Customer Satisfaction Drops for E-commerce Sites

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The online shopping experience last year left U.S. customers less satisfied with e-commerce than they were in 2007, according to a new report.

That's the finding from the annual e-commerce satisfaction report from the University of Michigan and ForeSee Results. Based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) methodology, the report reveals that customer satisfaction dropped 2 percent to 80 points for e-commerce vendors.

The researchers attributed the increase in customer displeasure in general to the worsening economic conditions, which leads to slips in customer service and makes people generally less tolerant.

Online brokerages fared the worst. Collectively, their customer satisfaction fell 6.3 percent to 74 on the 100-point ACSI scale, the researchers said Tuesday. Online retailers had a decrease of one point to 82, while the online travel category saw no change at 75 points compared with 2007.

TD Ameritrade had the biggest drop among online brokerages with an 11.3 percent decline in customer satisfaction, which ForeSee and the University of Michigan blame not only on the economy but also on a controversy over the yield of a bond fund that is the target of a class-action lawsuit.

Fidelity led online brokerages with 80 points, down from 84 in 2007, followed by Charles Schwab with 78 points, down from 82.

Among online stores, eBay had the biggest slip, down 4 percent to its lowest score -- 78 points -- in the nine-year history of this study. The researchers attribute that finding in part to increased price competition from major retailers challenging eBay's reputation for deals and discounts.

In e-tail, Newegg snatched the first place away from Amazon with 88 points, up from 87 in 2007. Amazon came in second with 86 points, down from 88, followed by Netflix with a score of 85, up one point.

In the online travel category, Expedia ranked first with 77 points, up from 75, while Travelocity came in second with 75 points, up from 73, and Orbitz was third with 74, up one point.

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