CableONE Denies Using Credit Scores to Provide Worse Service
A few weeks ago we wrote about how CableONE CEO Thomas Might recently crowed that his company had implemented a system that managed to deliver worse customer service to customers with low credit scores. According to Might, the company had developed a “very rigorous FICI credit scoring process” on its video customers since 2013 that involves somehow flagging the accounts so that company support representatives don’t spend as much time on support with those users as they otherwise would.
“We don’t turn people away,” Might said, but he added that the cable company’s support staff isn’t going to “spend 15 minutes setting up an iPhone app” for a lower-value customer.
Not too surprisingly, the idea that a cable company would discriminate and actively lower customer service quality based on credit score turned some heads at the FCC, which is busy contemplating new privacy rules to protect broadband customers from behavior just like this. As such, CableONE has apparently written to the FCC to try and explain Might’s comments.
According to Fierce Cable, which originally highlighted Might’s comments, CableOne claims it’s not doing anything wrong because it’s technically using two different programs to determine who gets worse customer service.
Like most cable companies, CableONE states it uses credit scores and a standard credit pre-qualification to determine the kind of promotions and pricing a customer can receive. But it then uses a “separate, internal program” called Lifetime Value (LTV) to determine what CableOne customer is deserving of better or worse customer service.
“Importantly, the LTV program has nothing at all to do with the use of credit scores,” Cable ONE COO Julie Laulis said in a letter to the FCC. “Any Cable One customer can, through a good payment history, achieve the highest LTV level and achieve additional levels of customer service and other benefits. This LTV level is independent of a credit score, and a credit score is not used to determine levels of service or loyalty rewards.”
Why does CableONE need to clarify this? Because using credit scores to discriminate violates existing law, and would most certainly violate the new broadband privacy rules the FCC is considering. While CableONE claims the “press conflated the two programs,” Might’s comments were what tied FICO scores to customer service in the first place (telecom executives often forget the public can hear what’s said at investor conferences), and the company hasn’t demanded any correction to Fierce Cable’s original report.