A good thing happened to Comcast this weekend: they weren't the bad guys for once. Instead, greed-mongering Cablevision and Walt Disney were the ones who almost made millions of people miss the chance to host or attend drunken Oscar parties.
I must emphasize almost since the two thankfully reached an agreement shortly into the 11th hour. In retrospect, the whole thing was great press for ABC and the Oscars and, not for nothing, a last minute agreement like that never hurts, even for a horrible company like Cablevision. But now that everything has gone back to normal and we can all agree that Cablevision will always suck (even though apparently Cablevision customers were offered free on-demand movies yesterday), let's turn our focus to Comcast and their new venture, XFINITY!
Xfinity. According to
some blogs everyone, it sounds like a pornographic venture. Personally, it sounds like another lazy, crappy label thought up by some corporate drones hoping to make their product more appealing to the masses after years of lousy customer satisfaction. Comcast executive David Watson told Time "At its core, Xfinity is infinite potential. The pace of innovation put us in this moment. It's the right time to consider something like this."
Hmm, very creative, especially having such infinite potential with (apparently) Jon Hamm doing voice-overs for their commercials! So are current Comcast customers eligible for this infinite potential? I realize that my service will now be considered Xfinity, but does this mean that I'll enjoy a discount on my service, one comparable to the $275 rebate, plus free modem, router and Xfinity HDTV for new subscribers? According to the sponsored link in the google results for Xfinity, that would mean something around $475 or about 2 3/4 months worth of bills for me. The entire thing smells as fishy as that time Mr. Dolan's Cablevision started passing itself off as Optimum.
Let's take some time to ‘consider something like this.' Xfinity isn't an actual improvement of service, according to the Comcast blog, but it is ‘powered by Comcast.' I'm curious as to what, if anything, this power means for my future connections and my bill. I spend at least $166.73 every month, which, according to my statement, includes "Comcast Bundled Services, Comcast Cable, Digital Voice, and Taxes, Surcharges, Fees." I've spent an absurd amount of time, especially over the last year, on the phone and even in person trying to sort out my fees. I've been told, every single time, that I have the best package for what I would like and that if I canceled one of my services (the phone) or tried to cancel my account to start anew, it wouldn't make any difference. I've also looked into switching over to (the recently available in my area) DirecTV and AT&T package, but found out that, unfortunately, it isn't viable in my condo building without some drilling and rewiring.
As of now, I've pushed forward with Comcast, but I'm tentative about the future with Xfinity, especially since I have yet to see an actual step-by-step plan to upgrade the customer service and connectivity (and no, "More Speed, More HD, More Choice, More Control" is not enough detail). This lack of disclosure to current customers (they'll let me know about "enhancements" through advertising in my market) and the doublespeak hyping Xfinity are the most indicative evidence that this is all an empty marketing scheme, similar to the Yahoo "It's Y!ou" campaign launched in September of last year. Like Comcast needs to do with its customers (and potentials), Yahoo wanted to reconnect with users and build trust. Unfortunately, you can't reconnect with the same old crappy service, and hopefully Comcast understands this, but again, I am doubtful.
Interestingly enough, I've been told (via Xfinity.com) that my rates won't be affected, but how am I supposed to be sure when I've incurred random rate hikes in the past without warning? I suspect all of the tentative service upgrades will be more noticeable on the monthly statement than any actual service from or interaction with the company. I enjoy my high speed internet, cable television (+HBO) and phone service just as much as anyone, but it doesn't mean Comcast is or ever will be my choice, even after this fancy rebranding effort. I mean, why would I willingly stay with a company that refuses to walk you through your bill or explain why, for some odd reason, your connection only ever becomes spotty and irregular around the due date of a current bill. Will the same strange phenomenon happen when Comcast upgrades my service to Xfinity? Of course it will, because it'll still be Comcast.
Sarah Matthews is a marketing professional from the Bay Area and avid Gawker reader/commenter. Her random musings about life, trashy reality tv and other ridiculously important things can be found via Tumblr and Twitter.