Some companies just can’t make their customers happy, and many are the kind that customers find it hardest to escape.
The latest survey results from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which looks at hundreds of big companies, show that telecom companies, airlines, and social media sites are most likely to frustrate people.
In defence of these industries, no one notices them when things to well, but people get outraged when they lose service or get stuck for hours at an airport.
On the other hand, these industries often have customers locked down and don’t have to worry about making them happy.
According to the ACSI, the biggest frustrations people have with their cell-phone providers are the experience of getting customer service via call-centres, data speed, and the range of plans available.
T Mobile was the sole decliner among wireless phone service companies and the lowest rated overall.
'It remains to be seen whether T-Mobile's recent move to become the first national wireless carrier to forgo contracts can make things better,' writes the ACSI.
Complaints about airlines often focus on poor service and mounting fees. Mergers also tend to lead to bad ratings.
'Delta continues to rebound from a two-year customer satisfaction free fall following its acquisition of Northwest in 2009,' the ACSI reports.
Delta is up 3 points from last year and is the best-rated legacy carrier.
Social media companies face new privacy concerns, plus the problem of growing users and increasing revenue without annoying their base.
'The noise factor can detract from immersive experiences like Facebook and Twitter. Neither one is curated or edited, so users have to filter through ads, banter, and irrelevant posts to find useful or entertaining threads or connections,' Foresee's Eric Feinberg said about the ACSI results.
Twitter is actually rated higher than LinkedIn and Facebook.
American's score improved slightly from last year, but the company is still the third worst-rated big airline.
The company recently emerged from bankruptcy earlier this month to merge with US Airways, forming the largest airline in the world by traffic. Past large mergers have reduced customer satisfaction scores due to the difficulty of integrating, and US Airways is already a lower rated airline.
The ACSI has referred to Charter as a 'perennial industry laggard' in the already exceptionally poorly rated subscription TV and cable space. Despite a five point improvement, it remains near the lowest-rated company in this category.
In more than a decade on the survey, Charter has only scored at or above 60 on three occasions.
Charter scores slightly better as an ISP (65) and as a fixed line phone service provider (72).
In addition to being the fourth worst ISP among those surveyed, CenturyLink is the second-worst fixed-line phone service (71), behind only Time Warner and tied with Comcast.
'High monthly costs and problems with both reliability and speed are the main culprits,' according to the ACSI.
US Airways is the second-lowest-rated airline. Things could improve next year after the company completes a merger with the slightly higher-rated American Airlines and the ratings are combined -- but perhaps further declines are more likely. After all, mergers tend to be bad for consumers, as airlines must work out kinks and then get to exist with less competition, leading to the possibility of higher prices and worse service.
Rating from ACSI.
About LinkedIn and Twitter, ACSI notes that 'monetizing schemes appear to be at the core of user dissatisfaction with both sites -- from Twitter's 'Promoted Tweets' to LinkedIn's 'Recruiter' product that provides corporate subscribers access to account information for mass recruitment emails.'
And yet many professionals feel like that have to stay involved with LinkedIn, which is tied with Facebook as the lowest-rated social network.
Comcast has the dubious distinction of being the lowest-rated company in the lowest rated industry.
Why the hatred toward Internet service providers? Even cable companies have to compete with satellite providers. That's not the case here. Add to that the relatively few companies, regional near-monopolies, high costs, and unreliable service and speed and you have a recipe for bad customer service and little incentive to improve it.
Comcast is also the second-worst-rated TV service, and third-worst-rated phone service.
Time Warner continues the trend of disappointment with telecom giants, rated as the worst telephone and television provider and the second worst ISP. A consistent complaint was poor service from call centres.
Despite customer dissatisfaction and falling residential subscriptions, Time Warner revenue is growing in broad band and business services, according to MarketWatch.
The company also faced customer backlash for adding a monthly fee for leasing its modems, which had previously been free.
After a 7 point decline, the New York utility has the lowest score ever assigned by the ACSI.
'This year's precipitous shortfall in customer satisfaction comes just a year after a large decline of 11% hit LIPA in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene,' ACSI founder Claes Fornell says. 'Back-to-back big storms, followed by what customers considered protracted and inadequate response to outages.'
Even before successive hurricanes and the resulting power losses and delays pushed the utility's rating so far down, its score of 65 in 2011, which was its first time being rated, would have still seen it on the list. Public utilities usually come in far below their privately managed counterparts.
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