Comcast and Time Warner Cable could become America's most loathed TV and Internet provider if they are allowed to merge, as customer satisfaction with both companies has plummeted.
In the latest survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (via DSL Reports), the two companies landed at the bottom of the list for both TV and Internet services.
Comcast scored 60 points for television service, which is five points less than the industry average, and three points lower than last year's score. Time Warner Cable scored 56 points, down 4 points from last year, and nine points lower than the industry average. DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse were on top of the list with 69 points. (Incidentally, AT&T is now hoping regulators will approve an acquisition of DirecTV.)
Internet service was even worse. Comcast scored 57 points, down from 62 points last year, while Time Warner's score dropped to 54 points, from 63 points in 2013. Both companies are now far below the industry average of 63 points, and nowhere near Verizon's 71 points for its FiOS service.
ACSI acknowledges that Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner wouldn't bode well for future customer service rankings. In its report, the group wonders how two companies "with such poor records could possibly create a better customer experience, especially given the volume of evidence from ACSI data suggesting that mergers in service industries tend to damage satisfaction--at least in the short term."
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts thinks he has an answer. Speaking to USA Today in March, Roberts showed off an iPhone app that lets users troubleshoot their set-top boxes and schedule service appointments, and said Time Warner customers could get similar features if the merger goes through. He also talked about the possibility of letting customers see where their technicians are in real-time, though he didn't reveal any specific plans on that front.
But as DSL Reports points out, Comcast has promised for years to improve its customer satisfaction, while also downplaying the idea that lots of customers aren't happy. And yet, the company has always fared poorly in ASCI's satisfaction rankings.
As ASCI notes, people aren't just unhappy with the quality of customer service. They're also upset about rising prices--subscription TV prices are increasing by 6 percent per year, which is four times the rate of inflation--and poor reliability in the services they pay for. A new smartphone app doesn't make those problems go away--and neither does a merger.