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How satisfied are residents in Michigan with their cable companies?

Even more than the IRS and Ohio State, Michiganders love to hate their cable TV providers. “Honestly, I haven’t heard anybody say they like their cable company,” said Linda Krieger, 71, of Oak Park. – Detroit Free Press

So, why the hatred for their cable companies?

In 2006, Comcast & AT&T pushed through state deregulation laws which allowed Comcast to get out of hundreds of franchise deals with local governments.

Let’s look at some of the highlights of Comcast’s time while operating in and around Detroit:

  • Comcast celebrated the first anniversary of cable deregulation by raising the price of its cheapest cable package by 25% in many communities; rates for other service tiers jumped between 9%-25%.
  • Comcast removed the high majority of local service stations for people to visit around the state for customer service.
  • Comcast fought cities around the state to get out of previously agreed-upon franchise agreements that mandated Comcast support local TV channels.
  • After Comcast finished dead last in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, Comcast successfully pushed through more deregulation laws which stripped cities to regulate minimum customer service standards for its residents.
  • A spokesman for a group led by Comcast justified all of these anti-consumer moves by claiming, “that’s what the market wants.”

But now, those in Michigan will be receiving even LESS help from their state government when it comes to keep cable companies honest with customers. Have drooping cables in your backyard? Have unexplained hikes in your cable bills? Have numerous inexplicable gaps in service? Oh well.

Comcast Time Warner Merger

Yesterday, a section of Michigan law expired that cut off funds for state regulators who oversaw cable TV companies operating in the state. This is important due to the fact that complaints against cable companies in the state went to these regulators. The number of complaints wasn’t decreasing but INCREASING over the last few years.

Each January, the MPSC sends a report to the governor, telling how many complaints the agency received in the previous year from cable TV subscribers. The number has risen steadily as consumers learned about the MPSC’s role. In 2011, the state logged 757 complaints; in 2012, it received 880; in 2013, the figure was 1,229  and in 2014, it rose 28% to 1,574, according to the report sent to Gov. Rick Snyder on Jan. 15. – Detroit Free Press

Why not renew this small piece of legislation? Judy Palnau, spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission, enlightened us:

They didn’t renew because “the thought here is that cable TV is just like the telephone business — there’s so much competition now, you can take your business elsewhere” if the service or cost of a given cable TV provider is unacceptable, she said. – Detroit Free-Press

Palnau also reminds us that cable providers “have those 800 numbers” on their monthly bills…..which I didn’t know was deemed an achievement by the cable companies.

Meanwhile, as the Detroit Free Press found out while interviewing people in the state, actual cable competition is laughably nowhere in sight.

“They say there’s a lot of competition? Let’s test that. The fact is, if you pick up the phone or the Internet right now and try to get cable TV service to your home, you won’t find much competition,” said Detroit-based attorney Mike Watza.

Not to worry though as a Comcast representative claimed that these state regulators weren’t needed because Comcast had “redoubled its efforts to provide good service in Michigan.”

But as I have discussed previously, Comcast has said this countless times over the last few years and produced atrocious results.

ComcastJustTryLeavingUs
BusinessInsider

Didn’t Comcast’s CEO claim that their customer service reputation would be transformed earlier this year? If so, Comcast must be transforming into an even worse company as the last few weeks have seen Comcast force a customer into credit hell even though she paid her bills, seen Comcast pay a fine for accidentally publishing customer information and seen Comcast claim data caps aren’t actually data caps? Anyone remember the New Jersey man in 2012 who was told that his outages would be resolved in….two years?