of the stats mentioned in the report, but curiously doesn’t respond to most of them.