Worst Company In America: Comcast VS DirecTV

Did the Pornbowl ruin your evening? Or does the NFL Sunday Ticket monopoly fill you with rage?

It’s #30 DirecTV vs #3 Comcast:


This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2009 series. The companies nominated for this honor were chosen by you, the readers, and seeded according to number of nominations. Keep track of all the goings on at consumerist.com/tag/worst-company-in-america. Download the bracket here.

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  1. mobilehavoc says:

    I love DirecTV

    • zonk7ate9 says:

      @mobilehavoc: Yea, Comcast makes DirecTV look saint-like.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @mobilehavoc: I don’t love DirecTV, but they haven’t screwed us as much as Comcast. And they don’t have a monopoly on area services.

    • mobilehavoc says:

      @mobilehavoc: Apart from the fact they have the most HD, their prices are reasonable, it’s the extra free value added services that makes me love them.

      - mobile site for controlling your DVR
      - recent iPhone app to control your DVR
      - Mix channels (102, 103) show 8 news or sports channels at once on the screen. You move the cursor around and the audio switches to the channel. It’s ultimate for surfing and is free
      - OnDemand is still crappy but a nice feature especially since they added 1080p downloads recently
      - Customer service is polite and responsive
      - Their DVR/receiver software is top-notch and I’ve never had a crash or issue. UI is nice

      I had Comcast for 2 years and they are great when everything works but that’s about it. Go DTV!

    • Canino says:

      @mobilehavoc: I wish DirecTV would be better about negotiating for upgrades. I can’t get them to give me a single penny off if I upgrade to HD. $200 for the unit and $10/month, if you don’t like it too bad. Of course, still being under contract I have no leverage. If I could cancel without penalty, the offers would come fast and furious.

      But having said that, they at least haven’t demonstrated blatent incompetency, to me anyway, like Comcast has so many times.

    • ORPat says:

      @mobilehavoc:
      Direct TV has never given me a problem.
      Comcast? Got HD and spit them out like amouth full of sour milk.

  2. Saboth says:

    I hate Comcast

    • INsano says:

      @Saboth: Good, and with the first two comments we’ve now officially understood the basis for the entire competition. Perhaps now we could move onto comments slightly more illuminating, lengthy and necessary?

  3. noone1569 says:

    Easy victory (read: loss) for comcast here, its CRAPTASTIC!

  4. Belabras ate my dingo! says:

    Comcast always wins in a sucking contest. Always.

  5. PunditGuy says:

    I would love to replace Comcast with DirecTV if there were a better broadband option in my area than slow Qwest DSL. I really have no complaints about Comcast as an ISP other than the cap, which I haven’t hit yet. But as a TV provider, Comcast is an amazingly, stupefyingly bad deal.

    • vastrightwing says:

      @PunditGuy: Oh, so you’re one of the people who likes having ports (that is, certain applications) blocked, certain traffic delayed and spoofed, routing issues and not getting the bandwidth you pay for. Oh, you also like the applications they install on your computer and the fact they log all the websites you visit? And you’ve not noticed how often the connection goes down? And then when you call about it, it’s your fault? Is this the same Comcast?

      • PunditGuy says:

        @vastrightwing: At the risk of causing trouble for myself at the central office, I’ve never had trouble with BT-ing anything that my DVR (MythTV) missed and I’ve wanted to watch. I stream movies from Netflix and TV from Hulu. I’ve got Vonage. I’ve got a Vista box (with no Comcast software), one XP laptop (with no Comcast software) and one XP desktop (with no Comcast software), one Debian box (with no Comcast software), an Xbox 360 and a BD player all hooked up to the Internet 24-7. My neighborhood must not be oversold, because I have no bandwidth issues no matter what time of day I’m online.

        In the 4 years I’ve been in my present location, I only had persistent connection issues (irregular but frequent connection drops) for about a single week-long period about 8 months ago. A call to Comcast resulted in a new modem being shipped to me, which solved the issue. They didn’t give me any flak, although I did have to go through the “did you reboot your computer” rigmarole with the tech.

        My particular experience with Comcast as an ISP, in Minneapolis, has been pretty darn good. Sorry your experience hasn’t been as good.

  6. Illusio26 says:

    Comcast is more evil than Satan himself.

  7. kmw2 says:

    In a strange happenstance, we had Comcast and direcTV when I moved into my new house for a period of a couple months (one of us went one way, the other of us went the other…) and this allowed me to confirm it empirically: Comcast sucks harder than DirecTV.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      @britne:

      That really shouldn’t be the case. You might be blocked from getting DSL, if the town has some sort of monopoly deal with Comcast (although that’s doubtful, but not impossible), but Directv is satellite service. Unless you live in an apartment and don’t have any outdoor area that’s just yours (i.e. balcony, patio, etc.), you should be able to get their service.

  8. coan_net says:

    I now belong to the don’t like Comcast club.

    I use to have insight – until Comcast bought them out in our area.

    I live at the end of a loop – so I get all kinds of “junk” data – which about every 2-3 months, I have to call them to come out. Luckly the same person who knew the issue (out on the poll) with Insight stayed with Comcast when they took over, so he was able to still come & fix the problem really quickly….. until someone new came out, and blamed my modem. Well they wanted to switch out the modems – fine. It worked for a couple days until the same issue…. after it was finally cleared up, I still had the newer modem – did not think anything about it.

    … until a few months later Comcast considered the equipment change and I was out of my $40 “Insight” package and now in their $70 “Comcast” package – because I accepted a modem that I did not need.

    long story short – I got screwed and as soon as someone else brings their internet out to where I live (hopefully be end of year), I can say so long Comcast.

    Comcast sucks. They tricked me into $30 more a month. At least I know of 2 people who have asked me about what internet to get, and I believe I have steered them away from Comcast…. even though I’m still getting screwed, I’m glad I could help others stay away from them.

    • vastrightwing says:

      @coan_net: You’re a good man sir :)

    • lannister80 says:

      @coan_net: I miss Insight as well. The thing that really drive me crazy about Comcast is how badly they fuck up the picture in terms of cropping. I’m on a normal, analog 4:3 TV:

      They’ll take a widescreen show that should be “letterboxed” and instead make it the full height of the screen, cutting off the edges of the picture. They’d been letterboxing widescreen shows for forever, now all of a sudden they’re cutting off the edges. Examples: SNL, new Simpsons, House.

      Then they do the reverse. They’ll take a show that’s NOT widescreen, but that comes to them on a widescreen “stream” (meaning it already has black bars on the sides of the image), and then they’ll letterbox THAT. So I get a “postage stamp” in the middle of my screen with black bars all the way around. WTF?

      I tried to call and complain, but they wanted to roll a truck to my house. They claimed that was the only was to proceed, and that I couldn’t talk to anyone else until a truck was rolled. And get this: It costs $$ to roll a truck. So basically I can’t get anywhere unless I pay EXTRA to get the customer service I’m already paying for. It totally infuriates me.

  9. JGKojak says:

    Much as I loathe Comcast- I have a feeling the economy-destroyers are gonna dominate this year- kinda like the Big East.

  10. slickdealer says:

    Comcast FTL

  11. britne says:

    Comcast has a monopoly on my town; I couldn’t use DirectTV if I wanted to (same with ATT DSL, or anything else). If it’s not illegal, it sure isn’t fair to the consumer… I’m paying over double to Comcast for less services than I had at my old apartment, back when I had a choice.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @britne: No you should be able to use DirecTV because they offer satellite, which Comcast does not.

      • britne says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Comcast doesn’t offer DSL either, but I can’t switch back to ATT. Comcast apparently thinks their overpriced cable internet is comparable, somehow.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @britne: That’s Comcast for you…I was in the same deal at my old apartment. I could get cable through Adelphia (which was bought by Comcast later) or have nothing at all. And the reception was terrible. And they wouldn’t fix it. Our DSL was okay, but it took numerous attempts and calls to customer service to get it running.

          But on the satellite thing – you should definitely be able to get DirecTV or Dish if it’s offered in your area.

          • veg-o-matic says:

            @pecan 3.14159265:

            sadly, depending on your home’s latitude and surrounding vegetation, satellite isn’t always an option.

            we wanted (still want) desperately to rid ourselves of the comcast burden, but neither dish nor directv will work because we’re too far north and are surrounded by too many trees and such.

            ..so many reasons to live on the equator.

  12. jaydez says:

    I wish I had another option besides Comcast at my house… I’m stuck with them.

  13. Furiursa says:

    We switched from Comcast Triple Play to Verizon FiOs and haven’t looked back since.

    Even if FiOs wasn’t a better deal, it’s STILL a better service, and their standard def. signal is like 100x better than Comcast’s crappy digitized signal.

    And I have consistently gotten half the ping rate on my games with FiOs than I EVER got with Comcast.

    I cannot stress enough how awful Comcast’s service is. The ONLY thing that I can say is that I never had a problem getting their customer service to help me (when I called the LOCAL office, the 1 800 number was another matter). It’s a shame the signal quality was so POOR.

  14. JeanStork says:

    Comcast is the greatest company in the world… Their awesome commercials tell me so… And the letters i get from them about my internet habits tell me that i am too the greatest customer they have… They treat me with respect! LEAVE COMCAST ALLOOOONE!!

    nahhh just kidding… i hate comcast…

  15. kalikidtx says:

    Comcast is by far the WORST company I have to deal with on a regular basis. Oh I wish they did not have a monopoly over the cable service in Nor Cal where I live> I relish the day I get to call and cancel my Comcast account!

  16. nudger says:

    Vanno predicts DirecTV (#5348) over Comcast(#2665) in this battle of bottom-dwellers.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      @nudger:

      I don’t know what his methodology is (site doesn’t make it at all clear), but, at least in this case, I think he’s going to be proved wrong.

  17. eekfuh says:

    Last year I said Comcast, but to be honest, since I haven’t had to deal with them since then, they have done nothing wrong.

  18. EyeHeartPie says:

    I switched from Comcast to Uverse the day it became available in my area, and have been loving it ever since. One of the best features that I took advantage of this past week: my trial period of 6 months ended, so I downgraded my TV service by $15. Myself. I went online, signed on to my ATT Uverse account, clicked the little radio button beside the next lower tier of TV service, and got confirmation of my new service, and my new monthly bill price.

    You can also record 4 shows with the DVR, the HD service is phenomenal, and you can set your DVR online. Uverse trumps Comcast in every which way.

    • G13 says:

      @EyeHeartPie: We also switched to AT&T Uverse and haven’t looked back. A plus about our Uverse is that each TV set box becomes a hub that you can plug into for internet service!

      Other than the fact that Comcast’s customer service was horrid (5 calls where I held for no less than 30 minutes each time), the last time they visited our house for repair they found that the signal coming into the house was too weak, but because the line was buried, they would have to wait until April to put in a new line. That was in November! AT&T just popped in the line in January and away we went!

      • JeebusCripesSupercar says:

        @G13: I moved from NJ to WI last year, and went from cable to Uverse (Cablevision though, not Comcast). No comparison on the picture quality, AT&T over cable hands down, and my area just got the Total Home DVR upgrade. I’ll be watching a recorded program, wife comes home and wants to watch something else, I can pick up the recording where I left off in another room. And no issues with the Internet. Life is good.

    • bwcbwc says:

      @EyeHeartPie: More relevant to the current discussion: DirecTV allows you to change your service on their website too. Including downgrades. So Comcast for the “win” in this bracket.

  19. Underpants Gnome says:

    DirecTV does anger me with their exclusive NFL package, but i place the fault for that with the NFL, not DTV. Comcast angers me monthly when I get my bill. Easy choice.

  20. geeky_reader says:

    I usually agree with the general population here, but I think I am one of the only people who isn’t constantly pissed at Comcast.

    I’m not saying the Comcast haters don’t have their reasons, just that not everyone has that viewpoint.

    1.) Tech support for phone, internet, tv is always taken *quickly* by a local call center with people who don’t make you start at step 1 for every damn issue. They listen to you, and adjust their approach based on things you say. When I had Verizon for phone and internet, I always got stuck with someone who a.) had a thick accent, b.) always had me start at idiot task #1 instead of listening to me on the steps I’ve already taken.

    2.) The Video On-Demand interface is much easier to navigate than Verizon FIOS. I get extremely frustrated while at my parents’ house (they have FIOS TV) trying to find movies and such.

    3.) When I threatened to switch to FIOS I was offered to keep my digital starter bundle package for $99 for two years. I’ve never looked into how long Verizon’s bundle package is good for or what the full price is – but I wonder if they also have a way to lock you in at the introductory price. I think FIOS has more channels, but as a family we probably only watch about 10 of the channels regularly. Channel lineup is not a huge concern for me. Except for SciFi (SyFy?). That’s my only channel in my wish list.

    4.) I do wish Comcast had better DVR features – program while away and send to other boxes.

    5.) I never had any problems with the internet service. Nothing more to say about that.

    6.) The biggest hassle is probably the phone – in a 2 year period, it has gone out twice now (I think – maybe 3 times) for a few hours at a time. That gets frustrating.

    And no, I have not been paid off by Comcast to post this. If I were, I’d totally have the SciFi channel by now. :)

    • johnva says:

      @geeky_cylon: The biggest problem I have with Comcast is their customer service. The reliability and speed of Internet is relatively decent here (with a few problems). But their service is atrocious. My experience with their tech people has been totally different from what you describe above. I only call them when I KNOW it’s something that is NOT caused by my computers or TVs, but they STILL insist on trying nonsensical troubleshooting even when I provide them with direct evidence of the problem being on their end.

  21. watchout5 says:

    Comcrap puts a cap on the internet and doesn’t increase that cap as the speed increases. What a useless service, I hope one day their monopoly is broken and we’re free to choose someone who doesn’t suck.

  22. Underpants Gnome says:

    I almost forgot, my Comcast service has just given me the “This channel should be available shortly” error message on Discovery Channel HD for over a year now. Considering there was a “Planet Earth” marathon over the weekend, this is completely unacceptable.

  23. Hadoken3 says:

    I hate Comcast sooooo much!! There is absolutely no company I can think of that pisses me off more on a regular basis than them. Go to hell Comcast.

  24. abyzmal says:

    I have to go with DirecTV here. I’m sure that Comcast sucks for a variety of reasons, but I’ve never had to personally deal with them. I did (briefly) deal with DirecTV and they lied directly to me twice.

    I called because they had a deal that was slightly less than what I was paying Time Warner for cable, and their DVR systems looked a lot nicer. When I spoke to the sales rep, I said that I would like to sign up, but that since I am renting and my lease would be up before the DirecTV contract, I would only sign if I was able to leave with no ETF when my lease expired. The rep assured me that if I faxed a copy of my lease showing that it was expiring, they would terminate my contract without an ETF.

    I then made sure, like with other contract-based services, that I had a window in which if I was unsatisfied for any reason I could terminate the contract without an ETF (for my cell plan, it was the first 14 days). He surprised me by saying that their window was a full month. Satisfied, I agreed and a few days later a technician came to install my equipment.

    Wanting to make sure that I wouldn’t have a problem, I called DirecTV’s customer service later that night to verify with the CSR that the things the sales rep told me were indeed true. I heard an entirely different story from the CSR however. She informed me that there was no way to terminate the contract without an ETF, regardless of whether/where I move. Then, when I mentioned that I would seriously have to consider canceling within the 30 day grace period, she informed me that their grace period was 48 hours (!) from when the equipment was installed. I was quite upset that I had been lied to, but the CSR indicated that there was nothing they could do. Needless to say, I canceled right then and there. Luckily I had the foresight to look in to the details right away.

    I would never ever recommend DirecTV, and in fact now I will actively go out of my way to discourage people who are considering signing up with them.

  25. Tom_Servo says:

    Comcast is by far and away the worst company I have ever dealt with. Two of our branch offices HAVE to use Comcast because of local monopolies, their STATIC IP’s have been changed by Comcast 8 times between them without notice or explanation. Oh, and they couldn’t be changed back so I had to reprogram the firewalls from scratch leaving the offices down for about 48 hours.

    I had them at home until I could Wide Open West, with Comcast I averaged 13 days of downtime a month, with WOW I average 0.

    Comcast’s customer support is nil, the knowledge of their technicians is laughable and there is not a single professional or competent person that works for the company.

    Comcast is the one company I wish everyday would go under and all of their employees would be rendered permanently homeless and unemployable.

  26. Denada says:

    Even though I’ve never had a problem with Comcast, and their service has actually always been timely and helpful for me, I still voted for them. I’m a satisfied customer, but I know enough people that aren’t.

  27. LiveToEat says:

    I loved Directv till yesterday. My receiver broke. They said I had to buy a new one and would still have the $5 leased receiver fee. So I have to lease something from Directv that I own. I think we are going to give up tv altogether.

    • gman863 says:

      @SuvarnarekhaLazork:
      Check out newegg.com or (if you can stomach the thought of it) Best Buy. Both sell DirecTV boxes versus having to lease them.

      DirecTV isn’t perfect – just one hell of a lot better than either Comcast or Dish Network.

  28. wagnerism says:

    Triple Play is a complex service. Competition brings prices down. Margins are widened by skimping on personnel. Problems do happen.

    Every provider has a long list of people that hate them for good reason. Hating X and switching to Y just means that you’ll eventually hate Y too, and Z if you have the option.

    Verizon couldn’t handle DSL/homephone/mobile phone… I got comcast/vonage/cingular. Comcast service was good for a couple of years until my neighbor got service.

    Now I’m back on FiOS. I hope that they behave at least until my service commitment term is up. I stayed with Cingular/ATT though… they’ve been good.

  29. Costner says:

    I have DirecTV and I hate it. Their customer service is worthless and their “technical support” is nothing more that customer service people reading checklists off a screen.

    When I called because my brand new RF remotes (yes that is plural) intermitantly required me to be within 3 feet of the receiver and in line of sight (sort of eliminating the benefit of RF in the first place) their solution was to have me replace the batteries.

    Really? Thats the best they could do? I not only have a remote control that is less than a week old, but I actually have two remote controls that are less than a week old and their idea is to replace brand new batteries? Ok so nevermind that both remotes are new and that both have new batteries. Nevermind that I already replaced the batteries in one in the off chance the included batteries were garbage, and nevermind that both remotes do the same thing.

    I humored them and replaced the batteries. Same thing. So their next brainiac idea? Reset the receiver.

    I swear the only things those people know how to do is reset a receiver. So even though I had already done that I humored them again and did it again. Same problem with both remotes.

    So now the have me walk through the steps of changing the receiver from IR to RF. Of course if the receiver was still on IR, the remote woudln’t work at all, but what the heck – I’ll humor them. Same problem.

    Then they suggest I adjust the antenna on the receiver, but as luck would have it my particular receiver doesn’t have an antenna nor does it have a place to connect an antenna. One might think they would know this, but I guess the checklist doesn’t care what receiver I have.

    Long story short their final answer was to have me “try the remotes for a few days” to see if the problem would magically cure itself.

    It hasn’t.

    Any guesses on what I’m going to do with my DirecTV receiver when my contract expires?

    And with all of that said, I still think Comcast is even worse, so that should tell you how shitty they really are.

  30. Tim Pfannes says:

    The day I canceled comcast was such a happy day. Switched to Wide Open West (great company (then again the who isnt great compared to comcast?)) and have not looked back since.

  31. Frank Murphy says:

    Comcast, since they are a monopoly in most of the areas they are in, they are therefore evil.

  32. KHook321 says:

    I have DirecTV and don’t really have any complaints. They’ve always been a good company, and they seemed to have the lowest prices when I searched for comparable TV options.

  33. jake7294 says:

    I can just picture Comcast Frank and Bonnie refreshing their pages and clicking DirecTv over and over again.

  34. iantm says:

    It seemed that comcast was hell bent on losing me as a customer from the day I started service. The boxes would deauthenticate every month, they’d randomly switch off service for no reason (even though the bill was always paid early), the cable modem would conk out every other day, and the $15 showtime package shrunk every month – going down to three channels from eight at the end.

    When FiOS became available where I live, I signed up and was the first guy on the block to have it. Comcast seemed shocked that I would dare to cancel my service. They asked me why I decided to cancel – I answered with “I’m switching to a provider who has a proven track record of reliability and makes efforts to let its customers know that they are wanted.”

    Comcast can suck it.

  35. SinisterBark says:

    This isn’t even close

    Comcast absolutely kills DirecTV

    Comcast is a joke

  36. ElvinaKaplooyi says:

    Comcast actually accused me of theft of services as a marketing ploy. I got a threatening letter that my apartment had been detected stealing cable and if I would only sign up, all would be forgiven.

    I haven’t owned a TV in more than a decade.

    Marketing FAIL

  37. gman863 says:

    In the wake of Hurricane Ike, Houston-area residents received even more reasons why Comcast sucks:

    1. Unlike landline and cellular phone companies, Comcast does not have backup generators on its equipment. Even if you had electricity or a generator and were able to watch the Comcast “Triple Play” ads on an antenna TV, subscribers got “Three Strikes”: No cable, no Internet and no phone (my electricity was on in two days, it was two WEEKS before I had Internet and landline phone service). As an added bonus for those with Comcast Security, the “Protected By Comcast” yard sign translated into “Burgulars Welcome; this house is totally unprotected.”

    2. Even though Comcast KNEW I was without service for two weeks, I was still billed for a full month of service! I had to call customer service and hold for half an hour to have my bill adjusted for the no service days. Anyone who didn’t call and ask for an adjustment paid for service they never received.

    My fantasy is to force Comcast to run a commercial outlining their true colors. Their spokesman must be Vince (a.k.a. Mr. I slap-chopped a hooker), and here’s the script:

    VINCE: “Now, the most truthful Comcast commercial ever, Scam-WOW! Watch us run ads a few days after a major hurricane saying how great Comcast TV, Internet, phone and home security are – in theory, anyway. All the things you depend on most in a time of crisis (points to table with a TV, telephone and computer on it) and – you following me camera guy – (bashing TV, phone and PC with baseball bat) slap-chop them away. Start having a boring recovery — start having a boring life. Comcast executives are from a mental hospital; you know retards always make crappy stuff. You’re gonna love my balls (holds up Comcast bill) – they’re so big we’re gonna bill every subscriber for a FULL MONTH even if we didn’t give ‘em service for half of it! It’s more fun than beating the crap out of a hooker in an upscale Miami hotel room! Beware of imitators: Call Comcast now and stay on hold for the next twenty minutes – because you know we can’t stop doing this all day – and cast your vote to make us the Worst Company In America!”

    • gman863 says:

      @gman863:

      To clairify, the “two weeks without landline phone service” is Comcast’s phone service. Nearby friends who have either WindStream or AT&T landline phone service had a dial tone within 24 hours of Ike’s landfall.

  38. the lesser of two weevils says:

    Ive honestly never had an issue with Comcast. Same goes for family who’ve had them for years. I guess we’re the lucky exception.

  39. ninjatoddler says:

    Comcast surely.

  40. Lenae says:

    The only problems I’ve had w/ Comcast are a few outages not for very long or worth complaining about. DirectTV’s cancellation fees suck, over $200 and there’s no way to get out of it not even a PCS.

  41. KW802 says:

    After 20+ years with Comcast, I may have come close to tears of joy the day I was able to cancel my service in favor of DirecTV.