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Comcast Shouldn't Ignore This Slap in the Face

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Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) fans aren't going to be happy with this award. -- run by the same company behind Consumer Reports -- has named the cable and Internet service provider this year's Worst Company in America. It edged out Live Nation's (NYSE: LYV  ) Ticketmaster for the dishonor.

Similar to college basketball's bracketed tourney, an original pool of 32 companies was whittled down after a few rounds of head-to-head battles. Readers voted to determine the advancing companies.

On the one hand, Comcast doesn't necessarily need to take this seriously. It started the year with 23.6 million cable subscribers, 15.9 million high-speed Internet customers, and 7.6 million broadband telephone accounts. The Consumerist vote was simply a matter of thousands of readers.

Being a large, subscriber-based company naturally makes you a target. Smaller rival Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC  ) made it through a couple of rounds before losing a Final Four slot to banking meanie Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) .

It obviously doesn't help that hefty cable bills and threats of throttled or metered bandwidth don't sit well with the typical reader. Gouging accusations are popular with fellow Final Four entries Ticketmaster, with its excessive ticketing fees and event exclusivity, as well as Cash4Gold, with meager conversion payouts.

It would be safe to assume that if the payday lending industry wasn't so fragmented -- or if tax return anticipation loans weren't already under fire -- that Comcast wouldn't have been the runaway victor.

As it stands, the 32 reader-vetted finalists included a fair share of credit card companies and wireless carriers. In an anecdotal sign that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) may be getting too big for its britches, it beat Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) in the first round and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) in the second round before losing to Comcast. Yes, the once gritty underdog of stylistic computing is now more hated than archenemy Microsoft and wireless call dropping partner AT&T.

So can Comcast just laugh this off? Not exactly. The news will be making the blog rounds this week. It wouldn't be a surprise to see a rival drum up the distinction in an attack ad. Just ask Microsoft's Windows Vista or AT&T's coverage map how they felt after being the butt of a marketing campaign. It stings, even when the knocks aren't entirely fair.

In short, it may have been just a little more than 5,000 readers willing to share their displeasure with a simple vote in the final round against Comcast, but image is everything.

What do you think of's verdict? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is Comcastic! He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 27, 2010, at 2:36 PM, polyglot2 wrote:

    I've used several different cable and satellite companies in several cities over the past 10 years and Comcast is always by far the WORST!

    Flaky slow internet, flaky slow digital phones, amazingly bad cable box and DVR design and user interface, horrible pricing that charges extra for everybody else's basic cable channels, failure to deliver promised promotional gifts, etc, etc, etc.

    Comcast is the single best argument against cable companies being given a monopoly in a given geographical area.

  • Report this Comment On April 27, 2010, at 2:42 PM, mb1043 wrote:

    The voters got this right.......... I have used service from a number of the other company's considered in this survey BAC, Microsoft, Apple, Time Warner......... Comsat beats them all to the bootom position.......

  • Report this Comment On April 27, 2010, at 2:48 PM, Emperor2 wrote:

    I have Comcast service and think they are horrible but to crown them the "Worst Company in America", based upon 5,000 readers, is ludicrous. I'm a member of Consumer Reports but I don't take their survey seriously enough to vote. Consumer Reports should be ashamed of themselves to allow such a small number of respondents to decide such a potentially damaging award. Consumer Reports annual car surveys have hundreds of thousands of responses. I'm not saying that Comcast isn't the worst company in America, but for Consumer Reports to label them with that title, based upon such a small number of respondents, is irresponsible at best.

    If I was the CEO of a large company, I'd use a survey like this as a great marketing tool. I'd get my employees to vote my competitor(s) as the worst companies. If the final choice for worst company was decided by only 5,000 readers, that means I could rig the results with only 2,501 employees. Is there any CEO in America that would not like his or her competitor crowned the, "Worst Company in America".

    Consumer Reports needs to re-think this survey/contest and come up with a way that doesn't tarnish their reputation like the current survey does.

  • Report this Comment On April 28, 2010, at 9:25 AM, geecheegirl wrote:

    If I had a choice, I most definitely would not choose Comcast for my cable company, but I have no other options. Their rates are extremely high for what you get. And they can charge whatever they want, since there's no competition in my area. So if I want cable internet, for instance, I have to go with Comcast. When it was finally made available in my area, there was only one "high speed" choice. Now I find there are four options, or tiers. I have found my "speed" to seriously decline since signing up for it as soon as it was available. Now I'm told to get back to my original speed, I have to pay even more than the high rate I already pay and upgrade to a higher tier. Of course I'm now in the lowest tier, so I would probably need to upgrade to at least two more tiers to get back where I was. You don't get anywhere trying to have a rational discussion with them and of course they deny slowing down the original and only choice in "high speed internet" when it first became available. I also still have a big orange cable that hangs from the pole and blows in the wind that they have failed to "fix". I, for one, will be so glad when I move to another area with options other than Comcast. Their fees in my area are ridiculous and customer service is terrible. I won't even get into the issues with recent changes to T.V. cable options and rates. You can't even maintain a reasonalbe cable bill by sticking with the basics anymore. I wasn't made aware of the most recent changes until after the fact and it was too late (missed the deadline I wasn't even made aware of) to make the best choice for me given the new changes. When I called them about this, I was told even the new changes were outdated already and about to change again. Enough!!!

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2010, at 5:38 PM, fotds wrote:

    Ive had AT&T and loved their HD service with one box for everything. However their internet speeds are far inferior to comcast I ran speakesy test for bot and comcast came in at roughly 10Mbps on the DL side where AT&T I found to run around 2Mbps. Notwithstanding this comes with the high ttier cost and they really give it to you. We had a serve guy come out to instal a small black box in the bedroom since we did not use it enough to have a HD converter. I actually got a bill for them to provide me serive in my bedroom. They claimed it was a service call involving equipment. Isn't everything comcast comes to fix to repair have to do with equipment. I refused to pay and fought with them and was 5 seconds away from saying bye-bye and hooking up AT&T. If only they would drop their high speed tier to match comcast. Im tired of all of this crap with these cable companies just running a monopoly where they are the only provider. I feel sorry for those who do not have choice and be able to instal the old antenna up off your chimney like I did with my dad as a kid before this cable crap began....are there kits out the to do this? I live in an apt so Im screwed but have in-laws out in the farm fields where DL a 1 MB picture takes 45 mins!

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