eBay, eTrade, Priceline Bottom Of Customer Satisfaction Heap

    February 18, 2009
    WebProNews Staff

For the first time in three years, overall customer satisfaction with e-commerce has fallen, ending steady growth over the same period, according ForeSee Results’ annual American customer satisfaction Index. At the bottom of the customer satisfaction barrel: eTrade, eBay, and Priceline.
The overall ASCI score dropped two percent to 80 (out of 100), a plunge ForeSee says is driven by the online brokerage sector as the greater economic fallout reaches farther into cyberspace. The online financial services industry plummeted 6.3 percent to a score of 74 overall.

For some individually, it’s much worse than that. Ameritrade, whose first quarter profits plunged 23 percent, led the pack in customer dissatisfaction, dropping by 11 percent  to 71. That’s still a high enough score to beat out eTrade, though, which dropped 6 percent to 69, putting the company in last place in terms of customer satisfaction. Fidelity and Charles Schwab, despite dropping five percent in the ACSI, still lead with respective scores of 80 and 78.

Larry Freed of ForeSee Results
Larry Freed
CEO, ForeSee Results

“It’s not surprising that online brokerage firms took a big hit in satisfaction, and its dive is largely responsible for the drop of the e-commerce sector overall,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “The convenience of managing your investments online doesn’t mean much when you see your portfolio take such huge hits. Fair or not, that’s going to affect customer satisfaction.”

Satisfaction with online retail fell 1.2 percent to a score of 82, the biggest loss leader being eBay, which offered its worst performance in the nine years the index has been in existence. Dropping 4 percent to a score of 78, ForeSee credits the drop in eBay customer satisfaction to eBay “losing its edge” due to harder to find discounts and competition driving up prices. Also hurting eBay are major retailers undercutting eBay sellers offline.

“eBay is the only e-retail company measured by the ACSI to have lower satisfaction now than it did when it was first measured nine years ago, and that should be reason for concern,” said Freed. “It isn’t keeping pace with the competition, and its revenues and stock price have followed suit.”

By contrast, Amazon continues to do remarkably well. Though dropping by two percent to a score of 86, the company reported its best holiday season ever. ForeSee attributes the drop in customer satisfaction to record numbers of customers, which also leads to more shipping errors and other kinks in the chain.

Specialty stores continue to do remarkably well. Newegg.com actually outperformed Amazon in the index, improving one percent to 88, and Netflix improved one percent to 85. The company suggests high customer satisfaction is easier to achieve when specializing as opposed to selling a broad range of products.

Specialization isn’t working so great in the online travel sector though. An industry already strapped by the weak worldwide economy, the generic tag “All Others” matched or outscored some famous names. All Others grabbed a customer satisfaction score of 77, matching Expedia, but beating Travelocity (75), Orbitz (74), and Priceline (72).