Special Report

Customer Service Hall of Shame

7. Verizon Communications
>Pct. ratings “poor”:

According to Rootmetrics, Verizon outranked all major competitors in five out of six measures, including size of network and overall performance. Rootmetrics noted that all cellular networks, Verizon included, are improving year by year.

Though Verizon may be steadily improving the speed and reliability of its network, the company’s customer service reputation is suffering. The percentage of customers who rated their experience as poor jumped to 15% in 2015, putting the telecom giant at No. 7 on this year’s Hall of Shame worst customer service companies.

In addition to lagging customer service, the company’s leadership also ranked poorly. Based on Verizon employee reviews, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam received a 64% approval rating on Glassdoor.com, the lowest of any CEO of the major cellular service providers. Though there is no direct relationship between CEO approval and customer satisfaction, a lack of confidence in senior leadership is often a sign of employee dissatisfaction, which can then translate to poor customer service.

The cellular service industry is generally notorious for poor customer service. Only three other industries received a larger share of poor reviews in 2015. Though Verizon may be working hard to improve its product, this has not translated yet to a positive customer experience.

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6. AOL
>Pct. ratings “poor”:

AOL has been on the Hall of Shame nearly every year since 24/7 Wall St. began covering this survey. It was ranked either the worst or second worst every year in the first four years but has improved somewhat since. Still, the media company took a step backward in 2015, moving from eighth to sixth place on the list. While other companies on the Hall of Shame tend to share the list with several other companies in their industry, such as banks and cable service providers, AOL is the only primarily web-based company to make the list.

Since it spun off from its failed merger with Time Warner, AOL has carefully established itself as a major content provider. AOL shares soared earlier this year after it was announced that Verizon would acquire it for $4.4 billion. Whether the new company will set a higher standard for customer satisfaction is unclear as the parent-company-to-be, Verizon, is ranked slightly worse AOL on this year’s Customer Service Hall of Shame.

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5. AT&T
>Pct. ratings “poor”:
18.8% (mobile) 17.1% (U-verse)

Making the list for the third consecutive year, AT&T is yet another cellular service provider with waning customer satisfaction. Nearly 19% of customers surveyed rated their experience with the company as poor, a slight jump from last year’s figure of 17.5%. This is bad news for the over 120 million consumers who choose AT&T.

The company’s business practices have recently caught the attention of federal authorities. The Federal Communications Commission reported last month its intention to fine the telecom giant $100 million for misleading subscribers of its so called “unlimited data” plan. According to a an FCC press release, AT&T significantly reduced data speeds for those customers. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the Commission was taking action because consumers were “deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure.”

Along with deceitful sales practices, AT&T does not appear to provide the same level of coverage as other cellular service providers. According to testing by Rootmetrics, AT&T fell behind Verizon, its chief competitor, in five out of six measures of network speed and reliability. An inferior product is bound to have a negative impact on overall customer experience.

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