Amy Maclean

The other day, I wrote about a Website hammering Time Warner Cable customer service. At the same time, cable operators were advancing in The Consumerist’s annual Worst Company in America bracket. By Friday, Comcast had edged out Time Warner Cable for a spot in the Final Four. After a day of following cable in the office, I decided to unwind at home by watching some TV with my seven-year-old. We settled on a favorite, Cartoon Network’s “The Looney Tunes Show.” And lo and behold, the episode was about horrible cable customer service. Quite a funny one at that. See for yourself.

Now, in all my years of covering cable, I’ve never come across a CSR quite like Cecil, but that doesn’t stop folks from imagining the gleeful, vindictive Cable Company employee on the other end of the phone. Watch the whole episode, and you’ll learn that Cecil randomly picks someone each day to mess with by shutting off their service for no reason. As for that absurd appointment window, Cecil camps out in front of his house with binoculars, waiting for Bugs to use the bathroom so he can sneak up and leave a “Sorry We Missed You” notice on the door.

While cable has a ways to go on customer service, it does continue to make improvements—including narrowing those service visit windows. But that doesn’t mean America doesn’t love to hate the Cable Company, particularly with every phone call, tech visit and billing that doesn’t go right. Last year, subscription TV was flat for the third consecutive year in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Among the 47 industries ranked, only newspapers and airlines were ranked as less satisfying. That means insurance companies, banks and hospitals fared better.

Some of this is the industry’s own fault for not moving fast enough, but I think some of it is linked to people’s pure passion for television. Passion usually results in two emotions: love or hate. Bugs Bunny wanted to watch Game 1 of the basketball tournament. My seven-year-old wanted to watch cartoons on demand with her mom. Cable has to do as good of a job making my child love her experience as Cecil did making Bugs hate his. The ball’s in the industry’s court—because it’s certainly not on Bugs Bunny’s TV!

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