Stupidity is contagious. It gets us all from time to time. Even respectable companies can catch it. As I do every week, let's take a look at five dumb financial events this week that may make your head spin.
1. It's not the cord that's being cut, it's the provider
This isn't a new problem for Comcast, having suffered net defections of 623,000 video accounts in 2009 and 757,000 in 2010.
Comcast can't point to streaming as the cause anymore. After all, Netflix
Comcast can take heart in video revenue growing despite the diminishing customer base, but that's also the problem. Comcast doesn't realize that it's pricing itself out of the market.
2. A banker's retreat
Bank of America
I was going to tag this one of this week's smartest stock moves, but then I got to Tuesday's press release announcing the move.
"We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee," co-chief operating officer David Darnell notes in this week's announcement. "Our customers' voices are most important to us. As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so."
Really? Did it take Bank of America this long to realize that its accountholders weren't happy or did it simply take this long to realize that "customers' voices" are important?
Bank of America is never going to catch a break. It was singled out by consumers in this year's MSN Money/Zogby customer service poll as the company that treats its customers the worst! Folks will always feel entitled as they view TARP's poster child, and that may not be fair to Bank of America, but it's no excuse for this laughable explanation.
Oh, and why does Bank of America need more than one COO?
3. BlackBerry sings the blues
Research In Motion
BBM Music is RIM's half-baked attempt at mattering in social music, a niche that even smart companies haven't been able to master. Paying $5 a month is a lousy value proposition for 50 tracks out of a catalog of countless tunes, but the key is to get more friends to share the service, since you can also share their 50 songs.
Well, that's a problem waiting to happen.
"Folks can get pretty self-conscious when it comes to sharing playlists," I wrote earlier this week. "It's no longer about the 50 songs you want to hear. It's about the 50 songs that you want your friends to think you want to hear."
And, really, how often do you see someone with a BlackBerry jamming to music on their earbuds? It's the wrong product for the wrong audience.
4. Check please
This was also the first time in three years that the number of patrons seated through OpenTable dipped sequentially. Yes, that's a seasonal thing. Summer is a slow time for fine dining. Reservations dipped in the third quarter of 2008, were flat in the same quarter in 2009, and grew only slightly in 2010. However, when skeptics are taking shots at your model and your moat, why give them more ammo?
5. Sony and chair
Some will argue that we should give the Japanese giant a break. It just happens to be stuck in bad-luck businesses including record labels, TV manufacturing, and other ho-hum endeavors. However, it also made its own luck. PS3 hackings, exploding laptop batteries, and delaying an overpriced handheld gaming system will ding you every time.
If you want to track these companies to make sure that they don't make another dumb mistake soon, consider adding them to My Watchlist.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and OpenTable. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Netflix and OpenTable. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Netflix. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.