Video Providers Fare Poorly in Customer-Satisfaction Study

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Customer satisfaction by pay television consumers is lower than that of airline customers, software buyers and cell-phone users, according to a University of Michigan quarterly study released Tuesday.

Satisfaction with video providers is the lowest of any industry group monitored by the business-school study.

The same study indicated weakening in satisfaction by cable's telephony customers, too.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, done quarterly, includes rankings for DirecTV and EchoStar Communications, plus cablers Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Charter Communications.

The sector recorded a slight uptick in 2006, the first ever gain for video providers, but this year, it is trending down again.

The direct-broadcast satellite companies continued to outscore any of the cable providers in the study, with DirecTV more highly ranked than EchoStar’s Dish Network. But satisfaction scores dropped for each of the providers this quarter: DirecTV's score on the ACSI dropped 5.6% from the same period last year, while Dish's fell 1.5% for the same period.

Comcast lost the most ground in customer satisfaction: 6.7% from its ranking one year ago. Time Warner's score dropped by 4.9%. Cox’s and Charter's numbers were flat. The study attributed the Time Warner and Comcast rating drops in part to difficulties related to the customer integration of acquired Adelphia Communications customers.

Cox and Comcast were also ranked as telephony providers. Cox's satisfaction score dropped 8% and Comcast's dipped by 3% from the same period last year. Acquisition discounts may have ended during the period, and satisfaction dropped when callers were faced with full-priced service, according to the study.

Qwest Communications and Verizon Communications were the highest-ranked fixed-line-telephony providers.

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