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What’s Wrong with American Business

You can’t get a much better example of why American business sucks.

Forbes magazine just published an article “5 Reasons Why You Should Admire Comcast“. If I didn’t know better, I would think it was satire, but it isn’t.

First, the article is so full of misinformation it isn’t even funny.

Like one of their reasons to admire Comcast is because they have made lots of money while “waging war on competitors like Time Warner”. Hmmm, so that’s why when Comcast recently applied for federal permission to merge with Time Warner they claimed that it was OK because Time Warner is not a competitor because their service areas don’t overlap.

Or when the article spins the recording that went viral of one of Comcast’s customer-service representatives who the article admits was a “over-zealous, super-aggressive maniac”. But they spin this example of extremely bad customer service to try to claim that “Comcast stands behind their employees” because they “defended him, saying that he was only doing what he was trained to do”. Well, except that Comcast didn’t defend the employee in public. That statement was internal and was leaked to Consumerist by other disgruntled employees. Or as Consumerist put it:

If your only evidence of Comcast “standing behind its employees” is a memo that was leaked by employees who don’t feel supported by the company, you’re standing on shaky ground.

Second, the article paints an incredible picture of what is wrong with American business. They applaud because “Comcast is a ruthless, competitive, take no prisoners tech company… and good for them.” Their evidence of this? “They are employing teams of lobbyists, marketing experts and PR consultants whose job is to persuade us that the growth of their company is good for America and not anti-competitive.” Is this what we see as a successful, admirable company? Yes, this article even praises Comcast because “They are fighting the net neutralists, battling the press” all while not really competing against Time Warner and Verizon.

But the really ironic part is this:

We hate them because of their success and power over us. And we’re jealous of them – just like we’re jealous of the reach, power and success of Microsoft, Apple, Google and the like. But I have to admit – I admire their success. … Aren’t they the example of what a successful tech company is all about?

Again as Consumerist points out, Comcast operates a regional monopoly. Unlike Comcast:

Consumers aren’t told “you must have an iPhone if you live in this ZIP code” or “your only choice for video game consoles in this city is Xbox.”

Most customers of Comcast have no alternatives for cable or high-speed internet. This is competition?

And this is also an indictment of American media. Why did Forbes print this? Did Comcast pay them? Is a monopoly that overcharges their customers, gives them bad service, and then treats them extremely poorly their idea of what business should be? I hope not, because if it is we are asking for trouble.



  1. Michael wrote:

    “Comcast technology is reliable.” What. A. Laugh.

    I’ve never had problems with my cable Internet service before I moved here and the only choice was Comcast. There were several times where, every night for a month, we would lose DNS at 10:00 PM. Every. Single. Night. I would try a number of things, such as releasing and renewing the router’s DHCP settings. The only thing that ever worked was unplugging the cable modem for at least 30 seconds, and that even failed on occasion. I’ve since switched to OpenDNS, and that has worked wonders. However, we still occasionally lose connectivity and have to pull the plug, but it only happens once every month or so.

    Yes, that is the very definition of reliable. I remember growing up, when I had to physically disconnect my phone from the wall jack on a monthly basis because it randomly failed to provide a dial tone. Oh wait…

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink
  2. Max wrote:

    One upon a time there were a zillion tiny cable companies, none of them competing. Now there are a few large cable companies, still not competing. But now they are more powerful. Success!

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink
  3. John wrote:

    The comments at the bottom of the article are worth a look. Inspired vitriol.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink
  4. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    I’d have to agree with all the PI readers, big cable S*@#$. There isn’t competition, even when they’re are 2 or more providers in the same area. Where i’m at we have Comcast and Verizon fios, and there’s almost no difference in their offerings or pricings.( I think the reach agreements between themselves to not out compete each other)Both throttle back consumer bandwidth during the day to make room for their business customers. I’ve seen it on days when I was stuck home, right around 9am all of a sudden it’s like someone chokes the fiber optic cable. The only good thing I’d say is it is fairly reliable and unlike Michael I only need to reboot the router once every couple months (which is about normal from most home networks I’ve seen)

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  5. cable guy wrote:

    In the analog era, a cable monopoly was a technological necessity, because it was impractical to have several TV cables going to each house. But in the digital age where individual packets of data are automatically tagged with routing codes, there is no such limitation: it’s perfectly normal for multiple carriers to share long-distance fiber trunks. Well some other countries have already switched to a new regulatory model that opens the “last mile” consumer market to competition in the same way:

    Just as you have multiple computers on your home network all talking to different web sites at the same time, you can have multiple ISP’s on the same cable, so you never have to change equipment when you change providers. Where the government has allowed this, the price suddenly drops and the quality of service magically increases by orders of magnitude. In the digital age it is just as absurd to let Comcast exploit a monopoly on public property as it would be to let them turn all of your streets into toll roads. They have already recouped the cost of building the network a thousand times over by gouging us on the price of their services, so it is not going to hurt them if we permit competition. But it is no accident that politicians never speak of this, because they are all bought and paid for by the cable cartel. If you want to break up this abusive monopoly, you have to get politically active and make this a campaign issue that will change the outcome of elections.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    totally agree.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink