These Are the Retail Stores with the Worst Customer Service
Don't get your hopes up for service with a smile.
Conventional wisdom dictates that the customer is always right—and if that’s true, a lot of our favorite stores are in some serious trouble. Each year, the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, or ASCI, interviews hundreds of thousands of consumers in order to determine their satisfaction with hundreds of companies and the services they provide—and things aren’t looking good for some of the biggest players in the retail game.
In late February, ACSI released their Retail and Consumer Shipping Report for 2018-2019. Compiled from January to December 2018, the data covers six retail categories, including department and discount stores, specialty retail stores, and internet retail, and in the most recent report, “all six categories register weaker customer satisfaction for 2018.” So, what’s behind their faltering rankings? According to ASCI, satisfaction is dipping perilously low “due, in part, to less-than-stellar customer service.”
Herein, we’ve rounded up the worst of the worst in an effort to help you avoid a bad shopping experience. So keep reading to discover the stores could really use a helping hand in the whole “people person” department.
No matter how you look at it, JCPenney isn’t doing all that well. Not only did the retailer receive a barely-above-average customer satisfaction score of 77 in the department and discount stores category, its year-over-year sales also went down by three percent in 2018. Ouch.
Like Target, Macy’s barely has a customer satisfaction score above its industry’s average; in 2018, the department store received a score of just 77. However, Macy’s might just stay afloat thanks to its online store. In the internet retail category, the retailer received a score of 80, making it perfectly average for the industry.
Though discount shoppers rely on Target for generic grocery products and cheap clothing staples, it appears that they don’t regard the store as highly when it comes to its customer service. In the ACSI report, Target received a score of 77 in the department and discount scores category, which is slightly above the average of 76—but still unsatisfactory.
Kmart might’ve done better than its sister brand Sears in the ACSI Retail and Consumer Shipping Report, but barely. In the health and personal care stores category, the retailer dropped five percent to 76, putting it just below the category average of 77.
According to ASCI, customer satisfaction with Burlington is “below average.” In the report, the specialty retailer received a 76 out of 100, dropping one percent from its previous rating. This ranking should come as no surprise, either; on Trustpilot’s site, the retailer has a “poor” customer service rating, with consumers complaining that it’s nearly impossible to make returns and that the employees are poorly trained.
In the department and discount stores category, Big Lots fell just below the industry score average of 76, earning a 75 out of 100. On the Consumer Affairs website, customers complain that the superstore is bad with returns—particularly in the furniture department—and locating records.
In this year’s report, Dick’s Sporting Goods fell four percent to 75, making it the second-worst company in the specialty retail stores category. ACSI notes that the retailer has been “hit hard by shifting consumer shopping habits,” as the sporting goods superstore “[carries] merchandise that consumers can easily purchase without visiting a brick-and-mortar store.”
This past year, customers were most dissatisfied with GameStop in terms of specialty retail stores. In the report, the video games retailer received a score of 74, a far cry from its score of 77 in 2017. According to ACSI, GameStop’s demise—like Dick’s’—is largely due to the rise of the e-commerce industry, combined with the fact that “many of these products [sold at GameStop] can be found at lower prices online.” It also certainly doesn’t help that the store has strict return policies and what people perceive to be “bad” customer service.
In the department and discount stores category of ACSI, Walmart is the second-worst retailer. Though the store saw a one percent improvement from its rating last year, it still managed to only receive a 72 out of 100, as its “checkout speed is the slowest in the industry and its staff are less courteous than its competitors.” Walmart’s online business didn’t fare much better, however; in the internet retail category, the superstore received just a 74 out of 100, making it second to last as well.
Of all the retailers reviewed in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Sears by far had the worst customer service ratings. This year, the store fell four points on ACSI’s scale to an all-time low of 70 out of 100; according to the report, this is because “as the company shutters more stores, Sears customers find store locations, inventory stocks, and merchandise selection to be lacking.”
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