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Surprise! Cable companies suck a little less than last year

While customers still rate their cable company worse than insurance companies and the post office, it appears ISPs and pay TV operators are improving in areas such as customer support.

Cable TV and Internet service providers have a poor reputation among consumers, but a new survey shows they've made some small gains.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report for 2016 suggests customers are now happier overall with their cable TV and Internet services than they were a year ago, with the biggest gains occurring in customer service and online support.

The biggest satisfaction gains were for ISP websites, growing from 66 percent last year to 73 percent this year and for ISP customer service, up from 56 percent to 63 percent. There were similar gains on the pay TV side.

Verizon TV was the overall winner; it lost a point from last year but still had 70 percent satisfaction. Meanwhile, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable languished at the bottom at 51 percent and 59 percent, respectively.

Despite the improvements, cable companies -- when combining Internet and subscription TV -- are still the lowest rated of the 43 industries that ACSI surveys. ISPs are rated at 64 percent, and subscription TV providers at 65 percent. They fare poorer than both health insurance companies (69 percent) and the US Postal Service (73 percent). Meanwhile, the highest-rated segments were for full-service restaurants and for televisions and video players (both at 82 percent).