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Survey Finds Like and Hate For TV, Wireless-Phone Service

The American Customer Satisfaction Index has just released its latest quarterly survey of consumer attitudes, and some telecom firms are not going to be happy about it.

The Index, a project of the University of Michigan's National Quality Research Center, uses phone interviews of randomly chosen U.S. consumers to gauge their satisfaction with industries and companies within them on a scale of 0 to 100.

The survey covers a different set of industries each quarter (for instance, last summer it examined the personal-computer business); this time, hotels and restaurants, health care, "information" (telecommunications, media and software), transportation and utilities got the ASCI treatment.

The information, er, information interests me the most, of course.

The ACSI found that you've gotten significantly happier with cable and satellite TV--the industry sector earned a score of 69, its highest ever--but not if you use Comcast, which bottomed out at a lowest-ever 54. (DirecTV customers were happiest, giving it a score of 68; Dish Network was slightly behind, at 65 or 67--for some reason, the survey has separate listings for Dish and its parent company, EchoStar--and the other major cable operator in the D.C. area, Cox, came home with a 63.

Wireless phone service, another perennial punching bag for dissatisfied customers, showed a similar pattern. The business as a whole scored a 68, not far behind fixed-line phone service, and most carriers did better yet: Verizon Wireless hit 72, and AT&T and T-Mobile each had a 71. But Sprint Nextel fell to 56.

The computer-software part of the survey only had two entries: Microsoft and everybody else. Microsoft fell to 69, while "All Others" held steady at 75.

Among all the industry categories surveyed, airlines ranked lowest with an average of 62 (Dulles flyers, rejoice: United scored a woeful 56). And as NPR saw fit to remind me in its recap this morning, the second-lowest-ranked sector, at 64, was newspapers. Ouch.

The full results are online at the ACSI site, where U-Mich. business school professor and National Quality Research Center director Claes Fornell also offers his spoken and written commentary on the results.

Tell me about your own TV and wireless-phone experience: Would you rank your provider higher or lower than the ACSI did?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  May 20, 2008; 11:51 AM ET
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I don't see Verizon FIOS on the ACSI page. I have FIOS TV (only) and while I like the actual product, dealing with their billing department is nigh-impossible. They insist on asking for a phone number as identification, and since I use a competing local carrier, that never works. Once you get "validated" then you find out you're talking to the wrong department and you get transferred and have to start over. Last time I called, I started at 5:20 PM and got transferred EIGHT times, only to be told at 6:15 that "oh, billing closes at 6".

For wireless phone service, I have Sprint. 56 is way high.

Posted by: LarryMac | May 20, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Haha. Take that comcast. I would have given them a 10 out of 100.

72 accurately reflects my attitude of satisfied indifference towards Verizon Wireless.

Posted by: ugh | May 20, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

sprint has gotten so much better; meanwhile verizon wireless has become too complacent => time to switch!

Posted by: wizard of herz | May 20, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

And where are the service ratings for 'combined land line' features? I don't miss having 311 access with Earthlink's combined DSL-phone service, but I DO MISS the ability to have a 2 ring fax line on the same circuit, using a different number.

My wireless provider, Verizon, is charging me about $120 per month just for 2,000 minutes of phone access. In one instance a 'dropped call' to Allstate in the reporting of an accident claim, resulted in a second person at Allstate completing the work of the first person, EXCEPT nobody bothered to ask about a possible personal injury claim. The first person at Allstate must have been aware that the call dropped, yet never bothered to call me back. Ultimately when it was time to submit the details supporting the claim, the adjuster who was assigned to my claim turned out to only be a property damage adjuster. ALLEGEDLY because no reference was made to any possible personal injury [meaning I had not been asked about such a possibility by either Allstate intake phone person, the matter was reassigned to the Special Investigations Unit. Even though Allstate's insured acknowledged responsibility for the accident, an administrative correction made to the medical report and billing submitted from the doctor would result in Allstate's denying of the claim and then trying to suggest that I had possibly submitted a fraudulent claim.

Now I ask you -- who is the good guy here? me, the victim of an accident, or Allstate who is trying to SCAM out of paying a claim. My bringing this to the attention of the Chairman of the Board of Directors office with Allstate merely resulted in Allstate telling me not to contact them again [short of a lawsuit, which they will certainly get.]

All carriers have issues with dropped calls, which are nothing new to any cell phone user. But here I have the most expensive wireless carrier and a landline/DSL carrier that can't piggyback a FAX number on their existing circuits -- WHY NOT???

Even Verizon's landline carrier in such a situation would not allow for simultaneous voice & FAX use on the circuit.

Good guys, bad guys and technically challenged guys [voice & FAX, but not at the same time] present an ideal opportunity for a catagory the seems to be missing.

As to Allstate and the claim that they have denied after their insured acknowledged liability, [it was his first accident], will that is a CLASSIC EXAMPLE of why car insurance cost what it does today. ALLSTATE AND THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD'S OFFICE AT ALLSTATE know their insured will now get sued and named in a lawsuit, but the cost of insurance vs. stockholders profits will drop due to the extra legal [no pun intended] actions in denying an already acknowledged claim. SO WHO ARE THE BAD GUYS HERE, Clint Eastwood not being available for a retake of the GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY !!!

Posted by: | May 20, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I used to have Comcast Cable TV and it was great. The installers were so incompetent that I had full access long after I stopped paying for it. Even the repair man who came after the whole thing died didn't bother to fix the error - it would have taken climbing the pole, and it was too close to quitting time. 5 years of full service for $12/mo? Worth every penny.

Posted by: Judith | May 20, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

We have had Comcast for 11 years. They are ok vis a vis service. The value of content has steadily declined over this time period. Currently, due to more or less annual price increases, we receive about $29 worth of content (no HD) for $54/mo. So, 8/10 for service and 4/10 for content/price. On the other hand, we can connect up to five tv's at no additional cost, and have Showcase for free for some reason.

Have contemplated switching to Direct TV. However, my neighbor's bill is higher than I expected, including a $10 fee to receive HD content that does not appear to be disclosed in their advertising.

Posted by: mmrudy | May 21, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

T-Mobile has two policies regarding purchasing prepaid minutes on its web site that I think are both unreasonable and potentially harmful to its users.

1. When purchasing minutes on its web site using a credit or debit card, T-Mobile will freeze the needed funds in your account before it decides whether to actually give you the minutes. If you are using a card for this transaction that you have never used before, T-Mobile will not credit the minutes to you unless they verify the card with you and the issuer of the card. (More about that later.) If they can't reach you within a few hours, they simply cancel the order. You don't get the minutes, but you don't get your money back either. Your funds remain frozen until the hold drops off in five days or so.

If T-Mobile wants to question the purchase, isn't the time to do that BEFORE they have frozen your funds, not AFTER?

2. T-Mobile's method of verifying that you own the card in question is to hold a conference call with you and the issuer of your card. In my case that is CitiBank. With me on the line, the T-Mobile representative contacted the CitiBank and expected me to disclose to Citibank (or whoever they called) the security codes that would prove that I owned the account.

I don't know about you, but I am not going to give away the access codes to my bank account to two total strangers. What would possess me to be so stupid? That is nothing more than a gold-plated invitation to identity theft.

T-Mobile imposed both these policies on me despite the fact that the name and address of the card I was attempting to use was identical to the name and address on my T-Mobile account. Go figure.

Posted by: Brad | May 21, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I have had few problems with Time-Warner except for their high prices for cable and internet. I do find that I don't use all the channels, and wish there was someway you could build your own service package for tv. The digital phone service is a great deal and excellent service. Unfortunately, my new apartment has a security system that requires an analog phone line and I'm in sticker shock from AT&T/bellsouth. My cell service with Verizon is good, except when I wanted to upgrade my phone while they were having a "sale" it didn't apply to me because I hadn't had my old phone long enough - I was willing to extend my contract, but that didn't make a difference.

Posted by: Debra Wagner | May 22, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

DirecTV has mystified me for several years as to why they give public tv such short shrift. Initially, they did not even carry it, then they gave in and included the non-HD part, but let you hang your own antenna off the back of the tuner and get even the HD part over the air. Then when I reupgraded to their latest HD bonanza, the new tuner did not show PBS HDTV (even thought it is free to them) and even left off any outside antenna connection assuring that there was no way you will get PBS-HDTV from their set. My Sony has no separate tuner. I understand that DirecTV is run by very right-wing conservative types who hate PBS, but will show you all the porno, sports and televangelists you could ask for. I should apooreciate very much any additional facts on this subject.

Jim Griffith

Posted by: James Eugene Griffith | May 23, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I puchased a LG model DTT900 converter box mid March 08. The picture is GREAT when it works. I have had to call LG customer service for help/service three times since purchase. LG customer service speak TECHNICAL language. I am not TECHNICAL when it comes to this piece of equipment. Two out of the three times after I request a supervisor on the line his or her answer is different from the customer service rep's answer. Equipment has broken down in less than 3 months after purchase. I faxed in the requested proof of purchase for a replacement control wand. I have not gotten a response. For a well established electronic equipment manufacturer,customer service is greatly lacking. Is LG waiting until the warranty expires. Has anyone else had problems after installation with the service of the converter boxes specifically LG?

Posted by: Sophie | May 31, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

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