Crazy July for consumer complaints rivals record — can you guess who won? (I mean, lost)

Don’t get too comfy, corporate America. Last month’s dip in consumer complaints was only temporary.

July complaints soared to record levels, suggesting that consumers aren’t getting a vacation from bad service.

We counted 318 registered grievances for July, or 52 more complaints than June. That’s within just one case of our all-time monthly record of 319 complaints set in May.

An important disclosure about these numbers: They only represent a small fraction of the actual complaints. A vast number of grievances are successfully resolved by the company and don’t make it to the next level. We only have eight month’s worth of data, so we can’t run a year-over-year comparison.

Also, we believe these numbers are significant in and of themselves and don’t need to be “ratioed” against enplanements or customer numbers.

The winner — I mean, loser — isn’t too hard to guess.

JULY 2016
Rank Company Complaints
1 American Airlines 35
2 United Airlines 20
3 Delta Air Lines 10
4 Enterprise 8
5 British Airways 6
6 Airbnb 6
7 Avis 5
8 Spirit Airlines 4
9 Priceline 3
10 JetBlue Airways 3

The big three airlines continue to outperform all other companies, with American Airlines firmly in the lead. Last month, it appeared American had done something (we’re still not sure what) to address the persistent consumer complaints. Maybe we were wrong.

Here are the June numbers for a little comparison.

JUNE 2016
Rank Company Complaints
1 American Airlines 23
2 United Airlines 15
3 Expedia 11
4 Avis 8
5 Delta Air Lines 7
6 British Airways 6
7 Enterprise 5
8 Southwest Airlines 4
9 Hertz 4
10 Priceline 4

Here’s our running total for the first seven months of the year. Barring some kind of miracle, American seems destined to win the trophy for most-complained about company for 2016. (But you know me, I do believe in miracles.)

JANUARY-JULY 2016
Rank Company Complaints
1 American Airlines 210
2 United Airlines 89
3 Expedia 85
4 Delta Air Lines 53
5 Enterprise 42
6 Hertz 36
7 British Airways 31
8 Avis 30
9 Southwest Airlines 29
10 Viking 27

A few interesting trends …

Where’s Southwest Airlines? The airline’s IT meltdown at the end of last month hit passengers hard. We heard from them. But our team always refers complaints to the company first, hoping they’ll be resolved. That’s what happened. I expect to see an uptick in Southwest complaints for August as some of those passengers circle back with us to ask for help.

Expedia goes AWOL I love reporting good news, and the fact that Expedia is missing from the top 10 list for two months in a row is excellent news. Now, that may have something to do with our Expedia executive contacts page, which lists just about every manager at the company. But we’ll take it!

Can Delta do it? I’m watching Delta’s complaint numbers verrrry carefully for the year. If it can keep its cases down, it may avoid a third-place finish, which would be noteworthy. But if Expedia keeps dealing with its unhappy customers, well, let’s just say this could get competitive. Who would have thought two companies could compete for fourth place?

Overall, I’m deeply unhappy with these numbers, and anyone working for one of the companies appearing on these lists should feel the same way.

I mean, come on. This is embarrassing. We give companies multiple chances to fix a consumer problem, and they still manage to make this list.

Pull yourselves together. Hire someone to handle your customer service. And get off our list.

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