Comcast Seeks Uber-Like Customer Service

With its $45 billion proposal to acquire Time Warner Cable awaiting federal approval, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts vowed Tuesday to bring Uber-like quality to the company's much-maligned customer service.

Referring to the widely praised, consumer-friendly car-hire firm, Roberts acknowledged in an interview with USA TODAY that the perception of Comcast's poor customer service lingers. But he said the company is making fresh efforts to ease the headaches.

Uber "is fantastic," he said, wielding his iPhone to demonstrate a new Comcast app that lets customers schedule an appointment and troubleshoot set-top boxes remotely. "I need to (be able) to push the button and see where my truck is. We're beginning to make our service look like Uber."

That such improvements -- including the app and the company's new cloud-based set-top box -- will be extended to TWC relatively quickly if and when the companies merge remains a key selling point in Roberts' attempt to combine the nation's two largest cable operators. "We want to scale it and bring it to customers next year," he said. TWC customers "don't have the same speed."

The acquisition would give Comcast access to New York and Los Angeles, key markets that the company has coveted. Combined, Comcast and TWC occupy about 40% of the Internet service market, or about 32 million customers. They would also hold about 30% of the pay-TV market.

Roberts downplayed critics' concern that the combined company would exert financial pressure on TV networks and stations, video streamers and other suppliers, or that it would extend preferential treatment to favored content.

Given the growing popularity of mobile devices and streaming, Comcast's primary interest, Roberts said, is to expand its broadband Internet business, not thwart it.

There's a growing pressure in the industry to introduce a la carte structure for pay-TV subscribers in which consumers would be able to buy...

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