Cablevision-FiOS Battle Hits Home

Every few months I do this: grow frustrated with what I’m paying for Cablevision’s “$90″ triple play (uh, it’s over $160 with HBO and the DVR), start a file for the Verizon FiOS mail I get every other day, then call Verizon to sign up–only to find out that its package isn’t much, if any, cheaper than Cablevision’s.

I did it again this week, and I have to say–I think Verizon entering parts of the New York DMA a few years back has done wonders for customer service. Customer service at Cablevision has been deplorable, at least in my experience. But the guy I had yesterday was actually well spoken and helpful. In fact, both he and the Verizon lady spoke fluent English, seemed to be based in the New York area, and knew about not only their own product but the competition’s too.

Over at Verizon, “Miss Maggio” mentioned FiOS launching in Massapequa Park a few years ago, had a Long Island area code in her direct line, and played along as we haggled over price–finally chatting offline with a supervisor before offering up a final $15 monthly rebate.

Then at Cablevision, the customer service rep shot me over to a retension specialist whose name sounded like Raisin or Brazen (I’m not being facetious, that’s what it sounded like). Raisin calmly told me he couldn’t make any promises before I told him the final deal Verizon had offered. He then poked around offline for a few minutes before giving me Cablevision’s final offer.

Both parties took subtle shots at the competition. When I told Miss Verizon that I’d miss News 12, which Cablevision offers and “phone company TV,” in Cablevision parlance, does not, she said something along the lines of “Oh. You really watch that?” When I told Mr. Cablevision that Miss Verizon said my monthly sales tax would be $20, he said it was closer to $27–and steered me toward a consumer Website for proof.

Ultimately, Cablevision knocked 20 bucks off my monthly fee for a year, which brought the cost within a few dollars of Verizon’s offer. So I’ll stick with Cablevision…for now.

And hopefully the customer service will still be strong when I call about switching in a year.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.