Comcast Reduces Wait Time for Cable Guy

Provider Tests Two-Hour Windows for Repair, Installation

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Comcast plans to reduce the time customers wait for the cable guy after a consumer website last year voted it worst company in America.

Comcast will shorten its cable repair and installation windows in all markets from as much as four hours to two hours or less by 2012. The largest U.S. cable operator is using new dispatch technology and equipping all technicians with laptops and handheld devices to guarantee on-time arrival within the shorter windows, CEO Brian Roberts said.

Comcast's plan to shrink windows for all subscribers is similar to a service pledge by St. Louis-based Charter Communications, the fourth-biggest cable provider. Better service is one of Comcast's main goals as it rebrands its cable service "Xfinity," Mr. Roberts said.

"Xfinity service should mean something different than it did in the past," he said. "It should stand for better technology and better customer service," he said last week in an interview during the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's Cable Show in Chicago.

Comcast has begun testing the two-hours-or-less windows in Lancaster, Pa., and Salt Lake City. The company didn't say where it will shrink windows next.

Last year, readers of chose Comcast from among 32 companies as the worst company in America. Voters lamented long wait times, unsuccessful service calls resulting in multiple appointments, and a customer-service department with little power to expedite calls, said Ben Popken, managing editor.

"People get really mad when they take time off work and a cable guy is really late or doesn't show up," said Mr. Popken. "Comcast is the biggest cable provider, and the bigger you are, the more complaints you're going to get."

Comcast was one of the last four companies in the running for the title this year and lost to London-based BP.

-- Bloomberg News --

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