Special Report

Customer Service Hall of Shame

Source: Wikimedia Commons

6. DirecTV
> Pct. “poor” ratings: 22.3%

More than 22% of survey respondents rated DirecTV’s customer service as poor, the sixth largest share of any company. Television service providers have some of the lowest customer satisfaction of any industry. On the same survey, more than two out of five respondents said that what they disliked most about cable companies are the high rates. According to a recent report by the FCC, the price of cable has nearly tripled in the past two decades.

When AT&T acquired DirecTV last July, the resultant entity became the largest pay TV provider in the country. With such dominance the company may not feel the need to ever lower rates in certain markets. When advocating for the merger, the companies claimed the combination of AT&T-DirecTV will help provide bundled services in more parts of the country, and that a phone company merging with a cable company will not pose any antitrust problems. According to advocacy organization Consumer Reports, however, customers are less likely to be satisfied with bundles than with single service subscriptions. While AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson claimed when testifying before the Senate that the merger would result in savings, he admitted that those savings would not be passed on to customers.

Dish Network
Source: Wikimedia Commons

5. Dish Network  (NASDAQ: DISH)
> Pct. “poor” ratings: 23.2%

Some geographical regions are often serviced by a single cable service provider. Without competition, cable companies rarely have an incentive to invest in improving their customers’ experience, and partially as a result they are notorious for poor customer service.

Dish Network, a cable company servicing 40 metro areas nationwide, is no stranger to the Customer Hall of Shame. With 23.2% of survey respondents reporting a negative customer experience, the company ranks among the country’s worst for customer service for the fifth straight year. Despite widespread disapproval among customers, the company’s website boasts round the clock customer support and a live chat feature.

4. Bank of America  (NYSE: BAC)
> Pct. “poor” ratings: 24.0% (bank) 22.9% (credit card)

The nation’s largest banks are also among the most reviled companies. The U.S. banking industry earned its poor reputation for issuing low quality housing loans leading up to the housing crisis. These bad loans led to massive losses for investors and homeowners and helped lead to the global financial crisis and the recession that began in 2007. Bank of America appears to have played an especially large role. The bank reached a settlement in 2014 to resolve an investigation into its role in the financial crisis. The $17 billion settlement is the largest any bank paid in relation to the events leading up to the financial crisis.

While this may partially explain poor perceptions of BofA among Americans, it does not fully explain the bank’s abysmal customer service score. With 24% of people reporting a poor experience, BofA trails only three other companies at the top of the Customer Service Hall of Shame.

When asked what bothers you most about the big banks, respondents most frequently cited high fees, poor service, or unfair fees, which together accounted for nearly a third of all responses. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received 38,833 complaints between 2012 and 2014 about BofA, considerably more than any other bank.

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