Ryanair has been rated the worst firm for customer service out of 100 popular British brands - with consumers citing unhelpful staff and miserable complaints handling.
The survey of well-known companies reveals sharp differences between sectors with airlines, telecoms and energy providers performing most poorly - and brands such as British Airways, BT and British Gas languishing near the bottom of the rankings.
However, companies which still offer personal service in their bricks and mortar stores such such as Next, John Lewis and Clarks Shoes all performed well - as did slick customer service offered by major online retailers AO.com, Ocado and Amazon.
Consumer champion Which? asked nearly 4,000 members of the public to rate how the companies make them feel, how helpful and knowledgeable their staff were, and how well they handled complaints.
Ryanair came bottom of the table, only managing a customer service score of 45 per cent overall, with the lowest rating of one star in all three categories. When asked about how well the airline handles complaints, half gave it the lowest rating possible.
Presented with a choice of 50 words to describe the airline, most of the airline’s passengers opted for ‘greedy’, ‘sneaky’ and ‘arrogant’, with one going as far as to say “Ryanair seem to make things deliberately difficult in order to make more money out of their customers”.
The other airlines included in the survey fared only slightly better. British Airways found itself in 83rd place, a few spots under the highest ranking airline included in the survey, Easyjet, which came in 79th place.
In 99th place, just above Ryanair, was Glasgow-based Scottish Power. The energy supplier’s customers told Which? they did not feel valued, with a third of their customers going as far as to say they found the energy supplier ‘arrogant’.
Third from the bottom was BT with a low 52 per cent score for customer service. The telecoms giant also only managed a minimum one-star rating for making customers feel valued, helpfulness of staff and efficiency resolving complaints or problems.
Harry Rose, editor of Which? Magazine, which carried out the research, said: “While it’s good to see some familiar everyday brands flying the flag for great customer service, people spend a lot of money with their utility providers and on flights, so it’s disappointing to see some woeful performance across the board in those sectors.
“The best way to send a clear message to businesses about the importance of customer service is to spend your hard-earned cash with brands that make it a top priority - and don’t hesitate to complain if you feel you’ve been treated poorly.”
Online bank First Direct took the top slot overall with an impressive customer service score of 89 per cent and customers who were overwhelmingly positive. Two-thirds gave it the highest rating possible for the attitude of its staff, with one customer telling Which? it is “the human touch” that sets it apart.
Lakeland was the highest-rated retailer, standing out for the attitude of its staff where it scored the full five-stars. This was reinforced by most customers opting for the word ‘helpful’ when given a list of words to describe the brand.