MediaFile

Is Comcast really the Worst Company In America? Really?

Comcast-worstcompanyawardBrianRobsSo Comcast ‘won’ the Worst Company In America award from readers of The Consumerist blog, which as its tagline suggests, is the place where “shoppers bite back”. Yet we have to ask, is Comcast really the worst company in America or is it all relative?

The Consumerist’s readers are likely to have contact with Comcast through its customer service. They, like many, have likely been frustrated with waiting for hours for a technician (sleeping or awake). Or maybe it’s taken Comcast a day or two too long to fix their high-definition DVR boxes?

Fairly or unfairly, Comcast’s reputation had gotten so bad the company took the opportunity of a new product launch  to change its customer-facing name to Xfinity. But it’s not just customer service. Consumerist’s readers have also been ticked off by what they see as  above-inflation price rises, throttling Internet access, and Comcast’s plans to buy NBC Universal.

Depending on your view,  some of these are clearly not customer-friendly business practices (for the others we’ll let regulators decide). Yet how does the biggest U.S. cable company compare with some of the other top companies that have had a tough time in the reputation stakes in recent months?

Take Bank of America, which incidentally made the final four on the Consumerist list. Some readers of the blog were disappointed this behemoth of Charlotte didn’t run away with the award the same way it did with taxpayers’ bailout dollars while also having to foreclose on those same consumers’ homes. As one Consumerist reader puts it: “I still think BOA was robbed. Which is ironic.”

from Shop Talk:

Check Out Line: Duke wins, but there’s another bracket to fill

duke1Check out a different kind of tournament bracket still underway.

The Duke Blue Devils may have won yet another college basketball title Monday night, but consumers can still make their "Sweet 16" picks in Consumerist.com's annual "Worst Company in America"  tournament, which runs through April 26.

In its fifth year, the website, owned by Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, lets consumers vote for their least favorite companies in matchups much like the NCAA tournament. Starting with 32 "teams," the tournament pairs companies in votes in which the "winner" (think about it, in a worst company vote you want to lose) advances to face the next competitor.

In the first round this year, Bank of America beat Citibank, GM beat Toyota and in an "upset" Cash4Gold beat defending "champion" AIG. Other companies that advanced included Walmart, Ticketmaster, United Airlines, Best Buy, Apple and Comcast, which has lost in the title game the last two years.

from DealZone:

Stress-Test Expertise

NEWYORK-SPITZER/It seemed only a bit odd that media star Arianna Huffington was the guest host on CNBC the day the all-important stress test results were due. Not to play down her credentials in media or commentary circles, but where were the celebrated bank analysts, the corporate chieftains and the investment gurus who so routinely enjoy a dose of the limelight on America's Business Channel?

Wasn't this the perfect day for a newsmaker rather than a news talker? The Huffington Post founder has been a good reality check on market cheerleaders who live on CNBC, but on Stress-Test Thursday, the less-than-casual viewer expects insiders with insight. It tasted like something strange and exotic had made its way into the DealZone coffee machine.

Then disgraced former New York Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer joined the fray, and the slightly odd became surreal. Spitzer, who casually noted he was invited to the show (hint, hint), gave a spirited view from the nosebleed seats, far back from the federal policymakers' bench.

from DealZone:

After March Madness, a little May Rage

SOCCER-ENGLAND/With the end of the economic meltdown so tantalizingly close, and stock markets pricing in the spring thaw, The Consumerist’s annual Worst Company in America competition is just the tonic DealZone readers need to keep their prized sense of perspective appropriately tickled.

“It’s the bailouts versus the monopolies!” the Website’s news release rings out:

The annual 32-company battle royale has whittled itself down to the “final four”: Bank of America, Comcast, Ticketmaster and AIG. One of these disastrous companies will go on to join Halliburton (2006), RIAA (2007) and Countrywide (2008) as “The Worst Company in America.”

BofA offers “monstrous” promotion

Bank of America’s special coupon promotion of DreamWorks Animation SKG’s upcoming “Monsters vs Aliens” is raising eyebrows even before viewers don their special 3-D glasses for the flick.
“We find it odd that a bank that just received $45 billion in government aid is paying for consumers across the U.S. to see a movie in 3-D vs 2-D at no extra cost,” said Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield in his blog.

Greenfield also ponders whether DreamWorks president Lew Coleman, who happens to be Bank of America’s former vice chairman and CFO, had a role in getting the bank to run the promotion.  Monsters vs Aliens stars Kiefer Sutherland (pictured above), or at least his voice.

DreamWorks declined comment, but directed inquiries to spokesman Joe Goode at Bank of America, who said the news spin on the promotion, which had amounted to a marketing investment of $175,000 for the bank, had reached “monstrous” proportions.