Comcast has certainly been pulling out all the stops to get its $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable approved by regulators. That has involved calling everyone who opposes the merger ignorant and unreasonable, paying minority groups to parrot the company’s positions, and generally repeatedly denying all of the competitive and monopsony concerns raised by deal critics. All while the company’s top lobbyist, David Cohen, busily dodges lobbying rules by pretending he’s not actually lobbying (he seriously calls himself the company’s “Chief Diversity Officer”).
Comcast has employed some forty lobbying firms to court DC politicians, and offered up cash donations to 32 of the 39 members of the House Judiciary Committee that recently held hearings on the merger. In a piece exploring how David Gregory lost his job on “Meet The Press,” (and the rise of Comcast’s David Cohen as a K Street powerhouse) the Washingtonian points out that Comcast lobbyists have also been busy handing out special “VIP cards” to DC lawmakers. These cards feature a single-use phone number that will prioritize your customer support call:
“Comcast also had an even more personal way of sucking up to Washington. Its government-affairs team carried around “We’ll make it right” cards stamped with “priority assistance” codes for fast-tracking help and handed them out to congressional staffers, journalists, and other influential Washingtonians who complained about their service.
A Comcast spokeswoman says this practice isn’t exclusive to DC; every Comcast employee receives the cards, which they can distribute to any customer with cable or internet trouble. Nevertheless, efforts like this one have surely helped Comcast boost its standing inside the Beltway and improve its chances of winning regulatory approval for its next big conquest: merging with the second-largest cable provider in the country, Time Warner Cable.”
Comcast’s customer service is, as we’ve noted a few times, historically awful. As in, surveys show it’s worse than nearly any other company in any other industry, which is no small feat. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts frequently complains that this is simply because the company’s so large, and that statistically you’re simply going to have a lot of greasy wheels. So amusingly, in addition to throwing cash at DC lawmakers, Comcast is using actually giving a damn about your customers (or the illusion of giving a damn, as Comcast employees tell me these cards are common and don’t actually do all that much) as a “special perk” you can only get if you’re immeasurably annoyed with the company — or a DC lobbyist that can help it out.
What’s the over/under on a larger Comcast someday waking up and realizing that the company should focus on giving everybody decent customer service?