The blockbuster telecom and cable mergers of late will also unite some of the most frustrated customers in the nation.

AT&T bid for DirecTV on Sunday. That followed Comcast’s effort to swallow Time Warner Cable. Spurred by these mega-deals, rumors are spreading of other corporate deals among Internet service providers and cable firms. But virtually all of the companies involved in these marriages rank near the bottom in a new customer satisfaction survey, behind even health-care providers and airlines.

Consumers were happier with their hospitals and local utilities than the cable repair guy. The IRS ranked lower overall, but people preferred filing taxes online to waiting on hold with an Internet service customer representative, according to a poll released Tuesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

The rankings reinforce the industries’ reputations for poor service, which has been a punch line of comedians and fuel for outrage expressed on social media. Who could forget then-septuagenarian Mona “The Hammer” Shaw, who in 2007 went to a Comcast customer-service office in Manassas, Va., and bashed a computer keyboard with a hammer to demand attention?

But given how much control those companies will exert over how consumers experience the Internet, telecommunications and entertainment, advocates say federal regulators should exercise their authority over the merger process to improve prices and relieve customers of long waits for repairs.

“This is an industry that has a notoriously bad track record with consumers, and these low customer satisfaction scores should give regulators ample reason to be skeptical of a merger,” said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union, a nonprofit advocacy group. The group, which publishes Consumer Reports, found similarly low rankings for cable and telecom providers in its own annual survey.

Within their industries, Comcast and Time Warner Cable consistently ranked last or next to last for phone, Internet service and cable television, according to the ACSI poll. The two firms have proposed a $45 billion merger.

AT&T is willing to pay $49 billion to bundle its wireless, phone and high-speed Internet services with DirecTV’s satellite television business. Both companies rank far below gas stations, the Postal Service and hotels.

The poor results in satisfaction surveys are compounded by lawmakers’ concerns about ever rising prices for consumers, especially for high-speed Internet, which some say has become equivalent to a utility.

According to a report by the Federal Communications Commission, cable television prices rose 5.1 percent in 2012, three times the rate of inflation.

“We’re witnessing a major transformation of the telecom industry – and it’s going in exactly the wrong direction,” Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said in a statement. “We’re moving toward an industry with fewer competitors – where corporations are getting bigger and bigger and gaining more and more control over the distribution of information. This hurts innovation, and it’s bad for consumers, who have been getting squeezed by higher bills.”

Experts say it is rare for customer service to be the focus of a merger review. This time, given the poor record of the companies, some advocates are urging the FCC to take the consumer experience more seriously.

“Customer service performance is fair game in a merger review,” said Matt Wood, a policy director for the consumer advocacy group Free Press. He said the FCC in particular has a “broad standard, with more of a comprehensive and forward-looking mandate to protect consumers and competition alike.”

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