BUFFALO, N.Y. -- First off and most importantly I want to stress that while this piece is highly subjective and not a reflection of any views held by this news station or our parent company, there was a process in determining who made this list.
Over the past 12 months, I've collected your complaints surrounding different companies and in all cases, I reached out to those companies. The companies you'll find below have all been contacted at least three times by phone over the course of a 12-month period, at different times of the day. In no case did I speak to the same customer service agent twice. Again, this is purely my opinion in my experience as a bargain hunter and someone who contacts at least a two dozen different companies every week.
• Average phone wait time (for deal redemptions): 5 to 35 minutes
• English proficiency: Depends on the agent and the call center the company is using
• Overall Mood of Customer Service Agent: Very chipper
• Knowledge of customer service agent: Extremely poor
Despite great prices, this internet-based daily deal website has the worst customer service of any company I've come into contact with in a long time. While I've only had 2 to 3 choice encounters with the people at Saveology, I've received more complaints about them from our viewers than any other company I've ever profiled. Emails from customers are not returned or are "lost" in some cases. Customers who speak to customer service agents are often up-sold on other products and customer service agents (at least on the phone during a 2012 deal redemption) were completely ill-informed about their products, deals and promotions. I've also banned Saveology from future Ways 2 Save deal mentions based on some of the experiences our viewers have encountered.
2) [Insert Cell Phone Company Here]
• Average phone wait time: 15 to 35 minutes
• English proficiency: Depends on the hour
• Overall mood of customer service agent: Completely disinterested
• Knowledge of customer service agent: Below average
There are too many awful experiences among our viewers to mention. Sprint seems to come up the most from our viewers. I used to think T-Mobile was a lot better than the other companies, but they appear to have moved some operations to the Philippines as well over the last 12 to 15 months and the agents are pleasant, but completely robotic. Customer service agents have developed terrible habits of putting customers back on hold for excessive periods of time while they investigate. Even after navigating the brutal automated phone menus, you still have to offer up the same information once you actually reach a human being in most cases.
3) Sirius XM
• Average phone wait time: 25 to 55 minutes
• English proficiency: Low to Medium
• Overall mood of customer service agent: Not great
• Knowledge of customer service agent: Good
Why? On the numerous calls I made to customer service, I waited at least 20 minutes and as long as 55 minutes on one occasion. Customer service is absolutely brutal unless you indicate that you would like to cancel your service. The cancelation department is back in the U.S. and they are the polar opposite of the individuals (in the Philippines I believe) at the regular customer service number who seem completely disinterested. One customer service rep I spoke to on the cancelation line acknowledged the awful customer service and even told me: "Always mention you're going to cancel your service so you'll get through to the U.S. department where the agents are better educated and easier to work with."
4) U.S. Airways
• Average phone wait time: 15 to 55 minutes
• English proficiency: Good
• Overall mood of customer service agent: Variable
• Knowledge of customer service agent: Average
Based on my personal experiences, I could have supplied several different airlines in this spot, but based on your feedback and new commentary from The American Customer Satisfaction Index, U.S. Airways is in the lead. From high ticket cost to poor customer service, this airline has improved from last year, but not enough. Like American Airlines, which saw an inordinate number of canceled flights, U.S. Airways does not bring the winning combination it needs to progress. Personally, I think United Airlines could easily be in this slot too. My most recent phone call involved a 35-minute wait at a time when I was calling to cancel a flight affected by Hurricane Sandy. United was waiving all cancelation fees and the agent (in another country) was completely unaware of the policy. She had to put me on hold for another 15 minutes to "check." It's sad when I know more about an airlines' cancelation policy than they do.
5) Bank of America
• Average phone wait time: 10 to 25 minutes
• English proficiency: Solid
• Overall mood of customer service agent: Depends
• Knowledge of customer service agent: Average
According to Business Insider, this is Bank of America's worst customer service rating in over a decade. The reputation of the bank is in even worse shape at the start of this year due to proposed fees, long wait times on the phone and continuous fee tests that plague different parts of the country. Bank of America was forced to eliminate a $5 debit card fee they recently proposed following widespread customer backlash. Citibank, on the other hand, is slightly improved this year in my opinion with what appears to be fewer India-based representatives and additional U.S. call center representatives.
Who else has the worst customer service?
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Tomorrow, we focus on the positive with a look at the companies with THE BEST customer service.