Facebook scores low with consumers
Google loses luster, Bing debuts big, and FOXNews.com wins best-in-show among online news sources.
Even though it's the most popular website in America, consumers don't like Facebook, according to the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Business Report.
The social-networking site scored 64 on the ACSI's 100-point scale -- a satisfaction level even lower than that of IRS e-filers. This puts Facebook in the bottom 5% of all measured private-sector companies and in the same range as airlines and cable companies -- two perennially low-scoring industries with terrible customer satisfaction.
"Facebook is a phenomenal success, so we were not expecting to see it score so poorly with consumers," said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, which partnered with ACSI in the study. "At the same time, our research shows that privacy concerns, frequent changes to the website, and commercialization and advertising adversely affect the consumer experience.
"Compare that to Wikipedia, which is a nonprofit that has had the same user interface for years, and it's clear that while innovation is critical, sometimes consumers prefer evolution to revolution," Freed said.
Given the complaints about Facebook received by ConsumerAffairs.com, the low score should not come as a surprise.
"Why can't I communicate with a human who works for Facebook?" wondered Peter of Maridcao, Puerto Rico. "I have complained about a false profile which someone keeps putting up. For some reason FB can't shut down this person. Why do I have to suffer through this?"
Mohamed of Redmond, Wash., told ConsumerAffairs.com, "Facebook disabled my account without giving me any notification, and when I asked them why they did that, they refused to tell me the exact reasons. I asked them to delete all my data on their servers (since they disabled my access to it), but they also refused to do so."
ACSI measured social-media websites for the first time, and included Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia and YouTube. Twitter was not included in the social-media category because a disproportionate number of users access Twitter through third-party applications rather than the website Twitter.com.
Wikipedia leads the category at 77, followed by YouTube at 73, Facebook at 64 and MySpace at 63.
"Social media has become too big to ignore, so we added it to our list of e-business measures," said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and professor of business at the University of Michigan. "We are quite surprised to find that satisfaction with the category defies its popularity."
Google's rating plunged 7%, but continues to lead the portals and search engines industry with a score of 80. Google ceded its top spot for the second time; the "all others" category of search engine competitors scored 82. Microsoft's Bing search engine made a strong first showing with a score of 77, trailed by Yahoo (76), AOL (74), and Ask.com (73). (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)
"Google may be suffering from trying to be too many things to too many people, but it still has the most loyal following with 80% of its users citing Google as their primary search engine," Freed said. "That said, Bing's first measure is impressive and could put some pressure on Google. The new search engine is already making gains in market share and using clever marketing and advertising to distinguish itself from the market leader."
Fox shows strong
In the news and information category, FOX News now dominates its competition online as well as on TV. FOXNews.com debuted at the top of the industry with a score of 82, the highest score any news site has received in nine years of measurement. FOX News' cable news competitors MSNBC.com (74) and CNN.com (73) trail in satisfaction as well as ratings.
All major news websites improved, including newspaper websites for USATODAY.com (77) and NYTimes.com (76).
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