Time Warner Cable Complaint - Shady Business Practices
Summary: Time Warner Cable withheld details of the dispute from its customers, deliberately set up a 1 sided poll (What customer wants a price increase??) and used that poll decision to back up its dispute with Fox. The fact they did not disclose the details of the dispute implies that they knew it was not the decision the public would make but wanted public support regardless.
Full:When I first heard about the campaign I thought it sounded great. A similar event took place in the UK a few years ago, Virgin Media lost Sky (which was showing Lost at the time) due to pricing disputes. They decided to get tough and as a result lost the network. They did keep their customers informed of the decision and the transition and provide us with a new On-demand service with a large amount of programming. In my opinion they covered the loss very well.
When I looked into this campaign the first thing I noticed was that the only information about the dispute was that the price involved was up to 300%. So essentially they asked the public "Do you want to pay more for what you are receiving right now?". The obvious answer is "NO!" and that's what they got.
What they did not disclose is what networks were involved, what prior contracts existed, how much the price increase was, how much fees would increase by for the end user etc. If its an increase of 50c a month that's not a huge deal and if the network had a fixed rate for 5 years its probably time for a price increase anyway. Prices should increase with inflation regardless.
I'm not advocating either side of the dispute, I don't even get TV from Time Warner so the outcome won't (at least..it shouldn't) affect me however I don't like seeing companies manipulating people. Time Warner Cable set up a 1 sided poll and used the result to back up their decision to get tough with Fox (as it was revealed after the poll was closed).
In English what Time Warner did is something along the lines of "Do you want us to increase your prices at all? Nope? Ok well we're going to cut 5 of your favorite channels. Bye now!". It not only shows how little Time Warner thinks of its customers but also that they thought the decision would not be popular and so withheld any useful details. If the public had known the details of the dispute the poll results may well have been different.
In conclusion while privacy is necessary for many aspects of business when you involve your customers in a decision at least keep them informed. Don't treat them like sheep, asking them a question with an obvious answer.