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Robert Trigaux

JD Power survey wars: For service, Verizon brags on TV, Bright House flaunts telephone



Mikerobertsonbaynews9brighthousezuppa I'm hard pressed to think of a more visceral, epic battle between two companies in the Tampa Bay area as Bright House Networks and Verizon.

Bright House, led in Tampa Bay by Mike Robertson (see photo, by Chris Zuppa) is a relative David to Verizon's Goliath size but it has proved a nimble competitor and differentiated itself to the public in marketing messages for its customer service and, for cable TV viewers, its Bay News 9 regional news coverage that does not appear on FiOS.

Michellerobinsonverizonmartharial Verizon bears the burden of its legacy GTE landline phone service and, frankly, a history of monopolistic and mediocre service. But Verizon, led in Tampa Bay by Michelle Robinson (photo by Martha Rial) has persevered and is using its FiOS digital television service -- still not available in all parts of Tampa Bay but finally spreading into more of Pinellas County -- to leverage its more modern face. Verizon even started an ad campaign recently acknowledging it has had service issues in the past but is trying to raise the bar. The verdict is still out on that, especially judging from the volume of emails from irate customers upset with Verizon service that I received at the St. Petersburg Times after running a column about Verizon's service strategy

Both Bright House and Verizon are busy pushing bundled packages that provide digital TV service, high-speed Internet access and residential telephone services, all for one fixed price. They also pepper me with press releases of additional TV (start/stop/rewind), Internet (higher speeds available) and phone services. I compared the two companies in a longer piece in March.

This week, Verizon pointed out a new JD Power regional survey that shows Verizon FiOS gets higher residential TV service marks than Bright House, though both are above the regional average. Here's the complete J.D. Power release on residential TV satisfaction.

We noted it in one paragraph in Thursday's St. Petersburg Times which prompted an immediate response from Bright House: Why point out Verizon's residential TV service results from JD Power when you did not cover JD Power's praise of Bright House as the top provider of residential telephone service?

Okay, you got me. A fair point, though I draw the line on covering every tweak and twinge of this digital battle royale. Here is the result of that survey, whose results were disclosed last month. For the fourth consecutive year, Bright House Networks ranked highest in customer satisfaction among U.S. telephone service providers in the South. Verizon ranked third. Both providers were above the regional average. Here's the complete J.D. Power release on telephone satisfaction.

The good news for Tampa Bay consumers? You have choices and both Bright House and Verizon do well in J.D. Power surveys. You should see some of the other digital TV and phone providers out there who rank in the basement and serve other parts of the United States.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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