Being famous does not save you from Time Warner Cable (UNKNOWN:TWC.DL) customer service.
Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update" co-host Colin Jost found that out the hard way when he attempted to set up service with the cable and Internet provider. After what he called four months of problems, which included numerous visits from technicians, he let loose on the company via Twitter.
.@TWC_Help or perhaps you could talk to one of the I'm-not-exaggerating 25 customer service reps I've talked to over the past 4 months?— Colin Jost (@TheColinJost) June 18, 2015
During his epic rant, the comedian and head writer for the late-night program encouraged all of his nearly 100,000 followers to switch to Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and at one point offered $50 to any who did. He also engaged in a spirited, humorous (in a very sad sort of way) back-and-forth with the Time Warner Cable @TWC_Help Twitter feed. In those exchanges he detailed the company's offer of an $18.75 credit for his months of troubles and the three technicians who had spent a total of seven hours in his apartment that week.
At the close of the exchange, Jost still did not have his problem solved. His cable, which has been broken for four months, still did not work. But he did prove one thing -- Time Warner Cable treats all its customers equally. Being on TV did not help the star get his problem fixed, nor did it stop him from receiving the unhelpful, patronizing attempts at service the company has become famous for.
What Jost's rant did get was a positive response from Verizon.
@TheColinJost Just throwing this out there: we're in full support of this plan.— Verizon FiOS (@VerizonFiOS) June 18, 2015
What is happening here?
Time Warner Cable is not alone in being the target of very public responses to its customer service failures. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which recently abandoned its deal to buy Time Warner Cable, has also committed some well-publicized customer service gaffes. The difference is that Comcast has responded with a massive, expensive plan to overhaul its entire relationship with its subscribers while its peer has effectively done nothing.
Time Warner Cable, which is now preparing to merge with Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), has been oddly quiet in the face of a number of highly publicized missteps. Those included a scandal in which company representatives changed the names of certain customers to derogatory terms on their cable bills.
Time Warner Cable did rectify those cases by offering the customers various forms of compensation. It has not, however, announced a public effort to turn around its customer service efforts. In the Jost case, the company did not respond to a request for comment from the New York Daily News.
That might be because Time Warner Cable as a company is going to disappear. It was the junior partner in the Comcast deal, and it will be the same should the Charter merger go through. While Comcast has every incentive to improve because its brand will remain and it may need FCC approval for a future deal, there is little reason for Time Warner Cable to change its behavior.
Nothing is going to change
Essentially, Time Warner Cable is a company living on borrowed time. It has lousy customer service and ranks at the bottom of the most recent American Consumer Satisfaction Index report for pay-television companies and fourth from the bottom as an Internet service provider. In both cases, the company ranks well below average in the two categories that are themselves the lowest-ranked industries scored by ACSI.
Time Warner Cable still operates like it has a monopoly, and in some markets it does. It has no reason to change because it will be absorbed by Charter (assuming the FCC approves the deal).
That's likely cold comfort for Jost, who hopefully has working service through Verizon now.
Daniel Kline owns shares of Apple. Weekend Update is his favorite SNL segment. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), Netflix, Twitter, and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), Netflix, and Twitter. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.