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American ISPs are now hated even more than airlines

Published May 21st, 2013 12:01AM EDT
American ISP Customer Satisfaction Rankings

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Major Internet service providers in the United States have long taken a beating in customer satisfaction surveys, but the latest survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index has the grimmest news yet for American ISPs: They now have the lowest customer satisfaction ranking of any industry in America, worse than even airlines, health insurance companies and gas stations. The survey shows that American consumers are particularly unhappy with ISPs’ call center service, with the variety of Internet plans they offer and with their quality of online video streaming.

Comcast lay at the very bottom of the American ISP customer satisfaction heap, with an overall score of just 62 out of 100. It was followed closely by Time Warner Cable, which had an overall score of 63, and CenturyLink, which had an overall score of 64. In fact, the only major American ISP to score above a 70 on the ACSI this year was Verizon FiOS, which posted a score of 71.

How bad are these numbers? Consider that other than ISPs, only three other industries posted average scores of under 70: Airlines, subscription television service and Internet social media companies. The fact that only one major ISP could top even this minimal threshold speaks to deep dissatisfaction with the state of America’s home broadband market.

The ACSI says that “high monthly costs and problems with both reliability and speed are the main culprits” behind ISPs’ dismal customer satisfaction ratings. What’s more, given the lack of competition for home broadband services in many markets, the ACSI says that “dissatisfied customers have a difficult time leaving their provider for an alternative supplier,” although the survey does note that “options such as Google Fiber may eventually force current ISP providers to step up their customer service.”

The ACSI is published quarterly by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and is considered one of the most comprehensive customer satisfaction surveys in the United States.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.