Everyone loves having the internet and cable television, but a lot of people are not so fond of the companies that provide these services to them. According to a new survey, Americans actually hate their internet and cable providers more than ever before.
Record Lows in Customer Satisfaction
The American Consumer Satisfaction Index ranks customer satisfaction with a variety of companies, from banks to hotels to airlines. This year, cable giants had the lowest scores of the group. Comcast is the number one provider of cable and broadband. Last month, their customer satisfaction fell from an already low 60 out of 100 to just 54. These matches their previous low in 2008. Time Warner Cable, the second most common provider, scored even more abysmally with a customer satisfaction score of 51 out of 100. At this time last year, the company was ranked a 56.
Why Are People Unhappy with Cable and Internet Service?
Customers who have cable and/or internet service have a variety of complaints, most of which will sound familiar. They have trouble getting customer support and don't like the companies' call centers, their on screen guides to programs do not work correctly, and their HD picture quality is often not as sharp as what was advertised. In addition, some experts believe that the failed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable may have hurt their customer satisfaction scores.
Cable Providers Respond
Time Warner Cable and Comcast have both said that they are taking efforts to address their customers' complaints and improve service in key areas. In addition, negative public sentiment may cool now that the companies are not trying to merge. The merger was called off in April, with both companies blaming the FCC and other government agencies for making the business deal too difficult or even impossible.
However, Time Warner Cable is already planning a new merger, with cable and internet provider Charter Communications. Charter is currently the third most common provider of these services and has a higher customer satisfaction score of 63. Charter's customer satisfaction is actually improving, up from 60 just a year ago. Charter customers worry that the merger will lower their service, so these high rankings may not last.
An Industry that Customers Love to Hate
Cable and internet service providers are consistently rated the lowest of the 43 industries surveyed by customers in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Experts say that this is due to ever-rising prices, poor customer service, and unmet promises of crystal clear television and lightning-fast internet. Comcast and Time Warner Cable were not the only companies affected; Verizon and AT&T also were slammed for their internet service. Customers are often locked into contracts and cannot switch companies, which adds to the dissatisfaction with poor service and unmet promises.
Companies That Are Doing it Right
While the cable and broadband industry has ample room for improvement, there are a few companies that have high customer satisfaction scores. Dish Network ranked a 68 out of 100, while DirecTV earned a 69 this year. These satellite providers led the cable industry in this year's survey. AT&T, while ranked lowly for internet, was given a 69 for cable television. Verizon similarly received a 71, up from 68 last year, for FiOS television service.
The American Consumer Satisfaction Index is not a small survey, but rather one of the leading sources of information on customer opinion. Consumer Reports confirmed these findings last week as well, reporting that customers give cable and internet service providers scores that indicate dissatisfaction. These low scores indicate problems for cable and internet providers who can't stay on the good side of their customers, especially with a handful of competitors beginning to offer better service.
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