The Electric Commentary

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Competition In Action

I have had Comcast as my cable, internet, and phone provider for the last year. They were the only cable provider that would serve my building as our lease forbids satellite dishes and no cable competitors served our area. That is, until a few months ago. RCN recently started serving my building and advertising heavily. They were offering the same deal as Comcast for 15 bucks cheaper than Comcast. They also offer more channels and more HD channels with their base package.

I called Comcast with these facts and attempted to get them to deal. They flat out said that they would "not price match." We had an introductory deal with them that expires on Oct 31st, at which point our rates will drastically increase. I explained that their competitor was offering me more channels for what would amount to about $60 less per month! She said she could not help me. I asked for expanded service, at least. Nope.

So I told her I would be switching. Still nothing.

There is an episode of The Office (American version) where the intern is quizzing boss Michael Scott on basic business concepts. He asks Michael if it is cheaper to keep a customer or sign up a new customer. The answer, obviously, is that it's much cheaper to keep a customer. About 10 times cheaper.

I was shocked that Comcast wouldn't budge on anything, but I'm fairly certain that I understand why. It is because until a few moths ago, they were my only option. There are many apartments in the city that are only served by Comcast, and those customers, if they want cable, will have to pay whatever Comcast wants. The alternative is a broadcast spectrum which provides the finest in Spanish language programming with crystal clear reception, while providing four English language channels in what I like to call "snow-a-vision."

Comcast probably makes most of their cash on a captive audience. When they are forced to compete at the margins, they don't care, and they don't have to. At least, not yet.

Perhaps RCN will ultimately prove as bad as Comcast, but at least they provide an option, and it would take a concerted effort to have worse service than Comcast, so I'm not too worried.

So here's a free commercial for RCN. For 10 bucks less than I was paying, and 60 bucks less than I would be paying, I will get everything I had before plus:

ESPN, ESPN2, and The Big Ten Network in HD.

The Sci-Fi Channel.

TBS, TNT, the two HDNet channels in HD.


And Comcast wouldn't budge, not even a penny.


  • You'll get the Big Ten Network? You lucky bastard. I know that the dish my parents have doesn't get it, and neither do I, although I can watch all the Bull riding and duck hunting I want on some of the weirder sports channels I get, like "VS."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:52 PM  

  • I have Uverse by AT&T. It comes with "DSL", and does not rely upon a phone line being active for regular POTS. It comes with a DVR and up to two free receivers, all which tune HD. The high def package is 10 bucks a month more, but I get the basic (local) channels in HD, plus the big ten network in HD (without the HD package, can only tune one HD channel at a time, however). In the greater Milwaukee area. No contract. It beats the he** out of giving any of my money to Time Warner, plus it's cheaper.

    By Anonymous mitch, at 3:08 PM  

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