Touting simplicity, Comcast makes cable services available on Amazon

One or two-year subscriptions to a range of Comcast TV, Internet, and phone services are now available on the dedicated "Amazon Cable Store."

Tali Arbel/AP/File
In this Sept. 17, 2015 photo, Comcast trucks are parked in a lot in the company’s Westford, Mass. operations center. Comcast began making its TV, phone and Internet service available through Amazon on Monday. The company says it will provide dedicated customer service to Amazon customers aiming to answer calls within 60 seconds.

Comcast has begun selling its Internet, TV, and phone services online through Amazon, in what it says is a move to make new customers’ experiences of signing up more pleasant.

A new landing page on Amazon’s website now welcomes users to the “Amazon Cable Store,” which offers Comcast’s Xfinity bundles and includes dedicated customer service for people who sign up using the site.

The store lets customers buy one- or two-year subscriptions to a range of Comcast phone, TV, and Internet services, including bundles, for the same prices available on Comcast’s own site.

The company is pitching the service as a simpler way to sign up for cable, allowing users to make a selection, complete a credit check required by the company, and schedule an installation time all from Amazon’s store.

Comcast says its partnership with Amazon allows it to reduce the number of clicks it takes to sign up for the services compared to signing up via its own site.

“We’re partnering with a company that’s so good at the customer experience — I think that’s really what excites me,” Comcast cable division president Neil Smit told the Wall Street Journal.

People who sign up using the site also get access to a dedicated customer service team that aims to answer calls in a minute or less, hopefully reducing the long wait times that have plagued many of the cable giant’s customers.

To do this, Comcast hired 90 new representatives at call centers in Tucson, Ariz., and Spokane, Wash., to answer calls specifically from customers who’ve bought products through Amazon.

The site also provides a link to help customers who want to avoid leasing a cable modem or router buy their own. It promises that customers can cancel their subscriptions within 30 days or select a no-term contract that would let them downgrade or disconnect their service at any point.

For customers who have complained of long waits to see a technician — the dreaded window of 9 to 1 even inspired an episode of the TV show “Seinfeld” — the company’s site includes “installation considerations,” promising that a technician will be on time and “be courteous and respectful.”

As with other products sold through Amazon, the online marketplace will take a cut each time a customer buys a package through the site, the Journal reports.

Outside of their own retail stores, cable providers have also offered bundled services through retailers such as Best Buy. But the effort to sell directly through a widely-used marketplace such as Amazon may mark a new approach.

Cable companies have increasingly faced competition from streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu that offer content directly to customers, while so-called “skinny bundles” that offer a particular range of channels tailored to particular interests have also become popular.

Comcast appears to be betting that the simplicity of ordering through Amazon could encourage more people to switch to its services.

While the service was initially unavailable in some Comcast markets, a Comcast spokesperson told Quartz it’s now available everywhere the service is offered. In the future, the company hopes to sell other services, such as home-security systems, through Amazon.

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