What the 15 Most-Hated Companies Can Teach Us

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American Airlines and Bank of America. AT&T and Johnson & Johnson. Toyota and Nokia.

Those are just some of the companies we loved to hate last year, according to an amazingly in-depth study by 24/7 Wall St. The investment analysis website collected polling data from Consumer Reports, JD Power, and the MSN-Zogby poll, among many others. They also studied negative press coverage and even the opinions of congressional members.

The result is a three-page detailed listing of the 15 most hated American companies of 2010, but here are the highlights as well as some intriguing analysis of our own – and what we can learn from it all.

The offenders in alphabetical order

Here are those 15 companies, which 24/7 Wall St. is careful to note is just a grouping and not a ranking. Being hyper-organized, we’re listing them alphabetically…

  1. American Airlines
  2. AT&T
  3. Bank of America
  4. Best Buy
  5. British Petroleum
  6. Charter Communications
  7. Citigroup
  8. Dell
  9. DirecTV
  10. Dish Network
  11. Johnson & Johnson
  12. McDonald’s
  13. Nokia
  14. Toyota
  15. United Airlines

Some of these are no surprise. Anyone stunned by leaky BP’s presence? Or recall-crazy Toyota? But if you look past the company names and at their industries, some interesting patterns emerge.

Analyzing the offenders

Two much-maligned industries are represented by two companies each: airlines (American and United) and financial institutions (B of A and Citigroup). That makes sense, since horror stories of hours-long tarmac delays and canceled flights competed for headlines last year with banks sloppily rushing foreclosure proceedings and doling out bonuses while accepting government bailouts.

But why aren’t there more banks and airlines on the list? For instance, where’s the much-maligned AIG? As 24/7 Wall St. explains…

“AIG became a pariah when the federal government spent huge sums of money to keep the insurer from going bankrupt. However, AIG has since done a very good job selling off assets and improving earnings to pay back the money the federal government lent it. Its stock has nearly doubled over the past year. There is a chance that AIG could pay back all of its obligations to taxpayers.”

So bad behavior can be compensated for with cold, hard cash. But nothing excuses poor customer service. Case in point…

A third industry with two companies on the list is satellite TV service (DirecTV and Dish Network). That’s somewhat of shock, since it was only a few years ago that those two companies attracted customers by touting in their advertising that the big, bad cable companies offer lousy customer service and sock you with hidden fees.

So why did DirecTV and Dish Network make the 2010 list? For using those same exact tactics. About DirecTV, 24/7 Wall St. wrote…

It automatically extends customers’ contracts for 24 months when new equipment is added. Customers often receive unexpected fees, such as a $480 cancellation fee. Recently the company reached a settlement with all 50 states over allegations that it misled consumers about pricing and policies.

And Dish Network?

It recently received unusually poor ratings from the MSN-Zogby customer service poll – 31.2 percent of those familiar with Dish Network’s service called it “poor.” Consumers were particularly upset with what they view as “surprise” fees for Dish service.

But does being hated really matter? Some companies on this list are doing just fine, thank you. For instance, McDonald’s still serves billions and billions but is included here because it’s “the poster child for unhealthy food in America.” But 24/7 Wall St. admits, “The bad PR appears not to have hurt the company’s share price, however, which has soared up nearly 25 percent in the last year.”

So who do you think we’ll hate in 2011?

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Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HJGULF4R3JMHUZZZAQH2FG4YSM POKEY 111999

    I would put Mcdonalds on the list for the bad service, the workers that you can’t understand their english, and no NAPKINS with your meal, and high prices along with everything is getting smaller!!!! Wendy’s is another one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Libertine31 Alec Bostwick

    Pokey111999- Um, no offense mate, you reasons for keeping McDonalds on ‘the list’ for bad service is rubbish. First you complained about the workers not understanding English, however your English/Grammar skills don’t appear to be too great either. Second, no napkins? Are you bloody kidding me? You can get them yourself; they’re always by the beverage station. Unless you just expect a minimum wage employee to wait on you hand over foot. Lastly High prices at McDonalds? In comparison to what, my friend? Comparable to nothing; McDonalds is constantly below average (next to other Fast Food Chains) in their pricing for their meals.

  • Anonymous

    I work for DISH Network, and I really don’t quite understand the hidden fees, in the last year DISH has gotten rid of fees that were impacting bills, to simplify customers bill in order to help the customer better understand pricing and fees. Pricing in the industry does change on a yearly basis, but that is standard through out the industry and DISH Network constantly has the least amount of an increase industry wide.