Customer Satisfaction Winners And Losers

Here are the winners and losers on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for industries of particular interest to Consumerist readers. The scores are out of 100. Format is company name (score, difference from last year’s score).

WINNERS
Airlines: Southwest (76, +2.7)
Cellphone Service: Verizon (71, +2.9)
Cellphone Makers: Nokia, Motorola (72, +4.3, +1.4)
Cable & Satellite TV: Echostar (67, -1.5)
Energy Utilities: Southern Company (82, +2.5)
Fixed Line Telephone Service: Verizon, Qwest (72, +4.3, +2.9)
Limited Service Restaurants: Wendy’s (78, +2.6)

LOSERS
Airlines: United Airlines (56, -11.1)
Cellphones: Sprint (61, -3.2)
Cellphone Makers: Samsung (70, -4.1)
Cable & Satellite TV: Charter Communications (55, 0)
Energy Utilities: Ameren Corporation (57, -23)
Fixed Line Telephone Service: Embarq (66, +3.1)
Limited Service Restaurants: McDonald’s (64, +1.6)

— BEN POPKEN

ACSI Quarterly Scores [ACSI]
Most And Least Improved Companies In Customer Satisfaction Since 1994
Customer Satisfaction Up Thanks To Lower Prices, Not Increased Quality

Comments

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  1. tadiera says:

    Verizon? Customer Satisfaction?

    I demand a recount!

  2. quantum-shaman says:

    acsi.org is actually the Association of Christian Schools International, sponsorer of offensive coffee cup Baby Jesus exhortations.

  3. dwarf74 says:

    Sweet! Glad to see Ameren on the “Losers” list. A drop of 23 percent should be pretty much expected after both their performance in Illinois this year, and the price jumps which tripled some customers’ bills…

  4. mantari says:

    I’m looking at this survey a different way. I’m comparing the bands in order to see the competitiveness inside of an industry. The tighter the bands, the more competitive.

    Cell phone manufacturers? Very tight. Express delivery? Tight. Fixed land-line telephone service? Tight. Cell phone service? Somewhat tight.

    Airline industry? Not so competitive. Energy utilities? Looks like a complete lack of competition. (Makes sense.)

  5. xboxishuge says:

    “Cellphone Service: Verizon (71, +2.9)”

    What the hell?

  6. Icayrus says:

    I expected Ameren to drop, but going down 23 points is pretty amazing. I’m betting almost all of that has to deal with the increased electrical rates in Illinois. It’s been a disaster for a lot of people and it’s started to show a lot of the problems in the system here.

    For example, there is no separate rate for a Non-Profit vs. a Commercial Business. I read an interesting story in our local paper that a homeless shelter here may end up having to close up due to the increased rates. They were paying about $2,750 per month with the old rate, the new rate puts them at $6,800 per month. They’ve been unable to pay in full since the beginning of the year, so Ameren has offered to put the $17,500 that is back due into a separate account and only charge them a flat rate of $4,000 a month, which is still $1,250 more than they were paying, and any month when their actual bill turns out to be less than $4,000 per month, it goes to paying off the $17,500. This is probably going to take them years to pay off and now they are looking to join an electric co-op to hopefully get a lower rate.

    Then there are the individuals who in the 80s/90s had their houses converted to all electric due to the savings of electric vs. gas for heating in the winter months. Many of these people have now seen their rates go up about 150-200%. Ameren’s solution to this, and any other residential customer who can’t pay the new rate, is to set up a credit system. In this, the homeowner puts all of the extra cost per month into a separate account that is charged interest for 3 years, possibly charging a total of 12% interest (3.5% the first year, the second 4% and the third 4.5%). If the homeowner can pay off the debt in the first year and keep on track after that, they will only end up paying the 3.5% interest. My fear is the people who will opt into this program and not work to pay it off and in three years time will have a huge debt with 12% interest tacked onto it.

    It’s a huge mess that Ameren underplayed when they were about to raise the rates and now there seems to be no solution in sight. The Illinois state legislature keeps saying they’re working on passing a bill to roll back the rates for one more year and Ameren says that it might have another compromise for the table but won’t put it into motion unless the legislature stops talking about said bill. I understand that residents of Illinois were paying a much lower rate than the national average previously but the way Ameren has handled all of this and their public relations has been abysmal.

  7. remthewanderer says:

    Motorola? WTF?!?!?!?

    isn’t the razr one of the buggiest and worst phones ever? I had a E815 and with all the problems it had I will avoid motorola like a plague.

    Although my experiences all happened with CDMA verizon phones so that might make a difference.

  8. John Stracke says:

    My favorite part of this is the term “Limited Service Restaurants”. Wonder what weasel genius came up with that one?

  9. Secularsage says:

    It’s kind of hard to take this report seriously when some categories, like Restaurants, only have a small number of choices, and “all others” wins sheerly because the other alternatives aren’t anything people wanted to vote for. Both the standard and quick service restaurant industries offer dozens of choices in most areas, and many of the newer or expanding chains are working harder to get consumer attention than these stale old choices.

    And software is ridiculous — “Microsoft” or “All Others.” Is anyone surprised that Microsoft was at the bottom of the category? (I write this as I fight Vista to read a DVD it burned a week ago…)

  10. minneapolisite says:

    I have a Motorola Razr w/ Verizon service. I’m actually extremely satisfied with both.

    The thing that scares me is Charter scored lower than Comcast. I thought Comcast was the root of all evil, and it turns out someone out there is suffering even worse than I did. (I’m pleased with my new Dish service!)

  11. mathew says:

    Ditto on the Motorola comment. I had 2 Motorola phones, both fell apart within a year. I heard that the RAZR wasn’t much better–nice looking phone, but with a horrible UI, and if you dropped it you had to buy a new one.

    Have Motorola maybe improved the robustness of their products in the last year or so?

  12. mopar_man says:

    The thing that scares me is Charter scored lower than Comcast.

    I was wondering how that was possible too. I had Charter’s cable service for a short period of time and had no complaints about it.

  13. BelBivDevolkswagen says:

    Good thing I just bought a Samsung phone on the Sprint Network!

  14. yg17 says:

    Cable & Satellite TV: Charter Communications (55, 0)


    That’s not a shocker. Charter wouldn’t know what good service was if it hit them in the arse

  15. superflippy says:

    I have to say I’m really surprised that Nokia scored so well. I got a Nokia phone with my new Cingular account at work and the interface (both software and hardware) is so cryptic and difficult to use that it makes my 4-year-old LG phone look like a giant technological leap forward.

    But like Ben said, the difference between the top and bottom phone manufacturers is pretty small.

  16. FLConsumer says:

    Does not surprise me in the least to see Embarq (formerly Sprint) on the list of the worst of the worst — they truly work hard to earn this honourable position. They make working with HellSouth a dream, and HellSouth deserves a spot on the list somewhere.

  17. mikesfree says:

    @Icayrus:

    Where are the stories on the consumerist about this? That is an amazing story for a consumer driven blog.

  18. JuliusJefferson says:

    Glad to see that the company with the highest overall score (Southern Company – 82) is the company I’m being currently paid by to post this comment.

    As to why Verizon is top of the list? They may have plenty of bad marks, but just look at their competition.

  19. mac-phisto says:

    @superflippy: nokia makes the most durable & advanced phones on the market hands down. i agree that their interface can be confusing based on the standards that other companies use, but i have never encountered more reliable phones (except the 6340i GAIT phone which was an engineering nightmare). to this day, i see ppl still carting around 6 year old nokia TDMA phones WITH THE ORIG. BATTERY!

  20. Icayrus says:

    @mikesfree:

    I’m not sure, I know I’ve never submitted a story about it to them and I’m not sure if anyone else has. I think my local newspaper has done a pretty good job of covering this issue and you can read about the story I referenced above here: http://www.news-gazette.com/ngsearch/index.cfm?&page=displ

    I don’t see a resolution for this in sight anytime soon. It’s a tough issue because it’s easy to see both sides of this debate. In Illinois there has not be an electrical rate increase in 15-25 years for some customers depending upon where you lived. So I can understand Ameren’s frustration and needing to charge what they get charged for electricity but at the same time, to suddenly throw 150% increases in bills is just asinine. Also, their “proposed plan” to help with the increase does no good. Offering a “one time credit of $30″ for low income/elderly families to help with summer rates and a “one time credit of $240″ to low income/the elderly if their bill has gone up more than 40% is just not enough. In their new plan, they do say they are going to do away with the interest rate if people defer some of the cost of the new rate. Right now it’s an unfortunate deadlock in that Ameren won’t discuss the issue further unless the state legislature promises not to enact another rate freeze and the state legislature doesn’t want to give up that bargaining chip at this point, thus the people left really hurting are the customers of Ameren.

  21. dwarf74 says:

    @mikesfree: I think part of the reason you may not have seen more of this is because the problems with Ameren are relatively local… I mean, primarily they service central & downstate Illinois. Com Ed had increases in Chicago, but not to quite the same degree.

    It’s been a real comedy of tragedies through the whole process… Ameren promised everyone mild rate increases and offered some (stupid) programs to delay the increases. Then the increases hit, and everyone in the state went basically apeshit. Legislators are trying to roll back the rates, but this process is being blocked by the president of the Senate. Since there’s a threat, Ameren got kicked to junk bond status, which only served to make them more pissed off.

    Ameren keeps making stupid little offers like Icaryus is noting, but only if legislators promise not to reverse the freeze. It’s like monkeys fucking a football down here.

  22. lilyofthevalley says:

    um. verizon customer satisfaction winner? so this doesn’t include t-mobile’s 5 JD Power and Associate’s Awards nor the spot as #23 in Business Week’s article, “Customer Service Champs” … of which, Verizon was not even placed on. What are the devices used to measure who gets best and worst?