20 Most Hated Companies in America

Last Updated Jul 25, 2011 9:49 AM EDT

If you've flown anywhere recently, then you already know what the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) numbers reveal: American consumers hate airlines.

Specifically, they can't stand Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways, American Airlines and Continental Airlines â€" in that order. With 5 airlines in the top 10, the industry flew away with top honors.

1. Pepco Holdings (54)
2. Delta Air Lines (56)
3. Time Warner Cable (59)
4. Comcast (59)
5. Charter Communications (59)
6. United Airlines (61)
7. US Airways (62)
8. American Airlines (63)
9. Continental (64)
10. UnitedHealth (65)
11. Long Island Power Authority (65)
12. LA Department of Water & Power (66)
13. Facebook.com (66)
14. AT&T Mobility (66)
15. PG&E (67)
16. JPMorgan Chase (67)
17. DISH Network (67)
18. Cox Communications (67)
19. Bank of America (68)
20. AT&T (U-verse) (68)

I asked the ACSI's managing director, David VanAmburg, to share his thoughts on the losers.

"Just about all of the very bottom companies â€" those scoring below 65 -- are airlines and cable companies, which industry-wide are challenged to provide satisfying experiences for a number of reasons," he says. Those reasons include the "high perceived cost coupled with low perceived service reliability," he explained.

How about Pepco, an electric service provider to customers in Washington and Maryland?

"Pepco makes the list this time because of its reliability record over the past year, which was particularly troublesome for the utility," VanAmburg told me. "But it should be noted Pepco's never before been in this territory and was a 70 as recently as a year ago."

Just to put these scores into some perspective, if these companies were students, they'd be getting "Ds" â€" or failing the class. The companies are under performers in every sense of the word.

But the way, I'm not the first to call these companies America's most hated, and I probably won't be the last.

It is truly remarkable that the airlines can under perform every other industry, including cable TV, wireless, public utilities, and sleazy banks. It takes a lot of work to distinguish yourself as America's most hated industry, but by golly, I think the airlines have done it.

Of course, now that Continental Airlines has merged with United Airlines, there will be one less carrier on this list.

Perhaps another airline will rise â€" or fall â€" to the occasion?

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Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate, syndicated columnist and curator of the On Your Side wiki. He's the author of the upcoming book Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals, which critics have called it "eye-opening" and "inspiring." You can follow Elliott on Twitter, Facebook or his personal blog, Elliott.org or email him directly.
Photo: redwood 1/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.