Time Warner Cable/Charter Service Not Likely To Improve After Merger

Image courtesy of DCvision2006

Remember how literally just yesterday the Attorney General’s office in New York was strongly suggesting to Charter that they get on the ball about that whole “making service not suck” thing now that they’ve bought Time Warner Cable? Well, analysts are saying that New Yorkers — and everyone else — probably shouldn’t hold their breath.

Mergers can be really messy. Bringing two or more companies together under one new structure takes a lot of time to iron out — we see that across every industry. And the three-way marriage of Charter, Bright House, and Time Warner Cable isn’t going to be any different, analysts suggest.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index report released last week suggested as much when it took a look at the companies’ terrible customer satisfaction ratings.

“The Charter-TWC-Bright House merger will bring together more than 25 million customers,” the report pointed out, but, “ACSI improvement notwithstanding, both Charter [which scored 60 out of 100] and TWC [69/100] still lag the majority of the industry. This does not bode well for customers, especially those of Bright House [66/100], as mergers tend to cause customer satisfaction to deteriorate, at least in the short term.”

New York, of course, is not the only market stuffed with deeply unhappy Time Warner Cable customers; the company operates in several states. Ohio is one of those, which is why the Columbus Dispatch sought out oft-cited industry analyst Jeff Kagan for his take. Unfortunately for residents of the Buckeye state, his premonitions for their near-term future are not good.

“These are two companies that have been challenged to keep customer care at an acceptable level,” Kagan told the Dispatch in a masterful understatement. “But it’s not going to be better over the next year — or two or three.”

And the reality is, there’s not much to be done about it. After the financials of the merger are complete, the physical realities set in. Charter will have to audit, inventory, and understand all the software, hardware, infrastructure, personnel, and equipment they’ve just inherited before they can figure out what to deploy where, and what needs fixing most. That takes time (and money), even for the most ambitious company.

A spokesman for Charter confirmed that to the Dispatch, acknowledging, “It will take a while. For the immediate future, customers aren’t going to see any changes.”

In the immediate short-term that probably includes the name, too. “What we want to do is, when we launch the Spectrum brand, we will have the background work done and disruptions are minimized,” he told the Dispatch.

The spokesman also added that Charter has added 7,000 employees in the past few years and intends to keep adding more, with an eye to making sure that front-facing, customer service positions are being well-staffed.

Time Warner-Charter merger has competitors eager to lure new customers [Columbus Dispatch via DSLReports]

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