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Consumers give thumbs-down to ISPs, cable TV providers

Both industries receive even lower ratings than last year in a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.


We all want our ISPs and cable TV providers but that doesn't mean we like them.

Both industries have sunk even lower in the ranks of customer satisfaction, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The rating for Internet service providers fell by 3.1 percent from a year ago to a score of 63 on a 100-point scale. The grade for subscription TV providers dropped by 4.4 percent to 65.

Both industries are at the bottom of the barrel for customer satisfaction among the 43 tracked in total by ACSI.

Out of all ISPs, Verizon's Fios was tops in satisfaction with a score of 71, while Comcast and Time Warner Cable ( which could join forces if a merger deal is approved) took home ratings of 57 and 54, respectively. In ranking ISPs so low, consumers complained of high prices, slow speeds, and unreliable service.

All of the subscription TV providers ranked by ACSI saw their satisfaction rankings go down from last year. DirecTV and AT&T ( which announced on Sunday a $48.5 billion merger) tied for first place with scores of 69. Comcast and Time Warner Cable again were in last place with scores of 60 and 56, respectively.

"The Internet has been a disruptor for many industries, and subscription TV and ISPs are no exception," ACSI Chairman and founder Claes Fornell said in a statement. "Over-the-top video services, like Netflix and Hulu, threaten subscription TV providers and also put pressure on ISP network infrastructure. Customers question the value proposition of both, as consumers pay for more than they need in terms of subscription TV and get less than they want in terms of Internet speeds and reliability."

On the brighter side, customer satisfaction with cell phone makers improved overall by 2.6 percent to 78. Samsung had a score of 81, a 7 percent jump from last year, and pulled ahead of Apple for first place. Apple's score fell 2 percent to 79. The rating for wireless providers stayed steady at 72 with Verizon Wireless in the lead with a grade of 75.

The latest ACSI report was based on interviews with 12,248 customers of ISPs, subscription TV providers, mobile phone makers, wireless phone carriers, fixed-line phone carriers, and computer software vendors. Polled between January 13 and March 11, customers were asked to evaluate their recent experiences with the products or services offered by companies in the six industries.