Traditional local monopoly phone companies, pay TV services and cell phone service providers were ranked in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and there are a few surprises in the standings.

Sprint is the new champion of customer service in the cellular world. This is interesting because they have historically had just about the worst customer service of anybody. Yet I think Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, who you see in those ads, has done a great job turning things around for the company.

Meanwhile, AT&T fell off a cliff in terms of customer no service. But maybe they can turn it around like Sprint in future tallies! Hope springs eternal.

The most interesting trend on the cell phone front is that smaller, generally non-contract companies got higher scores than even Sprint. That goes to the core of the problem with the whole contract thing and how it aids and abets lousy customer service. (When your contract is about to sunset, you might want to consider the non-contract players.)

When it comes to traditional home phones, AT&T did better with that monopoly than with their cell phone operation. Ma Bell tied with Verizon in third place from the bottom. Small monopoly local phone companies got the highest overall scores, while the lowest score actually went to Comcast.

In the pay TV world, Verizon was the champ with their FiOS service. A 3-way tie among Time Warner, Comcast and Charter accounts for the lowest score. For satellite service, DirecTV and Dish both were neck-in-neck with their scores. But nobody got a passing grade of 70 or higher except for Verizon FiOS.

Think about this: You spend a lot of money on this technology. Why do business with companies that will treat you like dirt?

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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