Round 5: Exxon vs Crocs


Exxon Valdez crash spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaskan waters. Recently Exxon petitioned to have the $2.5 billion in punitive damages reduced because it thought they were excessive. Exxon was also sued in lawsuit claiming their Indonesian subsidiary allowed their facilities to be used by the Indonesian government to torture 11 villagers.

Crocs makes really stupid looking shoes that have unfortunately become faddish. They can also get stuck in escalators leading to a very scary time as you try to pry your child from the ceaselessly churning stairs of death. Several injuries have been reported.

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2008 series. Keep track of all the goings on at consumerist.com/tag/worst-company-in-america/

STILL OPEN FOR VOTING: Google Vs Sony, Ticketmaster vs Wachovia, Facebook vs The American Arbitration Association, Comcast vs Menu Foods

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  1. bigdirty says:

    Now if it were Exxon v. The People who bought Crocs, I may have voted against Exxon, but oil companies are just plain evil these days.

  2. redrover189 says:

    I thought we already discussed this – Crocs aren’t necessarily at fault (until I see a study that claims that Crocs put the feet at unnecessary risk on escalators, I don’t buy it) and the kid getting his toes eaten is more the fault of the parents. Seriously, who doesn’t remember their parents saying (as the family approaches the end of the escalator), “Ok, get ready to make the big jump!”

    I remember my mom telling me to hop over the comb feeder at the bottom (or top) because it could “eat” feet and shoelaces. I think the only reason this is getting attention is because it’s a very distinct type of shoe – if cowboy boots were a new fad, or if wooden clogs were, we’d probably hear similar things (although clogs probably wouldn’t get eaten by an escalator). I remember this being an issue when flip flops came back into style about 8 years ago – my friend’s mom wouldn’t let her buy any because escalators would suck her feet in.

    Sorry, but stupid brats in ugly shoes getting their toes eaten because their mom wasn’t watching versus adorable sea otters, ducks and other wildlife getting killed or maimed by Exxon being crap (and then trying to get out of their punishment) is a no-brainer. Exxon sucks – think of the otters!

  3. AaronZ says:

    The most lopsided contest so far!

  4. redrover189 says:

    Also, how can you really judge Exxon – my above post was really based more on the events of 20 years ago when they dumped a bunch of oil and damaged the wildlife. But really, how does Exxon appealing make them evil? Of course they are going to appeal, like any corporation or single person would.

    If they think they have a chance in appeals court, they’ll take it – it’s not like they’re chomping at the bit to pay 2.5 bil. It’s fairly understandable that they’d try this. Their past deeds are none too great, but it’s all relative.

  5. cmdr.sass says:

    Since the Valdez oil spill occurred in 1989 and this contest is for worst company of 2008, Crocs must win by default.

  6. Buran says:

    @redrover189: It’s called responsibility for your actions.

  7. Buran says:

    @cmdr.sass: They’re appealing *this year*.

  8. friedfish1 says:

    C’mon! This isn’t even close. How, in the name of all that is consumer driven, can Crocs even be in this? A gazillion gallons of oil spread by a drunken captain be in the same league as some kid on his first escalator? A little personal responsibility here! Or does it “take a village” to get your kid up to the second floor?

  9. Kazari says:

    I don’t blame Exxon at all for appealing, but I still voted for them. Idiot children/idiot mothers vs. idiot highly paid executives. It’s a no-brainer.

  10. jmsbmck says:

    SERIOUSLY? Exxon made 11,660,000,000 in net profit last year. That’s 11 Bilion. B-b-b-b-billion. With a b. Why did my gas go up 10% in four hours last week? Not because we are in Iraq, but because the world’s largest oil company made eleven freakin’ BILLION dollars in proft last year. Exxon for the win.

  11. m1k3g says:

    And if all that friggin profit wasn’t enough, they want to charge you .50 cents to use their goddam air pump!

  12. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    If we’re going to call every company that makes a product people like and want “evil” because its product has been shown to be used stupidly by morons who can’t follow instructions (in this case, parents who can’t buy the correct shoe size for their child), this contest is going to be running until the Apocalypse.

  13. DearEditor says:

    Wear Crocs, get eaten by escalator, prove Darwin right. I’m going long on Exxon here.

  14. Murph1908 says:

    @jmsbmck:
    Wrong.

    Your gas went up 10% last week because the dollar is falling, due to sub-prime mortgages. The specific catalyst this time was Bear Stearns.

    The dollar buys less than it did before, including barrels of oil.

    Oil companies make around 3-4% profit. Corporations at a whole average about 7%.

  15. Drowner says:

    You almost got me Consumerist. I almost clicked Crocs out of personal hatred. Crocs are a problem that is easily solved by not wearing them. I, unfortunatly, cannot stop using oil.

  16. Cheebus says:

    Crocs are hideous. Selling ugly shoes to people with no taste is hardly a crime.

    No contest here.

  17. Beerad says:

    @cmdr.sass: Well, just because the oil spill was almost 20 years ago doesn’t mean that Exxon ISN’T an evil company. Besides, I’m pretty sure that the more recent Exxon-supported rape and torture in Indonesia abundantly qualifies them for the contest.

    Let’s see… on the one hand, there’s really ugly fashion and the chance for a bloody toe. On the other, a company was complicit in murder, torture, kidnapping, and rape of oppressed people. Yeah, I know where my vote went.

    These early-round seed matchips do seem pretty lopsided.

  18. MeOhMy says:

    These are seeded brackets, right? So that if there are no upsets the evilest company in the East should face off against the evilest company in the West at the end? That would explain some of these lopsided comments.

    Aside from the fact that they are made in China, I can’t really see much evil in Crocs. Making a product that is basically “pugly” (so ugly it’s cool) isn’t inherently evil (not to mention, they’ve got tons of styles beyond the now iconic “beach” model, with varying degrees of ugliness from “awesome” to “barf”). Coming up with a product that is very functional and seems to have mass appeal doesn’t seem very evil. You may have something with the escalator danger but on the other hand there’s a lot of products that can injure/kill you when used the wrong way. It would be evil if Crocs engineered a non-skid material SPECIFICALLY to cause it to catch in escalators.

    So Exxon by a long shot.

  19. urban_ninjya says:

    I like crocs. They’re great as beach wear. You’re safer wearing crocs than a pair of flip flops near an escalator. If you wear them indoors, you have no sense of style and deserve to loose your feet. Well not really, but we really don’t want to see your feet indoors. Keep the crocs and the flipflops at the beach or by the water.

  20. Buran says:

    @Murph1908: They can freaking afford to stop passing on their “cost incrases” to us when they make billions. You missed the entire point.

  21. sleze69 says:

    @bigdirty: Yeah. Blaming Crocs for its crappy product is like blaming the inventor of the pet rock. Consumers of Crocs beats Exxon, but the company itself is ok in my book.

    This game is a landslide. Turn to CBS and watch the games from the Midwest conference…

  22. Bmaz23 says:

    Exxon does not burn holes in my eyes but Crocs do. Every time someone buys a pair of crocs an angel falls from the sky and loses their wings.

    The product Exxon provides is of some value to me but Crocs are the bane of society. I would rather people wear sandals with socks (cringes).

  23. redrover189 says:

    @Buran: No, I totally think they should have to pay, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the best basis to vote them as worst of the year. Like I said, I hate them because a.) they are big oil b.) they killed all those cute critters and c.) the torture thing.

    I just don’t think damning them based on an appeal is the best. There’s gotta be juicier stuff about them – any of the Exxon execs frequent prostitutes? Or even better, use airport restrooms for gay flings?

  24. redrover189 says:

    @Buran: Damn comments got eaten, sorry if this is a duplicate – I totally agree, they need to take responsibility for that disaster, but at the same time, I don’t think its 100% fair to damn them for an appeal. The torture thing, that’s a good judgement of how they are evil. They are the devil though.

  25. @Buran: blame the shareholders among us for driving that attitude. it’s not them against us it’s us against us. maybe if people could accept 4-8% returns every year it wouldn’t be an issue, but we all want our investment return NOW.

  26. Canerican says:

    About CEOs. They put down millions of their own money, make a company successful, and then we can’t compensate them well? Yeah, they get alot, but they have alot of personal risk riding on the success or failure of a company. (Some CEOs invest 90% of their personal wealth into a company) they deserve the great compensation that they get.

  27. Canerican says:

    @rainmkr: Yes, I do want to make more money now.

  28. AceKicker says:

    You’d get more competition out of firecrackers vs TNT.

  29. AceKicker says:

    @Canerican: What about the CEO’s that got massive bonuses for running their banks into the ground with the subprime fiasco?

  30. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Canerican: It’s not based on their character, on their skills, or on what they deserve. People (including CEOs) are compensated based on how much influence their daily tasks have on the overall profit picture of the company. An assembly line worker makes no decisions (except to follow normal work product, safety, and conduct rules), and is paid the least. The CEO could put the entire company out of business with one ill-chosen remark. If you like, you can think of compensation as a bribe to prevent the person from causing the damage they are empowered to cause. :D

  31. Beerad says:

    @Canerican: “(Some CEOs invest 90% of their personal wealth into a company) they deserve the great compensation that they get.”

    I’m sorry, can you please identify, say, 3 CEOs of publicly traded companies (preferably Fortune 500, but I won’t be picky) who have invested nearly all of their wealth into their company? If that’s too much of a tall order, how about 1? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

  32. aka Cat says:

    Crocs are excellent for running outside to water the plants. Particularly since there are no escalators or innocent bystanders in my back yard.

  33. HuntersCanvas says:

    Crocs are ugly but are also made of ethylene-vinyl acetate which is made from fossil fuels. They are also so cheap that they will likely be thrown away without thought once people realize how ridiculous they look wearing them. I doubt they’ll be recycled either, and at 3 mm pairs produced a month, they will fill much landfill space. Still an unbelievably one-sided race for worst company.

  34. Claystil says:

    i HATE crocs, but Exxon wins by miles.

  35. krom says:

    These matchups so far have been REALLY lopsided.

  36. Have you been to the gas station lately? Exxon. Period. Why not throw OPEC into the running while we’re at it?

  37. jeff303 says:

    @Drowner: Uh, well, you probably could, it would just be horribly inconvenient.

  38. Trai_Dep says:

    Voted for Exxon this time out, but the second that Crocs announces a Crocs Male Thong, I demand a revote.

  39. Trai_Dep says:

    Aww, cute lil’ oil-slicked sea otters: inspired choice, Ben!

  40. Kilotonne says:

    Exxon-Mobile cannot be more evil than Crocs for this simple reason:

    Exxon-Mobile is a company providing us with various petrochemicals used in all walks of life. The Crocs shoes are simply blobs of hardened carbohydrates extracted by the said Exxon-Mobile, so whatever sins are attibuted to E-M by extension apply to Crocs. And since Crocs are much more hideous than unrefined oil (or even plain diesel) than Crocs is a more evil company.

  41. imaima says:

    May not be of interest to all, but Exxon also has a ZERO score on the Human Rights Campaign index. It is (from hrc.org) “the only U.S. employer that has ever rescinded both a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation and domestic partner benefits, and is now the only Fortune 10 company that does not have a non-discrimination policy covering “sexual orientation.”

  42. ludwigk says:

    @Canerican: You’re not describing a CEO, you’re describing an entrepreneur, or a venture capitalist. CEO pay has spiraled up around 300% over the past 10 years, while average worker pay has been nearly stagnant (single digit growth) over the same period of time, not even keeping up with inflation. This has NOTHING to do with CEOs going out of pocket to fund companies, this has EVERYTHING to do with CEO bonus packages and stock options ever increasing to woo upper level management into staying with a particular company.

    Workers in all positions are much less sedentary today than 20-30 years ago. People go through many more career changes and workplace changes than they did back then. At the low end, this doesn’t matter as much. You can retrain your low-mid workers quickly and get on with life.

    At the high end, you need people familiar with the industry and the company who can lead it competently. As a result of this growing anxiety, company boards feel they need to do more and more to keep executives at their company, like dumping 100s of millions of dollars on them as incentives to stay.

    When the company does well, HOORAY, reward their excellence with piles of money. When the company is suffering, ensnare them in golden handcuffs so that they won’t consider leaving a sinking ship. Either way, pile on more money.

  43. casey451 says:

    I wonder about this place, sometimes. Yeah, we have trashed Crocs here before, and I’m convinced even more that Popken may be the most truth-challenged poster here, and readers may be the most crotchcentric and ungenerous of all readers of all blogs. There are real villains out there and you waste time on pumping up your page views with crap like this, Ben. You suck.

  44. mthrndr says:

    @Murph1908:
    Wrong.

    Your gas went up 10% last week because oil is currently being traded in the futures market as a paper commodity. There are several billion dollars worth of artificial demand tacked on top of current, real-world daily demand. There is plenty of supply to meet current real-world demand. However, this trading continues to push the price up as people attempt to find a stable place to put their money into. Expect oil prices to continue to rise as a result of this. Artificial demand is pushing the demand for oil out by 3-4 months beyond what the world really needs. Thank the markets.

  45. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @casey451: Dude, what’s your damage? If you don’t like the Worst Company in America contest you don’t have to read these posts.

    Someone please tell me they’re working on getting the flag button back.

  46. IrisMR says:

    Exxon for me. That croc thing sounds like nonsense.

    These shoes ARE comfy and useful, and the kids must’ve done something wrong if it gets stuck in escalators.

  47. sgodun says:

    No-brainer here: One is guilty of destroying countless lives and livelihood and an entire ecosystem, then failing to correct the issue in an honorable way.

    The other makes ugly shoes that stupid people wear.

  48. BStu says:

    Okay, see this a 1 seed versus a 16 seed.

  49. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Canerican:

    Not in a publicly traded company. Thanks for showing all of us you have no freaking idea what you are talking about & should be summarily ignored.

  50. BillyMumphry says:

    you all can refer to previous posts on how 95% of the american public and 99% of consumeristy readers are completely ignorant when it comes to oil company profits.
    Owners of the gas stations and dealers (large majority of stations are not company owned) set their gas prices and your precious air prices. Go complain to Sanjay.

    Crocs’ stock is an absolute piece of shit and they have destroyed shareholder value at every turn (unless you call short interest shareholder value). They fail at the very mission statement of public companies– create shareholder wealth.

  51. egoebelbecker says:

    Neither of these companies block torrents….can I just vote for Comcast twice?

  52. Angryrider says:

    @egoebelbecker: Well, I’d rather vote for a company that kills living things on purpose. MMM Kay?

    High profits from expensive barrels of gas? B-s

  53. Buran says:

    @redrover189: Why not? “I don’t think I should have to pay for what I did”. They made a huge mess and should pay the consequences.

  54. jetdillo says:

    Oh C’mon. This whole problem with the Crocs would be avoidable if somebody would just teach those damn kids to RESPECT THAT ESCALATOR!

  55. WEGGLES90 says:

    Idiots hurting their feet on escalators, or a multibillion dollar company doing everything they can to destroy the environment it seems (they even take steps to prevent regulations from getting stricter too)

    Hmmm..,

    Also, I agree with the guy who said if it was exxon vs people who bought Crocs it would be a tougher choice.

  56. Raignn says:

    “Idiots hurting their feet on escalators, or a multibillion dollar company doing everything they can to destroy the environment it seems (they even take steps to prevent regulations from getting stricter too).”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. That’s an easy choice.

  57. ScottCh says:

    Consumerist is including Exxon for the wrong reasons. Their corporate anti-consumer and anti-democracy related behavior has a long and rich history.

    They are likely to be THE MOST damaging corporation in history when it comes to misinforming the public, and successfully lobbying Washington for favorable legislation.

    They underwrite several fake grassroots organizations that publish cleverly misleading reports about how the planet is getting cooler, why a Hummer is more environmentally friendly than a Hybrid, and how no one can ever prove 100% that greenhouse gases are from man made sources, so why bother trying to control them?

    They have inspired people to reveal their misbehavior on web sites like [www.exxposeexxon.com] and [www.exxonsecrets.org] .

    SourceWatch.org has an informative summary of what ExxonMobil has been up to here:
    [www.sourcewatch.org]

    Definitely worth a readthru.

  58. mike says:

    I’ll have to vote against the majority here.

    Exxon, a heartless evil company that is making billions of dollars doesn’t want to pay out for their oil spill. Besides that, I think oil prices are high, but only because demand is up.

    But Crocs, a company that made a horrible shoe, proceeded to make it into a horrible fad, then balks that escalators love eating the stupid things.

    For unleashing a fad on America, I put you in the same camp as pogs, digital pets, and friendship bracelets.

  59. Lordstrom says:

    I’m voting for Crocs just to give a big fuck you to all of you who blame OIL for everything.

  60. dirithmir says:

    oh come on!
    the Exxon Valdez spill was what? 20 years ago? get over it already.

  61. youbastid says:

    @dirithmir: To paraphrase Bill Hicks, why don’t you get over Jesus, as long as we’re talking shelf life here.

  62. youbastid says:

    @lorddave: Yeah, that’ll teach ‘em! You’re taking ACTION!

  63. Well I’ve decided to abstain from participating in this vote. My neighborhood Exxon is always at least 5 cents cheaper than the competition… but at the same those otters are so darn cute!

  64. HamCannon says:

    Crocs are comfy and I don’t care if I look like an idiot.

    Does that make me a bad person?

  65. magnus150 says:

    I hate those horrible motherfuckin crocs and everyone that wears them should suffer, but they aren’t nearly as evil as exxon. They just need to be arrested by the fashion police.

  66. erica.blog says:

    I feel soooooo much better about humanity now that I see Crocs isn’t winning! Stupid shoes, no question, but more evil than Exxon is quite a stretch.

  67. Mr. Gunn says:

    Crocs are great in rainy weather, and I’d expect as many shoelace-untied accidents as croc-related ones.

    They shouldn’t even be in this competition.

  68. “ceaselessly churning stairs of death”. I just love that phrase. Really why should Crocs be blamed for anything when it’s really the fault of escalator designers.

    It’s not like they’ve come up with any new escalator innovations since… well, since the invention of the escalator….

    Some industrious citizen should get busy trying to make our ascensions safer and more enjoyable. :)

    An escalator is a good example of one of those things that was, in a way, ‘grandfathered’ in, and you gotta wonder if it were being invented today, would it be considered a safe thing… [en.wikipedia.org] [en.wikipedia.org]

    And oh, that totally reminds of this funny bit about how dangerous irons are
    [video.google.com]

  69. deadlizard says:

    For a lot of you it was an easy vote, but for me it’s agonizing. Exxon is terrible (except for shareholders) but I hate those stupid Crocs beyond any reason.

  70. LUV2CattleCall says:

    FWIW… You need oil to make Crocs but not Crocs (well…you need the dead fossil kind) to make oil…

    That said, I’m voting for Exxon. Crocs serve a great purpose as an idiot beacon. I ended up choosing another dentist when the one I had an appointment with was wearing a set of pink ones.

  71. ryaninc says:

    All of you hating on Crocs clearly have never tried them. I hated them for a really long time until my wife talked me into buying a pair. I still think they’re ugly, but they’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever had. I’m wearing them now, in fact. :-)

  72. ? Final ? says:

    Any shoe/ shoe lace can get caught up in an escalator, parents need to get off the cellphone at malls and watch their kids. and they’re cheap to replace when the elevator monster does manage to grab them.

    Exxon should not be making record profits and asking for leniency for something they caused. They made 36 BILLION in profit in 05 and are set to make 3 billion more then that this year. Not to mention that they’re spending more time and money on denying Global warming and lobbying then R&D of alternatives… Atleast BP is paying lip service to sustainable or zero emission alternatives.

  73. JustaConsumer says:

    Crocs does not belong on this list. Things got stuck in escalators a long time before Crocs. Now can we vote on the parents that don’t pay attention to their kids?

  74. chutch says:

    Exxon gets my “EVIL oil company” vote. Crocs are evil, but not oil company evil. If you or your children own these, stay away from areas with what I call “chipped wood” as a ground softener – such as school playgrounds. Any hard pieces that stick up will drive through the bottom of the crocs. It happens much more often than people tend to think.

  75. captainleah says:

    who picked crocs?!

  76. Gimme a break. Like JC wrote, shoes have been getting stuck in escalators since they first came around. And yes, Crocs are just about the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen. However, have you ever tried them on? They’re so comfortable that you don’t even care anymore about how they are. These are not fashionable shoes. They’re shoes you wear around the house, running errands, etc. If I want to look good, I pull out my 500 dollar Nocona python-skin boots. If I want to be comfy, I wear my Crocs. I think the comfort is simply worth the looks.

    Just my two cents.

  77. JeffM says:

    @ryaninc: Yup, you Crocs haters really make me wonder… :P Yes, they ugly, faddish? Who knows, yes I guess they’re sold at Nordstrom etc, but as others have said they’re comfortable.

    If you guys _really_ don’t care what other people think (as I’m sure many would say if asked) then why the hell would you care if you wore ugly comfortable shoes? Crocs hate seems even trendier than the shoes on Consumerist. :P