Worst Company In America Round One: Charter Vs. CenturyLink (Qwest)

Here’s a pair of middleweight marauders that some of you may not be familiar with, but who still managed to engender enough ill will from Consumerist readers to earn a chance to prove their awfulness in the business world bloodbath called the Worst Company In America 2012 Tournament.

In 2011, Charter didn’t stand a chance of making it to the Sweet 16 when it came up against then-reigning champ Comcast. First, the Lords of Kabletown tried to convince all of their employees to cast their votes against the smaller company. Well… that plan didn’t work out exactly as they’d hoped, after numerous Comcast staffers tipped us to their bosses’ machinations. And after the voting public heard about Comcast’s attempt to game the tournament, it got ugly and Comcast was voted into the next round by one of the largest margins in WCIA’s storied history.

But Charter’s inclusion in this year’s tournament is no pity placement. We still field regular complaints about the company’s billing and service. There was also that whole thing with Charter CSRs telling tornado victims in Alabama that they’d need to locate and return their cable boxes.

That might explain why on a recent survey of the trustworthiness of 143 businesses, Charter came in not just dead last for its cable service, but also next-to-last for its Internet service.

We haven’t written much about CenturyLink, or even Qwest, though the merger of the two companies did create one of the largest telecom companies in the country. And it looks like customers don’t care what brand you put on their service if it still stinks.

Consumerist reader Robert’s reasons for nominating CenturyLink seem to represent the majority opinion of everyone who wanted to see the company make its WCIA debut: “Poor service, bad speeds, indifferent and inept techs and a maze of billing issues where the reference number they give you on a payment can’t be used to verify you made the payment after they lost it.”

This sentiment is echoed by Michael, who wrote in to say, “Their customer service is incompetent and they have a department for EVERYTHING. One person can not answer two questions. I couldn’t even have a billing person answer a question about the current rates of other plans… Their customer service is not service at all.”

So is this the year that Charter proves to the nation why it belongs in the WCIA Octagon of Shame? Or will the new kid on the bracket surprise everyone with a knockout blow?


This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2012 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2012 bracket and schedule of match-ups HERE.

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