Pay-TV Companies Want You to Stop Hating Them

A View Of The Comcast Center
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Comcast
If you're still looking for the perfect icebreaker or pickup line, try this one on for size:

"Hey, you look like you're not happy with your current cable or satellite television provider."

It's true. Most of us are dissatisfied with our pay-TV provider. Prices keep moving higher with every passing year as they pass on escalating programming costs to customers. Outages seem to happen at the worst possible time. Then we get to the horrendous reputation that the industry has when it comes to customer service. Good luck getting a technician to honor an appointment, and good luck canceling when you face a hard sell or ridiculous hurdles to jump through when it's time to return your equipment.

Unhappy cable and satellite television subscribers have had enough. They're ditching their pay-TV subscriptions, even if it means that they still have to deal with their former television service companies as Internet providers. Thankfully, the pay-TV giants are starting to address the concerns. They're tired of being hated.

There's an App for That

Dish Network (DISH) is launching My Tech, a new feature for subscribers with service appointments that actually tracks where repair techs are before they arrive. The new feature from Dish's website lets users track the dispatched technician an hour before the estimated arrival time, complete with a countdown time.

Dish isn't the first pay-TV company to offer up Uber-like tracking. Comcast (CMCSK, CMCSA) has been testing a similar offering since late last year, but it's the country's second-largest satellite television provider that has become the first to roll it out nationally.

Comcast was awarded Consumerist's annual Worst Company in America award last year, and many of its smaller rivals were finalists. The ugly distinction has forced Comcast to shake up its consumer-facing operations. Back in May it announced that it would be creating thousands of new customer service jobs. It's testing a revamped customer service experience in the Northwest that will be rolled out to all Comcast customers if it's successful.

Comcast is also making it easier to cut the cord -- realizing that it will probably still keep the customer on a broadband account -- by making it easier to return rented cable equipment. It struck a deal with UPS (UPS) last year that allows customers to drop off their cable boxes and other Comcast gear at any UPS mailing facility. Anyone who has ever had to waste a day at a crowded Comcast center should be grateful for that.

None of these moves will make your cable bill cheaper, though the revamped customer service experience reportedly makes the bills easier to read. However, pay TV is tired to be the punch line of the service industry's joke. We'll have to see if some of these new initiatives are enough to drive you to come up with a new conversation starter.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends United Parcel Service. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.​​
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