After a tense year of negotiations, the city of Philadelphia and one of its biggest corporate residents, Comcast, finally came to a new agreement over a cable franchise. The terms of the new 15-year contract are generally good news for Philadelphians, but now Comcast customers on the other side of the country are demanding that they get treated better, too.
There’s a story we hear far too often: someone is buying a house. Before they put any money down, they do their research. They call the local cable/Internet provider to make sure they can get broadband service at this new address. They double-check. They triple-check. They search the property for wires, call back, and make sure they’ll be okay. Then they take out the mortgage, move in, and… surprise! There’s no broadband service after all, there won’t be any, and now they’re up a very expensive creek. [More]
Like Quizno’s and KFC before them, Papa John’s went and set up a cute promotion without making sure that all of their franchisees have signed on. Papa John’s founder John Schnatter was reunited with his long-lost 1971 Camaro, and to celebrate, promised free pizza to anyone who drove up to a Papa John’s restaurant in a Camaro. Except, you guessed it, not at all Papa John’s locations.
New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson has proposed tying a Cable Consumer Bill of Rights into the 10-year franchise renewals Time Warner and Cablevision are expected to sign later this year. The proposal would force cable operators to disclose information about their expenses and service goals—which sounds nice and important on paper—but wastes an unrivaled opportunity to end the cable operators’ most hated practices.
Another city is irked at their cable provider for not living up to the requirements of their franchise agreement. The city of College Park, MD (population 24,657) has proposed a letter threatening Comcast with fines of $200 a day if Comcast doesn’t improve the time it takes to answer the phone. “It’s stupid to try to call them,” said Jack Perry, a city council member who claims he once waited 35 minutes for Comcast to answer his call. “Nobody answers the phone.”