Charter Offers ‘Guarantee’ of Good Service


Charter Communications as of March 12 is offering a new “ALL
IN Customer Guarantee” that includes an
overall 30-day, money-back offer and $20 in
credits for missed service appointments or
day-long service outages.

The cable company is trying to change
perceptions of poor service with tangible
promises, senior vice president of customer
experience John Birrer said.

“We’ve done a massive amount of change,”
Birrer, who joined Charter about a year ago
from T-Mobile, said. “We’ve totally retrained
every frontline employee in the business. We’ve
changed how we operate and really focused
even more on customer experience.

“You can put all the marketing spin and
cross-channel advertising that you want out
there,” he added. “We felt like it was time to do
something that really showed the commitment
and put some financial skin in the game.”

Charter said customers can:

• Get money back for any service they are not
satisfied with in the first 30 days.

• Get a $20 credit if a service call does not
happen within a scheduled two-hour appointment
window or does not resolve the issue on
one visit.

• Get a $20 credit for
any service that is not
available for more than
24 hours.

Other cable companies
have similar
policies. Comcast and
Time Warner Cable, for
example, offer money
back within the first 30
days of service if dissatisfied. Comcast offers $20
credits for missed service appointments (an offer
that dates back to cable’s national On Time
Guarantee campaign in March 1995. TWC also
offers credits for missed appointment windows.

But Charter thought concrete guarantees
—including a pledge of network reliability —
were needed to help long-time customers get
over “scars from past actions,” Birrer said.

Charter was initially assembled through numerous
acquisitions in disparate parts of the
country by billionaire Paul Allen, then stumbled
over huge debt. In recent years, it went
through bankruptcy reorganization and a
turnover in its board of directors and senior
management (including the appointment of a
new CEO, former Cablevision Systems executive
Tom Rutledge).

Frontline employees
have been
pushing for guarantees
to help turn the
page on the “old”
Charter, Birrer said.

“This is a flag in
the ground, and I
think that we will
look back at this
guarantee a few
years from now as really a pivotal point in the
evolution of Charter,” Birrer said. “We have a
new CEO who embraces this kind of approach
to the consumer. It was in the works prior to
Tom arriving, but I think it perfectly dovetails
with the approach to the business that he has
brought. He’s only been here for a few weeks,
but there’s an excitement at Charter right now,
and there has been for a while, around how
we’re changing what we do with customers.
It feels like we have the wind at our back here
right now.”