Why Monopolies Don’t Have to Offer Great Service

by Barry Moltz on December 4, 2009

comcast21I stopped getting frustrated at Comcast, AT&T or the electric company. You see, it makes no sense for them to offer great customer service. They don’t have to…it makes no economic sense. You have not choice but to use them so why staff up and provide great service? It won’t make them more money.

However, monopolies—especially regulated monopolies—shouldn’t pretend to care about or to provide customer service. This is where the set up is. Instead, if monopolies were honest with their customers, customers might not like how they are treated any better, but at least they would know what to expect…and it would make some days go alot better!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Maddaloni - @thehotiron December 5, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Of all of the goodness of the book, this is the only thing I disagree with. Sure, they don’t *have* to. But there are many things in life that nobody *has* to do. And monopolies don’t last forever either!


Barry Moltz December 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Thanks for the comment. I feel very strong about this too. I do not think it makes any economic sense for monopolies to offer great service…please give me an example of one that does?

Mike Maddaloni - @thehotiron December 5, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I have been thinking about this all afternoon. My first thought is, “what is a monopoly?” You showed the Comcast logo – are they a pure monopoly? In some cases, they are for cable TV, but for overall TV entertainment, they may not be.

Then there’s the incentive. Sure, a monopoly may be the only place to get a good or service, but they don’t exist in a vacuum. They rely on the outside world – their customers, and what they do in their lives. For example, if Wal-Mart wants to open a store, the people directly or their representatives, can work to block this, as they are doing in Chicago and other places. Even a police department is influenced by the community, as they set their budget and may even be able to fire the police chief.

I guess I don’t see any vendor as a pure monopoly, especially today. AT&T was one, but after the 80′s they got broken up. The alternate choice or choices may not be the best, and you may choose to go with the big one as they are the lesser of evil.

These are some initial, random thoughts on monopolies and customer service. I do know that from many RFPs that I have seen from government agencies for Web sites and Web-based applications, listed among the goals for the sites is better and more efficient customer service and even self-service.


Barry Moltz December 5, 2009 at 8:46 pm

I use COMCAST since if I wanted Internet service at my house in MI, I had to use them- they no showed 3 times before they showed up. In a BAM Interview (unsure if it made the book), we interviewed police officers that were questioning the benefit of offering better service.

Mike Maddaloni - @thehotiron December 5, 2009 at 9:00 pm

This is a great topic for an open forum, dare I say town-hall meeting?! :)

I too have had no-shows from Comcast, and it was blamed on subcontractors, which we all know is BS as you have to manage them as you do any employee. But once when I lived in Waltham, Comcast went thru the neighborhood and put audio filters on all lines to prevent static, and they also put it on my cable modem line. When I called, they did send a tech out right away – in the rain, and on the night of the final Seinfeld episode. I only remember that as he rushed to finish so that I wouldn’t miss it!


Barry Moltz December 5, 2009 at 9:06 pm

That’s another chapter- “passing the buck” to subcontractors!

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