Just in time for the holiday shopping frenzy, Consumer Reports is recognizing a number of well-known businesses for their consumer-friendly practices and policies -- or offering them a chunk of coal for bad behavior.
Consumer Reports made its list and checked it twice. Now CR has released its sixth annual “Naughty & Nice List,” a compilation of businesses whose consumer-friendly and not-so-friendly policies earned them a shoutout or a thumbs down.
“This year, we took companies to the woodshed for gouging, annoying fees, and sneaky marketing practices,” CR explained. “Conversely, we lauded others for transparency, generosity, and stand-up behavior that improves and enhances health, safety, and the overall quality of life.”
CR said its list is not an endorsement or criticism of an overall company. “Rather, it’s praise or condemnation of a specific policy or practice that we believe helps or hinders consumers,” CR said.
Here are three of the dozen companies whose actions earned them a “naughty” designation from CR:
- Allegiant Air: Although the Las Vegas-based discount carrier advertises its “low-low fares,” CR called out Allegiant for its excessive nickel-and-diming. CR identified nine different fees that quickly add up for consumers, including charging up to $80 for a seat assignment and a $15 to $20 fee to bring a carry-on aboard.
- Turing Pharmaceuticals: This biotech startup – and its founder, CEO and former hedge fund manager, Martin Shkreli – found itself in the spotlight this fall after it acquired the rights to a 62-year-old generic drug used primarily by AIDS and cancer patients, and immediately hiked its price by 5,000 percent from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
- Costco: The warehouse club is often listed as a consumer favorite, but Costco is in hot water for alleged trademark infringement for selling counterfeit Tiffany diamond engagement rings. Costco maintains that it was using “Tiffany” as a generic description for a type of ring setting, according to CR. But it’s a good possibility that hundreds or more Costco members ponied up for the diamond rings thinking they were getting a genuine Tiffany ring.
From naughty to nice, CR also gave a shoutout to 14 companies for going the extra mile for their customers. Here are three of the businesses that earned a spot on CR’s “nice” list:
- Target: The retail giant has landed on CR’s “naughty” list before, but this year CR praised Target for revising a number of policies to be more consumer friendly. Target “expanded its price-match policy to include all major in-store and online competitors, including warehouse clubs, Amazon, and Wal-Mart, and dozens more, and doubled (to 14 days) the time frame to seek a price adjustment,” CR noted.
- JetBlue: While some airlines ended up on the naughty list for nickel-and-diming their customers, JetBlue earned praise from CR for offering free Internet broadband (called Fly-Fi) on flights.
- Nomorobo: This cloud-based app is the winner of the FTC Robocall challenge. Nomorobo analyzes caller IDs and automatically disconnects suspicious calls, according to CR. Perhaps best of all, Nomorobo is free.
Check out CR’s full naughty and nice list here.
What companies do you think should be on CR’s naughty and nice list? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.