Why It Matters That I Hate Comcast

I hate Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) .

They never show up when they say they will. They tack on service charges without notification. And their customer service people are cold and unhelpful, spending every second avoiding questions and attempting to sell unwanted add-ons.

Last month, I had to reschedule the reinstall at my new apartment four times. The first time I installed Comcast (before I moved), they held me hostage in my home for nine hours, kept transferring me to different departments, lied about showing up, and then tried to blame me for their technician getting lost!

I'm not alone in my loathing. My Fool colleague Rick Munarriz has written multiple articles detailing his hatred for Comcast:

Other disgruntled customers have started blogs such as ComcastMustDie.com. Mona "The Hammer" Shaw, a fellow Virginian, went so far as to wield a hammer to her local Comcast office after an unpleasant experience in 2007, as this Washington Post story details. In 2008, according to dlsreports.com, Comcast reached an all-time low in customer satisfaction, getting a measly 54 out of 100.

So who cares?
I'm aware that this rant is consumer-focused, and that The Motley Fool is investor-focused.

But remember, companies that treat their customers poorly will eventually fall. A couple of years back, Vanderbilt University Professor Bruce Cooil found that as a company's American Customer Service Index (ACSI) rating improved, so did its the stock price. Cooil also showed that companies with lower ACSI ratings posted declining values over time.

The logic is simple: Companies (like Comcast) that give customers a reason to leave will eventually lose them. Right now, disgruntled customers come back to Comcast because there are few other options. That's my own predicament. But new companies emerge every day, and once a better option comes along and takes over some of the areas where Comcast dominates, the cable monolith will inevitably suffer.

It's a vulnerable time …
Comcast is in the process of fending off threats from a new crop of competition, too. Tech blogs have swarmed over the story of how Comcast is considering blocking Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) streaming, and how it's demanding a large fee from Netflix's streaming service provider, Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT  ) . At best, the new net neutrality rules provide a murky picture on how this will play out.

The companies could work out a deal, but I, for one, think this move is dangerous for Comcast. I think consumers are more likely to change cable providers than give up the luxury of being able to stream their favorite TV shows and movies whenever they want. Who needs a fancy cable package when you can stream everything to your laptop, PlayStation, or Wii?

Take note
At this point, Comcast may well be happy to lose me as a customer; I've spent hours on their phone lines and live chat modules. The larger point here, though, is what Prof. Cooil's study showed: Happy customers often lead to happy shareholders.

Whole Foods founder John Mackey said it eloquently:

The best way to satisfy customers best is to organize the entire business around satisfying the customer. Every communication the business makes towards its customers, its employees, and the media should be about putting the customer first. Ultimately the best way to satisfy customers' needs best is to actually put those needs first.

To be fair to Comcast, its credo -- plainly stated on its corporate website -- heavily emphasizes the customer experience. In my own experience, though, Comcast is not creating a quality product. Instead, it's leaving customers like me disgruntled -- or even enraged.

Do you think the time will come when Comcast will also leave investors unhappy? Sound off in the comments section below.

Anne Henry does not own shares of any company mentioned. Netflix and Whole Foods are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (16) | Recommend This Article (31)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2011, at 4:37 PM, buddyballew wrote:

    Nicely written. I agree wholeheartedly, but here in SC cable providers usually dominate certain areas. For example, in the upstate, Charter Communications is the only cable provider you can get while near Columbia, Time Warner is the dominant company. I wish there was more competition in the cable market besides choosing either the one dominant cable provider in your area or satellite television.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2011, at 6:44 PM, russfellows wrote:

    Anne,

    Agree with Buddy. Reasons as to why to dislike Comcast are numerous. However, as Buddy pointed out cable companies are some of the most dominant monopolies left. R-boc's (regional Bell's, such as Verizon, PacBell, AT&T, Qwest and others) have much less dominance now that VOIP and cell phones have become common.

    Add in the fact the the R-boc's have done a lousy job of improving their internet capabilities. DSL just doesn't compete with Cable DOCSIS for internet in my area.

    So, when you consider their superior internet capabilities, and the monopoly on wired TV signals, there are no good alternatives. The ruling on Net Neutrality only strengthens their dominance. Once again the Supreme Court got it wrong on Net Neutrality. (I'm not really sure what they've gotten right in the last few years).

    So, from an investment view, I think there is quite a bit of upside for cable companies, at least until a few rulings go the other way. That said, I am not a fan either, but I have to learn to love them.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2011, at 6:02 AM, quaternion2 wrote:

    COMCAST AND ALIKE ARE DOOMED BY THE FORTHCOMING HIGHER INTERNET SPEEDS. THAT INEVITABLY FAVOR CONTENT PROVIDERS AND INDEPENDENT INTERNET PROVIDERS AS WELL. EVEN WITH FAVORABLE FCC RULES THEY CAN'T BLOCK TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2011, at 10:13 AM, ComcastMike wrote:

    Anne,

    I apologize for the poor experience that you have had at Comcast, and understand your frustrations. If there is a current issue you are having, we would like to help you. Please feel free to send us an email with a link to this page and a description of the problem. Have a good day.

    Best regards,

    Mike Padgeon

    National Customer Operations

    We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2011, at 11:50 AM, jvgfool wrote:

    More regulation. Seriously. They are monopoly and should regulated as one. Increase competion or increase regulation. May be both.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2011, at 4:13 PM, almcfarland wrote:

    Leaving customers unhappy is THE prelude to leaving investors unhappy.

    Are they behaving like monopoly like @jvgfool suggests? http://bit.ly/aqHNxG

    Great to see @ComcastMike chime in... please let us know how Comcast responds. If you don't get relief, you can point them to a recent blog post that describes what happens when companies provide a negative customer experience. http://bit.ly/h5RoOk

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 11:01 AM, 7large wrote:

    Well, except for the internet service ($42.99/mo) and basic cable TV ($7.60/mo), I just canceled all my other services, including all the boxes and clickers I got nickle and dimed for (totaling $147/mo), with comcast and moved to the streaming device world. This experiment has its shortcomings right now but I am motivated enough by the almost $150/month savings I'm already seeing and the fun I'm having trying out all the streaming services. I could rent all the TV shows from Apple or Google TV or another internet service for $0.99 each mor than1500 times this year before I hit breakeven with the money I was spending with comcast. Don't watch TV shows THAT much to even come close. And, I can still buy another Wide Screen TV with just half of this year's savings. I'm having fun right now NOT having comcast as my provider for these things. If I can find a way to get my internet service from another provider... buh bye comcast!

  • Report this Comment On January 07, 2011, at 12:14 AM, TMFAnneimal wrote:

    @ComcastMike Thanks for the comment. A few people from your corporate offices already called and emailed me about making my experience better, which while I appreciate, it frustrated me a bit.

    The only reason I got any sort of service was because I had the avenue to spout my rage online and did so, whereas millions of your subscribers are left dissatisfied with no way to voice it or be heard. If you want to improve your customer satisfaction, do it! Contact 0.1% of your extremely unhappy subscribers (thats about 14,700 people) and offer them free service for their bad experiences, and maybe (just maybe!) my views will change. Until then, I'm with Rick!

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2011, at 12:42 PM, sarahs20 wrote:

    Having the tech to your home on time is important to everyone. When I first had Comcast it took them 3 times to come to my house and hook up my service. If I could of got line of sight for satellite for DISH I would of got it them. I'm now a current customer and employee with DISH and I love it. I just had the tech out to do some rewiring and he was great! I also got TV everywhere so I never have to miss a show. I'm always on the go so it was good for me. I hope your next experience is better then this was.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2011, at 12:46 PM, jasonf44 wrote:
  • Report this Comment On July 22, 2011, at 3:15 PM, denvergirl032 wrote:

    Anne,

    I COMPLETEY agree with your comments! I have nothing but incredibly poor customer service and little to no cable reception during the year and a half that I have been with Comcast. I have had to use 6 hours of my vacation time to accomodate thier techs coming to "fix" my service. Not only have I been charged for them to send a tech to fix the problem (last bill is $245) but I have been paying monthly for a service that is not being provided! Unfortunately, my unit faces North so I can cannot get Directv or Dish so I am stuck with an incompetent company. Their adds here in Denver that promote customer service make my blood boil when they come onto the television or radio because it is such a joke!

    I am baffled that they are still in business and am sick and tired of being enraged by the lack of customer service.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2011, at 12:49 PM, denvergirl032 wrote:

    Well, yet again I have more issues with Comcast! After months of getting poor service, billing being completely messed up, hours of my time on the phone and missing work, I finally had decent service for about 1 month.

    They even gave me a credit! I almost fainted!

    Then, as I look at my current bill.....any hope of Comcast reedeming itself has been shot to hell.

    Somehow between 8/4 and 8/22 by credit of $162 has been "used for services" and I now owe $109....Not to mention that my package is only supposed to be $90.36 (with taxes and fees)!!!! I wish I could do my accounting the way Comcast does! They should be paying me to keep track of their mistakes and then paying me for my time to try to fix them! When I called to talk to a manager, he basically read back the messed up online bill as if I were illiterate!

    This is a joke of a company!

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2011, at 2:35 PM, viceroy2528 wrote:

    Don't you love how when you call customer service with a technical problem, they step you through a process to recover (obviously scripted) and then tell you it will take 10 min. to take effect. After the wait, it still is not fixed and you call in again which you are then lead through the exact same recovery process as if you never spoke to them earlier. This turns into a vicious cycle with no resolve. Then after hours of time they tell you your box is broken and to replace it at a local COMCAST site. After replacing the box, the problem still exist and once again the vicious cycle of the scripted recovery begins.

    Since 07/27/2010 I have been COMCAST free....

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2011, at 2:47 PM, TMFAnneimal wrote:

    @denvergirl032 I completely feel your pain. My poor mother took 4 DAYS off work trying to get them to come hook up her tv, and every time they came out, they found a reason why they couldn't do it, and had to come back. Twice they didn't even bother to show up!!

    @viceroy2528 I am now Comcast-Free as well - moved to an apartment that doesn't offer Comcast! Be on the look-out for a follow-up article!

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2011, at 2:48 PM, TMFAnneimal wrote:

    @viceroy2528 PS- I love that you know the exact date you quit! I should have mine tattooed on me somewhere - best day of my life! ;)

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2012, at 3:38 PM, PDFH wrote:

    What's worse is comcast uses deceptive business practices and makes it impossible to get an issue resolved. Below are their executive email addresses. Maybe that will help,

    For those of you who have tried “we_can_help” or the Rick Germano email, they go to the same group and they are very limited in what they can do. Basically, they escalate to a regional person to call you. That person has even less authority to take action. One of them told me that they are really just “good will ambassadors” whose job it is to try to make the customer feel good about what’s happening, but they can occasionally give a credit or escalate a service call.

    That being the case, I did some research on the email addresses of comcast executives and sent the following email. Their email addresses follow the text. I found that some of the executives had multiple email addresses, which I thought was interesting. I’m only including the ones that follow comcast’s email standards. None of the of the ones I’m sharing kicked back as invalid and I got read receipts on all but seven. It’s my understanding that some comcast executives have changed their email addresses because they don’t want to hear from customers, so some of them may not really be going to the executive. On some I sent I received the out of office or mailbox full messages. I didn’t bother to include those. Three replied that they would get the issues resolved, none of which was Rick Germano. (If the comcast board has the least bit of intelligence, he’s probably too busy defending his job.) We’ll see what happens by the end of next week. I’ll let you know if they actually do anything. If not I’ll be going to the next step.

    HERE’S THE EMAIL

    I signed up for the comcast triple play package, which includes TV, voice and internet services, and accidentally found out that I was being billed for the individual services, which was adding about $50/month to my bill. The reason I say accidentally is because comcast doesn't display packages and pricing on their web site if you're using comcast internet. I've talked to several people in comcast about it, including a couple of people who claimed they represented Rick Germano, SVP of Customer Operations, and was told that there was nothing that could be done about not showing customers pricing because that was a marketing decision and nobody could change it, obviously a sleazy business practice. Further, I was told that nothing could be done about the over billing unless I had documented my interactions with comcast. I then went to the comcast customer forums to see if others had the same problem. I got a response from another "customer" that could have only come from within comcast, so I responded that they were obviously a comcast employee using guerrilla marketing tactics. I assume you are familiar with "guerrilla marketing" but just in case you're not, it refers to the practice of marketing folks getting on these sites, pretending to be customers, and talking about how great their experience has been with their company/product/service, another sleazy business practice. My post was immediately taken down and I was barred from the thread.

    1. Comcast is obviously using sleazy business practices and needs to stop immediately. Since they are apparently coming from the marketing department, David Juliano, EVP of cable marketing for comcast, should be replaced with someone who has the integrity and talent to lead a marketing department to provide good marketing for comcast without resorting to deceit.

    2. By law, comcast must keep records of their customer interaction. Instead of accessing those records they use the knowledge that most individual do not keep logs of their phone calls to avoid resolving issues when it is in comcast's favor to do so. I doubt that this is illegal, but it is certainly a deceptive business practice and if comcast is going to use this tactic they should inform customers and prospective customers in writing that comcast will NOT address an issue unless the customer has kept detailed records of their interactions with comcast including date, time, name, and details of a conversation. Also the same disclaimer should be prominently displayed on their web site.

    3. CUSTOMER forums should be for CUSTOMERS to exchange information with other CUSTOMERS, not as a playground for administrators and marketing personnel to censor information they don't happen to like and to use as a marketing tool. This is another practice that should be stopped immediately.

    Comcast Board of Directors

    audit_committee_chairman@comcast.com

    Comcast Corporate

    Brian L. Roberts

    Chairman and

    Chief Executive Officer,

    brian_roberts@comcast.com

    Ralph J. Roberts

    Founder and Chairman Emeritus

    ralph_roberts@comcast.com

    Michael J. Angelakis

    Vice Chairman and

    Chief Financial Officer,

    michael_angelakis@comcast.com

    David L. Cohen

    Executive Vice President,

    david_cohen@comcast.com

    Cynthia K. Hook

    Senior Vice President & General Auditor,

    cynthia_hook@comcast.com

    Melissa Maxfield

    Senior Vice President,

    Federal Government Affairs

    melissa_maxfield@comcast.com

    Robert S. Pick

    Senior Vice President, Corporate Development,

    Robert_pick@comcast.com

    Kathryn A. Zachem

    Senior Vice President, Regulatory and

    State Legislative Affairs,

    kathryn_zachem@comcast.com

    Karen Dougherty Buchholz

    Vice President, Administration,

    karen_buchholz@comcast.com

    Sena Fitzmaurice

    Vice President,

    Government Communications,

    sena_fitzmaurice@comcast.com

    Jennifer J. Heller

    Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer and

    Senior Deputy General Counsel,

    jennifer_heller@comcast.com

    Justin B. Smith

    Vice President, Chief Transaction Compliance

    Officer and FCC Ombudsman,

    justin_smith@comcast.com

    Comcast Cable

    Neil Smit

    President and Chief Executive Officer,

    Comcast Cable

    neil_smit@cable.comcast.com

    David A. Scott

    Executive Vice President and

    Chief Financial Officer

    David_scott@cable.comcast.com

    David N. Watson

    Executive Vice President and

    Chief Operating Officer,

    dave_watson@cable.comcast.com

    Catherine Avgiris

    Executive Vice President and General Manager

    Communications and Data Services,

    catherine_avgiris@cable.comcast.com

    David A. Juliano

    Executive Vice President

    Sales and Marketing,

    david_juliano@cable.comcast.com

    John Schanz

    Executive Vice President

    and Chief Network Officer,

    john_schanz@cable.comcast.com

    William J.T. Strahan

    Executive Vice President

    Human Resources,

    william_strahan@cable.comcast.com

    Tony G. Werner

    Executive Vice President and

    Chief Technology Officer,

    tony_werner@cable.comcast.com

    Mitch Bowling

    Senior Vice President and

    General Manager of New Businesses,

    mitch_bowling@cable.comcast.com

    Greg R. Butz

    Senior Vice President,

    Marketing,

    greg_butz@cable.comcast.com

    Rick Germano

    Senior Vice President,

    Customer Operations

    rick_germano@cable.comcast.com

    William Connors

    President, Central Division,

    bill_connors@cable.comcast.com

    Charlie Thurston

    President,

    Comcast Spotlight

    Charlie_Thurston@cable.comcast.com

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