Nine Retailers With the Worst Customer Service

Customer satisfaction with retailers is at an all-time high. However, while the industry improved overall, according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), not all retailers received high marks. At the positive end of the spectrum, while traditional brick-and-mortar retailers set a record, e-commerce scored better still. At the negative end, traditional retailers received the most negative assessments.

Despite a positive multiyear trend, many traditional retailers’ scores remain average at best — especially those that are struggling to keep up with growing online rivals. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the ACSI data to find the companies with the worst satisfaction scores in retail.

In the most recent ACSI study, the averages for all retail companies peaked at 76.6 on a 100-point scale in 2012. The exception was Internet retail, which the ACSI groups with e-commerce. This part of the industry had an average score of 82 last year. Of the nine retail companies with the worst ACSI scores, just one was an online retailer.

But even average ACSI scores actually weigh negatively on retailers. Larry Freed, CEO of consumer analytics firm ForeSee, which works with ACSI on Internet retailer rankings, told 24/7 Wall St. that consumer expectations are an important part of a company’s or an industry’s score. According to Freed, consumers are not expecting a better experience stores. “The bar’s not getting any higher; it’s getting lower, if anything.” Meanwhile, “In the online world, it’s getting higher every day,” Freed said.

Some of the companies that failed to impress consumers in 2012 have struggled to satisfy customers for years. Safeway, which had among the lowest scores among all retailers, has underperformed in customer satisfaction every year for the past 10 years.

For one company, underperforming its industry benchmark is a relatively new development. Netflix outperformed the average Internet retailer in customer satisfaction for four years, and in 2009 it was the top retailer. But in 2011 and 2012, the video streaming company has been the lowest rated internet retailer.

Although brick-and-mortar retailers have struggled to keep customers happy, they still account for the majority of sales. However, if online retailers continue to outperform traditional retailers in satisfying consumers, they are likely to continue to erode brick-and-mortar market share. A February U.S. Census Bureau release noted that, while only 5.4% of retail sales came from e-commerce, this is up from 4.8% the year before.

To identify the nine retailers with the worst customer satisfaction, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the customer satisfaction scores published by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) for e-commerce and retail trade companies. Additional information on corporate performance came the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and from corporate websites. More information on customer service ratings came from the MSN Money/JZ analytics 2012 Customer Service Survey.

These are the nine retailers with the worst customer service.