The most disliked companies in America once again include airlines, utilities and banks, according to the latest cycle of ratings from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Service industries typically score worse than manufacturing because of limited competition and the difficulty of interacting with customers.
“Where companies have little or no competition or where customers encounter barriers to switching among competitors in terms of cost and/or convenience, companies may not need to satisfy their customers to the same degree in order to keep them,” ACSI’s David VanAmburg says.
This opens an opportunity for some companies like JetBlue, however, that can excel in unpopular industries.
ACSI’s customer satisfaction rating has been shown to be strongly related to financial performance.
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The biggest gainers this year include Pepco rebounding 28% after a significant infrastructure overhaul; and Delta rising 16% after working the kinks out of the Northwest merger. The biggest losers include Northeast Utilities and Long Island Power Authority which plunged after power outages during massive storms.
#1 Long Island Power Authority
Rated 58/100. Seven point decline from last year.
The Long Island Power Authority is currently ranked the lowest in the energy utilities sector. The score plunged 11 percent in April alone.
Common complaints include rate hikes and overbilling mistakes linked to listing homes as commercial instead of residential. Hurricane Irene also led to widespread outages last August.
In January, a bill was passed requiring the utility to “undergo comprehensive and regular management and operations audits” and creating a new way for customers to file complaints.
#2 Northeast Utilities
Rated 59/100. 16-point decline from last year.
The company’s reputation was severely damaged after two major storms at the end of 2011 caused massive power outages.
A destructive snow storm last October left hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses sitting in the dark without heat for up to two weeks. The extensive outages ultimately led to the resignation of the president of Northeast’s subsidiary Connecticut Light & Power in November 2011.
New England’s largest utility company is also at the center of a dispute with federal regulators over complaints by several states that it, along with other utilities, “are making excess profit,” the AP reported.
#3 Charter Communications
Wikipedia CommonsRated 59/100. The worst TV company.
Poor customer service and unfair billing practices are common complaints about the fourth-largest cable company in the country.
One customer explained, “The sales rep originally promised us a $42.95 a month for services, with an introductory price of $24.95 for the first 3 months (a savings of $18 a month). After the introductory period ended, the company started charging me $56.95, when I finally caught on that they were charging me $14 more per month than what is said on the Work Order (could provide at anytime for proof), he never once mentioned that there will be a $10 more per month, and now the company says if you have no other cable service with us (Charter Communications), you are to be charged $10 more per month!!”
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#4 Comcast (Television service)
Rated 61/100. The second-worst TV service.
Ever-unpopular media conglomerate Comcast has been blasted for early withdrawals, faulty equipment and unprofessional service technicians. One customer complained that a repairman lied about arriving 15 minutes late, another said a Comcast employee left equipment, including plastic wires and clips, all over his front lawn.
ASCI lists Comcast as a cable company (61/100) and a telephone company (67/100).
#5 United Airlines
Flickr/Jason CuppRated 62/100. The worst big airline.
It’s no surprise that United Airlines has been dubbed the “the worst airline in America.” In March, the carrier generated an unusually high amount of aggravation after a computer switchover following the airline’s merger with Continental caused widespread flight delays.
Poor customer service, flight cancellations and lost baggage are other common gripes. One customer wrote, “It’s unbelievable! I was charged twice, and I had to wait over an hour on the phone to talk about the overcharge on my credit card. This company has a serious problem. I will never fly United Airlines again!”