Round 3: Comcast vs Sony

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One company tried to destroy people’s computers for listening to music. The other nearly gets you fired with the number of days you need to take off from work to get your cable installed. One company tried to deceive customers with an ill-conceived flog. The other outsources technical services to sketchy guys who sleep on your couch, stalk customers for dates, and at times, rape and murder customers.

Comcast is expected to go for a running game punctuated by quick bursts of customer service incompetence. On the defense, look out for them rerouting Sony’s plays from one defender to another until Comcast simply tires them out.

Sony will counterattack by installing a series of blows to their foes hamstrings and Achilles tendons, seeking to make Comcast literally bow before them.

The kind of bloodthirst we’ll see today is why this sport was invented. Fight! — BEN POPKEN

SONY posts.
COMCAST posts.

Previous rounds voting still open: Best Buy vs Uhaul, RIAA vs United Airlines.

[Rootkit photo: Seven’s Heaven]


Edit Your Comment

  1. jeblis says:

    Gotta go with Sony here, the whole rootkit thing and membership in RIAA is enough to tip the scales for me. Flog is bad as well as the fake graffiti. (They did replace the batteries)

  2. The Unicorn says:

    Indeed. Also, the last time I called Comcast to report a service problem they gave me an account credit, scheduled me with a technician the next day, the tech called to say when he was arriving & then actually showed up at that time, AND — the problem got fixed within 15 minutes of his arrival. Plus, he somehow managed to get us some bonus channels in our digital cable that we didn’t have before.

    Granted, this is the first time ever that I’ve had a Comcast experience this positive, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t change my impression of them.

  3. badgeman46 says:

    At my old job, one of my co-workers DID GET FIRED because of Comcast. He left work after being there for only an hour (after two comcast no-shows)to get his cable installed. Sure enough, when the boss got word of this, he was terminated!

  4. KevinQ says:

    I had to go with Comcast. Sony only hurts you if you want something from them. Comcast, however, is the only option in too many areas, and they can hurt you even if you don’t want to give them your business.


  5. Fuzzysmith says:

    How is wrecking you computer for trying to legally listen to music you purchased not a no-brainer for this one???

  6. Karl says:

    Not only is Sony a member of the RIAA, but of the MPAA as well.

  7. Fuzzysmith: For most people I suspect the decision will come down to personal experience. More people have had bad experiences with comcast than having a rootkit installed on their computer.

  8. Scuba Steve says:

    Comcast wants to charge me $5 bucks more a month for 3GB less usenet caps and craptastic download speeds and they took some of the channels off the air for more christian public broadcasting crap.

    Not a fan.

  9. eriksanerd says:

    I can avoid Sony. I can’t avoid Comcast. Thus, this is an easy choice for me.

  10. Falconfire says:

    As much problems as I have had with comcast, Sony takes this one hands down. No company has done more to rape the consumers of its products, computer, movie, music, or video games.

    People who voted for comcast are on crack on this one.

  11. thereviewer says:

    No! There is no way Sony is losing this! Sony has effected me more than any other company in the world. They are my personal worst company. 7 different products crapped out and then the PS3 launch! Come on people. DRM! Rootkits. Crappy products, all comcast has is sleeping workers, we like to sleep too!

  12. Paul D says:

    Three words:

    betamax, minidisc, blu-ray

    Regardless of those three items, Sony gets my vote because their shenanigans have the potential to affect everyone. Comcast is not as ubiquitous.

  13. dotyoureyes says:

    Yes, Comcast’s service is way overpriced. Yes, I’ll jump ship for Verizon FiOS as soon as it shows up. But Comcast’s cable internet is also rock solid and blazingly fast. I have absolutely no complaints about my experience with Comcast customer service.

    Sony, on the other hand, makes terrible movies, infects their CDs with rootkits, produces some of the worst audio equipment in the world, and was stupid enough to think people would pay $600 for a PS3.

    Easy call on this one.

  14. Sheik says:

    Lets not forget that Sony made all those batteries that blew up too.

  15. dugn says:

    Sony by a landslide. Even though some people are stuck with Comcast, Sony does more damage to more people. Some examples:

    o The source of the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD standoff. No clarity on the next generation of DVDs until Sony gets out of the way

    o PS3: The highest priced console gaming system ever released – partially because of the built-in Blu-Ray DVD player (see above)

    o Sony’s repair record has tanked from the early 80’s when they were a premeir brand to buy

    o The Sony rootkit fiasco, their failed ‘fix’ and failure to apologize for the damage they caused

    o Proprietary Sony memory sticks – the only memory card you can use if you purchase a Sony camera, video or memory device

    o Sony is a major member of both the RIAA and MPAA

    o One more word: Betamax. Sure, it was superior, but they refused to give in to the more popular format causing confusion and wasted $$ in the video cassette marketplace

    Comcast is just a cable company. No comparison.

  16. RumorsDaily says:

    I don’t buy music anymore, so Sony doesn’t bother me. Comcast, however, is unavoidable.

  17. limiter says:

    This was a hard one, but I agree that Sony only sucks if you buy something from them. My only option is Comcast. The analog TV quality blows and they won’t admit it, they have undocumented and unacknowledged caps on internet use, they constantly change channel lineups (sometimes without telling people), they lie about everything from “most HD channels available” to “We will be there between 1 and 5”. The local service people completely ignore corporate instruction. Digital cable is not “crystal clear” unless you think MPEG compression noise is “clear”. The wait times lately have been extremely long, the CSRs in the past have been incredibly obnoxious, and finally their new website is the ass-ugliest site I’ve seen in long time.

  18. spanky says:

    I haven’t been directly affected by either one. I don’t doubt that Comcast’s incompetence has a more direct and immediate effect on an individual level. But in the bigger picture, Sony runs away with this one, IMO.

    Sony has been instrumental in propagating some very nasty, very dangerous, and very hostile practices. They jumped right up on the DMCA bandwagon, and were at the forefront of ‘innovators’ that managed to chip away at the fair use provisions of copyright law–one of the few consumer protections we had left. In doing so, they’ve managed to establish and legitimize absurd new notions of ownership. When you buy certain types of media and electronic devices now, you don’t really own them in any traditional sense. You are locked into bizarre, non-negotiated license terms that prevent you from doing anything from backing up or even sometimes PLAYING your media, or from modifying devices you actually own. And all this without any sort of agreement or input or even knowledge on the part of the consumer.

    Sony threatened a guy who was tinkering with the Aibo with DMCA claims a while back. Seriously. They threatened a guy who was doing nothing more than playing with a toy in an unapproved way. It’s like Lego telling you that you can’t use a pirate ship kit to build a Batmobile.

    So while I understand that the direct, personal effect of getting screwed over by Comcast might sting more right now, I think the things that Sony is doing are far more dangerous and more consumer-hostile in the long term.

  19. AcidReign says:

    …..You said it, spanky! Sony stuff is junk. We don’t have Comcast in Alabama, but you can substitute the word “Charter,” and it’s pretty much the same. Thank God for DSL!

  20. Fuzzysmith says:

    I see a lot of people saying that Comcast is the only option for some people. What about satellite?

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    Price-gouging, forced-bundling quasi-monopolists lose every time.

    Sony’s DRM is a huge black mark, but somewhat mitigated by the sweet, sweet Bravia and Cyber-Shot series. In some ways, their vastness works for/against them: one hand polishes your knob while the other twists and pulls your testicles.

  22. @werk says:

    shouldn’t this be the championship round?

  23. AcidReign says:

    …..I’d have to cut down a minimum of three trees to get a satellite signal. Won’t do it. I love my trees.

  24. hypnotoad says:

    There’s only one explanation for Sony still being in business after recalling 10^nth batteries, the rootkit fiasco, the PSP-ness, and the “Sony tax” on all of their semi-proprietary peripherals (MemoryStick, MiniDisc, etc).

    A deal with the devil.

  25. Sudonum says:

    I have Sony electronics that I bought years ago that are still going strong. I never bought anything with RootKit. And I read far more posts here about Comcast then just about anything, including Nazi shirts.

  26. m3talsyr3n says:

    Well, At least here in South Texas, I can use AT&T, get a 1.5Mbps connection for $14 a month, and only watch TV when i go to my parents house.

    but I say Sony, as they get pissed off when I want to listed to music I HAVE TO DOWNLOAD cos the songs arent on Itunes or anything, and are only in the asian market.

    damned J-Pop addiction.

  27. Elvisisdead says:

    Paul, you forgot one: MemoryStick (and all the variants).

    Sony has always shown a willingness to screw people over on proprietary formats. They have always tried to pitch a proporietary format first, and then adapt to the market later.

  28. sparkrainfire says:

    this was the toughest round yet. I had to vote for sony, though.

  29. Ravi U says:

    Wow, 49.4% Comcast vs 50.6% Sony…never expected it to be this close, considering Comcast isnt a national company (ie. not available in my area)…guess they really are evil.

    But rootkit and flogs got me to vote for Sony (oh, and it doesnt hurt that I have a 360 ;-] ).

  30. genghisbunny says:

    Sony is a worldwide company, Comcast is a podunk US cable company, so Sony wins in my book by getting to screw over consumers worldwide.

    If you don’t want to buy from Comcast and it’s the only cable provider in your area, watch free-to-air. It’s not like TV is very entertaining anyway!

  31. Rick Rockwell says:

    Don’t know what a Rootkit is, and the Sony electronics I’ve had have been good, so I’ll go with Comcast. As soon as they took over from Time Warner in my area they nixed American Movie Classics.

  32. Xkeeper says:

    Now, now, don’t forget rootkits and RIIIIIDGE RAAAAAAACERS!

    Golden shits and GIANT ENEMY CRABS too.

  33. Xkeeper says:

    And Rick, by the way, a “rootkit” is a very serious computer term. I highly recommend you read up on it, if only for your safety.

    Seriously, it’s, uh, pretty bad.

  34. NiteCloak says:

    Like several others before me I have to go with Cumcost. The only Sony product I ever purchased was the 34″ Sony WEGA TV about 7 years ago and it has been outstanding.

    During the same time period however, Comcast has:

    * Lowered my upload cap on my high speed internet subscription from 748Kb/s to 128Kb/s in approximately 5 separate steps over a period of 4 years. Each time executed without informing me.

    * Increased my monthly payment for high speed internet at least 4 times in 2 years such that I am now paying almost $15/month MORE for five times slower upload speeds and 0.7 times the download speed.

    * Likewise, increased digital TV subscription by over $20/month in 5 years for their “Basic” package for ever fewer channels.

    * There is also a noticeable degradation in transmission quality over the last 18 months which, when confronting their sales or “techies” about I am frequently advised to ‘upgrade to the superior digital package option’ or met with blank stares or shrugs. Personally I believe that the degradation is deliberate as they actively try to cajole their customer base over to the new HD Digital Cable Subscriber Packages.

    * One day I rang and complained that our signal was having issues and could they send out an engineer. The engineer was scheduled to arrive between 9am and 5pm the following day. However, that same afternoon I made the phone call, a Comcast van appears, pulls up on my drive, the engineer gets out, grabs his ladder, makes his way in to my back yard, climbs up the cable pole and (unbeknown to me at that moment) disconnects us. He gets back down, grabs his ladder, gets back in his van and leaves without saying a word or even knocking on the door.

    Come to find out that even though we pay Comcast by direct bill pay. There had been a mix-up at their end leading them to believe we hadn’t paid our bill. So they had sent an engineer out to disconnect us. I go ballistic on the phone and they promise to get it fixed right away.

    The next day the scheduled engineer shows up and instead of having his work-order telling him to either check our connection (re: my first call to Comcast) OR get us reconnected (re: their blunder the previous day), instead he knocks on the door and advises me that he has come to disconnect us for non-payment!!?!!!?

    I’m sorry, but I have to go Comcast.

  35. shoegazer says:

    Heh, my old employer’s pulling ahead. Go the distance, Sony!

    In the UK and Europe the Rotkit debacle was overshadowed by Sony’s flagrant pricing strategies, often charging up to 50% more for the same stuff sold in the States. Even with VAT, that’s highway robbery. That, plus the delays to EVERY major launch they’ve had (PSP, PS3) and just generally pissing off consumers worldwide…

  36. solidefy says:

    I’m with NiteCloak, Comcast treats their customers like garbage because they know they’re the only show in town (for many people).

    Comcast used their political influence to squash Philadelphia’s project to bring free Wi-fi to the city, something that would have benefited a lot of people.

    I just recently decided to dump Comcast in favor of OTA HDTV for my locals (which come in surprisingly good, compared to my sketchy Comcast signal) and Bittorrent for everything else. I’d rather have next-to-nothing than give Comcast one more dollar for their awful service.

    If you don’t like what Sony does, don’t buy their crap, that’s why there are 2 other game consoles on the market and a dozen other electronics manufactures to choose from.

  37. tweak4 says:

    I’ve got to go with Comcast simply because a consumer can avoid Sony. In many areas, Comcast has a lock on television, and if you live in one of those areas, it’s them or nothing.
    Their prices are high, their service sucks, and we lose our signal entirely (internet, television or both) at least twice a week for a few seconds up to a few hours. Calls to service merely yield a recording stating “There are problems in your area. Technicians are working on the problem.”

    Verizon finally got approval to start up FiOS TV in the next couple months, and we could not be more excited simply because they represent viable competition.

  38. HFC says:

    Even without the rootkit problem, I vote for Sony. They have abandoned more products than most companies produce in a lifetime. Sony’s overpriced and support-less products really piss me off.

  39. spanky says:

    I’ve got to go with Comcast simply because a consumer can avoid Sony.

    Not really. You can avoid purchasing products from Sony, but it’s not as easy to ignore their legal precedents or to avoid subsidizing their business interests by having federal officers pursue “criminal” copyright violations regardless of profit motive. You cannot not live in a world in which Sony and other businesses like them use federal agents to enforce what should be civil copyright claims at most.

    Sony has been at the forefront in creating not just a consumer-hostile business environment, but a consumer-hostile legal system to back it up. And we’re all subsidizing it, whether we want to or not.

  40. TPK says:

    That did it… the story about leaving customer information on the street curb just begs for my vote.

  41. Lacclolith says:

    Comcast doesn’t exist in my area, but there’s been so much flack about them circulating through the news and this site that It honestly shocks me.

    …but the SONY rootkit bullshit hit my computer like a ton of bricks, And after the company refused to accept my warranty claim on my six-month-old VAIO after the scren bugged out, I contemplated tracking down Howard Stringer and setting him and his family on fire. A hands down victory for Sony.

  42. waggss says:

    All cable companies should be rolled up into one. It already seems like they run from the same handbook anyways.

    1. Randomly raise rates – No reason required.

    2. Set up telephone prompts to hang up as soon as the customer identifies themselves as an existing customer.

    3. Raise rates again.

    4. If a customer makes it through over the phone ensure the wait time is between 60 minutes and overnight.

    5. Don’t forget to raise those rates.

    6. Customer service reps are their own supervisors. Handle targets (aka “customers”) accordingly.

    7. Repeat steps 1, 3 and 5

  43. kyussmondo says:

    I can not stand Sony! Once upon a time they was a company that you thought of as innovative and quality. Sure they were more expensive but it was worth paying the extra for the “perceived” extra quality. Having had numerous Sony products they have all died pre-maturely of which cheaper brands have lasted a lot longer, this includes discmans, TVs and Hi-Fis. The PS2 is one of the best devices that Sony have made, but as usual they get greedy and release the piece of overpriced junk that is the PS3.

    Another thing they also do is flog their locked formats to death. They are probably one of the most closed companies ever. Mini-disc, ATRAC, BetaMax, UMC and now Blu-Ray. I am all for openness but I refuse to be locked in to Sony standards much the same way I try and stay out of any other companies standards. What is their obsession with discs as well? Take a look at the success of the iPod or hard-disc based recorders that sit under the TV, isn’t that proof that people don’t want these stupid discs cluttering up their lives. My CD collection now just sits and collects dust and sits on my computer and my iPod. Instead of trying to force this junk down the consumers throats they should give the consumers what they want.

    The final nail in the coffin is being a record label and a film studio, probably the worst industry ever. Not only that they are probably the most sensitive about privacy. With one of Sony’s top people saying copying your own music for your own personal use is stealing. Also they started putting copy protection on all their music CDs which thankfully they have pulled now. Let’s not forget to mention the complete over the top product placement in Casino Royale!

    What is it about Sony Vaio laptops as well?! People complain that Macs are expensive! I suggest you look as a Vaio. Sure Macs are in a pretty box but the operating system is completely different. Sony Vaio is simply a pretty box with Vista or XP, so basically it is exactly the same as buying something like a HP or Dell just with a pretty Sony Vaio logo.

    They do kind of redeem themselves with the Sony Ericsson phones though, which to me were the best phones on offer until the iPhone came along and that was the last Sony product I have owned and probably will be. It is frustrating because I know they can make great products, they have undoubtedly played a big role in consumer electronics, but they have became so complacent that it makes me hate them and hate is a strong word. Stop buying Sony products and maybe then they will wake up and create something truly amazing, something that can give the iPod a run for its money etc.