Comcast, TWC haunt bottom of ACSI's customer satisfaction index

Potential partners Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) were cellar dwellers in both the pay-TV service provider and ISP category of the recent American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) of communications industries. Comcast nailed a pay-TV score of 60 and ISP score of 57, and TWC came in at 56 and 54 respectively on a 100-point scale.

Recently betrothed AT&T (NYSE: T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), meanwhile, did a little better, both topping the subscription TV index at 69 and, with DirecTV lacking a broadband arm, scoring a respectable 65 as an ISP.

Overall, ISPs dropped 3.1 percent to an overall score of 63 while subscription TV dropped even more precipitously--4.4 percent to 65. The two industries ranked worst among 43 tracked by ACSI.

Consumers were specific in their complaints, showing delivering scores for pay-TV service (60 points) than fiber optic and satellite (68). DirecTV (-4 percent) and AT&T (-3 percent) tied atop the ACSI heap at 69 points followed by Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS (68), Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) (67) and cable's top scorer Cox Communications (63).

Comcast fell 5 percent to 60 and Time Warner Cable slipped even further, down 7 percent to 56.

"Comcast and Time Warner assert their proposed merger will not reduce competition because there is little overlap in their service territories (but) it it's a concern when two poor-performing service providers combine operations," David VanAmburg, ACSI director said in an organization press release. "ACSI data consistently show that mergers in service industries usually result in lower customer satisfaction, at least in the short term. It's hard to see how combining two negatives will be a positive for consumers."

Cable TV providers did well compared to ISPs (who, again, could be the same companies). Their satisfaction rating fell 3.1 percent to take last place in the index with a 63. FiOS, which isn't going into any new territories, led the category with a 71, topping AT&T, CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and the "aggregate of other smaller broadband providers" six points below at 65. Cox again was the best of the cable bunch, even though its average fell 6 percent to 64. Comcast was down 8 percent to 57 and Time Warner Cable even worse, down 14 percent to 54.

"In both industries, the two providers have the weakest customer satisfaction," the press release noted.

Perhaps rubbing salt in the wounds--if there are any--is that customers are increasingly happy with cell service, once jokingly called the industry that made bad service acceptable. Ratings there rose 2.6 percent to a new all-time high of 78, buoyed by the growth of smartphones which "have much higher levels of customer satisfaction," the press release stated.

For more:
- see this press release

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