Round 41: Wal-Mart vs Citibank

This is Round 41 in our Worst Company in America contest, Wal-Mart vs Citibank!

Here’s what readers said in previous rounds about why they hate these two companies…

Wal-Mart:

“I am voting for walmart because of their low wages, the dead eyes in many of its employees (I know….. I used to be one long ago),and their tendancy to drive their manufacturers out of business/into bankruptcy by demanding lower & lower costs.”

“To me Wal-Mart is the epitome of everything that is bad in our country right now. Outsourcing of jobs to China. Low quality dangerous goods. Putting mom and pop stores out of business and making the entire country look like a homogenized genericana wasteland.”

“in a battle of evil, it’s always Wal-Mart. Always.”

“Wal-Mart’s biggest crime? They stole the smiley face. Give us back Mr. Smiley Face!”

“I knew they pushed manufacturers to lesser quality items for their stores, but I was not expecting this to trickle down to frozen pizza. I know they have committed greater evils, but man, screwing with a DiGiorno should be punishable by death.”

“walmart knowingly uses its size against its manuafacterers. When walmart says they will sell a manufacturer’s product the manufacturer first gets a decent deal from walmart, but has to retool & buy more manufacturing facilities in order to meet walmart’s demand. THEN once the manufacturer is in debt & dependant upon walmart…. walmart puts the squeeze on…. demanding lower costs. And this happens every time the contract is negotiated and eventually the manufacturer goes under.”

“Walmart is actively evil. Eviscerating middle class family stores? Evil. Workers rights violations, shoddy pay, dangerous products made for the poor, ironically made by the poor of the third world. Evil. They make a profit off of screwing people over.”

“They drive smaller stores out of business so people have to drive to their instead of walking to the smaller ones. “

“I will say that it’s usually the terrible store managers that ruin the experience for both the employees, and the customers end up getting the brunt of it. As a former supervisor, I’d probably still be there part-time if it weren’t for the constant belittling that my coworkers and I went through.”

” Not shopping there isn’t always easy. In some areas, pre-existing businesses crumble in Wal-Mart’s wake, and those who don’t may drive their prices up, or resort to selling crap as well.

I’m not sure that Wal-Mart hasn’t “allowed” instances of identity theft and fraud. Given the number of stores they have, and the amount of business that they do, I don’t think it’s implausible. Maybe we just haven’t heard about it yet.

Wal-Mart DOES cost taxpayers. As of 2004, they had received at least 650 million (and that’s a generous, low end estimate. I’ve seen figures as high as 1 billion) dollars in government subsidies — free/low-cost land, job training funds, sales tax rebates, tax credits, infrastructure assistance. This doesn’t include the Wal-Mart employees who have qualified for -and taken- food stamps (or other forms of public assistance), or those who have enrolled themselves/their kids in health programs run by the states. How much unemployment has been paid out to those who have lost jobs in their communities when Wal-Marts rolled in?

I’m sure Wal-Mart has done some a great amount of good in some of the communities they’ve entered, but many of their actions have been/are worthy of contempt. “

“I bought a GE Skillet from them a while back and it was a piece of shit. To find out why, I checked the box and it said something like “made for Wal-Mart” and ever since then, when I do venture into Wal-Mart I always check for that label.

Actually, come to think of it, the last thing I bought after that skillet was a small grill, otherwise I haven’t bothered with Wal-Mart for any appliances.”

“Has Wal-Mart given any money to the gay and lesbian cause here lately? I hear they are running out of rainbow posters.”

Citibank:

“Best Buy lost (stole) my mothers laptop that was left @ the Geek Squad. It was a lemon junker so we disputed the charge with the credit card company (Citibank) when Best Buy refused to do anything about it. Long story short. We actually LOST that dispute. Couldn’t believe it. We had a clear cut case with a police report even. 100% legit FRAUD on Best Buy’s part. Citibank said they were “unable to secure a credit from Best Buy’s bank” therefore there was nothing they could do. We would have to sue Best Buy in court. Nice dispute handling Citibank. Two months later we get an advertisment with our Citibank statement with special offers from Best Buy in it. NO WONDER they couldn’t do anything for us. Bastards.”

Once I was locked out of my online Citi account after entering my password correctly (seriously-no caps lock, I pecked each letter to get it right). I called because I had a payment due that day, and I was asked what my reminder word was. I said, “It should be [x].”
“Sorry that’s not right.”
“OK, then it’s it’s [x] with an Z at the end.”

From this point on, he chose to completely ignore my second answer.

“When you submitted this you picked a pet’s name.”
“No, that’s just the subject I picked. I never use my pets’ names.”
“But you picked that.”
“That’s not the word I used. How stupid would it be to use a word so easily guessed?”
“Well look, it says a pet name. What are your pet names?”
“Tima, Janeane, and Raz.”
“None of those are the answer.”
“I just SAID it’s not one of those. Look, if it’s not [x] it’s [x] with an Z at the end. I already said that.”
“Neither of those is right. I won’t discuss this any further.”

At this point he got a lovely explosion in his ear about his inadequate level of intelligence and various other lovlies I shouldn’t repeat. I hung up and immediately called the same number, getting a woman this time. I explained my situation, that I’d already spoken with a Mongoloid, and was hoping she could help. She asked my word, and I said, “It’s either [x] or [x] with an O at the end.”
“OK, wait about five minutes, and your account will be working again.”

That guy’s only one of various CSRs who have been relatively useless. “

“citibank’s lending practices seem to be similar to payday/title loan shops”

“Citibank held my savings account funds hostage for almost 3 months. It was an epic saga. Then again, my parents met while they both worked at Citibank. Can I vote against the place that allowed my parents to meet, and therefore allowed me to be born? What a dilemma.”

Citibank (I prefer to call them “ShittyBank”) had a legit promotion going for a “free ipod” where you HAD to apply online for a checking account.

Did that, filled out everything they requested, then waited. And waited. And Waited. about a couple three weeks, with calls in to them to check on it. Then the idiots decide that you need to bring ID to a local branch because anyone could be anyone online – (OK, that’s true, but if I have to go into the bank anyway what’s the point of applying online, eh?). So I go to my local branch, show IDs and such to the manager and have them contact their seemingly incompetent online banking division to (hopefully) move things along. Also opened up a savings account while I was there to get interest on the minimum required balance for the promo. The checking account needed to come from the online monkeys because they initiated it.

So I took my savings account info home, and waited and waited and waited…. more screwing around over the phones with their online people and wasted calls to the manager of a couple local ShittyBank branches just to open a checking account(!). About a month-and-a-half in I had my checking account and ipod on the way, and couldn’t wait for the 366th day when I could cancel that account and never have to deal with these idiots again.

If that’s the caliber of intelligence floating around our financial centers then I’ll go with the opinion that it was stupidity and not *all* corruption that led bankers to believe houses would never stop increasing in value and that poor people would suddenly become rich under Republican policies. I’m going mattress shopping soon, as the S&L’s were killed off by the Reaganite deregulated greed + corruption and Banks seem to be headed in the same direction now. Lay off the Koolade, dummies. “

“its contribution to the subprime mortgage crisis is inexcusable.”

“Way back when I was a young thing in college, I came home one day to a very nervous roommate who had taken a screaming, angry call from a Citi rep (I had a student credit card). Said rep refused to believe my roommate’s telling her that I was in class and therefore unavailable, and berated the roommate at length, telling her “you’d better make sure she calls me back”.

Mystified, because I was paid up, I called back. Turned out there was some minor discrepancy in their records regarding my address and they wanted to call me to confirm it was correct.”

“Sure, let’s sell you a mortgage you can’t afford, then package it for speculators. The US Government will bail us out when it all comes crashing down. We’re a bank, so we deserve huge fees for basic customer service, but when it comes to actual banking, we forgot how to do it right. Our bad.”

“I voted Citibank because they had my student loans while I was an undergrad. In my senior year, they refused to process my in-school deferment and one of their reps told me that if I had continued taking out new Citibank loans they would have acted differently.

Despite my efforts to get them to acknowledge that I was in school, fulltime, and filed my paperwork by registered mail, they still refused to defer my payments and as such, I ran into default. It took a year of garnished wages before the DOE finally helped me move my loans over to Sallie Mae.

I hate Citibank and I know that I have cost them at least $100K in business by insuring that none of my friends or family ever open or use Citi accounts for anything. No one has a Sears, Home Depot, or other company card that is handled by this horrible company and I will continue to dissuade everyone from using them.

And no…there is nothing Citi can do short of erasing my loan debt to them completely, before I ever forgive them.

Congrats Citi…you made a lifelong enemy out of me and I will tell everyone I know what you did to me and I hope I can deny you $1 million or more in business by spreading the word.”

STILL OPEN FOR VOTING: Capital One vs ATT, Sallie Mae vs eBay/Paypal, TransUnion vs Diebold, Best Buy vs CompUSA, DeBeers vs Verizon, Exxon vs United Airlines, Sony vs Ticketmaster, Comcast vs The American Arbitration Association

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Easy. For all of its evils, Walmart provides a very valuable service to much of the nation’s consumer base. If you haven’t spent much time in rural areas, this is not immediately obvious.

    Citibank can be easily replaced by any number of competitors, both in person and online, all of which can do a better job at everything Citibank does.

  2. Truvill says:

    With my own experiences with both companies + what I read here, it came down to a coin toss.

    So congratulations, Citibank, for getting my vote!

  3. B says:

    I’m torn because I wanted to vote for CitiBank, but the complaints about them are poorly written and confusing.

  4. boxjockey68 says:

    ahhh, I’ve been waiting for this one. My vote= walmart will never set foot in one again and it hasn’t been that difficult for us, I would rather pay a bit more (not always the case) for a product that won’t hurt us or the little Chinese kids who make the crap they sell.

  5. milty45654 says:

    Nice use of checkboxes instead of radio buttons to vote with one this one..what is the use case for checking both and submitting….

  6. lightaugust says:

    I love it when there’s a second round matchup that might as well be the championship. I thought it would take an act of God to knock Walmart out, but it’s a great year for subprime mortgages, so go Citibank!

  7. rmz says:

    I voted both!

  8. Buran says:

    @rmz: So did I, to see if it would work … you need a radio button, not checkboxes. One vote should be stricken from Citibank, when the final results are tallied.

  9. WhirlyBird says:

    I voted both, as well. Is the Consumerist looking to hire coders?

  10. smithereensblog says:

    I won’t vote because I’m not American, but in some twisted way it’s nice to see that you have as many issues with your banks south of the border as we do here in Canada…

    I just blogged about the spate of horrible customer service in oligarchic niches like big banking today actually. You can read it here if you like.

    Daniel

  11. @smithereensblog: IIRC, isn’t Canada restricted to a certain number of nationally-chartered banks (6-10 of them?). There are so many thousands of them in the US, it always pains me to see so many people blindly following the largest ones, as if they have no choice.

    Of course, these days, your local bank from 5 years ago very well could be one of the big boys now…

  12. blackmage439 says:

    Ever since Wal-Mart decided to drag its feet with repaying Debbie Shank, I have not stepped foot in one.

    There are areas where Wal-Mart helps with its presence. In 90% of the rest of the country, they feed off of low-income families and run trusted Mom & Pop stores out of business.

    Citibank is just another fish in the pond scum of Big Banks.

  13. SpaceCat85 says:

    I’m going with Wal-mart for the scope of the devastation it wreaked across the commercial landscape.

    Years down the road: “Hey kids, back until the mid-90s we used to have a thing called regional discount department stores.”

    Of the half-dozen or so department store chains I used to have in my area a decade ago, the only one that’s still around is K-Mart. The Target stores in my area feel like bigger versions of some of the stores I used to like, but all of the East Coast-based chains are gone. Bye-bye Clover, Jamesway, Caldor, Bradlees, Ames…

  14. hi says:

    “OK, then it’s it’s [x] with an Z at the end.”
    I just SAID it’s not one of those. Look, if it’s not [x] it’s [x] with an Z at the end. I already said that.”
    She asked my word, and I said, “It’s either [x] or [x] with an O at the end.”

    ……

    no comment

  15. Interesting comment about Wal-Mart forcing people out of town for shopping. How much gas does that waste?

    I needed a new toaster a few months ago. First stop was Wal-Mart, and all their toasters – ALL of them – were flimsy pieces of crap. Who buys that shit? Ended up at Target, where they had a reasonably robust (but still made in China) model for a few dollars more.

  16. smithereensblog says:

    @Ash78: I’m not sure there is a legally mandated number of chartered banks, although that may be true. Regardless, our choices are limited to the Big 5 (Scotia, Royal, Montreal, CIBC, TD) and a scattering of smaller regional credit unions.

    It’s interesting that even in your highly decentralized banking industry, you have many of the same problems we do because people willfully choose to use the big guns (we don’t really have a choice!)

    Daniel

  17. smithereensblog says:

    @Ash78: [For some reason my last comment seems to have gotten lost between writing and posting... here goes again]

    I am not sure if there is a legally mandated number of charter banks, but we are pretty much limited to the Big 5 (Scotia, Montreal, Royal, TD, CIBC) plus a smattering of regional credit unions.

    It’s interesting that even with your highly decentralized banking industry in the US, you still have many of the same problems we have because, as you say, people willfully choose to use the big guns (we don’t really have a choice here!)

    Daniel

  18. smithereensblog says:

    Of course that would happen. Appologies for the double post.

  19. dwarf74 says:

    Oh, I love how you can actually pick both companies on this one!

  20. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Wal-Mart is far worse!
    It’s caused the destruction of the American industrial base, which has caused millions to lose their jobs as their jobs are moved to China.
    An excellent example is Rubbermaid.
    They were told by Wal-Mart to cut the price they charged for their products. They wasn’t any way to do so except to close up in Ohio & move the production to China.
    If they hadn’t done so, Wal-Mart would have cut off Rubbermaid & illegally copied Rubbermaid’s designs for their stores & had it made for them in China, of course.
    Multiply that by hundreds of companies & you have why this country has been fucked over by Wal-Mart.

    So Wal-Mart is responsible for the industrial decline of the United States, which causes our imports to go up, which causes our debt to China to go up, which causes millions of jobs to disappear, which causes people to have less money, so then they have to shop at shitty Wal-Mart which caused their pain in the first place!

  21. NotATool says:

    @rmz: I voted for both. They both suck. Glad I didn’t have to choose between the two.

  22. Trai_Dep says:

    Wal-Mart, for hollowing out our national manufacturing base, destroying local businesses, empowering the monk-killing Chinese, sucking billions of Corporate Welfare and for trying to trademark the Smily Face and suing anyone that uses it.
    Especially the latter because – trying to imprison Mr. Smily Face?! Transcendent Evil!

  23. @Greasy Thumb Guzik: We have a winnah! Total destruction of American economy vs. exploitation of a few suckers who don’t know how to manage money. No brainer.

  24. Trai_Dep says:

    Oh, Ben: the results display screwy in Safari (text not lining up with bar graphs correctly). Just a head’s up.

  25. JustaConsumer says:

    Wal-Mart is the poster child for corporate evil.

  26. Angryrider says:

    Walmart for destroying the economy, one state at a time.

  27. sventurata says:

    @smithereensblog: HSBC? Banque Nationale? Desjardins?

  28. Ssscorpion says:

    Walmart plows profits back into the company, cuts costs wherever they can, buys bulk from manufacturers so they can lower their own prices, and sells countless household items cheaply to customers who don’t have six-figure incomes. Well if that’s not the very essence of evil, I don’t know what is!

    I voted Citibank.

  29. milty45654 says:

    @WhirlyBird: @WhirlyBird:

    Then you need to hire me…because its the software quality engineer that found the defect.

  30. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    I bet you a dollar that the majority of people who voted for Wal*Mart can’t tell you _specifically_ why Wal*Mart sucks.

  31. mzhartz says:

    Wow, another decision that I didn’t want to make this early in the game. Tough call.

  32. smithereensblog says:

    @Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: Banque Nationale and Desjardins are credit unions with bases primarily in Quebec and other french-speaking areas (and would thus fall under the “smattering of regional credit unions” I mentioned before.)

    HSBC is an American bank that recently came into Canada, but I believe they only have a few physical branches in Toronto and offer primarily credit products, IIRC. When it comes to main chartered banks, there are still few alternatives to the Big 5 I mentioned.

  33. Trai_Dep says:

    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: Bet ya in a NY second.
    To those who are unsure, or like having your notions challenged if you’re a Wal-Mart fan, I recommend Wal-mart: The High Cost of Low Price.
    Or visit: http://www.walmartmovie.com

  34. oregongal says:

    Wal-Mart FTW

  35. Trai_Dep says:

    As it stands, Wal-Mart has 66% of the vote. PLEASE tell me it’s 66.6%. That’d be so appropriate…

  36. aka Cat says:

    @hi: Oh good, I’m not the only one who noticed that. Seriously, wtf?

  37. Kazari says:

    @smithereensblog: Actually, HSBC is a London-based company with affiliates all over the world. This link: [en.wikipedia.org] explains its pedigree.

  38. arl84 says:

    My vote goes to Wal-Mart. I banked with Citi for a few years, nothing serious, just checking and savings. I have some stories I could share, but, along with most of the other complaints I’ve seen here, Citi could easily be replaced by B of A or WaMu even – every big bank does things like this.

    I went into a Wal-Mart once in my life. I saw a young child peeing on the floor (yes, actually peeing on the floor – in front of me) while his parents laughed and giggled, and the cashier told me she hated her life. I don’t need to save money THAT bad.