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Major ISPs are a major consumer fail

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Outside of arms reach of desire.

Big Internet service providers have the worst customer satisfaction rating of any of the 43 industries rated by American Customer Satisfaction Index in the past year, and Time-Warner is rock bottom of the bunch. Comcast and Charter aren’t much better.

A three-way merger of the bottom feeders is likely to lead to less customer satisfaction, not more

“Comcast and Time Warner assert their proposed merger will not reduce competition because there is little overlap in their service territories,” says David VanAmburg, ACSI Director. “Still, it’s a concern whenever two poor-performing service providers combine operations. ACSI data consistently show that mergers in service industries usually result in lower customer satisfaction, at least in the short term. It’s hard to see how combining two negatives will be a positive for consumers.”

Customers are upset with slow speeds, unreliable service and high prices, according to ACSI. A lack of choice – few can feasibly switch to an independent ISP – adds to the frustration.

Not coincidentally, Time-Warner, Comcast and Charter are the worst rated subscription television companies too. And overall, consumers’ satisfaction with subscription TV companies ranked only slightly better than ISPs, coming in at next to last.

The highest customer satisfaction rating went to Verizon’s FiOS service. But with a score of 71 out of 100, that’s not impressive. That’s still below the average ranking for 39 of the 43 industries that ASCI follows. It’s a similar story for subscription TV. The best major ISP and the best subscription TV company are worse than the average bank, gas station and health insurance company. Worse than the U.S. postal service.

Where does the broadband business need to look for ideas on how to make their subscribers happy? The top three rated industries are credit unions, consumer electronics and soft drinks, in that order. Low prices, high reliability, deliver as expected. And lots of choice.