Some of the industries that Americans depend on most are plagued by bad customer service.Utilities, airlines, and cable companies are among the worst lead, according to the latest results from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.
Limited competition and the fact that many customer interactions occur after problems like service interruptions help push those industry’s ratings down.
By far the biggest ratings drop was for Northeast Utilities, which left customers fuming due to long storm power outages.
The bottom tier also includes LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, which were only recently included in the survey.
Rated 66/100. Down two points from last year, for BOA's worst rating in over a decade. The worst-rated big bank.
ACSI finds that customers are moving from large banks to smaller ones, and enjoying more personalised service and fewer fees.
Bank of America in particular may have seen its reputation suffer from fees; it was forced to drop a proposed debit card fee after widespread customer backlash.
That didn't stop it from testing out other fees earlier this year.
Rated 66/100. Four points worse than last year. The lowest-rated fixed line telephone company.
More and more customers are getting rid of fixed-line phone service in favour of cell phones alone. Usually that would mean higher ratings, because the most satisfied customers tend to stay.
That's not the case here. The fixed-line telephone business is rapidly shrinking, so companies aren't investing in new infrastructure or services, reducing satisfaction.
Rated 65/100. A nine-point improvement from last year.
Complaints about airlines often focus on poor service and mounting fees. However, people are getting smarter about not checking bags to avoid fees. The ACSI survey found that almost 20 per cent fewer people are checking bags.
Last year's bad score for Delta came after its merger with Northwestern, but the score improved somewhat after ironing out merger details and bringing more flights in on time. You can see the gain in its stock price.
Rated 65/100. Four point improvement from last year.
US Airways may have improved from last year, but this is still an extremely low score compared to other industries and competitors like Southwest.
As ACSI's commentary points out, 'high ticket cost and poor service are not a winning combination.'
Rated 64/100. This is the first year it has been rated.
Though it's the first year many social networks have been included in the survey, as a category, social media is rated poorly.
Increasing worry about the sharing and use of personal data, the sheer omnipresence of these sites, and increased advertising might be behind the extremely low scores.
Rated 64/100. The second-lowest-rated big airline.
The whole airline industry has angered people with increasing fees and rising ticket prices. According to the AP, the airline also saw a huge number of canceled flights during a lengthy and highly public dispute with its pilots.
Its score improved very slightly from last year, but the company still remains near the bottom of the heap.
Rating from ACSI.
Rated 63/100. A four-point decline from last year.
Cox's customers and ratings suffered this year from higher rates and increased fees. Reliability concerns and the high cost of TV services keep the industry poorly rated despite it offering more options than ever.
Customers are irked by sales tactics which acquire new customers with low rates, then boost them much higher later.
Rated 63/100. The second-lowest-rated social network.
LinkedIn's inaugural rating puts it near the bottom, along with other social networks like Twitter. ACSI finds that 'Monetizing schemes appear to be at the core of user dissatisfaction with both sites.'
In LinkedIn's case that mean its 'Recruiter' platform, which gives companies that subscribe access to account information.
Rated 63/100. A four-point improvement from last year.
Part of Time Warner Cable's improvement might be the simple fact that the company is losing residential TV subscribers -- 129,000 of them as of August -- which means a smaller pool of more loyal subscribers. They did gain broadband customers over the same period though.
For some customers, it's their only option. That can leave them stuck with fees like this monthly modem rental fee announced in October.
Rating from ACSI
Rated 62/100. The lowest-rated big airline.
United took over the lowest airline spot from Delta this year despite gaining one point on the customer satisfaction index.
ACSI credits part of the increase to the company's acquisition of Continental, which had scored higher in the survey before its acquisition.
Rated 61/100. A five-point decline from last year, making it the lowest-rated social network.
Facebook comes in at the very bottom of the social media pile after a turbulent year. Customers were dissatisfied with the forced change to the 'Timeline' style profile, and a particularly messy IPO in May couldn't have helped.
It remains by far the largest social network.
Rated 61/100. The second-lowest-ranked cable service.
Comcast's cable business significantly lags its telephone services (which is listed separately), though both score low. Comcast had lost 400,000 subscription television subscribers as of August. That could be due to alternatives, including its own Xfinity streaming service, or dissatisfaction.
Rating from ACSI.
Rated 59/100. The lowest-rated TV company.
The ACSI refers to Charter as a 'perennial industry laggard' in the already exceptionally poorly-rated subscription TV and cable space.
It has been included on the survey for over a decade, and has only had a rating at or above 60 on two occasions.
Rating from ACSI.
Rated 59/100. A 16-point decline from last year.
Most people only interact with their utility company in times of disaster or when they get their bill. Customers of Northeast Utilities in New England saw massive outages from Hurricane Irene in 2011 and a heavy snowstorm in October of that year.
There were outages that lasted as long as two weeks, and delays eventually forced the ouster of the CEO of one of the company's subsidiaries, Connecticut Light and Power.
Rated 58/100. Seven-point decline from last year.
This New York utility was also hit particularly hard by Hurricane Irene, with outages lasting up to a week. A comparatively small customer base combined with a disaster and outages helps puts them at the very bottom.
The company also came under criticism for its performance during Hurricane Sandy (although that time period was not included in ACSI's latest rating). Two million were left without power in New York alone, and the company, along with Consolidated Edison, has been subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Rating from ACSI.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.