In an article about the downfall of Meet The Press host David Gregory, The Washingtonian looked at how Comcast handled politicians as the company attempted to clear the way for a merger with Time Warner Cable:
Comcast also had an even more personal way of sucking up to Washington. Its government-affairs team carried around "We'll make it right" cards stamped with "priority assistance" codes for fast-tracking help and handed them out to congressional staffers, journalists, and other influential Washingtonians who complained about their service.
These cards aren't a new initiative, and a Comcast spokesperson pointed out that the cards aren't only for politicians in need of a thorough greasing. "A Comcast spokeswoman says this practice isn't exclusive to DC; every Comcast employee receives the cards, which they can distribute to any customer with cable or internet trouble," The Washingtonian noted.
Comcast responded to complaints that this is basically straight-up bribery by denying that the cards are meant to target politicians. "The cards are available to all Comcast employees– no exceptions – and are used entirely at their discretion. We distribute them to our employees across the country every year. The card is not used to target specific customers or parts of the country … and it does not put people at the front of the line, it's simply another option to get an issue resolved," the company wrote.
This is not the first tim Comcast has played the "What, ME bribe?!" card. Earlier this year, the company insisted that it donated $110,000 to an industry dinner where FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn was presented with an award just 'cause, and definitely NOT because it was trying to sway votes (it later withdrew funding after receiving criticism for the transparent bid).
On top of all that, having a VIP service that does anything short of serving you breakfast says a lot about Comcast's baseline customer service. It's a testament to how hemmed in most consumers are when it comes to their cable choices. Comcast is slowly getting better with repairman-tracking and other genuinely useful improvements, but it's hard to shake the feeling that it's just playing nice before the big merger.
It'd be a righteous turn of events if the politicians who get these cards realize they could only exist at a company that doesn't need a bigger monopoly. But counting on that is like counting on being able to cancel your service easily. [The Washingtonian via TechDirt]