Comcast Corp. began selling its TV, internet and phone services through Amazon.com, marking the cable giant’s most prominent online retail partnership.
A new landing page on Amazon.com now welcomes visitors to the “Amazon Cable Store”, which sells Comcast’s Xfinity branded bundles, including dedicated customer service to Amazon customers.
The deal came about when Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts and cable division chairman Neil Smit visited Silicon Valley about a year ago, according to a person familiar with the matter. The two spoke with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about ways to work together, and an idea that came up was to sell Comcast products through the online retailer, the person said.
Over the course of a year, the two companies found a way to sell TV, internet and phone services in a way that would streamline the process.
âThey helped us in our thinking about how to simplify the experience and make it clean,â Mr. Smit said in an interview. For example, Amazon helped Comcast reduce the number of clicks it takes for a customer to complete a transaction. âWe partner with a company that is so good at customer experience, I think that’s really what excites me.â
Amazon will charge a fee every time a customer signs up for a Comcast subscription through its site, a person familiar with the deal said. Typical âreferral feesâ for products sold on Amazon by third parties can range from single digit percentages up to 15% or more.
Mr Smit said that ultimately Comcast could also sell other products like its home security service through Amazon. He said the Amazon sales channel will also allow people who buy a TV, for example, to be offered the video service from Comcast. Comcast has said that the price of the bundles on Amazon will be the same as what appears on its own website.
The Amazon-Comcast merger was first reported by TVPredictions.com.
Charter Communications Inc. is also in talks with Amazon over a retail partnership, a Charter spokesperson said, although no final decision has been made. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to give details of other potential partnerships with cable companies, although the Amazon page appears to be designed to sell the services of other companies as well.
Cable companies have a long history of selling their products both through their own sales channels and certain authorized retailers, including physical stores like Best Buy. Comcast is hoping the partnership with Amazon will help improve brand awareness as it seeks to reinvent customer service, after poor interactions between Comcast reps and subscribers has gone viral in recent years.
The cable giant budgeted last May over $ 300 million for new customer service efforts like hiring more representatives and opening more call centers. It has also renovated its physical stores to make them feel more like Apple to encourage people to play with and buy its products.
A Comcast spokesperson said it had set aside customer call centers in Tucson, Ariz. And Spokane, Wash., Employing around 90 representatives trained just to receive inquiries. on Comcast sales made through Amazon. The goal of customer representatives is to “answer your call in 60 seconds or less” without waiting, according to Amazon’s landing page.
The Amazon site provides a simple link to help customers learn how to âavoid rental feesâ by purchasing their own compatible Wi-Fi modems and routers. The site also promises that people can cancel Comcast subscriptions within 30 days or select an indefinite contract to downgrade or log out whenever they want.
Write to Shalini Ramachandran at [email protected]
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