Which are America’s Most Disliked Companies?

More than a few perennial “favorites” … plus a couple newcomers.

yuck factorI’ve blogged before about the companies Americans love to hate.  And now, 24/7 Wall St. has published this year’s list of America’s most disliked companies.  As the equity investment data aggregator and investment firm describes it:

“To be truly hated, a company must alienate a large number of people.  It may irritate consumers with bad customer service, upset employees by paying low wages and disappoint Wall Street with underwhelming returns.   

For a small number of companies, such failures are intertwined.  These companies managed to antagonize more than just one group and have become widely disliked.”

In developing its list each year, 24/7 Wall St. reviews various metrics on customer service, employee satisfaction and share price performance.

Only companies with large customer bases are evaluated, based on the premise that for a company to be widely disliked, it needs to be known to a large number of people to begin with.

Among the sources reviewed by 24/7 Wall St. are the following:

This year’s list of the most disliked companies includes the following:

logo#1  General Motors — More than 30 million recalls pertaining to vehicular problems that have been linked to more than 40 deaths brings this company to the top of the list … along with a lot of dissembling about the issue.

#2  Sony — The hacking of the company’s computers and the resulting chaos surrounding the (non)-release of the movie The Interview was just the latest in a string of bad news, including a string of financial losses and fruitless reorganization attempts that seem more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic than a recipe for righting the ship.

#3  DISH Network — Super-poor customer service ratings along with ongoing fights with the Fox network, leading to the blackout of popular programs that have done nothing but rile the customer base even more.

#4  McDonald’s — Its menu has lost favor with consumers — particularly when compared to competitors’ offerings.  Negative press about low employee wages doesn’t help, either.

#5  Bank of America — BofA can never seem to score above the average for its industry.  In fact, it’s been the least popular big bank in the ACSI surveys for years.  Even worse, Zogby Analytics has BofA with the second lowest share of “poor” reviews of any business in its 2014 customer service survey.  On top of that, the bank continues to have major problems in the mortgage sector, with a slew of fines levied to clean up mortgage practices that ran afoul of the U.S. regulators

#6  Uber — No doubt, this app-based ride sharing service is wildly popular with many users, even as it’s the bane of the traditional taxi business in major American and European urban centers.  But few companies so popular have faced as much controversy at the same time.  Perhaps it’s a natural side effect of being a disrupter in the market, but it’s caused many enemies for Uber in the process.

#7  Sprint Corporation — “The great disappearing phone service” might be one way to describe this firm.  Sprint has lost nearly 2.5 million customers in just the past two years.  In fact, it’s had 11 straight quarters of net decline in subscribers.  The result is lost employee jobs (2,000 and counting), along with reduced customer service and industry competitiveness.  And the share price of Sprint stock has fallen by half in the past year.

#8  Spirit Airlines — Imagine this list of maladies in the airline industry:  flight delays, long customer lines, invasive security, lost baggage, hidden fees.  Now imagine them all wrapped up in one air carrier and you have Spirit Airlines.  Enough said.

#9  Wal-Mart — According to ACSI, few companies have lower customer ratings than Wal-Mart.  It’s low even in comparison with other big-box discount and department stores, as well as supermarkets.  Its own employees also rate the company low — and there are 1.4 million of them, so their opinions really matter.  Meanwhile, some consumers see Wal-Mart as hurting or destroying local businesses wherever it chooses to open a store in a new community.

#10  Comcast — Whether we’re talking about its television or Internet services, this company comes in with really horrific customer satisfaction ratings.  They’re “standout bad” in an industry that’s infamous for poor customer care.  It didn’t help when a phone recording of a Comcast customer service representative went viral — the rep who took up nearly half an hour refusing to help a customer cancel his service.

[Interestingly a few companies that were on 24/7 Wall St.’s list last year no longer appear — notably retailers JCPenney and Abercrombie & Fitch.  For Penney’s in particular, it seemed a slam-dunk prediction that it would remain on the list this time around, but the company is actually in the midst of a modest turnaround — and consumers and investors have noticed.]

There’s another interesting and perhaps ironic factor about America’s “least liked” companies.  It’s that four of them also appear on the list of the ten most-advertised brands in the United States.

That is correct:  Based on 2013 U.S.-measured media ad spending as calculated by AdAge, Chevrolet (General Motors), McDonald’s, Walmart Stores and Sprint rank in the Top Ten list of the most-advertised brands:

  • untitled#1 AT&T
  • #2 Verizon
  • #3 GEICO
  • #4 Chevrolet (General Motors)
  • #5 McDonald’s
  • #6 Toyota
  • #7 Ford
  • #8 Walmart Stores
  • #9 Sprint
  • #10 Macy’s

Evidently, “all that advertising” isn’t doing “all that much” to burnish these brands’ image!

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