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Mediacom Complaints Pile Up: “I Talk to Mediacom More Than I Talk to My Wife”

Phillip Dampier March 8, 2010 Competition, Mediacom, Public Policy & Gov't 9 Comments

Mediacom is the nation's eighth largest cable company, serving 1.3 million customers in 22 states

Customers across the country are growing increasingly annoyed with Mediacom, the nation’s eighth largest cable operator that scored rock bottom in this year’s Consumer Reports cable survey.

The complaints keep on piling up: unfulfilled service calls, uninformed customer service agents in the Philippines, poor quality service, and in one case, a supervisor more concerned about how a customer obtained her direct number than actually resolving the customer’s problems.

The fallout from irritated customers now extends beyond horror stories from some of the company’s 1.3 million customers in 22 states — it’s now costing the company rejection of extended franchise renewal agreements in some communities, and plenty of bad press.

Boone County, Illinois

Boone County, Illinois

Last spring, Boone County began discussions about renewing a cable franchise Mediacom had with the county for some 20 years.  Public meetings to discuss the renewal brought throngs of customers annoyed with Mediacom’s poor performance.

The Rockford Register-Star took up the story:

Candlewick Lake resident Roger McGee Sr. has been experiencing difficulties with his cable company since he moved to the gated community two years ago.

McGee, a former Huntley resident, said he’s spent more time trying to get resolutions to his cable and Internet issues than he ever imagined was possible. “Every single step of the way the customer service was horrible and mismanaged,” he said Wednesday. “I talked to Mediacom more than I talked to my wife in those three months.”

Mediacom representatives characterized the complaints as mere aberrations and suggested isolated complaints could be resolved without impacting the company’s franchise renewal.  But additional public meetings held later that summer illustrated Mediacom had problems in the north-central Illinois region where it provided service.  The Register-Star reported:

George Chorvat has experienced countless issues with Mediacom Communications, and he’s looking for relief. The Poplar Grove resident isn’t alone.

Chorvat attended the county’s second cable hearing Tuesday at the Belvidere Township Building along with roughly 20 residents to speak out about service woes and to provide input on the county’s nonexclusive franchise renewal, which is in the negotiation phase.

“You took away half of our movie channels and said it was OK because we had On Demand, but we do not and we’re paying the same price,” Chorvat said.

His challenge of the offerings provided by Mediacom was one of several problems residents said they face.

Some residents detailed months of waiting for maintenance cable wires to be buried underground. Others told of weeks without phone service or waiting at home for technicians to arrive for scheduled appointments only to find the cable company had canceled them.

Late last month, Boone County granted the cable company a one-year extension of its cable franchise, citing customer complaints as the primary reason for the short-term extension.  In addition, the county will hold a series of public meetings at three, six, and nine month intervals over the coming year to check on customer service concerns and how Mediacom responds to them before considering a five year franchise extension.

The interim extension also keeps Mediacom from using telecom-friendly legislation to obtain a franchise from the Illinois state government, bypassing local officials.  Statewide franchising in Illinois was the brainchild of AT&T, which wants to expand U-verse without having to answer to local communities.  Mediacom has the ability to hop on board the same provisions to avoid local control if local governments refuse to extend a franchise agreement.

“We need to make sure we keep some county control here,” board member Karl Johnson told the newspaper in February. “No matter how big we think we are here, they’re a whole lot bigger when they come through downstate.”

Johnson heard several complaints from Mediacom customers about missed appointments, incomplete wire maintenance, and some who went weeks without Mediacom phone or broadband service.

Springfield, Missouri

Springfield, Missouri

Cable customers who experience problems expect answers when calling customer service, but Springfield resident Nancy Walker found herself empty-handed after speaking with a Mediacom representative thousands of miles away — in the Philippines.

“I am really upset,” Walker told the Springfield News-Leader in February. “I want a local number I can call, not the Philippines.”

She finally resorted to calling the office number of a friend who once worked for Mediacom before that friend passed away.  A supervisor was more concerned about how she obtained that number than helping her, Walker said.

Mediacom disconnected its local call center about three years ago, and company officials admitted they route calls to call centers, including one in the Philippines.  Larry Peterson, regional vice president of Mediacom, said the company dropped the ball on Ms. Walker, finding the customer service she received “unacceptable.”  Peterson handed Walker his business card and promised any issues would be resolved.

For customers who do not have Peterson’s personal office number, many just have to take their chances.

Springfield’s Cable TV Advisory Commission, which actually holds almost no real power over Mediacom, thought the company could do better.

Commission member Rita Silic urged the cable company to find a way to route dissatisfied customer calls back to a local Mediacom representative.

Dave Iseman, editorial page editor of the News-Leader, opined Mediacom needs “a full-fledged apologetic jingle. And it better be a long one, considering the waiting time that can be necessary to phone in a complaint.”

Burlington, Iowa

The fact Mediacom rated near the bottom in Consumer Reports‘ latest ranking of telecommunications companies — 24th among 27 Internet providers, 15th among 16 television service providers and dead last among 23 telephone providers — didn’t escape the attention of Burlington-based newspaper The Hawk Eye.  The newspaper noticed local complaints were continuing to pour in about service quality and trouble reaching customer service.

Columnist Don Henry even wrote about his own personal experiences with Mediacom in December:

Mediacom last month took away the religious programming my wife enjoys: I guess she shouldn’t complain.

They also poked out one of C-SPAN’s eyes on Congress. The Nancy Pelosi House of Horrors remains fit for family viewing, but not the Senate Shell Game. No explanation of why and I watched both — but I’m not complaining.

We were satisfied with “expanded basic” — but Mediacom decided to improve our viewing experience by removing four channels and making us rent some new box gadget to see them, plus a few we didn’t need.

Lest you complain, you get one box free … until they automatically raise your bill a year later. Conservatives think God trumps Harry Reid, so our box went into Sandy’s exercise room. She’s not complaining.

Henry’s problems only got worse from there, including e-mail disruptions and other service outages.  He did what most customers do when their service is on the fritz — he called the cable company.  That turned out to be quite an adventure:

“For e-mail problems, press 1; otherwise, stay on the line.”

I pressed 1.

“For e-mail problems, press 1; otherwise, stay on the line.”

Burlington, Iowa

I pressed 1.

“For e-mail problems, press 1; otherwise, stay on the line.”

After maybe 10 replays, I disobeyed. I stayed on the line … and waited … and waited … until my patience wore thin enough to drive to the Mediacom office on Division Street. I talked to a rep who seemed blissfully unaware of any e-mail problems. It’s been over a day and I’m far from alone, I said.

“Well, nobody’s told us.”

Could you ask about it?

“I can’t do that.”

Could you at least adjust my bill for the lost service?

“I don’t know of that ever being done.”

You used to, when I could get someone by phone.

“Then you’ll have to call.”

Henry’s column struck a nerve among local residents, who flooded the newspaper with comments about their own horror stories, ranging from pesky squirrels chewing through fiber optic cables to tsunamis of spam after the company “improved” its e-mail service.

Phyllis Peters, communications director for Mediacom, admitted the company could improve its customer service, but decided to devote most of her attention to taking issue with… Consumer Reports‘ survey.  Peters wants customers to know Mediacom isn’t dead last in the country because the magazine didn’t ask customers about every cable provider in the United States.  She’s certain there are worse examples out there:

Peters said one reason the survey might rate Mediacom so poorly is because of the company’s ambition. Mediacom is the nation’s eighth largest cable company, and focuses on providing cable coverage to non-metropolitan areas. Expanding service over a large area means more fiberoptic cable and servers that must be monitored.

Peters said the top-ranking cable company Wow, which had top scores on almost every attribute in the ratings, serves a much smaller, consolidated area than Mediacom. Wow is the 12th largest cable provider in the country, and services parts of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Consumer Reports was enthusiastic about the company, but acknowledged its small size.

“We would like to be higher in the rankings. We’ve put a lot of effort into customer service, and we did add a lot of calling staff,” Peters said. “Those things have moved forward in a significant way, and it takes a while for perception to change.”

It may not always be easy to get a Mediacom representative on the phone, but the company offers the fastest Internet service in Burlington, she said. The company offers a standard download speed of 12 megabytes per second, and that service can be upgraded to 20 megabytes per second for a higher price.

Competition for Burlington residents’ broadband needs come mostly from Qwest, which offers most customers 1.2 Mbps DSL service, although the company can provide up to 7 Mbps in selected neighborhoods.

Max Phillips, president of the western Iowa division of Qwest, told The Hawk Eye he doesn’t know if the company will be able to provide higher speeds to Burlington in the near future.

“We have a long-term plan to bring higher speeds, but our business is constrained by the government model,” he said, whatever that is supposed to mean.

Carthage, Illinois

Carthage, Illinois

Mediacom has been out of luck securing a franchise renewal in Carthage because of ongoing customer complaints about the quality of service being provided to Hancock County residents.

Carthage has been without a Mediacom franchise agreement since the old one expired last June.

A proposed renewal was shot down by the city after a vote failed to approve it, citing reception complaints.  Mediacom has been asking the city for a franchise renewal ever since, but the city has resorted to four-month extensions, waiting to see what service improvements were forthcoming in the interim.

Mediacom installed new hardware in the community, which it felt would improve reception, and city officials were hopeful the noted drop in complaints reaching them was an indication of that.

But in February, complaints began arriving at the city’s doorstep once again.

Carthage Mayor Jim Nightingale said he heard two complaints right after the city council offered the latest extension.

Now he’s withdrawn the offer.

Mediacom can always appeal to the state of Illinois to seek a new franchise under statewide franchise laws, but discussions with city officials are continuing for now.

Prior Lake, Minnesota

Prior Lake, Minnesota

Communities looking for competitive alternatives to Mediacom usually find phone companies who refuse to offer video service in Mediacom service areas, because the cable company typically chooses smaller communities where such “telco-TV” projects don’t meet the minimum Return On Investment requirements necessary to build them.  Some communities served by independent phone companies or are lucky enough to find a willing fiber-to-the-home provider are in better shape, unless the cable company files suit to stop such projects from moving forward.

The community of Prior Lake, twenty miles outside of Minneapolis, and its 16,000 residents are a case in point.

Last fall, Mediacom filed suit against Integra Telecom, a Portland, Oregon-based provider of competitive voice, broadband, and television service that won a franchise agreement to provide “telco-TV” in Prior Lake and nearby communities within its existing service area.

The suit claims city officials discriminated against Mediacom by not compelling Integra to meet the same terms and conditions Mediacom agreed to in a 1999 franchise agreement. Specifically, Mediacom wants Integra held to the same requirement it agreed to in defining its service area.  Because Integra is not planning on matching Mediacom’s service area house by house, Mediacom claims they are in violation of Minnesota law.

That suit is awaiting a hearing in the state Court of Appeals expected to begin this month.

The dispute between Mediacom and the city has led one state senator to write legislation clarifying the existing cable franchise laws in Minnesota.

Senator Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), has introduced Senate File 2535.  The bill would allow telephone companies to provide competitive service within their natural service areas, instead of being required to match incumbent cable operator coverage areas.  For example, a cable company might serve a broader area where multiple phone companies provide service.  Under current state law, competing phone companies could be required to wire every area where the incumbent cable company provides service, even inside other phone company’s service areas.  Senate File 2535 recognizes the current telephone company service area boundaries as acceptable enough to proceed with a video franchise agreement.

Integra's service area in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region, which is not identical to Mediacom's service area, is one point of contention between Mediacom and Prior Lake officials

Prior Lake City Manager Frank Boyles and Senator Claire Robling (R-Jordan), both testified in favor of the bill at a recent hearing held by the state Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications. The bill was approved unanimously and now moves to the State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee, of which Robling is a member.

The League of Minnesota Cities is also calling on its members and the public to support SF2535 which could speed competition across Minnesota.

Text of Senate Bill 2535:

A bill for an act relating to cable communications; clarifying requirements for the granting of additional cable franchises; amending Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 238.08, subdivision 1.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 238.08, subdivision 1, is amended to read:

Subdivision 1. Requirement; conditions.

(a) A municipality shall require a franchise or extension permit of any cable communications system providing service within the municipality.

(b) No municipality shall grant an additional franchise for cable service for an area included in an existing franchise on terms and conditions more favorable or less burdensome than those in the existing franchise pertaining to: (1) the area served; (2) public, educational, or governmental access requirements; or (3) franchise fees. The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply when the area in which the additional franchise is being sought is not actually being served by any existing cable communications system holding a franchise for the area. Nothing in this paragraph prevents a municipality from imposing additional terms and conditions on any additional franchises.

(c) An area for an additional cable franchise is not more favorable or less burdensome if the franchisee is a telephone company, as defined in section 237.01, subdivision 7, and the area of the franchise is no less than the area within the municipality in which the telephone company offers local exchange telephone service. This paragraph is in addition to and not a limit to the authority of a municipality to grant an additional franchise for cable service.

Currently there are 9 comments on this Article:

  1. Cynthia Ciskowski says:

    In Oct. 2010 on a beautiful day I sit and wait for mediacom when I should be at work. My cablebox is causing poor picture quality. The guy shows up, takes something off the back of the box, should be better he says. Wrong! Now he has to come back. I have to leave work early, the guy shows up, switches out the box with a new one and leaves. It’s a Friday.. 4:36. After he leaves now I notice the tv is hummmming. Drives me crazy. I call mediacom and explain the problem. I am told he will come back and fix it. They (mediacom) call him, tell him about the problem and he calls me at 4:38 and said ” he can’t come back tonight but will tomorrow.” I said ” you work on Saturday??” He said ” yes.” So, I waited all day Saturday for him to show up. He never did..He never calls.. When I called mediacom to ask where he is. I am told they don’t have him even logged in to come to my house today, he must be doing me a favor by coming to my house on Saturday. They put me on hold and try to contact him. No luck. Now I am upset. I spent my Saturday waiting for some cable guy. Well I want to report this ! But guess what ? No one knows his name !!! I must have called mediacom six times because everytime I called I would speak to a different person. No one, I repeat, No one knew his name! I asked ” you don’t know your technicians ” Answer..no mamm. What kind of s–t is this??? You don’t even know the people we are letting into our homes!?!? ANYONE WHO HAS MEDIACOM BE SURE TO ASK FOR ID, GET A NAME . Even though that van has MEDIACOM on it they don’t even know who works for them or how to fix the problem. And who knows when they’ll show up! They tell me SOMEONE will be here on Wednesday. Do you think I am going to take another day off from work waiting for SOMEONE to show up? They say SOMEONE will be here on Saturday Nov.13, 2010. He showed up this morning. I did not open my door for SOMEONE. I’ll check into getting a dish. UNBELIEVEABLE!!

    • I would ask them to cough up some credit on your bill ($20 would be a good amount) for putting you through this.

      It sounds almost like Mediacom has independent contractors doing some of their service calls.

      I personally don’t open my door for anyone who does not have proper credentials who claims to be there to fix a service problem. Show me ID or arrive in a company truck or stay outside.

  2. I am sorry to hear so many complaints and negative sentiments from current customers.
    I think that there are a lot of companies out there that have this kind of problem, all you need to do is to be patience and make sure that you are always nice and polite to the people you talk to.
    Mediacom is just as any other company that does not consider customer service as the key success of their business!

  3. Shelia says:

    I have had a “no signal” “one moment this channel should be up shortly” for days with no one with a clue on what is the problem. On Friday, I got a guy to come out after calling and complaining every hour on the hour and after one person saying it will take 5 days before they could send someone out, but I call back and the rep says 24-48 hours. They came out and came into the home and the tech says it was outside on my utility pole and another person would be here 2 – 4 hours (no one showed up) I called until they assured me someone would be out by Monday. I haven’t seen anyone and someone has been at my home all day; but they say a mainenance person came out and found no trouble, but I still do not have service. The have put a rush on someone getting out. They need to send out a higher level technician. How may levels techs do you have. I am so frustrated and I let them know every hour how I feel. If this is how they treat their customers then they won’t be in business much longer as Mediacom, they wil have to change their name. With all the complaints logged I hope we can get the message across.

  4. Akber Ali says:

    This is one of the poorest company i have ever seen. Trust me that they are poor both in terms of their Cable Services as well as customer support.

    here is my story as of 12/27/2010 when I called mediacom and what I said

    “If you look at the record you will find that i was promised that a shipping box will be dispatched at my new address, in which I should enclosed and return all the equipment. I am still waiting for that box, as I have already moved to my new residence from 12/10/2010.
    The Customer Agent replied “Sorry but we have to bill you till tomorrow, as we have no record of your disconnection request”
    I said “Please check you record that I explicitly requested for the termination of services from 12/10/2010, and i also i was told that I will not be charged for early termination fee, as mediacom is unable to provide services at your new address”

    She replied ” Oh yeh – USPS could not locate you and returned the box back to MediaCom”. I slowly laughed and said “there is some problem at your end, as let’s pretend that I did receive the box, and returned the equipment then what. I also said that a friend of mine called me on my Cell phone on 12/11/2010 (a day after for services were disconnected) and told me that my land line number is disconnected. I replied yes, as i have moved to new address”.

    Also this is on record that my internet and TV was not working on 12/10/2010, I did not check the phone part.

    Now the customer Agent asked me to wait for a while – I kept on listening to prerecorded music. After a while she came back and said “OK – we will only bill you till 12/10/2010″ and not till tomorrow, but I have to pay 300$ for the early termination fee”

    I screamed and said that “Please listen to a recorded conversation where one of the Customer Agent told me that since mediacom can’t provide service in the new area so I will not be charged for early termination fee”

    She replied “No – there is no such record, where you were told that you will not be charged for early termination fee” I said “Ok – NP, then let me send you a recorded message as I also record the telephonic conversations, the way you companies do” and she said “Oh – this is illegal to record our conversations”. I said why it is legal for you and not for me. She said that “we tell you that this telephonic conversation will be recorded”. I replied ” I am also telling you that I always record conversations”.
    Anyways she could not convince me logically, and now they are going to send me the bill, where as I am going to create a web page which will be entitle as “Medicomm leaks”.

    So my request to all readers of this length note is “Please do not subscribe to Medicom” as they are rippers.

  5. Jenny says:

    I’m so frustrated I don’t know where to begin.. I’m paying for 12 mps and I’m lucky if I can get 1 mps. I’ve had service out here 4 times, replaced a modem, listened to them say that the problem is with my computer (FYI I build computers for 8 years and have dealt with Cisco for 3).. after I informed them of this, they became rude… I ask 1 simple question that they couldn’t find within their collective intelligence to answer.. I simply asked “when will you be out here to fix your nodes?” Every time I asked that question the reply was “is there anything else I can help you with?” I also asked if they are fixing their backbone issue.. no reply.. so I asked the final question.. “if you were paying for something and the provider wouldn’t deliver what was promised.. what would you do?” Perhaps that question was a tough one.. I was told that they’d give me a discount for the poor service that they’ve been receiving… instead.. they charged me more than they promised.. AGAIN… I could have dial-up on a 1989 era modem running on my 286 and STILL have faster internet than this.. I’ve had Comcast, Insight, and Charter, and NONE of them were this bad. Comcast and Charter would actually FIX their problems.. but Mediacom can’t find someone with an education higher than a GED to understand that they aren’t providing a good product, and yet the monopolize the area.. I’m going back to DSL.. they’re faster and more reliable.. Mediacom.. YOU’RE FIRED!

  6. Maxwell says:

    Mediacom is the laughingstock of high-speed internet, hands down. Yes, tell me when I complain about my internet speed that it’s my router. Buy a new router, same problem. Call them again, they tell me I need to upgrade my service when I’m getting 1/10 of the service I paid for. Always trying to make more money without providing the service you already purchased. Typical garbage business model with garbage customer service and garbage infrastructure. They should start selling garbage because that’s what you’ll be getting. It will be nice to actually get what you pay for in that regard. Actually, they should switch to dial-up because those are the speeds you’ll be getting and they won’t spend so much money on their Chinese customer service. Actually that’s the thing, you’ll get more reliable speeds with DSL. The reason people go with cable is because they want cable speeds. Hard to get your head around, isn’t it, Mediacom? Also, your commercials where you ripped off “Flo” from progressive insurance is laughable. I laugh everyday at how unprofessional you are in every single way.

  7. Trent says:

    Can anyone tell me what Mediacom is doing to improve their reputation. This is not just their reputation, but in Valdosta, Georgia, Mediacom is terrible. It’s a shame I have to go across the street to McDonalds at 3:00am to submitt an assignment because this Mediacom’s is never fast enough to submitt a simple paper that will help me obtain my college degree. Everything about Mediacom including internet, television, and home phone systems are terrible. It’s no need to call a technician because the problems have no end. The problems are the exact same at the Holiday Inn on Hill Avenue in Valdosta, Georgia. Mediacom is the worst internet provider I’ve ever used.

  8. b Skinner says:

    I too went thu with mediacom. Whn I switched from satellite they promised me better service than satellite. Whn they came I had one cable box and they promised practically no outages. I kid u not, we could not consistantly watch our tv everyday or night the whole time we were with thm. Forget watching after midnite. Dnt thnk u could watch an entire program. It was either “tiling” or static . I knw we called over 100 times. If u asked them to come out they would call u back and check 2 to 3 times to see if your service had come back on. If u said yes, THEY would cancel the technition visit, but put in the records YOU did. My service stayed out so much they started giving me monthly discounts. Whn they left , they didnt do as agreed and left me a month behind because the operator and I got in to it. He told me they wouldnt kp giving me discounts. I told him if the service would stay on, and we could watch tv or if they would fix the problem, I wouldnt b calling them.( as a result , no discount)All I wanted was what they promised. Good service. They lied to me and didnt do what they said and I didnt get the package they promised. They sd it was better than satellite and never went out. Lies

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