Have the nameplates suddenly changed at your local bank? How about your health care provider, cable company or favorite airline?
If so, you're not alone. Mergers and acquisitions are increasingly common in the U.S., as activity has heated up over the past year, including Anthem's proposed $54 billion acquisition of rival health insurer Cigna.
Each time a company is sold, its customers are left with a slew of questions about the impact on customer service, product offerings and prices. Take Charter Communications' $77 billion bid earlier this year for Time Warner Cable. Combined with its $10.4 billion side offer for Bright House Networks, the deal would lump together 24 million TV subscribers in 41 states. The combination still awaits regulatory approval.
Charter Communications certainly hopes that customers will see a benefit. CEO Tom Rutledge says a "New Charter" could accelerate the deployment of faster Internet speeds, and the tie-up could increase cooperation among cable giants to offer public Wi-Fi networks to subscribers.
But how would it affect the basic customer experience? Would a merged help desk be more or less helpful? Would a merged service crew be more or less likely to arrive on schedule?
One way to find out is to look at the track record of each company. There are a number of places you could go for that information. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, or ACSI, customer service has nowhere to go but up. ACSI's rankings show that Time Warner is notoriously bad at customer service, and Charter and Bright House haven't fared much better.
ACSI, which bases its rankings on national customer surveys, is just one place where people can go to find out if a new company is going to be good for them. There are several other agencies that can also provide details of a company track record.
Here are some of the more popular ones.
1. Better Business Bureau
If you want to learn more about the performance of a company, the Better Business Bureau is a great place to start. The nonprofit has published more than 4 million reviews on various businesses and assigns them grades based on their opinion of the business. You can also use the BBB to file your own complaints against companies.