The 15 Most Frustrating Companies in America

Business Insider

If you have broken down in tears or literally pulled your hair out while dealing with your Internet service provider (ISP), then you are not alone.

ISPs are the least satisfying industry in America, according to the latest ratings from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which are based on extensive surveys.

Despite service disruptions, high bills, and awful call center experiences, consumers are dependent on these services and often have few companies to choose from.

Other low-rated industries include subscription television, social media, and power companies. The biggest drop since our last ranking went to the Long Island Power Authority, broadly criticized for its response to Hurricane Sandy. 

#14 (tie) Bank of America
Rated 66/100


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REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

— Down two points from last year
— 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 personalized 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 in 2012. 

Ratings and commentary from ACSI.


#14 (tie) AT&T (as an internet service provider)
Rated 66/100


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REUTERS/Mike Blake

— Tied as the fourth-worst internet service provider
— ISPs are the lowest-rated of 43 industries

AT&T is more highly rated for its television (71) fixed line phone (73) and cell phone (70) services, and it improved its score in all of those categories.

However, its score as a cell phone service provider is the second worst, only 2 points higher than T-Mobile, the lowest rated company. 

Rating from ACSI.


#11 (tie) Delta
Rated 65/100


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REUTERS/Sim Wei Yang

— 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 percent 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.

Ratings and commentary from ACSI.


#11 (tie) US Airways
Rated 65/100


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REUTERS/Mike Theiler

— 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."

Ratings and commentary from ACSI.


#11 (tie) Cox Communications (television service)
Rated 65/100


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Flickr/Tony/Alter

— A two-point increase from last year
— The fourth worst rated TV service

Cox's customers and ratings suffered 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. Cable providers, like Cox, are beaten by satellite and fiber optic providers like DirectTV or Verizon, respectively.

Customers are irked by sales tactics which acquire new customers with low rates, then boost them much higher later.

The company performs better as an ISP (68) and phone service (74).

Ratings and commentary from ACSI.


#7 (tie) CenturyLink (as an internet service provider)
Rated 64/100


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— The fourth worst ISP in its first year ranked
— The second lowest rated phone service

In addition to being the fourth worst rated ISP among those surveyed, CenturyLink is the second worst rated fixed-line phone service (71), behind only Time Warner and tied with Comcast.

More and more customers are getting rid of fixed-line phone service in favor 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.

Ratings and commentary from ACSI.


#7 (tie) Twitter
Rated 64/100


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REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

— 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.

Ratings and commentary from ACSI.


#7 (tie) American Airlines
Rated 64/100


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AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

— 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.


#7 (tie) Charter Communications (television service)
Rated 64/100


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Wikipedia Commons

— A five point improvement
— 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. Despite its improvement, it's still near the bottom in an already low-scoring category.

It has been included on the survey for over a decade, and has only had a rating at or above 60 on three occasions.

Charter's also the fourth most poorly rated company as both an ISP (65) and as a fixed line phone service provider (72).

Rating from ACSI.


#6 LinkedIn
Rated 63/100


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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

— 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 could possibly mean its "Recruiter" platform, which gives companies that subscribe access to account information.
   
Ratings and commentary from ACSI.


#4 (tie) United Airlines
Rated 62/100


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REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

— 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.

Ratings and commentary from ACSI.


#4 (tie) Comcast (as an internet service provider)
Rated 62/100


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AP Photo/Toby Talbot

— The lowest rated ISP
— The second-lowest-ranked TV service
— And the third-lowest ranked phone service

Comcast consistently scores as one of the lowest rated companies across all of the segments it participates in. It has the dubious description of being the lowest rated company in the lowest rated industry.

So why the near universal disdain for ISPs? 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.

Customers particularly dislike their experiences with call centers, and the range and pricing of available plans.

Rating from ACSI.


#3 Facebook
Rated 61/100


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REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

— A five-point decline from last year
— 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.

Ratings and commentary from ACSI.


#2 Time Warner Cable (television service)
Rated 60/100


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REUTERS/Mike Blake

— The worst scoring television service
— A three point decline from last year
— The second worst ISP, and worst telephone service

Time Warner continues the trend of disappointment with telecom giants, coming in as the worst or second worst in all of the market segments it participates in. One of the most consistent complaints across the ratings for all industries was extremely poor service from call centers.

Even though customers are broadly dissatisfied with the company's TV service, the revenue continues to grow because its remaining customers are paying ever higher fees.

Rating from ACSI.


#1 Long Island Power Authority
Rated 43/100


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AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

— Seven point decline from last year
— That's a 26% plunge, and this the lowest ever ACSI score

The company came under significant criticism for its performance during Hurricane Sandy, after customers were already angry about problems during 2011's Hurricane Irene. 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.

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