For the seventh consecutive year, home warranty companies topped the worst-graded categories list compiled by Angie's List, the a provider of consumer reviews on local contractors and service companies.
Other repeat offenders on this year's most complained-about list are Internet service providers, property management companies, mobile and landline phone service providers, and wedding service categories, such as bridal shops and wedding planners.
Banks and credit unions are new to the most complained-about list. Claims of unauthorized fees, unsatisfactory communication from banks on their policies, and poor customer service were the prevailing theme in the poorly graded reports. Rankings are based on Angie's List analysis of member reports submitted during the first three quarters of 2011.
"Consumers are demanding better service more now than ever before and they're not shy about voicing their displeasure after getting bad service," said Angie's List founder Angie Hicks, in a statement. "We've already seen some banks respond to consumer feedback; hopefully we'll see more companies take this information and use it to improve their service, too."
Also new to the most complained about list are auction services, boating sales and service, mattress retailers, and travel agencies.
Angie's List 2011 Most Complained-About Companies
- Home warranty companies*
- Internet service providers*
- Banks/Credit unions
- Property management companies*
- Auction services
- Boating sales and service
- Mattress sales
- Mobile and landline phone providers*
- Wedding professionals – bridal and tuxedo shops, planners*
- Travel agencies
Forty-six percent of the consumer reviews submitted by Angie's List members who'd bought a home warranty and reported on their experience in 2011 gave their company poor grades – either a D or F grade overall on the Angie's List grading scale.
"Many times when consumers purchase an existing home, the purchase includes a home warranty to cover plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, and appliances, however all-too-often, the consumers don't clearly understand the details of the warranty," Hicks said. "This is reflected in the reports we collect on home warranty companies. Most complaints stem from perceived poor communication by the warranty companies on what exactly the warranties cover, and unsatisfactory work by the contractors the warranty companies provide."
When consumers don't do their research before they hire, Hicks said, too often they go through a bad experience with a contractor that ends up causing them stress, financial strain, and time spent correcting the problem.
Angie's List members use an A-F scale to grade service companies on overall experience, price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality, and professionalism. Proprietary technology and human review are used to ensure the grades are reliable and fair. Anonymous comments and self-reporting are prohibited, and companies are encouraged to monitor and respond to reports free-of-charge.
"The good news for companies who provide great customer service is that consumers are sharing those experiences as well. That kind of positive word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable to most business owners," Hicks said.
Angie's List collects consumer reviews on local contractors and doctors in more than 550 service categories. Currently, more than 2 million consumers across the U.S. and Canada rely on Angie's List to help them make the best hiring decisions. Members get unlimited access to local ratings via Internet or phone, exclusive discounts, the Angie's List magazine and help from the Angie's List complaint resolution service.