Customer Service Hall of Shame

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4. Dish Network
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 20.4%

Dish Network customers in certain markets have intermittently lost access to several popular channels because of the company’s disputes with content providers. Contentious contract negotiations with Disney put more than 14 million Dish subscribers in danger of losing access to ESPN and other popular channels. Negotiations in this case dragged on for six months.

Consumer uncertainty about Dish Network’s services may have contributed to more than one in five survey respondents describing their experience with the satellite TV provider as “poor.” Despite poor perceptions of service, Dish’s TV subscriber count remained effectively unchanged in 2013.

Employees also do not seem to like Dish Network. In reviews on jobs and career community site Glassdoor.com, employees routinely cited poor pay and the company’s unpleasant working conditions. In both 2012 and 2013, 24/7 Wall St. labeled Dish Network as America’s worst company to work for.

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3. Sprint
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 20.7%

This May, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) was fined $7.5 million for failing to honor customer requests and continuing to deliver unwanted marketing calls and texts. The settlement was the largest do-not-call penalty the FCC had ever reached.

Poor customer treatment such as this may partly explain Sprint’s exceptionally poor performance on our customer service survey. More than one in five participants rated the company’s service as “poor.”

In July of last year, Sprint Nextel, the third largest wireless communications company in the nation in terms of revenue, merged with Softbank. Despite the $22 billion deal, Sprint has continued to lose subscribers, even as competitors have been adding millions of new customers.

Sprint declined an interview. In a written response, the company claimed it has seen “faster data speeds, improved overall performance” and “significant reduction in dropped and blocked voice calls” in areas where 3G voice systems, 4G LTE, and Sprint Spark have been introduced.

In another attempt to improve the company’s position, Sprint is currently expected to pursue a merger with T-Mobile. The impact on customers remains to be seen. Regulators appear to be concerned that a deal would reduce options for consumers.

2. Comcast
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 24.7%

The customer experience at Comcast is so bad even CEO Brian Roberts has admitted the company needs to do better.

Nearly one in four survey respondents reported a “poor” experience with Comcast, which may explain why the company, like much of the industry, lost video subscribers in the past two years.

Poor customer service ratings may also be due to rising monthly bills. Even as the company shed subscribers, revenue from video services rose by 2.9% in 2013, due to increased rates and customers adding services. The company’s financial report warns investors that potential customer service regulations imposed by Congress and the FCC could have adverse effects on business.

Just this week, Comcast was embroiled in yet another customer service fiasco when a call of a customer attempting to cancel the service went viral. Comcast has issued an apology and said it was “very embarrassed.”

Both Congress and regulators are investigating whether Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable will be bad for customer service and customers’ wallets. Both companies are in this year’s Customer Service Hall of Shame.

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1. Bank of America
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 24.8% (banking), 22.0% (credit card)

Bank of America has attempted to improve its image in the eyes of consumers in recent years. While it has made some progress, it still suffers from low customer approval, even within the poorly rated banking industry. Nearly a quarter of respondents reported a “poor” experience with Bank of America’s banking operations, worse than any other company.

While banks are being penalized for their role in the financial crisis — which partly explains the industry’s poor image — strict regulations and fines may be making the problem worse. According to Bove, “The U.S. government has fined Bank of America over $50 billion,” resulting in cost-cutting measures that ultimately may worsen the customer’s experience. Bank of America is again facing a fine of as much as $17 billion related to its past selling of toxic mortgage-backed securities.

Continued branch closings may also impact customers’ experiences with the bank. In 2013, Bank of America cut its total number of branches by 6%, and the bank continues to shed locations as consumers increasingly use mobile devices for banking.

Click here to see the customer service hall of fame