The results are in. After polling its readers — habitual evaluators of the relative “goodness” of products — Consumer Reports announced this month which cable TV companies are the most hated in America, and which one actually might be worth a try.
Worst of the worst
I won’t keep you waiting for the results. Privately owned (and redundantly named) Mediacom Communications comes in at the very bottom of the list of 17 rated cable companies. It’s followed in short order by three publicly traded firms that were rated only marginally better in quality: Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR) , Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC) , and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) , ranked Nos. 16, 15, and 14, respectively.
All four of these cable companies get Consumer Reports‘ absolute worst rating for the “value” of the service they provide — a big black circle. (Indeed, Mediacom gets more fully blackened circles than anyone else, scoring unacceptably in five out of eight categories rated.) Of the three firms (barely) outscoring Mediacom, Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR) and Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC) avoid completely black marks on reliability, while Comcast actually scores a middle-of-the-road white circle for the dependability of its service.
Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC), meanwhile, can boast of at least the middling quality of its “cable guys” when they come to fix the cable. They probably get a lot of practice at fixing stuff, too. I mean, have you seen Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC)’s lousy dependability rating?
Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR), meanwhile, scores equally badly on both reliability and in-home customer support.
Is bigger better?
But what about the one company I said “actually might be worth a try”? Interestingly, according to Consumer Reports‘ findings, the best outfit in cable just might also be the biggest outfit in cell phones.
Topping the CR list for “cable” providers this year is a company that actually strings fiber-optics to the home — Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ)‘s FiOS service. According to CR readers, Verizon’s fiber-optic lines get top marks for reliability and picture and deliver decent audio, and the company offers customer service that’s only half-bad, to boot. And as I mentioned above, Verizon is also the country’s biggest cell phone provider, through its Verizon Wireless partnership with Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD). So if you’re a fan of “bundled” services, Verizon might be a good way to go.