About · Press · Contact · Write For Us · Top Personal Finance Blogs
Featured In:

Top 5 Companies with the Worst Customer Service

By David Bakke

angry woman telephoneIn this day and age, where competition seems to be fierce in just about all of the retail service-oriented industries, it is beyond me how so many companies just fail to get things right. I can only guess that they either think they are too big to make customer service a priority, or that they just don’t realize that customer service is at the top of consumers’ list of needs when making purchasing choices.

You may have noticed poor service from your cell phone and cable TV companies, or even in the treatment you get at the checkout line of your preferred brick-and-mortar retail store.

It’s time to point fingers. I’d like to unveil my list of the top 5 worst companies when it comes to customer service. Some of the commentary in this article is based on personal experience, and some on research.

Companies with the Worst Customer Service

1. Walmart

Surprise, surprise. Are you shocked that this is the first company on the list? Probably not. Although I will admit that it’s a bit easier than it used to be to get out of a Walmart with your purchases in a timely fashion, I am still puzzled by the fact that most Walmart stores are equipped with 20 or so cash registers yet typically only have a few employees running them. Can someone explain that to me?

Walmart offers superior pricing on almost all levels, but since you often need to spend a long time waiting in line to get checked out, you have to ask if the savings are really worthwhile. Secondly, have you ever needed help in a Walmart with a particular purchase? Did you walk through the aisles looking around for an associate to answer a question you might have? It’s not easy. The employees are all over the place, but rarely do they seem to have the customer in mind.

2. Comcast

This is one of my favorite least favorite companies. Personally speaking, I long ago “fired” Comcast as my home cable provider because of substandard customer service. But recently, I needed to schedule a service call for a Comcast account at my day job. And here’s the treatment I got: I spent more than three hours on the phone with them, being transferred from one department to the other, until I finally was able to speak with someone who could help me. After all that, they didn’t show up for scheduled appointments, until finally, after three weeks of dealing with them, I got my desired result.

Comcast’s customer service is lousy, and there is no other way to spin it. It also doesn’t help that the company often has many outages and lengthy lag times across their spectrum of products.

3. Bank of America

I had a short and highly unfavorable experience with Bank of America. It is my firm belief that they simply think they are too big to be bothered with providing decent customer service. On various websites dedicated to rating companies based on their level of customer service, Bank of America is consistently ranked in the bottom 10%.

With BofA, it is oh-so-easy to get stuck in one of their pre-recorded message phone loops where you can never get to a real person. They also have a significant percentage of simply incompetent customer service reps, who at times don’t even know their own policies. On top of all that, they have had fairly serious security breaches in the past. Beware before banking with these guys.

4. Sprint

With competition keenly aggressive in the cell phone industry, it is again puzzling to me why Sprint’s customer service is so poor. While I have had no personal experience with this company, its rotten reputation precedes it. No matter how cheap a cell phone plan the company offers, I would never even consider going with Sprint. I uncovered customer service complaints ranging from just plain rude representatives to contracts that are virtually impossible to get out of. And as far as I can tell, most of the call centers are based overseas, bringing its own set of built-in problems. In the end, there are simply too many red flags here – tread lightly before considering Sprint.

5. Wells Fargo

Customer service ranking websites also give low marks to Wells Fargo, and here’s my personal experience. I was a faithful customer of Wachovia for many years, and then that bank was bought out by Wells Fargo. The transition was a nightmare for the consumer, but I guess that’s to be expected in this day and age. However, even post-merger, the poor experience continues.

Currently, although the company claims that customer service is its “number one priority,” it truly isn’t. It has a much more stringent set of policies that are apparently impenetrable by any customer service reps. The impression the company gives is one of inflexibility; it has its policies and it’s not going to deviate from them one iota. Pretty sad, in my estimation.

Final Word

Let’s face it. A lot of companies just don’t get it: customer service is king these days! There is simply too much competition out there to ignore this fact, and companies that don’t get on the ball are going to suffer in the end.

Who is in your list of top five worst companies when it comes to customer service?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

Related Articles

  • http://keepbabbling.blogspot.com Jessica

    My husband and I have actually had very good experience with Comcast as our Internet provider. We had AT&T for a long time, and it was pure hell. Every call took hours and we were promised things over and over that were never delivered (things promised originally to make up for all the hell they’d put us through in the first place). We finally switched to Comcast and have only ever had to call customer service twice, and both times it was resolved within 20 minutes with no hassle whatsoever. One was even a billing issue, and it got corrected immediately. I don’t know what to say except I hope things don’t eventually change for the worse…

  • gary golecki

    I think US Airways shoulf be on TOP of the list.

  • ParN

    I agree that the waiting in line at Walmart can be a pain. But I disagree with the employees treatment of customers. Maybe it is a local thing, but in my area Walmart employees have always been ready to help.
    I guess it is the luck of the draw with large corporations like cell phone and cable service, banks and airlines. The important thing is to vote with your wallet and not continue to support businesses that only care about the $$$$.

  • Don

    My experience with Walmart is extremely favorable. I used a self-service checkout and a credit transaction requesting cash back. At the end of the transaction I spaced and left without taking the cash back. Three hours later I returned to the store and spoke to the manager. Of course, no one turned in the cash Long story short,
    I was called the next day and Walmart was giving me the cash. This was totally my fault, but Walmart stepped up.
    I am sold on Walmart.

  • kseahag

    I have two Wakmart’s that I shop at and both are wonderful, the lines are always short because they do open many registers and their associates were very helpful. I bought a laptop that was a display model and they knocked off $50 for me having to wait while they set it up for me. As for Sprint, they were very good to me. They messed up my bill a few times when I switched plans and due to it being their mix up they gave me free unlimited internet on all four of my phoes. Maybe I ws just lucky, but that was my experience with both companies.

  • http://www.moneycone.com Moneycone

    Quite an accurate list! Wells Fargo reps are very polite but extremely unhelpful! They need to come out of the 19th century banking mentality.

  • Laura

    I called Bank of America the other day to inform them that I would be traveling overseas and to make sure that they would not block my credit card. The girl that answered kept laughing and had to put me on hold several times with no warning because something was hilarious. I could hear somebody in the background doing something and I assume that they were the ones making her laugh. What should have been a 5 minute phone call took over 30 minutes because of the highly unprofessional attitude of the employees.

  • pharmboy

    I won’t try to defend Walmart’s overall customer service, but I will defend their pharmacy services. I’ve been a pharmacist for Walmart for 6 years and a pharmacy manager for the last 3. Company-wide we undoubtedly do a better job than Walgreens and most other retail pharmacy chains. We’re not perfect, but overall we get you in and out faster than most, which is the pharmacy customer’s main concern. But on the other hand, maybe our service isn’t stellar but I question whether it should be expected given our pricing structure on pharmacy, general merchandise and our grocery items.

    • Cheekybean

      Pharmboy,
      As for overall customer service, why shouldn’t I expect acknowledgment when I (finally) make it to the front of the checkout line with a “Hi! How are you?” or a smile when passing an employee in the aisle? I know I’m there to pay less, but why should I expect poor treatment for choosing that discount store? Big Lots and Kmart are not that far away. That you would even suggest decent customer service should not be expected at WalMart is an indication that the service you provide is not exactly stellar, either. This is the rant I posted on my fb page today about my experience this morning at my local WalMart pharmacy:I was at a discount store today (I won’t name which one, but it starts with a Wal and ends in a Mart) to pick up a prescription, some air filters and some groceries. I requested that my prescription be refilled, started shopping, and I reappeared at the pharmacy at the designated time. While paying for my medicine, I was asked if I wanted cash back by the card machine. As it turned out, I did need cash back and had forgotten until I was prompted by the machine. The pharmacy tech did not have enough money in her drawer to fulfill my request. While she shook her head dolefully, she threw her hands up in the air and said “I don’t have that much.” “Okay”, I said. I was prepared to wait until customer service came with the cash. Crap happens- not really a big deal. I stepped aside (in recognition of HIPPA laws) and the tech continued to wait on customers. After five minutes and several short conversations with the other tech about what to do, the customer service manager came with the money. As the tech was handing it to me, she said “Next time you should ask before you get cash back.” What?! I looked her in the eye and I said “Why is this my fault? I should not have to ask if a service I AM BEING OFFERED is available. If you know you have no money in your drawer for cash-back transactions, why wouldn’t you tell your customers before they swipe their cards?” “Well, I never know who is going to want cash back, so you should always ask” , she replied (rather haughtily). So I said, “I actually had forgotten I needed cash until your machine asked me, if I’m being asked why should I wonder if the service is available? If it is temporarily unavailable, and you know you cannot grant a cash-back request, you should tell every customer before they swipe their card. If the pharmacy does not have enough cash on hand, then perhaps the machines in the pharmacy should not offer that service. I’m very sorry for your inconvenience and I certainly do not appreciate being blamed for this because I neglected to ask if you had enough money.” I was only slightly inconvenienced by waiting for the cash, but I was infuriated to be told to ask next time like I really should have known better. What the heck is wrong with people? Why couldn’t she just say “I’m sorry it took so long, here is your money.”?

      • David bakke

        Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Lynn

    I agree with you – I think your list is very accurate. It would be nice to hear about companies with great customer service – one comes to mind – Chic Filet.

    • Krazy4kovalchuk

      Lynn– Right on!! Chick-fil-a has the best customer service ever.

  • http://moshi08.myopenid.com/ KJ Ram

    How is Comcast on this list and At&t isn’t? I have dealt with both quite some time and At&t is definitely way worse than comcast. Don’t believe me, look at any list online for companies with worst customer service and chances are that At&t is up there near the top.

    So why has At&t lost my respect? Because their sales department sold me service with promotional conditions that their billing department won’t honor. And managers in billing have “no access to call recordings from the sales department” so they have no way to verify what service I was sold. And I have no way to prove what service I signed up for. So I’ve been screwed into a year long contract.

    • Davidbakke

      KJ

      You are absolutely right. I was an AT&T “guy” until recently. Yes, I too had to fight for my promised discounts, and I would not say that they are a good bet for the long run. They get you in the door with awesome teaser offers, and then jack your prices up, so in the end, you are not saving that much.

    • Krazy4kovalchuk

      AT&T is the WORST COMPANY EVER. I am appalled they didn’t even make the list, never the less number one spot! In my YEARS and YEARS of experience and interaction with them, I have only had one, yes ONE, not terrible (i can’t even call this one good) experience. The thought of having to call AT&T customer service makes me shutter. My blood pressure is through the roof after I get off a 1+ hour phone call with them. Even talking about their poor customer service makes my head pound. Everything is the customers fault. They are the furthest away from being helpful. Never listen to what you need or want. Block out your schedule for the rest of the day if you have an issue with AT&T. The phone calls are transferred from person to person. Nobody knows what they are doing. They are beyond rude and have extreme attitude problems. Did I mention that they are rude? Rude Rude Rude. By the time you finally get off the phone, you will be so upset and furious, you will want to run away to the nearest beach and down a bottle of vodka. Forget trying to focus and continue on whatever it was before you called. I would rather marry walmarts customer service than pick up a phone and dial AT&T.

      I love Wells Fargo and I’m shocked they made the list. Very friendly down here in Atlanta!

  • Sjtbarob

    Why isn’t Verizon Fios on the list? I have been a customer of Verizon’s for a long time and my biggest issue is when they offer a promotion and you call to cancel it – they update your plan without your authorization. After calling many times I finally got someone who apologized and said here I can help you because of all the trouble you have encountered. I will be giving you all these promotions free of charge or cheaper than what you have been paying. When I received the bill it was close to $400 and the regular bill was approx. $170. I was told that I agreed to these changes when I said yes I understood that I would be receiving these changes. I guess the rep. was laughing the whole time and thought “wow” what a sucker. I guess I really was to think they were actually acting in the best interest of the customer. I should have known because it has happened to me in the past. Do not agree to their freebies – BEWARE. I think they train them how to be deceitful without the customer knowing until later. They really do a good job at that. I hope you think of all the customers you scammed when KARMA starts in your life. Whatever it is, you need to tell the people the truth – let them make the decision. You’re really not gaining – it always catches up with you. Oh, by the way, your customer service is a joke. If you ask 5 different people the same question – you will get 5 completely different answers. When you bring it to their attention they put you on hold to have someone else confirm their lies. Also, they always tell you they do not know who you spoke to before them because they have no way of finding out. OK they can set up a huge digital company but their own equipment cannot let them know who spoke with and how to get in contact with that person again for confirmation. They always respond I see where you called in but let me see if I can help you with your problem. Then your problems really begin – they change your plan and when you call to have your original plan back they say we don’t offer that plan anymore. So you now have a better plan at a better cost to you in the long run because if you get it now it is cheaper than when we change over our entire program. I tried to explain to them their new plan does not accommodate my needs and they just say OK – but this is what we offer. So that’s it; you may not have to like; but you have it and there is nothing you can do about it. Is there anything else I can help you with? Have a nice day and thank you for letting Verizon screw you. JJ

    • Davidbakke

      Sounds like they have some work to do! Thanks for sharing–our other readers will appreciate this commentary on Verizon.

  • Milburnb

    My experience with Sprint the last few years has been exceptional. A few years back their customer service was horrid. But the last 2-3 years it’s been exceptional. No complaints at all.

    • Davidbakke

      Thanks for commenting!

The content on Money Crashers is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor. References to products, offers, and rates from third party sites often change. While we do our best to keep these updated, numbers stated on this site may differ from actual numbers.
Advertising Disclosure: We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. Among other things, we may receive free products, services, and/or monetary compensation in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products or services. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors.
Links monetized by VigLink