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The story in today’s Wall Street Journal about Chieftain Capital Management’s Glenn Greenberg, who is calling for Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to step down, was an interesting profile of this lesser-known investor. Greenberg’s dad is the famous baseball player Hank Greenberg—not the former AIG CEO—and his mother was an heiress to the Gimbel Brothers department store fortune. Greenberg, a former squash champion, apparently lost his shot to work in the family business after dissecting the company while a student at Columbia Business School. Greenberg cites weak management as one of the primary reasons for Comcast’s struggles—he even polled other large shareholders, 23 of whom cited problems with management, too—and the “arrogance” of the disclosure that Comcast would pay the estate of Roberts’ father, Ralph Roberts, his annual salary (currently $1.85 million) for five years after his death.
But what the article doesn’t address is whether Comcast’s issues may be brought on, at least in part, by its customers’ widely aired complaints about its customer service. In December, Comcast, whose stock is down some 40% over the last year, said it expects its “revenue generating units” (that’s subscribers, folks, like you and me) to slow, growing by approximately 6 million for 2007, compared to its previous guidance of 6.5 million. As competition increases from phone companies and satellite providers, more and more consumers can choose to turn to the companies that treat them well. One need look no further than blogs like this or this find evidence that Comcast is the frequent target of unbridled consumer ire. Which makes me wonder: When will investors focus on customer service as an issue they should address?
(Side note: Join our forum on the best & worst customer service experiences you’ve had here. We’re looking for stories for an upcoming package and would love to hear your story!)
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