02/19/2011 11:23 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Big American Retailers With The Worst Customer Service: 24/7 Wall Street

Customer satisfaction in the retail and online e-commerce industries is getting worse. There is no single reason for this, but it is likely that the recent economic downturn is one of the biggest factors. A recession often cuts into retail payrolls, and so full-time workers are replaced by part-time ones. Anxiety among people who are not laid off rises. The employees in the stores who are the spokespeople for their companies have their morale shaken. A drop-off in customer service is bound to result.

Recessions also rob businesses of the ability to compete effectively on price. A downturn hurts sales. This takes away the flexibility for businesses to offer discounts, unless their balance sheets are strong enough to fund losses in exchange for improved market share. Big companies such as Wal-Mart can afford to take a long view. Much smaller ones including OfficeMax probably cannot.