In this report
Overview

Top gripes

What bugs America most

Last reviewed: January 2010
Illustration of people with different gripes
Illustration by Jason Ford

When it comes to everyday annoyances, two are clear winners—or make that losers: unexpected fees and difficulty reaching a human when you call about a bill or service.

In a nationally representative survey conducted in late September, we asked 1,125 Americans to score 21 gripes on a 1-to-10 scale, 1 meaning an experience "does not annoy you at all" and 10 meaning it "annoys you tremendously."

Hidden fees scored 8.9 overall; inability to reach a human, 8.6. Mean scores for all the gripes are in the chart below. When we crunched the numbers further, more eye-openers were revealed:

  • Women were significantly more irritated than men by 11 of the 21 choices, including speeding drivers, having to remember passwords and PINs, and products that shrank but still cost the same.
  • People older than 50 were more annoyed than younger folks about eight of the choices. Among them: speeding drivers, discourteous cell-phone use, e-mail spam, and cell-phone use while driving.
  • Respondents who identified themselves as Democrats were more annoyed than Republicans by television or radio shows during which people shout their opinions.
  • Residents of densely populated urban areas were more annoyed than rural residents by unscooped dog poop.
  • When it comes to driving habits, Americans in general were more annoyed by people who tailgate than by very slow drivers or speeders.

Despite all the complaining, one group escaped the worst of the public's wrath: weather forecasters who get it wrong. They scored a mere 4.3 on our gripe scale.

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