Sat, Jan 08, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Toyota, BP join US’ most hated firms

AFP, WASHINGTON

Toyota and BP have joined a familiar cast of airlines, banks and telecoms providers as the most loathed companies in the US, a survey published on Thursday showed.

The list of 15 “most hated American companies of 2010,” compiled by Web site 24/7WallSt is dominated by technology firms, which rank poorly in the survey’s index of consumer and employee polls, stock market performance and press coverage.

AT&T is on the list for having patchy service, Dell for its shabby online store and fragile laptops, while satellite provider Dish Network features on the list after one- third of customers described its service as poor.

Dish Network’s competitor DirecTV was also listed for perceived gouging through automatic contract extensions and a US$480 cancellation fee.

Finland’s Nokia, the world’s biggest mobile phone firm, saw its star fade amid customer complaints and a poor ranking for design.

The frustration with these firms comes from a mix of technology teething problems and consumer dependency on gadgets, David VanAmburg of the American Customer Satisfaction Index said.

“Reliability still isn’t perfect, or nearly perfect. A lot of people set the bar very high, ‘you are giving me this really neat newfangled high-tech thing and now I expect it to work all the time,’” he said.

However, VanAmburg said that customers should understand that wireless networks or digital television feeds are more akin to glitch-ridden early telephone networks.

“When we get to 30, 40, 50 years from now, it will just be standard: Everyone has got digital services in their house and they just work all the time, but we are not there yet,” he said.

Part of the frustration comes from dependency, he said.

“We rely on tech and we rely on it so much that we get very frustrated when it does not work, he said.”

But consumers also find angst outside the home, the study said.

McDonald’s, described by the authors as “poster child for unhealthy food in America,” is “among the most savagely criticized firms,” earning it an appearance on the list according to the Web site.

A few firms feature on the list for obvious reasons.

Toyota, once the gold standard of car quality, made the list thanks to the recall of 10 million vehicles worldwide over safety concerns.

BP’s reputation was battered by the massive Gulf Coast oil spill, which saw its former boss, Tony Hayward, publicly berated for claiming he wanted his life back at the height of the crisis.

Unsurprisingly, financial institutions Citigroup and Bank of America, still reviled for asking taxpayers for a bailout after helping plunge the global economy into recession, also feature.

The ranking comes just weeks after US airports were paralyzed by heavy snow, but even in sunny times American Airlines is said to have dreadful customer service and a poor on-time departure track record.

Rival United Airlines was listed after coming in last on the American Customer Satisfaction Index and an employee satisfaction rating of 2.1 out of five.

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