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samsonh

Consumers lose, Comcast wins

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This is a sad day for anyone who has experienced Comcast's inferior customer support and service. The bill to allow AT&T to compete statewide was withdrawn. I loved how Comcast's argument was that AT&T would raise prices once they entered the market. Comcast should love that. Comcast appealed to the uneducated segment of the public and won.

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I think the issue has been deferred until next year. Is that correct? If so, then there is still hope for the bill. I for one am glad I am with Direct TV.

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Why don't you switch to DirecTV or DISH network if you're unhappy with Comcast?? You certainly aren't stuck with their glitch-ridden signal or lame support if you don't want it!

I just hope Direct or DISH would be as well off. ;)

BTW, samsonh, you are a little mistaken on what the bill's status is. I'm only familiar with this because I just finished working for Comcast (and I don't have a particularly strong opinion for them or against them. I'm currently using a DirecTV system if that says anything, and I've only been away from Comcast for two months...

Anyway, the mistake you've made is that the bill has been "put on hold" for next year. The bill never came to a vote, and it didn't "fail" a vote.

Second, AT&T is requesting a state-wide franchise right. Cable companies have traditionally contracted with local governments for local franchises; therefore, AT&T does not have to wait until next year to implement service in any Middle Tennessee community. They have the right to negotiate with Metro or any surrounding county or city government. AT&T can launch its video over fiber optic service if it is granted a franchise from the local government.

The consumer hasn't failed, all AT&T needs to do is be willing to negotiate city by city, county by county (the way its been done for decades).

I think this issue is blown WAY out of proportion on both sides. AT&T and Comcast both are whining about nothing, and I doubt either service will provide as good of quality TV and service/support as you get with satellite anyway.

DirecTV is getting ready to launch over 60 new HD channels later in the year on a new satellite system they are putting together. Comcast really won't be able to compete with that anyway. I've seen fiber to the point video services like Verizon's service up in northern states, and that service only carries a fraction of the channels anyway. They haven't got the capital laying around to create enough fiber optic bandwidth to carry more than 60 channels in some markets.

Cable is already well above that, and Satellite is above cable capacity for video as well (now data or phone services is another matter, but that's another topic...).

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I would switch, but cannot due to location(apartment complex). I have had Comcast come to my apartment 4 times in the past 5 months, not counting the initial install. The people who work for Comcast are great(incredibly nice), but the service is awful and despite the fact that they are incredibly nice it seems many of the employees do not know what they are doing.

On the plus side not having cable for days at a time has made me realize how much I do not need it.

You are correct about the municipal licenses. The system is stupid. I would love to hear the justification for why the licenses are even needed. Of course that is the problem with all government, its not really needed.

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I worked at the Comcast call center over near Gaylord Opryland Hotel doing tech support for internet products, some sales overspill when sales was overloaded (the only way I made enough money to survive was based on the small commissions for upselling accounts, I made a pathetic $10.50/hr base pay).

Anyway, my experience is this... Comcast does not hire qualified people and are unwilling to pay technicians a proper amount to attract the talent needed. Many line technicians start out at $11/hr and I started out at $10.50/hr without commission.

I have a degree in computer technology and know a great deal about internet connectivity, so if you talked with me I got the problem fixed 90% of the time (probably over that rate by far) without having to escalate the call.

I didn't stay with Comcast because the pay was pathetic vs. what the company takes in. Even with my commission, I wasn't making enough to equal the same pay as $13/hr base rate. For what Comcast asked of me, it wasn't worth that paycheck.

That's why you get nice people generally who can't solve your problem. Comcast does not invest into support services across the board and hires people who aren't qualified for the job (generally speaking).

I can't tell you how many people they hired to do high speed internet support who had to learn how to use the computer just to track calls via their Comtrac program... Let alone the definition of TCP/IP or firewalls.

My beef with Comcast is more the management. The Nashville call center services many markets, not just Middle Tennessee. Everything from Paducah to Tuscaloosa, AL to Shreveport, LA to Huntington, WV, the subscriber base is over 2 million customers in the markets the local call center serves.

There are approximately 700 customer care, tech support, sales reps in our market.

I estimate the following:

$11 average pay x 8 hours x 5 days x 52 weeks = $22,880 yearly pay divided by 12 = 1906 monthly pay x 700 employees = $1,334,666.66

$17.00 (hourly rate) x 8 hours x 5 days x 52 weeks = $35360 yearly pay divided by 12 = 2946 monthly pay x 700 employees = $2,062,666.66

Difference of monthly pay if they were to hire qualified professionals at a decent pay:

2,062,666 subtracted by 1,334,666 = $728,000 per month

$728,000 divided by 2 million subscribers = $0.364.

To be honest and frank, it would cost each Comcast subscriber roughly $0.36 cents more per month on each cable bill to provide proper customer care and technical support services. DO NOT ASK ME WHERE THE REST OF YOUR $130 CABLE BILL IS GOING... It sure as hell never ended up in my pocket!

*personal note - if you know of a company that needs a help desk in house person, pm me. i'll be glad to interview for a real job, as i'm currently doing temp junk to get by until i find a better position.

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I agree with Heckles, AT&T can enter any market they want now, they just have to negotiate with the local communities like every other provider does. I didn't like the notion that AT&T thought they could buy themselves a statewide franchise that totally bypassed local governments, with which all their competitors had to spend the time and money to deal with to get their local franchise rights.

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Which competitors??? That is the entire problem. The franchise "right" unnecessarily restricts competition and keeps prices high. Why is it is necessary to have the communities negotiate with the companies? I hope you guys see how this process inflates your cable bill and reduces the choices you can make as a consumer.

BTW Heckles,

Thanks for your response. It's always interesting to hear what it is like on the inside of companies. Before you left you should have emailed your superiors that exact thing.

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Most folks have options. The telephone companies offer DSL, a host of firms offer dail-up, satellite companies offer television programming, and in several communities there is more than one cable company now; for example Jackson Energy Authority offers cable service in Jackson to compete with their local cable franchise, Charter. So even now, in most places, one has options other than buying all their services from a cable company.

As far as competition, there is no barrier, its just that currently no cable companies are willing to spend the time and money to risk entering a market where an established cable provider like Comcast, Charter, etc already has operations. All AT&T would have to do to start providing competition is go to the communities they want to enter and negotiate, nobody is preventing that now. AT&T wanted to skip that step and gain easy access to all the markets they were interested in via a statewide charter, which would surely have been a great time and cost saving move; and allowed them to invest in certian communities based off a return on investment analysis. I don't blame them for trying, thats good business, but its not fair to make everybody else have to enter markets in a time and cost consuming way, make the long term investments in their markets, etc., then allow a even bigger corporation with a large check made out to the state just come in over-ride local governments and skip large portions of the long established process.

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To say that AT&T is a large company with deep pockets and that Comcast and Charter are not would be a lie. It should be obvious why the cable companies do not infringe on each other's territory. Monopoly is a great business model if you can get it. I also agree that it is unfair for any company to have to get individual agreements, that is why I say scrap them all. Just because a process was poorly thought up in the past does not mean we should continue it. So what if AT&T gets to come in and compete easier. These are corporations, not people, and they do not have feelings that will be hurt. I personally want the cheapest bill and best service I can get for my money. That may very well be with Comcast, but currently I have no package that can compete with that on a price basis. Satellite is great, but for many people in cities is impractical.

Currently we have Comcast spending millions on lobbying telling the consumer that AT&T will come in and raise prices. As I said previously, why are they scared? Competition makes this country great. Barriers to competition come in many forms: licenses, taxes, quotas etc. These barriers make your goods and services more expensive and hurt the overall economy. A great example is the proposed HCA hospital in Spring Hill. Maury Regional and Williamson Medical are dead set against this, declaring that it will hurt the quality of health care. How? The fact is most people that have the time in Williamson County drive to Vanderbilt or Centennial or Baptist because they do not view the current quality of care at WMC as equal. WMC and Maury Regional are spending millions trying to trap consumers with the same mediocre choices. Blah that was a tangent and I'm sorry.

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I repeat.... AT&T should negotiate with Metro, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Sumner directly and get a franchise. All they have to do is ask, and they will receive one.

There isn't anything anti-competitive about it, AT&T just doesn't ask the locals and they want a statewide franchise.

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Heckles and RK,

The entire point of my post was missed by you guys. Why is the franchise even necessary? What service does Metro (or any other municipality) provide to the company in return? This leads us to the entire point of government. Metro (or any other municipality) is simply making things more expensive. You have to see this. It is plainly obvious. How is government serving me when they restrict competition? Answer: They are making my choices for me and making my existing options more expensive. Why in the world would you be against a statewide franchise (or even a nationwide franchise, or even...... no franchise at all..... GASP!!!)?

AT&T is truly trying to "ask the locals" You as an individual can make your own choice. You either choose AT&T, or you do not. Simple.

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AT&T is running public utilities that have to do with media content and new lines which involves digging and pole work. Due to this, its only natural they need a charter/permit/whatever. Last thing we need is a public utility like water being cut into by another utility provider.

All they have to do is ask for a charter and they will receive from the local government. Thus far they are not asking for a charter from the local governments, they are pushing for a statewide franchise. Is this good for the future? Who knows. Maybe Comcast should ask for a statewide charter along with them.

What I don't understand is why you're making this a bigger deal than it is. It sounds like you buy into the PR frenzy that each company puts out.

The next question you'll be asking is why do we have to have a business permit/charter. Why do we need a tax id number? Why do we even need to pay taxes at all?

Your point was taken before it was asked again... I'm not here to argue ideology, a franchise charter/permit is required in order to offer FCC regulated services via utility lines. That's just the way it is. AT&T has decided not to ask the right path for a franchise, therefore they haven't received one. Instead they have chosen to take the hard route in order to get a competitive advantage over their competition.

DirecTV and DISH don't require a local franchise because they don't dig into the ground or have lines all over poles in the city.

There's your real answer as to why a charter is necessary. I mean come on, this isn't rocket science.

I'm continually amused that half of metro Nashville is a bunch of people who think everything is a big government conspiracy in a socialist system to keep prices higher and competition out. The paranoia would be more funny if it weren't so pervasive or serious... I think they must put something in the water in certain areas of the country that causes this condition. :dontknow: The funnier part is that they continue to vote Republican actually expecting smaller government... :rofl:

Besides, if you check the information AT&T's UVerse service isn't the best service since the dawn of the TV age.

Here's its availability:

http://www.dslreports.com/gmaps/uverse

Using this page as a resource:

https://uverse1.att.com/launchAMSS.do

Uverse TV service is $59/month for 100 channels, $74 for 190 channels, $94 including 240 channels (This package has more than 30 channels of SHOWTIME

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Cheeeeezzzzzz we were both up late/early last night.

You are correct that I question the intention of government, but again there is no point debating this.

However I do believe that AT&T would check to make sure they were not hitting other utilities. They would not want to have to increase their cost (and decrease ROI) by having to pay rivals for repairs. It would all work without Daddy government watching us. A "legal competitive advantage" for all is what I am seeking, which is no advantage at all and leads to competition. I think Comcast should be allowed to do the exact same thing AT&T wish to do. And then maybe would see other traditional cable companies try to steal market share, a glorious competition fest :P )

Also I agree that the service would most likely not be out of this world awesome. But I don't care. I just want that option. That ability to transfer my patronage will be enough to spur Comcast to do things such as spending more money on customer support or increasing the amount of training that field techs receive. Competition is good for all parties. Look what has happened to cable internet over the years. As DSL increased its marketing the cable companies across the country have been forced to increase up and down speeds. Now, the only reason I would purchase DSL is for a backup connection for work, but its presence has increased the quality of my existing service.

Fwiw, I thinking voting Republican is also pretty comical. On that we can very much agree. But acting as if Democrats are any better would be wrong. So do as I do and vote Libertarian or Green or something different. A 3rd or 4th party would be great for this country.

PS. Check out the Google ads on this page :lol:

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