Monday, November 13, 2006

On the carousel

Poor Dr. Ricke may be feeling the sting of a boardroom coup, but elsewhere in EuroTelcoland, it's party time! Vincent Dekker at Trouw in Amsterdam published a blazing piece over the weekend about executive compensation (which he terms a "share carousel") at Liberty Global, whose flagship UPC Netherlands unit is, well, something of an object of derision to some of its customers (and some non-customers).

Meanwhile, UK cable giant NTL/Telewest/Virgin/(ITV?) was fingered by the Observer as being unable to explain what sort of performance targets underlied its Chairman's recent share windfall. I can only assume that it has nothing to do with delivering value to the end user. As a customer I've never had any trouble with NTL, though I think that may be about to change, as we have decided to dump cable in favor of Freeview. Yesterday, when I tried to call the company to ask about the procedure for changing packages (which will necessitate a move from a set-top box broadband modem to a standalone), I discovered to my shock that it would cost me 5p per minute for the pleasure, as NTL seems to have disconnected all geographic equivalents for its various "customer care" lines. Money is not the issue - I just think it's simply an outrage to charge people by the minute because they want to discuss changing their packages - what about people who want to upgrade, i.e., actually spend more money with the company? Madness, yes, but part of the overall character profile, it would seem.

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