Worst Company In America: Peanut Corporation Of America VS American Express

We’re doing two a day in the first round, people. It’s madness! Stretch out your quads and get ready for #16 Amex VS #17 Peanut Corporation of America.


This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2008 series. The companies nominated for this honor were chosen by you, the readers, and seeded according to number of nominations. Keep track of all the goings on at consumerist.com/tag/worst-company-in-america. Download the bracket here.

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  1. edwardso says:

    I’m thinking death peanuts will steal this one

  2. sponica says:

    tough one….but killing people worse than whatever AMEX has done

  3. bluebuilder says:

    Yeah, hard to compare a company that kills people to one that only scams them.

    • RandaPanda says:

      @bluebuilder: HOLY COW MY REPLY WORKS!!!

      *ahem* now that that’s out of my system…

      I agree. Death by peanuts or death by debt….hmmm…it’s a tough one.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @bluebuilder: Scams? My amex card gives me money at the end of the year. It’s the best credit card I have. Now I would be upset if they canceled it on me, but if they don’t there is no reason to complain.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @Corporate_guy: What if they cancelled it on you right before you got your rebate check?

        • Traveshamockery says:

          @Oranges w/ Cheese: Death and destruction, that’s what!

        • bluebuilder says:

          @Oranges w/ Cheese: Better than if they killed me before I got my rebate.

        • Corporate_guy says:

          @Oranges w/ Cheese: Has not happened yet, but if it did I would probably raise hell. It would suck to use a vacation day to take them to small claims court, but I would probably do it. Last year I got 160 back and only used the card for 6 months. Since the percent is higher after the first 6k, I would probably get over 300 back at the end of this year. It is enough to sue over.

          But it’s a known risk right now. Hell even if they canceled me, I would sue them and still reapply. No one else matches their cashback.

    • courtarro says:

      @bluebuilder: Remember, this is the first round of a tournament, and we’re currently voting on the highest-seeded competitors vs. the lowest seed. This vote is much better than, say, Peanut Corp. vs. AIG, which would be a terrible first-round matchup.

      • zibby says:

        @courtarro: Agreed, but it’s annoying that Amex is even on here. They have always held up their end – and then some – in my dealings with them. And I could just get rid of them if they didn’t.

  4. noone1569 says:

    Hmm .. Killing people v. Killing credit cards . . bah

  5. Preyfar says:

    American Express lowered my credit. I don’t know, but I somehow rank “Peanut Butter Apocalypse” as a delicious, yet deadlier evil than anything AMEX has done.

  6. broken5hift says:

    how the hell did AMEX get on here? getting your CC cancelled is nothing new to any CC company, hell I’ve had a better time with AMEX than BOA or capital One.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @broken5hift: Agreed. Some companies seem to make the cut in this contest just because they’re big. AMEX is by far the best CC company out there, in my opinion.

      /unapologetic shill for the AMEX Blue Cash card

    • wcnghj says:

      @broken5hift:

      They are more aggressive then other issuers. More account closures/ credit limit decreases. Somebody on credit boards had their limit cut by 93% because of the economy.

      • courtarro says:

        @wcnghj: AMEX recently bumped my limit from $6000 to $10000 without my even asking. Sure, that’s just one anecdote, but what makes you say they’re worse?

    • yetiwisdom says:

      @broken5hift: I’ve said before and I’ll continue to say – one highly satisfied customer here for AmEx – after having used cards from Chase, BofA, Wachovia, Citi, Discover and CapitolOne over the years, AmEx has come through every issue with my needs first.

      And I applaud them for managing their risk so that they can continue to support customers like me. Thanks, AmEx!

  7. ExtraCelestial says:

    I don’t know guys. Peanut Corp is already out of business. I think I’d prefer for this tournament to be a lesson to those that are still around. I think it would be a great opportunity for them to take the criticism constructively and focus on what they can do to change.

    full disclosure: I’m kind of a hippie

  8. Fresh-Fest-1986 says:

    My chances are better with a Credit-Card and Jelly sandwhich thanks to PC of A.

    A great battle of America themed companies though. Brings a red, whie and blue tear to my eye.

    • EarlNowak says:

      @Fresh-Fest-1986: Remember, PCA doesn’t make eatin’ peanut butter, just manufacturin’ peanut butter. So your jar of Jif should be okay.

      (Of course, Conagra did let salmonella into “Peter Pan” brand peanut butter two years ago, so don’t get too cocky.)

      • failurate says:

        @EarlNowak: Peter Pan was completely destroyed as a brand. An attempt was/is being made to bring it back, but it doesn’t seem like people are buying it even at 1/2 the price of Jiff or Skippy (which are already pretty cheap).

  9. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    This is like comparing France to N. Korea… no contest.

  10. Porntipsguzzardo_GitEmSteveDave says:

    Any chance we can get like a little list under each vote box of the past five or so stories for each company in?

    I’m going to have to vote PCOA, as the last time I heard AmEx killed someone, it was b/c they used their card to snort cocaine.

  11. SkokieGuy says:

    Voted for Amex here.

    Peanut Corp is evil, BUT the lax policies of the FDA, our lack of funding of inspection an inability to order a prompt recall, the responsiblity is also shared with our government.

    Amex, by raising interest rates and cutting credit limits is causing millions to:
    Incur over limit charges & suffer serious damage to FICO scores.

    This can cause a cascading effect due to reduced available credit & credit utilization than cause cause other credit card rates to skyrocket, affect ability to refinance mortgage, impact auto rates, even employment (since employers do run credit checks).

    American Express’ actions are going to drive people and business into bankruptcy and destroy lives. This even more egregious because of the taxpayer money Amex has received.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Peanut Corp is evil, BUT the lax policies of the FDA, our lack of funding of inspection an inability to order a prompt recall, the responsiblity is also shared with our government.

      @SkokieGuy: If Peanut Corp were simply inept I might side with you but they knowingly sent out tainted food. That the FDA didn’t stop them is, for me, beside the point. Just because someone isn’t able to stop you from doing something evil doesn’t mean you should go on and do it.

      I can’t vote for the dope pusher instead of the serial killer just because the killer had an accomplice inside the FBI.

    • affilsarah says:

      @SkokieGuy: Interesting that you’d blame the regulators for the peanut failure, but not the ongoing legal credit card shenanigans. Doesn’t the government have a responsibility to protect us from both? Elizabeth Warren’s “Toaster Analogy” speaks to this point.

  12. highmodulus says:

    Intentionally selling infected peanut butter, or cutting the credit lines for a few customers who probably were given too much credit in the first place.

    Gee, tough call. Same thing with Target? Who nominated these companies? I can think of 5 worse credit card companies and 5 worse mass market retailers. Rare trip on the Failboat.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @highmodulus: It’s how seeding works (and personally its the dumbest thing ever). #1 meets #last, and #2 meets #secondtolast, which given they haven’t been juicing, #1 and #2 will ALMOST ALWAYS win.

      • failurate says:

        @Oranges w/ Cheese: And that’s why they are #1 and #2. The reward for performing in the regular season is easy match-ups early on in the championship tournament.
        Just guessing, but not a sports fan?

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          @failurate: Sort of a sports fan, but I’ve always thought it was stupid. Especially having *been* team #last and going to the championship and getting creamed. Repeatedly.

          Its just an easy way for people to get easy betting money. Its lame.

          • MostlyHarmless says:

            @Oranges w/ Cheese: It actually makes sense. You want the matchups to become more and more interesting as the tournament progresses.

            Early rounds help build up some bullying points, and maybe cause excitement with an upset, but later rounds is where all the action is, when everyone is warmed up and ready to give it their best. (or in this case, worst)

  13. swagv says:

    Amex can still profit from stupidity. My vote was for Mr. Peanut’s second cousin.

  14. ahdn says:

    I don’t understand why Amex would be on here. From my personal experience with them, they have only treated me very fairly in this crisis. I have several cards with them, only one with a balance. They cut my credit limit only on the cards I don’t use and never raised my interest rate, which has always been quite low. In addition, I’ve always had excellent customer service and some sort of great, free rewards program. Amex seems pretty solid to me.

    A little different from Chase who decided to un-enroll me in their paperless billing program, not tell me about it, and then charged me a $39 late fee when I was late on my payment (because I never received a bill). They eventually refunded the $39 (after 3 months), but treated me like I was a criminal when they begrudgingly did it. They also upped my interest rate. There’s no contest as to who the better company is here.

    • kmw2 says:

      @ahdn: I suspect it’s all the people that had their cards cancelled without notice, had their credit limit lowered to exactly their balance, and then had their rates jacked up, without any reason whatsoever related to their own credit. That sort of thing tends to annoy people.

      • Bog says:

        @kmw2:

        Yeah, Got one of those from Capital One. They sent me a letter that they are raising the APR rate from 9% to about 30% (Fixed to variable rate of being near “prime rate” plus 27%. Yeah. I’ve never made a late payment on any card, pay all cards in full every month and have a super FICO.

  15. Jabberkaty says:

    They ‘effed with my favorite food. I use peanut butter to cure my hiccups (yeah, I don’t get it either, but it works for me and I refuse to question God’s plan – I get to eat peanut butter by the spoonful. Or at least I DID!).

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @Jabberkaty: There’s nothing wrong with jarred PB. There never was anything wrong with jarred PB. Especially the name brands. Its idiotic to completely swear off a food just because one company does something stupid. Read the recall notices for heavens sake.

      Anyway, it cures your hiccups because of the soft palette. My mom always used to tell me to use my tongue to rub my soft palette and it would cure the hiccups.

      • Jabberkaty says:

        @Oranges w/ Cheese: Hmm… Perhaps my use of the present tense wasn’t clear. I’m just mad the ‘effed with PB in general. I never swore it off. I still use it to cure the hiccups.

        And um, way to be really mean to someone you don’t know. Kudos. Ah, the anonymity of the interwebs, you bring us together to tear us apart.

  16. yzerman says:

    I have to go with knowing what your doing is pretty much going to be making people sick enough to kill them, vs the guys who just take your credit away for no reason, even if your a good member in standing with them.

  17. Justin Harper says:

    I agree…how did AMEX get on here? They’re one of the *best* companies I deal with…

  18. AceKicker says:

    The tainted peanut butter is a tough contender, but I have to go with AmEx. Why?

    1) PCoA is most definitely at fault for the outbreak, but they weren’t the only ones. The FDA and CDC screwed up a bit to let this happen as well.

    2) While PCoA made one huge mistake, AmEx makes hundreds (thousands?) of smaller, but WILLFULL transgressions every day. They know full well that they’re doing is screwing you for their own benefit, and do it anyways.

    So yeah, I’m playing the longshot here, but I’d like to show that it’s far easier to go for the one event that hit the news rather than the myriad of things that individually barely register, but if combined it would cause a riot.

    • mythago says:

      @AceKicker: PCoA didn’t screw up, they apparently knew they were sending out tainted peanuts and covered that fact up. For YEARS. I’d like to give Amex a dishonorable kick in the pants, too, but they’re just not the same.

    • provolone says:

      @AceKicker: You’ve got to be kidding. I’ve always thought amex was a great company. Definitely the best credit company I deal with. Of course some of their thousands of customers are bound to have a bad experience from time to time, but they shouldn’t even be on this list. Click the amex link on this page and you still won’t find even a marginally good reason to call Amex the worst company in America.

      PCoA on the other hand chose to make a decision to save some money that led to the completely avoidable deaths of innocent people.

      By the way, choosing to cut some customers credit limits may inconvenience some, but it is a reasonable decision and cannot be considered too malevolent. I would not even hold it against them if they cut my own limit.

  19. HeatherD says:

    Hmm.. Murder butter or credit card shenanigans. Choices, choices.

  20. ludwigk says:

    It’s too bad that, if PCA ends up winning (being worse), it’s no sweat off their back since they’re going out of business.

  21. JeanStork says:

    Peanut Butter Zombies… Not ready for that…

    Now we have to rewrite the PB&J song:

    “Peanuuut, Peanut Butter… and salmonella…”

  22. pkoutoul says:

    PCA is my personal pick to cut down the nets at the end of this thing. This is an easy first round win.

    • ameyer says:

      @pkoutoul: I’m going with United Health Care.
      But PCoA wouldn’t surprise or disappoint me either.

    • failurate says:

      @pkoutoul: Last year there was a company that killed possibly thousands of pets. They didn’t get far in this tourney. I know that is not a perfect comparison, but people don’t really respect death.

  23. Suttin says:

    I don’t have an Amex credit card. I have a charge card through them though.

    Amazing customer service, I don’t know why they are on here.

    Same with T-Mobile. I just got a replacement Android because my accelerometer was busted, and I really wasn’t supposed to get a new one. The rep was awesome. Also, I’ve had them offer to overnight a loner phone to me.

  24. Sunny Yeung says:

    What in the world is up with these one-sided fights? It’s true that both, in some form or fashion, compromised public safety, but which one has directly caused deaths and losses abound?

  25. MFfan310 says:

    I voted for Peanut Corporation for America.

    Their product intentionally killed people… at least AmEx only gets you into debt.

  26. Brad Brown says:

    I live in Georgia, home of peanuts. We count on your salmonella dollars to survive, so please vote for AMEX. Save redneck jobs.

  27. Tom_Servo says:

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, evil peanut butter!

  28. casey451 says:

    I wonder too why Amex is on this list. Over many years they never played games with my APR, and their customer service was always responsive and courteous. Also, little things like a bill you can understand, and a website that is immediately navigable indicates a more than average intelligence in charge of the controls there.

    I am distrustful and cynical to a depressing degree, so for me to defend a company may be taken as high praise.

  29. Donathius says:

    Kinda funny. I actually just applied for (and got) the Amex Gold Delta Skymiles card yesterday. My wife and I put enough on our debit cards that it’s a no brainer to transfer all that spending to a credit card with airline miles and just pay it off the moment the transactions post.

    Oh…and I voted for PCoA.

  30. Anthonie Gaither says:

    you dont F@#K with peanut butter, nough said

  31. tsume says:

    I voted AMEX for their sharp decline in customer service.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t PCA file for bankruptcy? I thought they were going to be no more… or was it chapter 11?

  32. Chip Skylark of Space says:

    As others have pointed out, Peanut Corp of America is actually Peanut Corpse of America, and that trumps anything AmEx has done. A more fair comparison might be PCA vs. GOP or PCA vs. Dick Cheney’s Halliburton Corp.

  33. broken5hift says:

    nothing could ever beat dick cheneys haliburton. thats like satan opening up a business.

  34. Anonymous says:

    PCA, a company that knowingly, repeatedly lied about salmonella in their products! When they received a report that said there is salmonella in the product, what did they do? They did nothing but obfuscate, lie, get others to lie, and still send out a product that they knew was contaminated!!!! This killed people. Where is the outrage, the pitchforks? Death vs Credit?

    • ameyer says:

      @NadineDawgument: I’m not sure they got anyone to lie for them.
      It’s technically possible for a batch of peanut butter to test both negative and positive for salmonella, they just kept getting different samples out until one came back negative.

  35. ShortBus says:

    Last year this contest took like three months to complete. Could we speed it up a bit this time around?

  36. philipbarrett says:

    Amex called me 4 weeks ago. “Are you currently attempting to use your card in a Wal-Mart?” I was sitting at the house, so no was my answer. “Thank you sir we’re over-nighting you a new card.” New card was here by 10:30am, never heard anything more about the subject.

    Contrast with Chase Mastercard. Russian porn site charges $300+ to my card. Took 3 months (& signed affidavits) to resolve, during that time the same website managed to run through more charges for the exact same amount! Chase kept insisting that the charges were mine because the user had “entered the CVC code correctly.” They seemed unable to grasp that perhaps one of the last 100 cashiers who took the card might have been capable of writing that # down too!

  37. razremytuxbuddy says:

    I’m not a fan of Amex, but hey, they haven’t killed anyone with poison peanuts. Amex will get another chance at the big prize next year. This is PCA’s only shot at the golden statue of poo, because their company is history.

  38. TerribleDecade says:

    Death peanuts for the win… this round.

  39. natrix964909 says:

    As far as I know, Peanut Corporation of America is the only contender in this competition to actually kill someone.

  40. Truthie says:

    What is up with all these one-sided comparisons? What’s next, Hitler vs the guy who didn’t hold the elevator door for you?

    Let’s have some real competitions on here!

  41. Anonymous says:

    Add me to the lengthy list of folk who question why AMEX is even mentioned in this list. My experience with them has been nothing but positive. …Particularly in comparison with some of the others. BOA, Fargo, etc.

  42. ZukeZuke says:

    Peanut Corp of America – obviously! They’ve killed people and made hundreds more sick. Personally, I had to toss a $10 box of recalled peanut butter protein bars. What amazed me was how far reaching their product sourcing was, even to companies claiming to be organic, etc.

    AMEX has always been good to me, fully crediting me for Russian fraudulent charges that have hit my card, and the annual $300 cash rebate I earn is icing on the cake.

  43. 16BitAlex says:

    Peanut Corp vs. AmEx…It’s one-sided.

    Peanut Corp vs. Nintendo would be more fair.

    (Nintendo is almost as bad, they make their games too hard and make it even harder for third-party companies to make easy fun games)

  44. Frank Murphy says:

    The peanut killers should have gone up against AIG.

  45. Jamie Lancaster says:

    I’m sorry but how can anyone vote for AMEX here? Seriously, Peanut Corp killed people and appeared to do it knowingly. Unless you ended up stranded in the Congo when AMEX removed your credit and ended up dying of Malaria as a result, you have no right to say AMEX is worse than PCA.

  46. JohnAllison says:

    Are we really going to use anecdotal evidence to hang American Express?

    Where is the wide spread corruption? Where are the systematic failures? How did Amex get on this list?

    Disclaimer: I love my Amex card.

  47. Sean Gamble says:

    Hmmm..Peanuts of doom or Cards of credit death

    Peanuts of doom wins

  48. shiftless says:

    AMEX? That’s pretty strange. Yeah, if you spend your entire credit limit you might feel that they’re “bad” cause big daddy AMEX ain’t gonna shell out the big bucks for you anymore… but they don’t make me puke without me knowing first!

  49. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    Here’s what puzzles me. You sign up for an American Express card. American Express sends you a policy that clearly states they can lower your credit, cancel your card, change your interest rate, and do about anything they’d like FOR ANY REASON POSSIBLE. You agree to this policy. Then when American Express does all these things THAT YOU AGREED TO LET THEM DO, they are now a bad company. Personally I’ve never had anything but pleasure with American Express. The only credit card company that has ever lowered my limit for seemingly no reason is Chase; which is ironic since it is my personal bank.

  50. Icepagoda says:

    When the Peanut Corporation Of America gets angry, Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset. And when Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset… people die!

  51. bainelaker says:

    Well, let’s see. AmEx canceled my card as I was waiting in line to rent a car.. (how do they DO that? Always AFTER your vacation has started!) But then again, I didn’t eat my AmEx card and DIE. We’ll go PCA.

  52. provolone says:

    Amex is the higher seed? Come on Consumerist, are you sure you didn’t mean any other credit card company in the world.

  53. HiPwr says:

    Seeing how Peanut Corporation of America is out of business, I think this is a rather inane comparison. Why don’t we compare Peanut Corporation of America to whatever company manufactured Zyklon B?

  54. vladthepaler says:

    It would be nice if you’d include a paragraph about each company being voted on, summarizing why they’re so bad. I don’t remember AmEx doing anything especially awful, but but maybe they did & I just missed it.

  55. coopjust says:

    Hmmm… let’s compare.

    The higher seed is a credit card company that tells you all the ways it could screw with you before you get your card (and you can disagree and not get the card if you want). They have an excellent reputation for customer service.

    The latter, lower seed is a company that knowingly had numerous health code violations and shopped around for further test results for days after they found out their product was tainted.

    How is this even a question?