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Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) fans aren't going to be happy with this award.
Consumerist.com -- 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 Consumerist.com 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 Consumerist.com 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 Consumerist.com 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 Consumerist.com's verdict? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.