10 Businesses With the Worst Customer Service in 2014

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

We’ve all experienced the seemingly never-ending phone call to a retailer or service provider. We call with a problem and expect a solution. But instead of a simple solution, we are placed on hold repeatedly and told contradictory information by customer service reps with varying levels of knowledge and compassion. By the time it’s all over, we’ve spent an hour-and-a-half on the phone and our concern still hasn’t been addressed.

It’s frustrating. And although the customer service rep claims to “understand you are frustrated today,” there is only so much these reps can do, given they are trained to utilized the most inexpensive and cost-effective potential “solutions” for the business, as opposed to doing what’s easiest and most convenient for the customer.

On top of the fact that customer service reps are often trained to lean toward inexpensive solutions that drive customers crazy, most reps are also working for sub-par wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), customer service reps are paid median hourly wages of around $14.85 per hour and those on the lower end of the wage scale earn less than $9.50 per hour. However, in 2001, the median hourly wage for these representatives was $12.23or $16.31 in today’s money.

Not only have wages declined for these workers, automated systems and online systems have reduced the need for them. Sure, customers want human interaction, but they also want that interaction to be friendly and productive. This personal and friendly interaction is something so many businesses lack.

Over this past year, consumers have faced the same challenges as in recent years past when trying to find good customer service. The vibe that some of these companies just don’t value the customer’s business is still present. But of course, some businesses have bigger customer service issues than others.

We’ve created a list of businesses with some of the worst customer service ratings. To find the candidates, we used the American Customer Service Index (ASCI) — “the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the United States.” The businesses on this list received low customer service scores during the year 2014. Did you have a terrible customer experience over this past year? You may see your offender on this list. Read on to find out.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The 10 business with the lowest overall ACSI scores for 2014 

The national customer service index score (for all companies and industries) was around 76 out of 100 for the year 2014 — it was 76.2 during the first quarter, 76.1 during the second quarter, and 75.6 during the third quarter. The fourth quarter’s index has not yet been released. Overall, customer service in the U.S. is so-so at best, and these 10 specific companies received the lowest overall scores so far this year:

  1. Time Warner: Time Warner received a 54 for Internet service and a 56 for television service. The industry averages for television and Internet service providers are 65 and 63, respectively. Time Warner’s scores are significantly lower than the industry standards.
  2. Comcast: Comcast received a 57 for Internet service and a 60 for television service, compared to respective industry averages of 65 and 63.
  3. United: United received a score of 60, which is much lower than the airline industry average of 69.
  4. Charter Communications: Charter received a 60 for television service and a 61 for Internet service.
  5. Cox Communications: Cox received a 63 for television service and a 64 for Internet service. Its index numbers are close to the industry average for cable and television providers.
  6. Aetna: Aetna received a 65, which is lower than the industry average of 70 for health insurance providers.
  7. Century Link: Century Link received a 65 — much lower than the industry average of 73.
  8. AT&T (UVerse): At&T received a 66.
  9. WellPoint: With a 66, WellPoint’s index is 4 points lower than the industry average for health insurance companies.
  10. US Airways and American Airlines (tied): Both receiving a score of 66, US Airways and American Airlines have index scores that are slightly lower than the airline industry average of 69.

What do these scores mean?

The ASCI provides cross-industry index scores for more than 230 commonly-known companies that consumers do business with on a regular basis. “The ACSI score for each company is based on a sample of 250 customer interviews, with more than 70,000 interviews conducted annually.” ACSI research has found that “stocks of companies with high ACSI scores tend to do better than those of companies with low scores” as customer service is positively correlated with good financial performance.

The three highest-scoring companies this year — Mercedes-Benz, Hershey, and H.J. Heinz — all received scores of above 85.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

10 lowest industry average scores

Some industries are known for having poor customer service, and others you may be surprised to see on this list. These are the industries that received the poorest average ACSI scores in 2014:

  1. Internet service providers: average index score of 63
  2. Subscription television service: 65
  3. Airlines: 69
  4. Health insurance: 70
  5. Internet social media: 71
  6. The U.S. Postal Service: 72
  7. Wireless telephone service: 72
  8. Fixed-line telephone service: 73
  9. Internet news and opinion: 74
  10. Hotels and investor-owned utilities (tied for number 10): 75

Other well-known companies with low scores

Some of your other familiar service providers and companies that you may conduct business with also received low scores. Check out a few other companies with household names that earned scores well below the nationwide average.

Wireless Service providers

  • T-mobile received a 69
  • AT&T Wireless received a 68
  • Sprint received a 68


  • Bank of America scored a 69
  • Wells Fargo received a 72

Social Media

  • Twitter received a 69
  • Facebook and Linked in both received a 67

Were you expecting to see Walmart? Known for having customer service issues and complaints, most people expect to see Walmart on a list of companies with the worst customer service. Walmart’s 2014 ACSI index has not been released. But in 2013, the retailer had an index score of 71 — much lower than the average of 77 for discount and department stores. Every year from 2003 to 2013, Walmart’s ACSI index score has been lower than the industry average.

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