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Companies That Consumers Absolutely Hate

People – just about everyone – love libraries. So, let learn from these folks about what to avoid:

18 Companies That Consumers Absolutely Hate

“The American Customer Service Index rates hundreds of companies based on satisfaction surveys. Business Insider’s selection of the 18 worst includes four airlines and four cable companies.”

Read more:

1. AT&T Mobility
2. DirecTV
3. Citibank
4. JP MorganChase
5. Bank of America
6. McDonald’s
7. Cox Communications
8. Wellpoint
9. Con Edison
10. Facebook
11. MySpace
12. American Airlines
13. Delta
14. US Airways
15. Time Warner Cable
16. Comcast
17. United Airlines
18. Charter Communications

Notice that they’re all so-called ‘service’ companies and overlap libraries’ missions in subtle and distinct ways.

Can we get rid of things that get in the way of 100% satisfaction in the library:

1. fines? Who else fines besides courts and police. Is this the model we want to follow?
2. cel phone bans? Besides prisons who else wholesale bans personal property?
3. filters on adult PC’s that filter good stuff too? Ummm, Didn’t we say we bridged the digital divide?
4. unnecessary bar codes to access some content on websites? Why do citizens require a card/bar code to get to some content?
5. lack of a mobile interface/strategy? Don’t most people have phones?
6. etc.

Sometimes our policies make sense. Sometimes they do nothing more than frustrate our users and stand in the way of our mutual success. What policie in your library cause the most friction with users and clients? Is that in the user’s or library’s best interest? Some of the time, all of the time or never?


Posted on: August 23, 2010, 8:14 am Category: Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. J Davis said

    We don’t have fines in our Consumer Health Library. Admittedly, we are not struggling financially like so many public libraries. But we do have delighted customers when we tell them that we don’t have fines and almost all of the materials are returned.
    I was in my local library the other day and the librarian – or library worker – stopped what she was doing with a customer and ran through the stacks to tell someone that he couldn’t use his cell phone!!

  2. Justin Honaker said

    I have used a cellphone in a few libraries and haven’t ever had a problem with librarians. I just keep my voice low and no one has ever said anything.

    Our local public library recently ended “late fines” and replaced them with a $2.50 fee after four weeks late.

  3. Karen Neville said

    As someone who works for a provider of licensed content to libraries, I am interesting in knowing how you see us getting rid of #4 “unnecessary bar codes to access some content on websites? Why do citizens require a card/bar code to get to some content?”

    I am a technical services librarian at a small private university. I have spent far to much time during the last month working with various vendors of ebooks, databases, etc., making sure that all of my patrons, whether they are on campus or not, can access all of our content. Licensing requirements from all of these vendors, Gale Cengage included, mean that all of my patrons must provide some form of authentication before accessing content. We can use IP authentication for students on campus, but that really only works for a small portion of my population who actually use the library resources from within the library (or on campus). Proxy servers, secure referring URLs, and other web authentication methods don’t remove the gates, they only relocate them.

    I understand why the licensing requirements are there. I think that companies deserve to get paid for content they create, enhance, and manage. We in libraries can strive to make access as easy for our patrons as possible, but I’m not really sure how you’d propose that we remove authentication requirements for licensed content.

    I explained it to a patron the other day in this way: We don’t let you walk out of the library with physical items that the library purchased without checking them out on your account. In the same way, we can’t let you access digital content without verifying who you are.

    If you’ve got a proposed solution to this one, I’d love to hear it. My patrons would love to hear it. Those of us here in the trenches are trying to make it as simple as possible for our users to access digital content, but I’m sure not seeing a “magic” way that I can make that happen.

  4. Hi Karen:

    I can’t speak to Gale Cengage in the academic market (reducing barriers by reducing the ned for barcodes) yet but we have some experiments going on in that sector.
    In the K-12 market we have been using Geo-IP to authenticate users in our mobile apps and in area-wide licensing using Geo-IP.
    In the public library market we have some big state and province-wide licenses that use Geo-IP to authenticate. The patron just gets directly into the content. In one jurisdiction we have a few partners who have joined us in experimenting with Geo-IP.
    For all of our mobile apps (AccessMyLibrary for PL’s which is open and AccessMy Library K-12 which uses a password) we use Geo-IP to ensure seamless access.
    For our links we use Geo-IP and zip-code look-ups to get users into locally licensed content in public libraries and some others. Our position is that if it’s already licensed to the jurisdicin (city or state, etc.) then the user already has a right to use it.
    The goal is to increase the virtual use of databases in libraries and it has been very successful.
    I do find having to use a lengthy barcode in my own local libraries annoying but many Gale databases in Ontario don’t require it due to Geo-IP and the Knwoledge Ontario implementations.

    A major side benefit of Geo-IP is that ou get to see a picture (privacy and confidentialty protected) of where virtual use is actually coming from and for what.
    I’d be happy to chat with you about it or connect you up to our folks and maybe we can work something out.


  5. Karen Neville said

    Stephen –
    I appreciate your response. GeoIP sounds like an interesting idea, although I wonder how well it would work in practice. I live and work in two different library districts (I am a card-holder at both). One is well funded; the other not so much. Would I only be able to access the databases of the well-funded library while I was at work? What if I am traveling? I am sure these are issues that are being worked through in testing. It is definitely an interesting idea, and I look forward to hearing more about it.

    In my academic library, however, GeoIP would be much more problematic. I am certain that vendors wouldn’t want us to open up the resources we pay for to all people who just happen to live in geographic proximity to campus (nor are we in a position to pay more for providing access to our neighbors—not that we wouldn’t like to; it’s just an economic reality). Also, we provide digital resources to students who may be anywhere in the world: we had a student graduate last year who completed his degree while stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    I am pleased to see that Gale Cengage is seeking solutions to provide easier access to library patrons. I am somewhat skeptical that geographic location is the way to do it; part of the appeal of digital resources is that they are available at any time from any location. However, any innovation on the part of vendors to make digital information more easily accessible is always appreciated.