Round 20: Wellpoint vs Charter Cable

This is Round 20 in our Worst Company in America contest, Wellpoint vs Charter Cable.

Wellpoint: is a health insurance company that’s part of BlueCrossBlueShield. They don’t believe anesthesia is necessary for colonoscopies. That pretty much encapsulates all you need to know about them.

Charter Cable: gets all-around poor marks for quality of service, customer service, and technical support. They’re on the record as admitting to blatantly lying to their customers. One time they irrevocably deleted 14,000 customer’s email accounts, including all their emails, even the ones that you have to scroll all the way to the bottom to find the secret message. Whoops.

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2008 series. The companies nominated for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. Keep track of all the goings on at

STILL OPEN FOR VOTING: Dell vs Home Depot,
Sears vs Citibank, Wal-Mart vs TJMaxx, Mattel vs ATT, Capital One vs Video Professor, eBay/Paypal vs COX, Apple vs SallieMae, Diebold Vs Pfizer, MTV vs TransUnion
CompUSA vs DirecTV
Target vs Best Buy
Allstate vs Verizon,
DeBeers vs 1800 flowers, Starbucks vs United Airlines,
Exxon vs Crocs, Google Vs Sony, Ticketmaster vs Wachovia, Facebook vs The American Arbitration Association, Comcast vs Menu Foods


Edit Your Comment

  1. No contest. HMO that believes colonoscopies don’t hurt beat incompetent cable companies any day.

  2. faust1200 says:

    Hmmm…a no-anesthesia colonoscopy vs. some lost email….Ding we have a winner!!

  3. jimv2000 says:

    I’m going to put this out there. I’ve only had a good experience with Charter. I use their cable tv and internet, and have never had a problem. The customer service person I talked to and they guy they sent to my new place last week to move my service even seemed fairly competent. Maybe I’m just lucky?

  4. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    I voluntarily have colonoscopies without any sedation.
    It doesn’t hurt that much.
    But I still voted for Wellpoint as the worst, as Charter can’t cause your death or bankruptcy, only an HMO can do that!

  5. Buran says:

    I’m on Charter and I still voted for health care. Health care is far more vital than cable is. And I say this as someone who uses the Internet. A lot. There’s just no excuse for whining that providing basic care (and proper medication for medical procedures is pretty basic) costs too much.

    I don’t use Charter for email, though, and never have; I don’t even know the password to my Charter email account at the moment. I own my own domain and can and do point the MX records to whatever email service I prefer.

    Change email address every time I change ISPs? No thanks.

  6. homerjay says:

    Wow, insurance company vs. cable company. On the surface they both win but after reading your blurb about the anesthesia I’m gonna have to call this one for Wellpoint.

  7. Buran says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: Oh, I doubt people will argue about voluntarily doing that, but for those who do want medication to alleviate the pain and make them forget the experience, I think they should be able to have that. Non-anesthesia procedures should be by request only and no insurer should ever balk at this.

  8. ManiacDan says:

    I see the consumerist is still putting the vote buttons in A/B order, but then putting the company descriptions in B/A order. I wonder how much more accurate it would be if the vote matched the description

  9. scoosdad says:

    @jimv2000: No, I’ve had the same good experience with them here in MA. It all depends on where you are, and who owned the system before Charter bought them. I don’t like the recent round of price increases but then again it’s my choice to stay with them or not. Nobody has a gun to my head and I do have choices here. Right now I’m testing a DSL connection that will probably cause me to pull the plug on Charter’s internet service soon.

  10. Wellpoint does have the “serprize butt secks” lolcat angle.

  11. farcedude says:

    Just wanted to add my agreement to the first comments, as having had a colonoscopy, no sedation would have sucked immensely. Like, worst experience of my life sort of thing. Instead, I barely remember anything, and really just didn’t like the prep. So screw Wellpoint!

  12. scoosdad says:

    One time they irrevocably deleted 14,000 customer’s email accounts, including all their emails, even the ones that you have to scroll all the way to the bottom to find the secret message. Whoops.

    While I do understand some user’s compulsion to keep every one of their emails on Charter’s server so they can view it anytime anywhere, most sensible people know that something like that is not forever and it really ought to be downloaded to a local email client on your PC and stored there if you expect it to stay around forever. Then you can back it up yourself if you’re so inclined.

    I have Charter and I lost nothing at all in that glitch because I don’t leave my mail in their hands longer than the time it takes me to retrieve it between sessions.

  13. Nighthawke says:

    HMO’s have been a thorn in the side of the health care industry that needs to be pulled and burned. More people have died under their care from bureaucratic stupidity vs being insured by a regular insurer, even BCBS.

    Any HMO that gets put up for vote, even against a craptastic reseller like best buy, gets my check mark.

  14. boandmichele says:

    i, too, have had great experiences with charter comm. i give them about 200 a month for all my phone cable and 10mbps internet. over the past 4 years, ive not once had a problem.

  15. bohemian says:

    Charter is probably the worst telecom carrier we have had to deal with to date. Our cable worked about half of the time and our cable internet ended up actually being DSL, but actually some sort of DSL/dial up hybrid that required you to log in to activate it any time you wanted to get online so it wasn’t “always on” and it was farking sloooow. They routinely overcharged us and refused to fix things on the bills. I’m just glad we only had to deal with them for a few months before we moved again.

    I still voted for Wellpoint. Bad cable service is an annoyance. Screwed up healthcare can kill you and since your health insurance has become big brother for your medical care it is pretty hard to get around it.

  16. Starfury says:

    I’m having a colonoscopy on Friday…and I will be getting sedated. There is NO WAY I’d do one w/o sedation.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    tough decision. i’ve dealt with charter before – they suck. just today i had to listen to 3 co-workers bitch about outages, billing errors & the fact that you can no longer call your local office when you have trouble.

    i don’t have wellpoint, but i do have bcbs & they suck too. $2600 root canal – they covered about $435. filling? $16. right, like any licensed dentist is going to do a filling for $16. the freaking novocaine dose costs more. it’s at the point that i’m trying to convince my employer to drop the dental coverage & switch us over to a savings plan w/ some sort of employer contribution.

  18. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Charter: Required multiple calls to get them to just turn on Internet service back when they still had those quick start kits you could use yourself. CSRs kept insisting they had to send a technician.

    Several periods of flaky to no connection.

    Billed for renting a modem when we never got a modem from them.

    Requires users to opt out of 404 errors redirecting to their site (and y’all know how I feel about having to opt out of something I never opted into). You have to re-opt out every time you delete your cookies.

    Eliminated their 3Mb tier. Wanted $55 a month for 5Mb.

    Sent letter asking for the modem that doesn’t belong to them. CSR made me suffer through a long ass, stupid spiel about how I should have asked for a discount instead of canceling when I called to straighten it out.

    So I can understand the people voting for them. But I still voted for Wellpoint because they are part of BCBS, whom I hate more.

  19. scoosdad says:

    @Starfury: You don’t want to be awake to hear the doctor say “oops”. [Bill Cosby reference]

  20. bovinekid says:

    I’ve been a daily reader of The Consumerist for months, but never registered for a commenting account. For this post, I finally had to. I don’t expect this comment to make any difference, but I had to post it.

    I can’t believe Wellpoint is getting more votes than Charter, and the consensus excuse is “healthcare is more important than cable.” If this was Comcast, they’d have 95% of the vote.

    The reality is that Comcast gets more attention than Charter around here because of the number of subscribers, but Charter is INFINITELY worse than Comcast. I’ve lived in markets that have “allowed” me to use both services, and Comcast, that most hated of telecoms, was a breath of fresh air after years of Charter “service.” Fewer outages, more helpful customer service, etc. Not even close.

    Now, I’m back in a market where I have to use Charter again, and I wish at least once a week that I could still use Comcast. You whiny Comcast customers don’t know how good you have it.


  21. Ramu says:


    From the Associated Press
    April 8, 2008, 6:17PM ET

    WellPoint customer information exposed

    Personal information that may have included Social Security numbers and pharmacy or medical data for about 128,000 WellPoint Inc. customers in several states was exposed online over the past year, the health insurer said Tuesday.

  22. AceKicker says:

    Most of my email is spam anyways. But ultimately, you don’t cut corners when it comes to a man’s pooper.

  23. KD17 says:

    “They don’t believe anesthesia is necessary for colonoscopies.”

    They might as well say we don’t cover colonoscopies. Who the hell wants to be awake for that.

    besides richard simmons

  24. nikalseyn says:

    No experience with Wellpoint, but a whole lot with good ole charter—I have both internet and digital cable and when they are up and running well, they are topnotch. when you have a problem or a simple question or request, then you call the phillipines and they just lie to you—tho when you do get to a real honest to goodness english speaking someone in canada or the usa, they will also lie to you. It took me 4 month of calling to get the coupons they promised, then it took another four months of calling for them to give me a five dollar credit they promiseed. Luckily I have nothing better to do with my time than call charter customer service. I will leave their menu options for another time.

  25. ptkdude says:

    @KD17: your Richard Simmons comment is totally uncalled for and inappropriate. And before you claim it was a joke, would you have posted “African Americans like fried chicken” or “Jewish people love money”? I think not.

  26. cde says:

    Moar Godzilla VS MechaGodzilla VS Tokyo plz

  27. Sigh… damn Radio buttons…

  28. photomikey says:

    Haven’t read a “whatever versus whatever” post so far. I remember from last year they were lame. Then opened the front page today and saw we were on round 20. Twenty? Really? Are we done yet?

  29. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    your Richard Simmons comment is totally uncalled for and inappropriate.

    @ptkdude: Not to mention stupid and illogical. Yeesh, KD17, that doesn’t make sense even going by stereotypes!

  30. NotATool says:

    Never heard of Charter, but have dealt with Wellpoint mail order Rx. I did not like their random generic substitutions.

    Not looking forward to their colonoscopies either.

  31. lemkepf says:

    Having lived with charter for the last 3 years i’m going to have to vote for them. They suck. Big time.

    Crap internet, crap tv, even crappier HDTv, and crap service. Yup, crap sums it up.

  32. Parting says:

    You need health insurance, more than cable. So my vote for Charter.

  33. HeartBurnKid says:

    My mom once had to have a colonoscopy without anesthesia due to a blood pressure issue. I wouldn’t wish that on ANYBODY, so even though Charter’s bad, I gotta go with Wellpoint.

  34. uberbucket says:

    Charter. Have internet/phone/cable through them. Their customer service is a worthless, I just go down to the main office and shake my fist where they can see it. The second you go ‘off script’ with a CSR on the phone it’s over.

  35. cajun2core says:

    I had a colonoscopy with anesthesia and a bit of the way through it I was in pain. I turned my head and looked at the doctor and said, “That hurts” so he gave me another shot of anesthesia and I slept through the rest of the procedure. I can’t imagine having one w/o some kind of sedative.

  36. Angryrider says:

    Wellpoint easy. Health insurance just plain sucks. I don’t want market forces to decide whether I should go see that doctor for that infection. No gas for a thing shoved up your ass? Not a chance.

  37. mcjake says:

    I’m a Charter user and every time I to deal with them it feels like I’m being given a colonoscopy without anesthesia!

    I have had my account with them for 2 years now and it has never worked 100%. I have completely given up now.

  38. katekate says:

    Can the point of this series be that the president of the company that wins has to endure what s/he put his/her customers through? i.e. stick something up his/her ass while s/he is fully awake.

  39. IrisMR says:

    Colonoscopies truly don’t hurt. It’s more of a “Worst case of gas EVER” feeling than a jabbing pain.

    So I voted for Charter.

  40. Wimpkins says:


  41. mac-phisto says:

  42. Buran says:

    @Buran: Wow. Update to my own post. I have been having terrible problems with one of the local HD channels (constant signal dropouts that keep me from watching Nova, Nature, etc. on the local PBS HD feed). So, a little while ago, I emailed the Charter VP/rep/whoeveritwas who put his address in the local paper a while back as a contact for any issues locals have with Charter here in St. Louis, and included my correspondence to the PBS station in which they said “we provide a good feed, talk to Charter”.

    A while later the phone rings and I ignore it, and surprise, a coworker tells me it’s for me. The Charter guy picked my phone number out of my at-work email sig and had the service dept. call me. They are going to come out this Saturday, and no, the window wasn’t all-day, to see what’s up with my signal strength and if I have a problem of that nature.

    Hopefully the tech(s) can fix the problem… so yeah, I’m not angry at Charter today.

    If they do fix it, I’ll email both the Charter contact and the PBS station rep and thank them for getting it resolved. A good thankyou makes people feel good about helping and more willing to do it again later if needed…

  43. robotprom says:

    the only reason I was glad to move away from Athens GA was to get away from Charter Cable.

  44. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:


    And you get to watch it on the TV screen if you’re awake!
    My place has a 42″ flat screen!
    The prep is far worse than the actual scoping, it’s just that people are all freaked out about a 40″ long scope stuck up their ass by a doctor.

  45. oregongal says:

    I’ve got bundled service with Charter and only had 2-3 issues in over 8 years. In fact last time I had an internet problem, the service rep gave me a number that was a direct line to his department; told me that any time I had a problem or need to use that number, even if it was a billing issue.

    Wellpoint on the other hand, well heres a vote for you.

  46. scoosdad says:

    @katekate: Oh so you’re betting that it’s gonna be Charter then?

  47. AcidReign says:

        Well, normally, I’m of the opinion that screwed-up health insurance is more evil than screwed up cable. But, Charter is an exceptional evil. I’ve got a Charter Cable trunk line going through my property, that is about 2 feet off the ground. Prior to it being that low, it was about 5 feet up, and I horse-collared myself on it while walking at night. Naturally, I’ve called Charter customer service twice. Nothing’s being done. And it won’t, till the cable reaches ground level, and shorts the block out…

        I really need to post a picture of this situation, but I’ve had poor luck getting Picasa pix to actually link up correctly…

  48. President Beeblebrox says:

    @Steaming Pile: Yep, Wellpoint is teh winnah in this contest. Aetna tried to pull the same thing around here, arguing that colonoscopies with sedation are “unusual” and “unique to the Northeast”.

    This came right in the middle of a push sponsored by the state government to encourage more folks to get screened for colon cancer and get ‘scoped. Bad timing by Aetna.

    The powers that be screamed, doctors uttered horrible epithets, and Aetna changed its mind.

    I just had a colonoscopy done. No freaking way would I get it without sedation. With sedation, the worst part was the prep. I wasn’t even aware they had done anything as I went right to la-la land and woke up an hour or so later feeling more or less funky-fresh.

    Just goes to show you: insurance company generally = bloodless, soulless money-sucking machine.

  49. rlee says:

    Charter is one of the few ISPs I’ve dealt with where any time I forward a spam from one of their users to their abuse address, it gets bounced as spam. Whether they’re extremely incompetent, or doing that on purpose to avoid dealing with the spammers, I wish I knew. That said, I gotta go with Wellpoint even though I’ve never dealt with them (thank God).

  50. whereismyrobot says:

    Charter sent a service repair guy to my house three times to pick up my old cable box without warning me. He pounded on the door and would only leave after about ten minutes, so yeah, Charter and their crazy stalkers get my vote.

  51. KyleOrton says:

    I hate hate hate Charter. And I’m the guy who truly likes Dell’s outsourced CS reps!

    I do feel like an ass though. As customer of Charter’s I voted out of emotion without reading about Wellpoint and regret it. Not only am I an ass, I’m an ass that deserves a colonoscopy without anesthesia.

  52. jswilson64 says:

    Did any of you complainers even read the linked story? Wellpoint didn’t say you can’t have painkillers with your colonoscopy – they object to a certain pain-killer that requires an anesthesiologist to be present for a colonoscopy. There are other drugs that work just fine that don’t require the additional expense or staff.

    If your doctor suggests a medication that requires an anesthesiologist to be present, and there’s no actual surgery going on, you might want to ask some questions.

  53. mobbo says:

    I’d rather have a rake shoved up my ass than go back to Charter. In my city (Fort Worth, TX), you cannot get tech support from local people. I had to do a google map search to find the local franchise office and then camp out to talk to someone walking out of the building about WHY THE FUCK they can’t put the correct baseball game feed on the proper channel, even when the guide says it should be that way!!!

    A call to tech support goes to a national office which, apparently, doesn’t have the phone number to call the Fort Worth head-end to fix as simple an issue as having the wrong game showing on the wrong channel.

  54. JustaConsumer says:


  55. No Contest. Wellpoint.