Why people hate Comcast
22 February 2016

People love to hate their ISP/Television/Telecom providers, even more than their health insurers somtimes. Why the ire? Why do companies that provide what most people think of as an added-value service seem to hold so much emotional power over them? There seem to be many answers: high prices, missed appointments, service outages, bad support, pushy sales, and monopoly tactics. None of those could account for the absolute contempt that people have for their ISPs.

I think the answer is much simpler than any of those explanations. It’s all about how the providers have framed the relationship with their customers: as an adversary. Because of the way that a company like Comcast chooses to squeeze at every opportunity, the customers have been trained to push back at every opportunity.

When you make a relationship a war, every interaction is a battle.

Indeed, Comcast has made the relationship with their customers a war. Ever year you have to fight with them against the arbitrary increase in price. What you’ve been paying was just an introductory price. You know, like drugs. There’s an actual disadvantage to being a loyal customer.

You get bombarded with sales pitches when you call support to get a broken connection fixed. They seem to be oblivious that a time when their customers’ temperature is running hot is probably not the best time to pitch spending more money. In a sane customer relations department the goal would be to do everything to get the customer happy again. Further infuriating them is just a bad idea. Unless you’re operating from a position of supreme power.

Because in most areas the ISPs operate as a monopoly, they absolutely do not care about their customer relationships. It makes perfect sense from a business point of view. They exist to make money. Customers are money-generating resources to be maximized and happiness costs money. If the only way to get internet access is via Comcast Comcast only needs to keep the customers from deciding to forego internet access entirely. That’s a pretty low bar so Comcast can squeeze their customers pretty damn hard.

The donwside to this strategy is that as soon as a competitor enters the field customers will jump ship no matter what Comcast does. Wherever Google Fiber has entered the market people have subscribed despite it being potentially more expensive (although not for the same service level).

Personally I’d switch away from Comcast even if their service were free. Why? Because they’ve made an enemy of me.

That’s the attitude that the incumbent ISPs have to deal with in any market where actual competition crops up. Maybe I’m overestimating the memory of the average consumer, though. Maybe once the competitive landscape changes and the problems with the new entrants crop up people will forget how much they hated Comcast.