Airline Passengers Are More Satisfied Than Cable TV Subscribers

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Think flying is a pain in the keister these days?

Cable and satellite TV services are apparently even more annoying.

The average customer-satisfaction score for pay-TV services dropped 2% in Q1, to 63 out of 100, according to the quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index produced by the University of Michigan’s business school. (See Pay-TV Services Decline On Customer-Satisfaction Survey.) Airline carriers averaged 64 for the quarter, up two points versus Q1 2008.

And satellite operators brought up the score — DirecTV notched a 71, and although Dish fell a point from last year was still above-average at 64 — meaning cable television services have the lowest customer satisfaction of the major sectors in the ASCI.

Charter sank to a score of 51, the lowest score ever recorded for the ASCI since its inception in 1994. While Comcast gained five points, it’s still at a relatively poor 59, the same score as Time Warner Cable.

Which means the nation’s two largest MSOs have the same customer-satisfaction rating as US Airways — although, to be fair, Comcast and TWC still beat Northwest Airlines (57, no change year over year) and United (56, no change).

The one big advantage for cable? The taking-your-shoes-off part… that’s optional when you’re watching TV.

Aside from cable’s historical reputation for terrible customer service, which Comcast and others have been trying hard to rectify (see Comcast Combats Customer Service Complaints With Software), what explains these bad scores?

It may be that the perceived value of pay-TV services is still comparatively low — a study by Toronto-based Solutions Research Group found the number of consumers who “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that cable or satellite TV is a good value dropped in 2008.

And as fees continue to go up, and more free TV shows appear on Hulu, that gap may continue to widen.

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