CSG tech-tracking app comes under fire for 'Uber-izing' cable installation business

A CSG International app designed to more efficiently automate the workflow of cable installers has come under fire from these workers, who claim the mobile app is adversely affecting their work conditions.

Reportedly used by 50,000 installers across North America, servicing MSO's including Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA),  the app operates on the smart phones of installers, tracking their progress and moving them from job to job.

Besides providing efficiencies for cable operators and their installation subcontractors, extension of the app are marketed to customers as a way of improving customer service, letting them know when a cable technician is going to show up at their home or business. Time Warner Cable, for example, calls this service "Tech Tracker."

CSG says the apps are essential in a cable business that has expanded beyond just video and broadband, and is offering an array of home-automation services, resulting in more complex installation scheduling needs. 

Critics, however,  say the app — which Comcast calls its "Dynamic Dispatch System" — are putting installers perpetually on the clock, scheduling their every move, and assigning jobs that may not be logistically efficient to independent contractors. 

"What they're doing is Uber-izing cable installers," said attorney David Blanchard, who is currently representing numerous independent installation contractors against a Comcast subcontractor in Michigan alleging unfair labor practices. 

Blanchard says besides leading to micromanagement, the apps tend to favor company efficiency over what makes geographical sense to the installer, resulting in issues such as higher fuel consumption and reduced billable projects. 

CSG reps weren't immediately available to respond to FierceInstaller for comment.

Speaking in an earlier Slate story regarding the apps, however, CSG director of product management, Scott Dutton, argued the apps do factor in geographical location and traffic patterns, and actually make installation work for efficient for indie contractors. 

"We drip-feed work to the technician," Dutton said. "We assign you this job, that job ends, and we assign you this one. They don't have to worry because as soon as one job ends, we assign them the next one."

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