It looks like Americans are fed up with their Internet Service Providers, ranking their satisfaction with them below all other industries, including banks, hospitals, utilities and the U.S. Postal Service. Ouch.
According to the 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), ISPs weren’t the only ones to take a beating – subscription television service was second last on the list of 43 industries, only two benchmark points higher than the last-place finishers.
“Customer satisfaction with pay TV service pales in comparison with other types of household services such as energy utilities and fixed-line telephone service, which customers rate as more reliable and a better value,” states the report. “High prices, poor reliability, and declining customer service are to blame for low customer satisfaction with pay TV services.”
Just in case you didn’t know, the cost of pay TV has been rising six percent per year, or about four times the rate of inflation.
But why do consumers hate their Internet providers so much? The ACSI points to several factors, including slow broadband Internet speeds, high cost and unreliable service. And there are clear divisions as to what consumers do prefer – companies offering DSL and fiber connections rate higher than coaxial cable companies.
Survey respondents identified Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-verse services as the best ISP options, with CenturyLink rounding out the Top 3. Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Comcast and Time Warner were ranked fourth through seventh, respectively. In fact, Comcast dropped eight percent and Time Warner 14 percent in overall satisfaction from the year before, leaving some wondering if the looming merger between the two companies will spell disaster for customers.
Of the customer experience benchmarks, subscribers seemed most pleased with overall data transfer speed and quality of video streaming, but least satisfied with Internet plan options and customer support call centers. It’s worth noting that ISP call center satisfaction rang in below call centers from all other industries included in the study.
“The quality of ISP service leaves room for improvement across the remaining elements of the customer experience,” states the report. “Bills are not very easy to understand, and other services such as email accounts, data storage and Internet security products receive low ratings from customers. Another pain point for customers is that providers do not offer a wide enough variety of plans at different prices.”
While satisfaction with fixed-line telephone service ranks the highest of all types of telecom, it’s worth noting the study’s authors figure it’s because fewer and fewer people are utilizing it. With more households cutting off landlines and opting to use their wireless devices full time, there aren’t as many complaints. And chances are, those who have disconnected their service already were the least happy with it. Go figure.
Meanwhile, overloaded wireless networks are blamed for dissatisfaction with cellphone service, which didn’t come last on the list but wasn’t well ranked.
“While customers are more pleased with wireless service than with pay TV and Internet service, the industry remains among the lower-scoring categories in the ACSI,” the study reports. “Along with TV and Internet service, only airlines and Internet social media display lower levels of customer satisfaction.”
Do you agree with the study’s findings? How happy are you with your telecom services? To check out the full report, visit the American Customer Satisfaction Index.