The 19 most hated U.S. companies include several telecoms


ACSI LogoThe Atlantic compiled and released the 19 most hated companies in America, gleaning information from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which rates companies based on thousands of surveys. The latest index showed that the unfavorable amongst American firms include large banks, airlines, power concerns and you guessed it, telecom companies.

The list in order of most despised first includes Pepco Holdings Inc. (POM), Delta Airlines (DAL), Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), Comcast Corp. (CMCSK), Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR), US Airways Group Inc. (LLC), United Airlines (UAL), American Airlines Corp. (AMR), MySpace, Facebook, UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), Long Island Power Authority, L.A. Department of Water and Power, AT&T Mobility (T), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Pacific Gas and Electric Corp. (PCG), Cox Communications Inc., Dish Network Corp. (DISH), and Bank of America Corp (BAC).

Time Warner Cable (TWC) landed third, due to problems including usage caps, increasing fees, fraudulent business acts and poor services. In June 2011, a suit was filed against the company for refusing to make closed captioning available for CNN’s online videos after being notified by angry customers. Time Warner also mistakenly aired pornography on children’s channels in a disastrous public relations incident.

Comcast (CMCSK) was fourth, with grievances of upgrade and billing changes, lost channels for customers who didn’t upgrade to digital services, long waiting time for technicians and overall price hikes.

The company said that a new dispatch system will cut wait-time for repairs and installations in half by 2012. One of the largest cable companies in terms of revenue, it remains one of the lowest in terms of customer satisfaction.

Charter Communications (CHTR) was fifth due to complaints of improper billing practices, which led to a class action settlement in 2004. Poor customer service followed the closing of domestic call centers in 2006 and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a warning to Charter in 2007 following several complaints. In 2009, the company filed for bankruptcy and was forced to restructure. Charter’s subscribers will increase by 16,000 in Missouri with the recent acquisition of Texas-based U.S. Cable.

Angry Phone CustomerAT&T Mobility (T) hit No. 14, with several complaints about dropped calls, especially in New York City and other major metropolitan areas. The company is hoping that tiered data plans will alleviate some pressure and allow its network to catch up after losing exclusivity of Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone.

Cox Communications landed at No. 17, with extra fees including up to $480 to cancel service listed as common grievances. Cox has maintained its satisfaction rating since the previous year, making it less despised than many of its telecom peers.

Dish Network’s (DISH) billing and customer service gave it a spot at No. 18. In 2009, Dish Network paid almost $6 million to settle allegations that the company misled consumers and lacked full disclosure of costs and fees. The agreement was made between Dish Network and attorneys general from 46 states.

Looking at the companies on the list, it’s fairly easy to see that they all have something in common.

“These are not terribly competitive industries, as the switching barriers for most of them are quite high,” said David VanAmburg of the American Customer Satisfaction Index in an interview with 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.”

Are there any companies on this list that you hate? Tell your story in the comments section…

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Marc Speir