Big retailers with the worst customer service

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Customer Service Ratings
When it comes to customer service, there’s good news and there’s bad news. 

First, the good: E-commerce retailers are doing better than ever, according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Human beings are picking up the telephone, calling customers back, and handling returns promptly. 

Now, the bad: there’s lot of room for improvement at the brick and mortar stores.

Here are five of the top nine retailers with the worst customer service, according to 24/7 Wall Street, a financial news and analysis website, which reviewed the ACSI data to compile this list:

(See also: Don't buy the extended warranty - ever)

This floundering retail giant, owner of Sears and Kmart, had a morale problem last year. And when employees aren’t happy neither are customers, says Ashley Allen, president of 24/7 Wall Street. “There’s a strong correlation between the two.” Among the top customer complaints: restrictive coupons, a limited rewards program, and poor delivery service.

Another employer that has had trouble keeping employees happy is Walmart.  And this, too, is reflected in its poor customer service rating.  In fact, Walmart has been one of lowest rated retailers since 2005, according to Allen.

Allen says that Safeway, one of the nation’s largest grocery chains, has underperformed in customer service every year for the past 10 years. One of its primary issues: overcharging customers. The State of California, which has the highest concentration of Safeway stores, has repeatedly sued Safeway and its Vons stores for this infraction, and yet the overcharging allegedly continues, per a recent undercover investigation by CBS-5 San Francisco.

Back in 2009, Netflix was one of ACSI’s top-scoring online retailers, but in 2011, the company famously enraged customers with increased pricing and changes to its streaming service.  The backlash led the company to renege, but Netflix never quite recovered. “Online retailers usually do well but Netflix isn’t making great strides in winning its customers back,” says Allen.

In each of the past three years, CVS’s customer service rating has trailed its rivals, Rite Aid and Walgreens. Is its size partially to blame? “In general, large drugstore chains do not do well in the customer satisfaction ratings.  It’s the one retail category where smaller chains tend to do better,” says Allen.

If you have a problem with customer service, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, write a letter to corporate, or spread the word via social media.

Do you have a customer service story to share? We want to hear from you! Connect with me on Twitter @veragibbons and use the hashtag, #FinFit.

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