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Petitioning FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and 5 others

Stop Comcast's Growing Monopolistic Stranglehold on the Telecom Industry

To ensure fluidly functioning and stable social and economic systems, Americans depend on affordable and reliable access to internet, phone, and cable services.   From calling an ambulance, to conducting business, to staying in touch with friends and family, telecom services are vital to our society. 

The vast majority of Americans receive internet and phone services from local cable providers, the two largest of which are Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC).  (Comcast owns NBC Universal, NBC Sports, Syfy, USA, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC. TWC owns HBO, Cinemax, CNN, TBS, TNT.)

Comcast is the largest mass media and communications company in the world by revenue.  It is the largest cable company and home internet service provider in the US, and the nation's third largest home telephone service provider.  It serves over 22 million cable customers, 19.9 million high-speed Internet customers, and 10.3 million voice customers. 

MONOPOLISTIC STRANGLEHOLD ON TELECOM INDUSTRY

Comcast currently has a monopolistic stranglehold on the telecom industry in many parts of the country, inhibiting competition to drive prices ever higher and customer service ever lower.  Low-income subscribers may soon be priced out of the market completely.  And Comcast is now moving to tighten that stranglehold by acquiring Time Warner Cable (TWC).

A January 27, 2014 Los Angeles Times article notes, “Under the scenario being discussed, pay-TV operator Charter Communications would proceed alone in its quest to buy TWC.  If successful in its takeover, Charter then would sell the TWC systems in New York City, New England and North Carolina to Comcast.”

In a what’s-wrong-with-this-picture response, telecommunications expert, author, and Harvard Law School visiting professor Susan Crawford warns the ability of Comcast/Charter to swallow TWC will only make matters worse for all cable subscribers.  “Both companies could lower their overhead — and raise their prices.  Both companies could charge content providers more for access to their data and TV networks and thus access to their subscribers.  Local cable service is a monopoly almost everywhere; fiber companies such as Verizon and AT&T, which have the technology to bring you higher speeds, won't spend the money to compete.  And cable is only getting stronger.  The Federal Communications Commission waved through the 2011 merger of Comcast with NBCUniversal, making the nation's No. 1 cable operator vastly more powerful. The industry's current concentration, which gives Comcast and Time Warner control over roughly 40% of the broadband Internet market, will increase if the FCC allows smaller companies to merge.” 

In a recent Forbes article, Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University Economics Professor and Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, chided Comcast for its incompetence and fraudulence and observed, “Comcast customer support could be split off from the entity that actually provides TV, internet, and phone service and turned into a competitive industry. Our government didn’t break up AT&T decades ago, freeing the American public from a terrible national telecommunications monopolist, only to deliver us into the hands of local telecom monopolists, who, in many ways, are far worse.”

WORST/MOST DISLIKED COMPANY IN AMERICA

In 2012 Comcast ranked #4 and Charter ranked #3 on the list of 15 Most Disliked Companies in America on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).  (The ACSI is published quarterly by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and is considered one of the most comprehensive customer satisfaction surveys in the United States.)  

In 2013 ACSI’s customer satisfaction survey revealed Comcast and TWC are the two worst cable and internet providers in the country and have the lowest customer satisfaction rankings of any industry in America.

From 2010-2013, out of thousands of nominations for Consumerist’s Worst Company in America contest, Comcast consistently won one of the top four slots.  (In 2010, in keeping with its long-standing tradition of shady dealing, Comcast tried to avoid winning by asking its own employees to vote multiple times ["…from the office and at home on your personal computers laptops, via the Web browser on your cell phones, iPads, tablets, and other Web-enabled wireless devices…"] for other companies in the running.  It didn’t help – Comcast won first place anyway.)

NO CONSUMER PROTECTIONS

Consumer complaints, including on Comcast’s own forums (read Contributor Laalcorn’s hilarious and spot-on Open Letter to Tom Kerinshak, SVP of Customer Experience, at forums.comcast.com), reveal an unrelenting nationwide pattern of monopolistic business practices and unfair trade practices, such as poor to non-existent customer service, overpriced and limited services/packages, data capping, false advertising, bait-and-switch marketing tactics, fraudulent billing practices, illegal collection tactics, and the most recent failure to tell customers their cable modems now double as Wi-Fi routers and broadcast as a public Wi-Fi network that anyone with a Comcast account can connect to (customers cannot manually disable this feature, but have to contact Comcast's infamous customer service reps to opt-out).

Comcast customers recount a consistently wide range of often fruitless attempts to resolve problems with billing, services, and equipment, including many frustrating hours being transferred to the wrong offices, dealing with incompetent and untrained reps who neither speak nor understand English well and lack the power to fix issues, and then being disconnected and having to start the whole process over again through endless phone trees.  

The only advantage to having an issue escalated to Comcast’s Executive Customer Relations level (888-966-7794, ext. 3014452) is customers can then repeatedly interact with just one rude, obstructionist rep who is ignorant of Comcast systems/equipment and how to fix or activate them.

Comcast’s local offices in each community are not accessible via phone, so customers have to drive to them and stand in long lines waiting to talk with reps who are often no more helpful than their long-distance counterparts.

State consumer protection agencies, including attorney general offices, are powerless against this company’s unethical behavior, often taking Comcast’s word that problems have been resolved and closing complaints without confirmation from the complainant.

Your signature on this petition will:

·   Tell President Obama and, by extension, Congress, the FCC, and the Justice Department that America no longer wishes to be subjected to Comcast’s monopolistic and fraudulent practices, which violate US anti-trust laws, and does NOT support expanding their monopoly further through a TWC acquisition.

·   Tell Comcast:  We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore!

 P.S.  Feel free to:

- provide a brief summary of any issues you’ve had with Comcast in the Why is this issue important to you? section when you sign

forward this petition to friends and families who may be interested in signing

- post this petition on your Twitter or Facebook pages for broader support and more impact

 

 

This petition was delivered to:
  • FCC Commissioner
    Mignon Clyburn
  • FCC Commissioner
    Jessica Rosenworcel
  • FCC Commissioner
    Ajit Pai


Jennifer Dubrow started this petition with a single signature, and now has 845 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.




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