I've often wondered how it was that, companies who are consistently, year after year, rated as the "Worst Companies in America" continue to stay in operation.
I mean, there are literally hundreds of companies and products that people love that shut down on a daily basis, while crappy ones still remain. So, how is it that a company with such as bad reputation, continues to stay, not only afloat, but also profitable?
Are they too big to fail? Are they a monopoly? Have we been so beaten down and battered that we've become institutionalized to accept their suckage?
I'm not even going to pretend to have the answer, because I have absolutely no idea.
What I do know is this: there is one industry in particular that's about to have karma bite them in the ass. This is an industry that, every year, not only do they have a handful of players that make the list of the most hated companies in America, but they tend to own it.
I'm talking about the cable industry.
For the past two months, I've been getting a call each week from a sales rep at Charter Communications, our household's internet provider and former cable provider.
The call usually goes something like this:
Charter: "Hi Mr. Severson, how are you today? This is so-and-so from Charter Communications."
Me: "I'm fine, thanks for asking. Look, unless what you're offering me is free, I'm go to save you the effort and tell you I'm not interested."
Charter: "I understand, but let me ask you, who is your current cable provider?"
Me: "You used to be until you screwed us over, now we've disconnected from cable and only subscribe to Netflix and Hulu."
Charter: "What kind of shows do you like to watch?"
Me: "Anything that streams on Netflix and Hulu. Is what you're offering me today, free?"
Charter: "We have an incredible rate we'd like to offer you, with no fee for installation."
Me: "Are you kidding me? Not interested. Good-bye."
Charter: "Well, let me give you an 800 number that you can ca ..."
Hey, Charter, how about employing humans instead of robots?
It wasn't until the last call I had with them that I finally said, "Look, we're not coming back and we're not planning to ever come back. If you want a recommendation, I'd suggest you start looking for another job. This one is soon going to expire."
I wasn't trying to be a jerk or wish this innocent employee any ill will, but at the same time, I was excited to be the bearer of bad news.
Cable employees: Your employers are going to die.
The Charter employee had asked what I meant and this is what I said:
"Don't take my word for it, but I suspect that in two years time, your position will be obsolete. The cable companies, such as the one you work for, have been screwing over their customers for years--because they could. But ... their day of reckoning is about to finally arrive.
Up until recently, we (the customers) have been monopolized and taken advantage of by cable companies. Our rates have been hiked, our complaints have been ignored, we've been robbed by early cancellations and we've had to take off work to be home between the hours of 8 AM and 12 PM for a repair person who arrives at 12:30.
Why? Because if we wanted to be entertained with television, we had to choose between the lesser of evils.
We're mad as hell and we're not not going to take it anymore.
But, that has changed. We've got hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place and the dice indicate that you're about to land on them.
We now have options, and it doesn't include your employer.
So, when you ask me what I mean, I'm saying that cable, as you know it, is about to become the equivalent of one house on Baltic Avenue, which I suspect doesn't have a sales force."
Look, I'm not sure if it's going to be Apple TV, Disney, Netflix, HBO or one of the many others that are currently disrupting cable television, but it will be someone, and it will be in the next two years. IMHO.
Consumers deserve better and there are companies that are recognizing that.
Heed my advice: If you're a company that is either in, or has a competitor that's in, the top 10 of the "worst companies in America", you have an opportunity to do the following:
1. Adapt to a customer-first mentality, or ...
2. Have karma bite you in the ass.
I'm talking to you financial industry. You're next.