Amazon Cable Store Review
The Amazon Cable Store is essentially an easy-access bridge between you and your TV service provider, but unlike most middle men, it will actually help you save money and time.
- Improved ordering interface
- Bonus gift cards
- Option for 3rd party equipment
- Optional no-contract terms
- Customer service not (yet) improved
Amazon Cable Store aims to help users select packages quickly and efficiently while adding benefits like customer service and a selection of third-party equipment like DVRs, receivers, and modems to enhance your experience. Although Amazon currently only offers Comcast XFINITY service, they’ll likely add more providers as time goes on.
On the business end, the move is motivated by lead generation, i.e. bringing in more customers for Comcast in exchange for a cut of the profit. By appealing to convenience and support for consumers, Amazon is able to cast its wide net with confidence. They not only offer easy interaction, but bonuses like gift cards, too.
While we haven’t seen customer satisfaction rise just yet, between Amazon’s game-changing customer service and Comcast’s recent $300 million expenditure to improve customer service (hiring more agents, new apps and technology, etc).
The way to win customers
Comcast offers three options for service:
For anyone who has sifted through the confusing menus of many cable providers, Amazon’s clean interface will be a sight for sore eyes. Similar to other products on Amazon’s website, the XFINITY service is laid out with a picture and video for clarity along with pricing, details, reviews, and recommendations. If you’re familiar with Amazon’s buyflow, ordering TV service is a breeze. They keep it simple by laying out the package types first: Internet, Internet/TV, and Internet/TV/Phone. There’s no confusion about pricing, either: you’re shown the regular monthly price, the promotional price, your price after 12 months, and your price after 24 months. This prevents confusion about rate increases and gives you an easier breakdown of expenses over time.
We appreciate the infographics that spell out what is included and excluded for each package, so you know exactly what you’re getting. The displayed price does not include equipment leasing, which means you have the option to buy your own equipment if you don’t want to rent the provider’s. This gives you the advantage of using the highest quality receivers, DVRs, and modems from 3rd parties, or you may opt for a middle ground or the least expensive option.
“They helped us in our thinking about how to simplify the experience and just make it clean,” Neil Smit, President and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Cable. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
Ensuring that customers get what they need in the first place eliminates customer service issues down the road. In Amazon’s case, they want to spell everything out as plainly and efficiently as possible. They provide excellent tips on “How to Choose a Cable TV Plan” or “How to Choose Internet Service” without bogging the user down with extra information.
Here is a chart they conveniently include to break down typical internet usage:
Is customer king?
Compared to cable companies’ customer service records, Amazon reigns supreme. According to 24/7 Wall St.’s Customer Service Hall of Fame, nearly 60% of Amazon users reported an “excellent” experience, while only 2% reported a “poor” experience. These ratings are based off of Amazon as a whole, but the Cable Store presents a very different challenge.
Amazon Cable Store’s goal is to answer your call in 60 seconds or less, which serves as relief from the long wait times reported for companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. You can also have Amazon call you, or you can choose to live chat and avoid the phone altogether.
They boast that from billing to tech, there will be no need to transfer, as all agents are in house. Comparatively, some companies use different agencies to take care of issues individually for things like technical questions, billing issues, or account inquiries. With Amazon Cable Store, you won’t be put on hold endlessly between call centers, saving you time.
It’s important to note that these agents don’t earn commission, which means there’s no sales pressure. You can cancel within 30 days or select a no-term contract and downgrade or cancel at any time.
In another effort to improve support, Amazon guarantees your technical service, meaning if the technician is late or cancels, you’ll receive a $20 credit toward your bill. These are all great steps to reaching a more satisfying experience for customers.
“We’re partnering with a company that’s so good at the customer experience—I think that’s really what excites me.” Neil Smit, President and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Cable. (Source)
However, their efforts so far haven’t made a good impression. As of this writing, 109 customers have given the service a 1.5 average star rating—pretty dismal. Most complaints speak of hidden fees or other surprise charges; some complain about the run-around they received from customer service agents. While we’re optimistic that Amazon’s presence will have a positive impact in the long run, we’re also not holding our breath while we wait.
Make your money work
Most of the packages include an Amazon gift card ranging from $25 to $400, depending on the service selected. Considering that the pricing is essentially identical to Comcast’s, this is a nice bonus likely to attract customers. You can’t use the gift card immediately, but after 75 days of service, you’ll be able to reward yourself by spending it on something nice from Amazon, you could even put that money toward a brand new TV or device for watching your favorite shows.
Another possible benefit of going through Amazon is that you don’t have to lease the proprietary equipment (modems, receivers, DVRs) from Comcast. If you’re not sure how you should handle your equipment, Amazon steps in once again to provide some helpful insights on equipment, like whether you should buy or lease, compatibility with providers, and the features and specifications of individual models. They then give you a good, better, and best recommendation.
There’s potential to save money, but more importantly, you get to decide what equipment you want. With that flexibility, you can opt for the least expensive option, or maybe you’d prefer the latest technology; either way, the ability to pick your own equipment grants a lot of possibilities. However, Comcast’s proprietary equipment is pretty impressive, and we definitely recommend checking out our review for more details on the XFINITY X1.
What to watch out for
As noted by many reviewers, it’s important know what you’re buying, but maybe even more important to document it. With so many numbers flying at you from various plans, it can be hard to keep everything straight. We feel it’s best to have evidence in the event of accidental charges, unknown line items, or other confusion.
Another caveat worth mentioning is that DVR service is automatically included; if you don’t want this option, you must call after your order is completed. This approach is problematic because it plays off of the fact that people avoid calling agents for fear of being upsold or convinced not to cancel, but once again, Amazon claims that these agents do not make commission, or in other words, they have no extrinsic motivation to get you to upgrade your service.
- Print out the order confirmation/receipt with details
- When speaking with a phone agent, have him or her send you a document of services rendered
- When chatting with an online agent, save the conversation for your records
So is ordering through Amazon worth it?
Amazon Cable Store is a central hub where cable service can be (prospectively) compared and bought easily, just like any other product. Amazon’s excellent reputation and customer-centric mentality make them an alluring partner for TV service providers who notoriously rank low for customer service. Between dedicated agents, a clean sales interface, bonus gift cards and savings, and the ability to choose your own equipment, you’ll see that the Amazon Cable Store has the potential to elevate Comcast’s low ratings. That’s the idea, at least, though as of yet they haven’t won over many fans.
We would recommend the Amazon Cable Store to anyone who wants Comcast XFINITY service because you’re getting essentially the same service, but with a better face. Amazon’s buyflow is intuitive and easy, you can choose your own equipment, and at the very least, you’ll get a bonus gift card (on most packages).
Head over to Amazon for more information on packages & pricing or to order service.
Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.
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