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  • Dylan Anderson

Updated agreement requires Comcast to maintain service center for at least five years

Need for the service center will be reevaluated by the city and cable provider six months before the five year mark of the new franchise agreement.

Agreement between the city of Steamboat Springs and Comcast requires the company to maintain a service center in town for at least the next five years. (City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy)

Under a new service agreement with the city of Steamboat Springs, Comcast agrees to keep a service center location in the city for at least the next five years.

Comcast wanted to remove the requirement for maintaining a service center from the franchise agreement with the city, which has a 10-year term. But the agreement approved by City Council on first reading Tuesday included a binding letter that requires the company to maintain the service center for at least half that term.

Prior to unanimous approval of that agreement, council directed staff and Comcast to add to that letter to ensure that in addition to the profitability of that center being a factor in whether it would remain for the lifetime of the 10-year agreement, the public interest is to be considered as well.

“The language currently says is it operated profitably or does it serve a critical business need. I would like to see the concept of the public interest being added to this,” said Council member Gail Garey. “I think of my mom, and the fact that she doesn’t have a streaming service and having a physical place is an opportunity basically to come in and have any sort of issues resolved.”

Comcast has seen a decline in usage of the service center in recent years. Data from the company shows it did more than 7,500 transactions in 2017 but that has declined to just under 4,000 in 2022. Transactions at the store have seen a steeper drop off in the last three years, with about 1,000 fewer than the year prior in 2021 and 2022.

Assistant City Attorney Jenifer Bock told council it was a requirement of the company to remove the language requiring a service center from the franchise agreement, but that the city negotiated this additional “side letter” that would require it for the next five years, which coincides with the lease Comcast has on its current location.

Six months before the five-year mark of the agreement, Comcast would be required to meet with the city to reevaluation the status of the service center.

“If Comcast determines the customer service center can be operated profitably or that it serves a critical business need, the parties, upon mutual written agreement will extend the term of this letter an additional five years,” the letter reads.

There was support from council to add that the public interest in maintaining a service center should be added to the letter before it is approved on second reading.

“When I think about this issue, I think about the services that are provided to people who are of my generation … who rely on service as it used to be 10-20 years ago,” Council member Joella West said. “Now maybe they and we shouldn’t be doing that, but the fact of the matter is they do and we do and the idea of being able to get actual customer service, useful customer service online is notoriously difficult with this particular provider.”

Council President Robin Crossan agreed, recalling when they talked about this issue last year when Council member Ed Briones said he had to go to the store several times on the same day because the equipment he had received was not working properly.

“If you had to mail it in, wait to get a new one, mail it in, you could be waiting three weeks and you’d be paying for a service that you did not have,” Crossan said. “I feel very strongly about keeping a branch open.”

Council unanimously approved the franchise agreement on first reading with direction to staff to include some assessment of the public interest in the criteria to be considered in five years. The updated letter will be considered again on second reading at council’s next meeting on June 6.


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