Saturday, January 14, 2012

Top 10 Most Hated Companies in America

This was an interesting article from Yahoo Finance:
Customers, employees, shareholders and taxpayers hate large corporations for many reasons. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a lengthy list of corporations for which there is substantial research data to choose the 10 most hated in America.

Research about companies comes in two sets. One is public research about consumer satisfaction, customer care, pricing of products and services, and brand impressions. Wall St. research takes into account another set of factors, which include present earnings, profit forecasts, product development and quality, and brand valuations.

Some of the companies on this list are widely despised because of the businesses that they are in. In an economic environment where resources are stretched, an airline or retail operation that has millions of customers is likely to make a lot of enemies. Similarly, banks and other corporations with a large number of retail outlets are at a disadvantage compared with businesses with few customers. Some of the corporations on this list also have had to fire significant numbers of employees due to the recession. Downsizing causes poor morale, increases the workload of the remaining staff and affects customer satisfaction when service is poorer.

We examined each company based on several criteria. We considered total return to shareholders in comparison to the broader market and other companies in the same sector during the last year. We reviewed financial analyst opinions on those companies that are public. We analyzed data from a broad array of sources, including Consumer Reports, JD Power, the MSN/Zogby Poll, ForeSee and the University of Michigan American Customer Satisfaction Index. We also considered negative press based on 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis of media coverage and the Flame Index, which uses a proprietary algorithm to review more than 12,000 websites and ranks companies based on the frequency of negative words. Finally, we considered the views of taxpayers, Congress and the White House — where applicable.

Several companies that should have been on the list based on performance and public perception during the financial crisis did not make it. For example, it would be easy to argue that mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be here. The bankruptcy and maintenance of the two by the federal government will cost taxpayers between $224 billion and $360 billion, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). But, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are no longer stand-alone companies in any normal sense. Their shares have been delisted. Each is in effect a ward of the U.S. government with no ability to control its own fate through the actions of management or public shareholders.

The U.S. Postal Service could also be a candidate for the list. It has cost taxpayers billions of dollars, and it lost $5.1 billion in its last fiscal year alone. However, the Postmaster General and his staff have little or no control over the eventual fate of the USPS. Congress decides how and to what extent it will be funded. That means Congress essentially controls how many workers and offices will exist, and even, based on funding, how often the mail will be delivered.

It is worth noting that some of the companies on the list may have done very poorly by some measures, and well by others. A few of the most hated companies have had good stock performances. Others may have satisfied customers. All of this was taken into account when the decisions for the final list were made.
The article contains details of why each of the unlucky ten are hated. I must say they did a pretty good job of picking out the most hateable, though Goldman Sachs and Bank of America deserve to be firmly placed in the top two spots. Anyway, here is the list:
1. Facebook

2. American Airlines

3. AT&T

4. Nokia

5. Goldman Sachs

6. Best Buy

7. Bank of America

8. Johnson & Johnson

9. Sears

10. Netflix

Bonus: Dedicated to Facebook


  1. I find it comical that they made a remark about the post office. They would have been fine if other fingers didn't want a piece of their pie.

  2. Netflix is getting most of that flak largely because of the price gouging rate hike they pulled a few months ago, and also I like to think because their online streaming page is constantly being updated, and it becomes more convoluted and cumbersome with each new iteration, instead of leaving it as the effective streamlined, if simple, version they were fielding about a year ago.

  3. Sorry to see IBM (big blue) is not up in that list. Worked there for four years. Extremely nasy company at heart.

  4. @defshepaed - Bosch at HA mentioned that Monsanto ought to be on there as well. Problem is, most people have no idea who they are.

  5. Monsanto has been described as the most evil corporation in the world, but you're right Bill, lots of people are completely ignorant of it.

  6. Facebook is #1!! Hooray! I hate Facebook too. Maybe I hate Facebook the most because of the lies, and the constant changes, the lies about the constant changes, and that weirdo little twirp Mark Zukerberg whom I find thoroughly vile, wretched, smug, and nauseating.

    Facebook is indeed thoroughly disgusting.

    But I do have a soft spot for the US Postal Service. Having lived abroad where the local mail was known as a 'Black Hole' where things might go in but never come out, the USPS is a valuable service and worthy of taxpayer subsidy. And, it is staffed by honest hard working Americans who provide a useful service at a price I can afford. Kudos to mailmen and women all over America, you rock. XOXOXO


  7. @gardener1 - I may not be quite as enamored with the Post Office as you are, but otherwise I completely agree. In a competition between FB and the PO, I'll take the PO every time. :)

  8. i work for one of them. i've never met the ceo, but deal regularly with people that report to him (top of the corporate food chain). it's amazing how clueless they are about how the public feels about them (or maybe they do know and just don't care...and it just comes across as cluelessness). they remind me of soap opera actors. they know as much about what the company actually does as an actor playing a cop on a soap opera does about real law enforcement. picture a group of obamas in different sizes, shapes and colors...armed with powerpoint decks instead of teleprompters. but, of course, they don't need to know anything of the details, because they're "deciders" (g. w. bush). heinrich himmlers with fake positive-thinking oprah-esque personas (hilary clinton, mitt romney), that come across as all the more creepy when they try to act like "regular people." it (truly) depresses me to think (actually, to know) that people just like this run the empire. how could on not be a doomer these days?

  9. @Anon - sadly, that's the best description of modern day corporate America I've read yet.