Announcing The 2007 Worst Company In America Contest

It’s time for The Consumerist 2nd Annual Worst Company in America contest.

We’ll round up the baddies and make a phat sexy tournament ladder. Then we’ll tie their wrists with a handkerchief, and give ‘em daggers. Each one of your votes will represent a stab.

The CEO of the “winning” company receives a giant golden shit! And probably a certificate of completion or something.

Last year, Consumerist readers voted Halliburton the Worst Company in America, with Choicepoint as the second. The contest landed us in the New York Times (twice) and on the APM radio show Marketplace. Let’s see what we can do this year with nearly quadrupled readership (and a better polling system).

Nominate which company you think is absolutely abhorrent, and why, in the comments or at tips at consumerist dot com.

Next week, we’ll put the ladder together and let the festivities commence. — BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. cleigh says:

    Have to start out with a nomination for UHaul.

    There’s been lots of comments that had they been nominated, they’d have won hands down last year. Lets see if it happens!

  2. homerjay says:

    Monsanto- slowly killing you from the inside out without your knowlege.

  3. The Unicorn says:

    UHaul! After seeing the comments that recent post about them inspired, they’re practically a shoo-in.

  4. The Unicorn says:

    oops, sorry Cleigh — that wasn’t showing up yet when I commented.

  5. APR? National Public Radio

  6. chickymama says:

    I nominate Verizon as this was their A+ year in math.

  7. woops.. never mind..

  8. woops.. Never Mind.

  9. acambras says:

    Angry — I think Marketplace is a syndicated show produced by American Public Radio (although most of us hear it on NPR).

  10. For the next site redesign.. how about adding a delete button on the comments? Funny how I was listening to Marketplace on a podcast as I wrote that last comment…

  11. John says:

    No, American Public Media. NPR stations just buy it off of APM. BTW, those aren’t my nominations. I don’t have any bad experiences with companies this past year. Well, gas station attendents at Meijer stole my credit card number and were filling up friends’s cars. But they got busted, and I got my money back….

  12. GenXCub says:

    Definitely put the US government back on the list like last year. I would normally nominate a cellular provider, but it’s the whole cellular industry put together that’s horrible, not just one company… it’s like a clusterf*** voltron.

    Comcast!

  13. homerjay says:

    While we’re doing this, we should also consider “Best Companies in America”

  14. faust1200 says:

    Comcast- how many work days do you think have been lost while people wait for their techs that never show up? I personally have 3. (I gave up after that and they never did show) How many people have canceled their account only to get billed? (I have) I could go on. BTW, I have DirecTV now which I highly recommend.

  15. does the u.s. government count? i’ve seen my shareholder value plummet for years…

  16. mxyzptlk says:

    Sony… for their stupid*** rootkit nonsense and general egregious behavior over the last year or so.

  17. B says:

    Can I nominate IDT, or are they not national enough?

  18. muddgirl says:

    United Airlines – for their recent decision to limit airline miles, as well as for their bad customer service and often uncomfortable flying experience.

  19. userboy says:

    1.) Dollar/Thrifty Rental Car Group – after getting my LOCKED rental car stolen from a subway station, they treated me like a criminal, and were not even going to give me the same rate I had originally booked on the first car!!

    2.) Runner-up Mastercard, for trying to dick me around on reimbursement of “loss of use fees” charged to me by Dollar/Thrifty from above incident, despite the fact that it’s clearly outlined in the terms and conditions. Had to give them a little pep talk about how interested my state attorney general would be to hear about the story, to get them to finally pay the approximately four hundred bucks. Greedy bastards!

    Between these two incidents, I would estimate 2 dozen phone calls and multiple faxes.

  20. weave says:

    UHaul, most definitely. I had a run in with them too.

    Verizon, for crippling their phones in order to plug “revenue leaks.” If I take a picture on equipment I own, I should be able to transfer to my own PC or another device over bluetooth the way the phone was designed instead of having to send it to myself over their “network” and get dinged an MMS charge or unit.

  21. JuliusJefferson says:

    I vote for AT&T due to the whole NSA thing. Not to mention the fact that they absorbed two other companies guilty of the same crime.

  22. Daytonna says:

    Walamrt?

    Porn pedeling, false advertising, Nazi lovers….

  23. some_yahoo says:

    I nominate Best Buy. The reasons are numerous, from a consumer point-of-view as well as from the employee point-of-view. Topping the list is:

    - not honoring warranties
    - lying to customers
    - threatening to call the police when people complain

    The site http://bestbuysux.org/ has documentation as far as the eye can see.

  24. timmus says:

    Any company that has smily, happy “people” clipart needs to get an automatic evil bonus. In recent years I’ve noticed close correlations with happy smily webpages and shitty service.

  25. timmus says:

    Also just to avoid derailing, I haven’t had any bad service (mainly since we now avoid dealing with megacorps and use local services where possible). But I have to give bad marks to the energy company TXU. Though compared to what I’ve heard about ConEd I probably don’t have much of a leg to stand on.

  26. WindowSeat says:

    Home Depot for Bob Nardelli’s golden parachute. The shareholders and employees have a right to be pissed.

  27. matrixhax0r says:

    Hmm, I nominate Cingular for teaching the American generation proprietary math.

    I would really want to nominate comcast though… bastards.

  28. Ben Popken says:

    Sam writes:

    “Broadway Video. Why? Ask the Thomas Hawk and the rest of the internet…”

  29. dickius says:

    Altria, for making billions off of a product that kills people. Honestly, isn’t that a little worse than being left waiting for the Comcast guy? (which I’ve done more than once…)

  30. Pelagius says:

    Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for killing its employees and making every commute a gamble against smoky stations, broken escalators, and inexplicable outages

  31. weave says:

    Here’s a link to a story on endgadget that mentions why Verizon cripples Bluetooth and the entire revenue leak business.

  32. royal72 says:

    i nominate micro$oft

  33. Sudonum says:

    Can we get Consumerist to provide us with a “count” of the 10 companies with the most posts on this site in the last year. It might make it a little more sporting. Then again if you count Nazi “T” shirt posts, WalMart would probably win it hands down.

  34. Hitchcock says:

    Sony. They’ve been in the news a lot this year about all the stupid stunts they’ve pulled.

  35. Ben Popken says:

    GP writes:

    “Verizon — Besides being bad at math (.02 cents vs. .02 dollars), its
    customer service continues to rankle, dissemble, and to be generally
    unhelpful. Specifically, their training is inconsistent for such a
    large company, and when promised one thing by one rep, another will
    claim that the other had no permission or authority to do so.

    Time Warner Cable (NYC) — Making and breaking service appointments
    according to their own logic.

    Aetna Health Insurance — disallowing medication (non-generic,
    without generic equivalent) specifically prescribed by a doctor,
    claiming that they were under no obligation to cover medicine just
    because a health care professional deemed it best for the patient.

    Halliburton/KBR — Same reason it won last year, only a year later.

    Any ISP that is seeking to charge at both ends of the pipeline (i.e.,
    opposed to the net neutrality law).

    IDT — for all the reasons you at Consumerist have listed.

    Most airlines — Passengers may have become mean to the front line
    airline company reps. But I say that’s in response to the airline
    companies now treating passengers like they get in the way of them
    doing business.

    That’s all for now.”

  36. ct03 says:

    UPS because, in addition to the other times things have shown up broken and late, I am currently waiting for a pair of glasses that were mistakenly delivered to the wrong address SIX miles from my house last Wednesday and they have provided me very little information, most of which has turned out to be untrue (deliver by Friday, deliver by Monday, deliver by Wednesday morning, etc.)

    If there ever is a Best Company, I nominate Costco because of the reaming that they have been giving UPS over this.

  37. The Unicorn says:

    Ooh, ooh, I have one: News Corporation, AKA Rupert Murdoch and All He Stands For.

    If we make screenings of “Outfoxed” mandatory for all voters, I bet it wins.

  38. juri squared says:

    Ooo, I missed you on Marketplace! I love that show.

    The worst companies I’ve personally dealt with this past year are Cingular, Aetna, Sony, and Comcast. Funny, I don’t seem to be the only one!

  39. AcilletaM says:

    Can we nominate the cable industry as one? (Here’s why)

    Otherwise then my vote is Comcast, because they are Comcastic.

  40. formergr says:

    Comcast- not only for the sleeping technician caught on camera, or making customers wait on appointments, or raising their prices exorbitantly, but for also having a technician who raped and strangled two women in Chicago while on service calls, thus making me scared (whether rationally or not) of ever having a service technician in my apartment again.

  41. Luxy says:

    I second Walmart, Altria and Monsanto.

    And I’ll add Clear Channel for, you know, censoring and all that.

  42. Ben Popken says:

    Samantha writes:

    “I Had a wickedly bad experience with uhaul about 7 years ago. My marriage has ended & I needed a change of scenery. I made a reservation on the phone to rent a truck. ON the day of the move, it took me hours and hours of waiting to FINALLY get some crappy little truck. I packed all my worldy possessions and headed out of the bay area to my new home in Nevada ALONE. and this was before I had a cell phone *joy*

    bout 5 hours later, on highway 88 in california, about 15 minutes out of the last town, the entire truck just died. I was out in the middle of the Sierra Nevada’s Mountains in May, and I was completed stranded. Lucky for Me, it was a sunday and it only took an HOUR for the CHP to find me and call uhaul. It took 6 hours for Uhaul to dispatch a tow truck to tow me to the nearest town….(reminder, divorced female single female, alone, I had no food, no water, and all my crap in the truck, oh and I was also broke and it was sunday)

    7 hours after my truck died, This AMAZING Tow Truck Driver (aka My Knight in Shining Armor) appeared. He drove me nearly 100 miles to my home. I swear if he weren’t married I would’ve married this man on the spot! If it weren’t for him, I don’t know what I would’ve done.

    After about a week of the Uhaul being at my new apartment, they finally had it towed away. When they arrived, I had spoken to the mechanic before it was towed, we peered under the hood….battery acid all over the place. They FAILED to secure the battery and the entire way up there, the belts were rubbing thru the the battery casing…..

    Of course, they then turned around and blamed me for the truck breaking down.

    *sigh* They even sent me to collections to make me pay for the late rental and damage.

    To this day I can not go on long trips without having an anxiety attack. Just remembering uhaul stranding me sends shivers up my spine.

    Years later when I moved back to CA, I rented from budget and I had a caravan of friends help me back over that mountain. I will NEVER RENT FROM uhaul… they are just too damn evil.

    Don’t use my email on the site… it’s been years and years and years since this happened. Not much good can come of this, but I have
    learned and I won’t use them… :) This letter is just to back up my vote for them getting the shiny turd.

    They really don’t deserve shiny golden turd… but if that’s all you guys have I guess it’s better then a bag full of the real thing… right?”

  43. Jesse in Japan says:

    I vote, collectively, for the major record labels that constitute the RIAA. Ruining thousands of people’s lives to protect their already dead and buried business model is just plain evil.

  44. Frank Grimes says:

    The Uinted Staes Postal Service. It has gotten to the pint with me and my neighbors that we are moderately happy if we get our mail. In this past year they have:

    • Mis delivered my mail to a similar address 1 mile away at least 30 times after being told countless times about the mistake
    • Left packages partly put in our box allowing them to get drenched in the rain on about six occasions
    • Lost at least (3) Bill’s that we were aware of resulting in (2) late fees from credit cards.
    • On many occasions failed to open my nearest branch on time, meaning there is a crowd waiting to get in at 8:15 ready for blood.
    • On December 15th mailing (6) boxes and watch the line behind me swell as the speed challenged clerk walked each package slowly to the back to apparently hand load it as people were looking at me like I was the asshat. Apparently in HOU the postal clerks all come pre-medicated.
    • Being too lazy to deliver packages to our porch and instead leave notes directing us to pick them up at the local branch, the one that consistently opens 15 minutes late.
    • Charging for tracking that is completely useless
    • Installing a self service 24/7 machine but locking the opening for any package beyond an envelope
    • Forgetting that they work for us.

  45. Doxidan, Gentle Doxidan says:

    Any insurance company, preferably auto insurance. I bought a new car right around the time of my policy expiration, got a better deal, and left Progressive. There was no pro-rated premium refund because I was ending it literally within days of the expiration, so no problem, right? They sent me a bill for $45, the early termination fee. I threw it in the fucking trash. Send it to a collection agency, I don’t care. Close second is GE Money Bank which, like most if not all credit card companies, cannot competently process an online payment and expects people to pay $10, on top of their payment, to do so by phone. Fuck GE Money Bank in its conglomerate ass.

  46. strandist says:

    I nominate Home Depot for their screwing over of people with unreliable subcontractors.

  47. Frank Grimes says:

    That Would be United STATES Postal Service…god I’m a moron, and they still suck.

  48. Keter says:

    Hands down, the Federal government, and specifically the do-nothing Congress and the “stay the course” executive branch, a combination that refuses to do the will of the people and is systematically dismantling our ability to govern ourselves.

    All corporate evils are enabled by corrupted government.

  49. KesCaesar says:

    AT&T/Cingular/SBC
    Can anyone spell UNCHECKED GROWTH which inevitably will lead to a scary monopoly?

  50. saikofish says:

    I second all the nominations for U-Haul. It’s a “winner” for me, hands down.

  51. - says:

    Monsanto, McDonalds, Fox News

  52. Plasmafire says:

    I nominate the Bush administration. They have lost trillions of dollars and not a single thing has ever been accomplished. What other company could you think of that could lose a trillion dollars and still be a company?

  53. I second WalMart (for treating employees like shit, mostly), Monsanto (for patenting seeds and sneaking GMOs into the marketplace), the U.S. Government / Administration (for abandoning New Orleans and uninsured America in favor of miring the country in an immoral and politically motivated war), Sony (for haxoring their customers) and the RIAA (for abusing the legal system for their own financial ends). I know the RIAA & Government aren’t strictly companies, but they have all the major components & social effects of corporations, so I say we count ‘em.

    I’d also like to nominate H&R Block, for providing the world’s crappiest non-service as a whole, and then lying egregiously to their consumers whenever possible on top of it. I tried to use them last tax season, got screwed for $200 when they messed up my return, spent months on the phone trying to get a refund, and ended up with nothing more than a lower opinion of telephone customer-service-people in general. Oh, and they were more expensive than a REAL CPA!

  54. thereviewer says:

    Can we just say Cell phone companies, all of them as one big dickhole of a business. I guess if I had to pick, Cingular.

  55. Mr. Gunn says:

    Choicepoint should remain in the running, because they’re so scary.
    Apple, for foisting DRM-laded technology on poor hipsters that don’t know any better. They’ve done more to advance the acceptance of DRM than the RIAA, MPAA, and Sony put togeher.
    Sony, for just not having a goddamn clue about who keeps them in business.
    Walmart, for having the best PR people in the world!

  56. smallfry says:

    AT&T, for horrific customer service.

  57. jeblis says:

    Walmart would have made my list, but I like porn.

    Sony rootkit

    riaa media companies in general, drm, hdcp, etc.

    Haliburton They haven’t gotten any better

    Time Warner Cable Switched Digital channels (won’t work with cable cards)

    Clearchannel for buying up every radio station and making them sanitized suck.

    AT&T My #1. They allowed the government to secretly wiretap everyone. Now we essentially have MaBell back. Also see net neutrality.

  58. silverlining says:

    I second Verizon, because of what they do to cripple decent phones, because they can’t do math, and because of the crappy way they treat their workers (hostile to their CWA members). And I’m a Verizon customer.

    I also think that until you’ve run up against however much memory you have on your voicemail, you should have a way to automatically skip to the newest message without being compelled to go through all the old messages again. It shouldn’t matter how old a message is, along as you’re not running up against that allotment.

    How about Cingular, too, for all the crap they give people about getting out of their contract when THEY raise the rates?

    I also second Clear Channel. They’re trying to introduce LED billboards here in Minneapolis/St. Paul, encountering a lot of resistance, and recently made the sleazy move of offering to advertise Amber Alerts on their boards–good free publicity to promote the boards, right after they lost a lawsuit in Minnetonka and after the City of St. Paul placed a moratorium on the signs.

    How about Real Networks? Their players are full of ads, never completely shut down until you close the ad window after you shut down the ap, the updates are buggy, and customer service almost nonexistent.

    Finally, Sony should win an award for DRMing CDs (including CDs sent out by BMG)–and using anti-piracy as an excuse to digitally monitor consumers’ listening habits to–wait for it–send consumers marketing messages. As reported here on “Consumerist.”

    Just my thoughts.

  59. jeblis says:
  60. Imhotep says:

    The IRS for fooling amerians into paying income taxes that are unconstiturional and not supported by any law. Then, turning around and using 100% of our money to pay the interest on our national debt to the “Federal” Reserve.
    Watch “America: Freedom to Fascism”, then sign the petition to shut down the federal reserve. Or, you know, get in line for your RFID implant.

  61. RandomHookup says:

    Oh, they’re giving away RFID implants? In for 2.

  62. Sallie Mae and UPS

  63. cryrevolution says:

    UHaul
    Walmart
    Cingular
    :)

  64. Darren W. says:

    What, no love for Bank Of America???

  65. Legodude522 says:

    I vote Apple Inc and Verizon.

  66. billybastion says:

    Obviously since Best Buy was created by the Devil and run by his minions, they should automatically win.

    Or Time Warner Cable. They’re pretty awful too.

  67. Ben Popken says:

    Will writes:

    “Cingular (now AT&T) – for managing to make an Apple product (the iPhone) look unappealing to me.

    Boston Police Department – for wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars to blow up a glorified lite-brite.”

  68. eeebee says:

    I’ll vote for U-Haul. We had a bad experience with them TWENTY years ago and have never forgotten it. It involved my just-married (to me) husband, a barely working truck with no gas, the south side of Chicago and everything I owned. He lived to tell the tale and just thinking about it TWENTY years later still raises my blood pressure.

  69. jscott73 says:

    Jeesh I’m sure glad I cancelled my cable and cell phone services last year, haven’t missed ‘em a bit…

    I vote for the RIAA too.

    As Jesse in Japan said
    “Ruining thousands of people’s lives to protect their already dead and buried business model is just plain evil.”

    Bush administration is a very close second.

  70. jscott73 says:

    Baby Einstein, for marketing a product to parents that is detrimental to their children and getting the president to hold them up as an example of entrepreneurship in his State of the Union address.

  71. ego_nil says:

    United Health Care for its recent scandal involving Bill McGuire.

  72. impudence says:

    Uhaul!! Uhaul!! Uhaul!! Uhaul!! Uhaul!! This is the most diabolically evil company in the world. They have made an art form out of bad customer service. Every interaction I have ever had with them has been nothing less than horrific. The final straw was being charged for having a truck for an extra week because they refused to pick it up after the brakes failed completely (they wanted me to drive it back to their location).

  73. Seeingred says:

    Worst Company in America?
    Family Dollar Stores and Earl Scheib!!

  74. Rae says:

    Definitely Bank of America!! (in my case, the credit card company)
    Where do I begin?? They cheat their customers out of money, then do not correct it after they say they will, and they have the WORST customer service. They are rude & unhelpful when- and IF-you ever get a rep on the phone! I was just on hold for 35 minutes, and gave up! I have had this happen several times.