Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Dear Brynn at Comcast,

Thank you for listening to my concerns. Thank you for validating my feelings AND for saying you're going to do something to change the system.

Let me back up - 

We mainly use Comcast's OnDemand service for the kids' programming available anytime - Eli gets to choose two shows during his quiet time while Charlie's napping. He loves shows like Disney's Imagination Movers, Nick Jr.'s Umi Zoomi, Diego, Dora, Handy Manny, etc.

I love that we have a variety of kids shows easily accessible, whenever we want and we don't have to clog up the DVR in the process.

But I have become more and more frustrated with the violent or inappropriate advertising on the Comcast OnDemand screen when you scroll through to find the shows that you want.

I don't think it's okay for young kids to see the movie preview for Angelina Jolie's SALT. Or some other show or movie with intense scenes, shooting, fighting, cars exploding, etc. There is no way these ads would be shown on a kids' channel, and I kept wishing there was a way to have parental controls or some other method to avoid these ads when putting a show on for my child.

I became so fed up with the ads that I called Comcast's customer service line. Good old 1-800-COMCAST. (which is often a frustrating experience) At first I thought calling was totally unproductive--the customer service reps were ZERO help - basically said there was nothing they could do to change these ads. I spoke with a supervisor and it was the same old story. It was out of their hands.

But this WAS productive, because my blood started to boil. Don't tell me there is nothing you can do when I know this could be better...

I started doing some research. I called an advocacy group that speaks out against violence in the media, and the woman who answered the phone gave me the idea to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. So I did--I wanted this to be on record and in their files. But I wasn't convinced that this would lead to immediate results...I'm sure these agencies receive a variety of complaints and get bogged down. And who knows if they would investigate my complaints in the first place.

I wanted faster results. So I decided, why not try to contact Comcast's headquarters directly and see if I can track down the person or group who manages these ads??

I called Comcast at its Philadelphia office and told the operator who I was looking for. She transferred me to the voice mail of someone who deals with the advertising on Comcast. This person, the very nice Jenna, called me back the next day and said she wasn't directly over those ads, but was happy to give me the name/number of the person who was.

Enter Brynn. I left her a message late yesterday afternoon, and she promptly called me back today. We were on the phone for a good 20 minutes, discussing my frustrations with the movie ads and content when using OnDemand. She explained how the ads work--they are called "barker ads," produced by an entertainment company in Los Angeles that creates two 20-minute advertising loops--one for daytime, the other for nighttime (which starts at 9 p.m.) The ad loops are updated each week to keep the content fresh, and all daytime loop ads have been rated "suitable for all audiences."

Which, as a side note, I think is a TOTAL joke. Suitable for all audiences means no drug or alcohol use, no guns being pointed directly at a person but otherwise guns are okay...come on. I think that rating could be revamped too. 

Brynn was very understanding of my plight. She appreciated the feedback and said her team is going to start previewing the ads before they run for the week to make sure the content is suitable for young eyes. She gave me her email address so I can send her a quick note if I see an advertisement that is violent or inappropriate on there. Brynn said she would talk with the ad producers and communicate these concerns, and we should hopefully see changes in a few weeks when the next round of barker ads are up (they are produced about two weeks in advance).

Bravo to Brynn at Comcast for taking the time to listen, to care, and to commit to making changes. I really hope this makes a difference.


The Yosts said...

If it doesn't work, you should send out the email or number and have all us mommies call in and complain. I too hate the ads and usually stand in front of the tv so my kids can't see the ads.


Way to go Sarah. I think you are terrific for doing this.

RP said...

I'm seriously impressed! I need to be more proactive like you! You're my new hero!

Marci said...

Bravo to you for taking the time to do something about it! The only time I have used that service is when we are at Mike's parent's house and I remember thinking the EXACT thing. I almost always have strong opinions on things, but very rarely do anything about it, so good for you!!!

Krista said...

Wish!! Brava. I'm super impressed with your gumption. Does that make sense? :)

Krista said...

Dumb iPad. I wrote Woah not wish.

Jess said...

Way to fight the good fight, Sarah!

Lily said...

Wow, way to go!! Super impressive and inspiring blog. Thanks for going the extra mile!!

Lindy & Trever said...

You go girl! I am really glad that you called, way to go!

Caleb and Elizabeth said...

You are so brave and I'm impress that you took the time to do that. I agreed with you about all those unnecessary commercials. Way to go!

Smith Moments said...

I've been frustrated with the same thing...do pass along her email to me if results don't show soon. I would love to contact someone at Comcast who listens as well. I'm impressed with your dedication!!