With gasoline prices soaring and the Bush administration apparently prepared to sacrifice the environment to energy industry interests, oil companies are now less popular than tobacco companies and managed care companies, according to a new Harris Poll that asked Americans how well different industries are serving their customers.

The Harris Poll found that only 27 percent of Americans now believe the oil industry is doing a good job of serving its consumers, down sharply from 39 percent last year, and even more dramatically from 64 percent three years ago. By comparison, 28 percent say the tobacco industry is doing a good job of serving its consumers, and 29 percent gave a favorable rating to managed care companies.

The other industry to experience a steep decline in the past 12 months is the airline industry, with only 51 percent saying airlines are doing a good job of serving their consumers, down from 66 percent last year and 78 percent in 1998—when airlines topped the list of most admired industries, tied for first with computer companies.

Computer software (80 percent) and computer hardware (78 percent) are still at the top of the rankings of industries serving their consumers. They are followed, as they were last year, by banks (71 percent), hospitals (67 percent), and car manufacturers (67 percent).
In the four years since Harris Interactive began this series, no industry has improved its ratings, and seven of the 13 are down very substantially. The biggest declines since 1997 in those saying “good job” are apparent in the following industries: oil companies, down 32 points; airlines, down 27 points; pharmaceutical companies, down 22 points; managed care companies, down 22 points; and telephone companies, down 19 points.