The 10 Worst Companies For Customer Service

Last Updated Jun 7, 2011 2:40 PM EDT

Think the competition for the best company in America is fierce?

Try being one of the worst.

Banks, telecommunications companies and insurance companies all vied for the top spot (or should I say, the bottom spot?) but in the end, one corporation stood above its peers, according the latest MSN/Zogby poll: Bank of America.

Customers rewarded B of A with the lowest marks, citing its fees high interest rates and dismal customer service. But the largest consumer bank is in good company. Capital One (#3), Citigroup (#7) and JPMorgan Chase (#9) also made the list.

But angry consumers didn't just beat up on banks. They went after perennial favorite AOL, which as we'll see in a moment, had the worst customer service in 2010 and 2009. Maybe Arianna Huffington is working a little of her magic on the embattled online company's reputation.

Telecom and cable companies were also well-represented, with Sprint, Time Warner and Comcast making this year's Hall of Shame.

Here's the 2011 list.
  1. Bank of America
  2. AOL
  3. Capital One
  4. Sprint
  5. Time Warner
  6. Comcast
  7. Citigroup
  8. Progressive
  9. JPMorgan Chase
  10. Farmers Insurance
Here's the 2010 list:
  1. AOL
  2. Bank of America
  3. Comcast
  4. Sprint Nextel
  5. Capital One
  6. Dish Network
  7. Time Warner
  8. Wells Fargo
  9. Citibank
  10. HSBC
And here's 2009:
  1. AOL
  2. Comcast
  3. Sprint Nextel
  4. Capital One
  5. Time Warner
  6. HSBC
  7. Qwest
  8. Abercrombie & Fitch
  9. Bank of America
  10. Citigroup
By the way, if you want to see an aggregate of the previous two years, I list them on my consumer advocacy blog, On Your Side.

A few notes about these lists: Apart from standouts like Abercrombie & Fitch, AOL and Wal Mart, the losers can be divided into four basic industries: banks, cable, insurance and telecoms. And those losers have played musical chairs every year all vying for the bottom ranking.

What is it with those industries? Is it just difficult to offer acceptable customer service when you're a bank, for example, or is just the big banks that have lost touch with their customers?

Here's a meta-question MSN/Zogby forgot to ask. Which industry has the worst customer service?


Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate, syndicated columnist and curator of the On Your Side wiki. He also covers customer service for the Mint.com blog. You can follow Elliott on Twitter, Facebook or his personal blog, Elliott.org or email him directly.
Related: Photo: MoneyBlogNewz/Flickr
  • Christopher Elliott

    Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate and journalist. A columnist for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the Washington Post, Elliott also has a nationally syndicated column and blogs about customer service for the Mint.com. He is at work on a book about customer service issues.

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