America’s Most Hated Companies: Mid-Year Report Card

Friday, July 08, 2011

We’re only halfway through the year, but it looks like a lot of the companies Americans love to hate are continuing to frustrate and bedevil them.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) surveys thousands of people about 245 companies and then rolls out the results sector by sector on a monthly basis, updating its national index quarterly. A perfect satisfaction score is 100.
Last year, United Airlines and Charter Communications took bottom honors (60), followed closely by Northwest Airlines, TimeWarner and Comcast (61).
Those companies continue to inspire, drawing nearly the same reviews for their performances this year. But there’s some new competition this time around. Pepco (Potomac Electric), whose average customer experienced 70% more outages than customers of other large utilities in 2009, saw its satisfaction rating drop 23% (to 54) and so far is a runaway choice for most hated.
Just ahead of Pepco is last year’s sixth-place finisher, Delta Airlines (56), and surging into the ninth spot after last year’s mediocre performance is another airline, Continental (64). Part of its poor showing may have something to do with its 2010 merger with United (61, this year).
Still to be heard from in 2011: MySpace (63 in 2010), Facebook (64), UnitedHealth (65) and the banks, who seemed to have stabilized in 2010 after dropping about 7% from their pre-recession level.   
What’s the one common denominator among the most hated companies in America? They mostly operate in industries with limited competition, making it easier for businesses to spend less effort on satisfying customers.
The latest scores from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) demonstrates this correlation, with most of the worst-rated companies falling into the banking, airline, utilities and telecom industries, in which Americans usually have few viable alternatives.
“These are not terribly competitive industries, as the switching barriers for most of them are quite high,” ACSI’s David VanAmburg told The Atlantic. “In other industries, like the food or clothing sector, the competition is huge. They bend over backwards to make customers happy, because they have to.”
Five airlines were among last year’s bottom 10. Three were telecoms and two were social media.
Three banks were in the next tier of 10, along with three telecoms, two insurance companies, a utility and McDonald’s.   
The most appreciated company? Last year it was Lincoln Mercury Ford (89). They have yet to be heard from in 2011, but so far the two top companies bring us stuff we want right to our door: United Parcel Service (85) and FedEx (83).
Maybe we’re not so hard to please.  
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Ken Broder
The 19 Most Hated Companies in America (by Gus Lubin and Vivian Giang, The Atlantic)
Airline Satisfaction Running on Empty (The American Customer Satisfaction Index)
Scores by Company (The American Customer Satisfaction Index)


carly 13 years ago
what a surprise. the airlines seem to be at war with their passengers. fees for everything, kicking passengers off for the clothes they wear or for being disabled, charging soldiers for their baggage, changing boarding procedures and causing chaos and on and on. there is a new site to post about airline and other travel experiences at good place to vent.

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