Who Gets the Most Complaints?

Internet and TV service providers, and wireless phone companies are responsible for consumers’ biggest gripes, a survey finds.

Sixteen percent of consumers who interacted with TV service and Internet service providers reported having a bad experience over the previous six months, according to “What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience 2014,” from the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm

Next are the wireless carriers, with 12% of their customers reporting a bad experience.

Industries with a higher incidence of consumer satisfaction are grocery chains, where only 3% of customers report a bad experience, and fast food chains (4%).

The companies with the most customers reporting bad experiences are Time Warner Cable (25%), Motel 6 (22%), Coventry Health Care (21%) and Comcast (21%).

Ten companies had only 1% or less of their customers reporting bad experiences: Scottrade, Chick-fil-A, H.E.B., Whole Foods, ShopRite, ING Direct, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Vanguard and True Value.

More than one-quarter of consumers who had a bad experience stop spending with computer makers, car rental agencies, credit card issuers, hotel chains and software companies.

The impact of bad experiences costs less for parcel delivery services, wireless carriers, health plans, TV service providers, Internet service providers and grocery chains, as less than 15% of their customers with bad experience stopped spending.

Customers respond very differently after a bad response with a company, depending on the response. After a very poor response, 62% of consumers cut back their spending with that company, compared with the 21% of consumers who cut spending if the company has a good response. In fact, 29% of customers actually increase their spending when the response is satisfactory.

Some industries are better than others at responding to a bad customer experience. Investment firms, appliance makers, retailers and car rental agencies take top place for responding well, while TV service providers, wireless carriers, Internet service providers, parcel delivery services and health plans get low rankings.

Customers are not shy about complaining: Almost a third (32%) of consumers give feedback directly to companies after a very bad experience. They are less vocal when things go well: Just 23% give feedback after a very good experience. 

The survey polled 10,000 U.S. consumers about their recent interactions with 268 companies across 19 industries.