Commentary

Switching Cable Companies: Not The Horror Show You Might Expect

I just moved to a new home in a new (to me) town in a new (to me) state. This meant changing cable providers for the third time in six months, as we had moved temporarily six months ago.

I now have experience with Cablevision/Optimum, Xfinity/Comcast and TimeWarner Cable (soon to be CharterTimeWarnerCable -- or something like that).

I was very apprehensive when we moved away from Optimum, since Netflix had declared it the second fastest Internet provider in all of the U.S. last year after Google’s Fiber. And switching to Comcast’s Xfinity was giving me heart palpitations because of its general customer service ranking (I believe even the DMV and the IRS rank higher), and the continued verbal clobbering the company has been receiving from MediaPost columnist Bob Garfield.

My experience with Comcast was actually rather positive. I called to make an installation appointment prior to move #1, and was guided through the maze of options by a very helpful sales agent. Choices were made and an appointment date was set. Everything was instantly confirmed in an email.

The day before the installation, I received a courtesy robo-call to reconfirm the appointment. The window was two hours, at the time I had selected. The tech showed up and installed everything as promised, explained everything in great detail, and left us with a fully wired temporary home.

I have to say that I was impressed by the Xfinity speed for Internet in Marietta, Ga. (just north of Atlanta). The TV everywhere apps worked great, too: due to our multiplatform household, we were able to test them on Android, iOs and Chrome across phones, tablets and laptops. I was less impressed with the fact that Fox Sports 2 was replaced by Fox Sports South, which meant I missed a few matches during the group stages of the Women’s World Cup that were shown on FS2. FS/South decided to show rodeos instead. Welcome to the South, I guess.

We recently moved to a small town outside Charlotte, N.C., which is Time Warner Cable country. Comcast bid us a tearful goodbye, and I connected with TWC for service.

Again, a very patient and helpful sales agent guided us through the bewildering number of packages and options. In the end, for the Internet speed and bandwidth we needed with a double occupancy home office and a teenage multimedia son, it turned out that a triple play was cheaper then ditching phone service and/or cable service. Apparently the new strategy is to offer the combo significantly cheaper than the individual cost for each service.

So we made an appointment for installation offered in a one-hour window, and various confirmations and reminders were sent. TWC showed up on time and installed everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything, including new toys we had purchased such as a Roku and two Chrome Casts. That 's right, TWC installed devices that ultimately could sap revenue away from the company.

In the end, my worst fears with either provider have been proven wrong. If I compare my cable experience to moving my private healthcare from Connecticut to Georgia to now North Carolina, I can honestly tell you that, as far as I am concerned, cable providers are angels and Aetna Health is worse than the DMV, IRS and a wisdom-tooth extraction combined. And by the way, my DMV experiences across all these moves have actually been great, too.

2 comments about "Switching Cable Companies: Not The Horror Show You Might Expect".
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  1. Nicholas Fiekowsky from (personal opinion), June 29, 2015 at 2:33 p.m.

    Most cable companies now have intake working well. Equivalent to herding the cows into the barn.

    Now you're in the stall and hooked up to the milking machine - paying monthly. Customer service is less important since it would take a lot of your effort to disconnect and leave the barn. If there are no other barns in your pasture (town) and you're unwilling to go free range (cable cutter), then you're a captive.

  2. Maarten Albarda from Flock Associates (USA), June 29, 2015 at 4:37 p.m.

    I am not sure I like where you say I am, but I do like the analogy: works very well. I was very happy in Optimum's barn. I will keep you posted on how happy I will be in my new barn. Thanks for commenting!

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