44% Normally Disbelieve Any And All Company Statements

A recent survey found that 44% of Americans don’t trust a damn thing that comes out of the mouths of companies. The poll asked, “Which of these industries do you think are generally honest and trustworthy – so that you normally believe a statement by a company in that industry?” and then posed a variety of industries, from supermarkets, airlines, to tobacco companies. Since the poll began in 2003, the amount of people answering, “none of these,” increased 7 percentage points. Either companies are getting more deceitful, or somehow, Americans are getting smarter. When queried about the poll, Big Business, Inc. told The Consumerist, “We’re aware of the results, and we’re taking them very seriously.”

The Harris Poll® #107, November 1, 2007 [Harris Interactive] (Thanks to Pat!)


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  1. ToadKillerDog says:

    Survey by who? How many people surveyed and how were the questions phrased? I distrust surveys like this. I always suspect they were performed by big business for their own benefit!

  2. machete_bear says:

    The only thing that I am shocked about, is the 56% that DO believe in all.

    (More specifically, the 3% who trust the tobacco companies, or the frightening 30% who trust their banks.)

  3. nemesiscw says:

    “F you, FRANK!”

  4. Slothrob says:

    I see that consumerist has discovered the super-secret direct line to Big Business’ office. Will you be sharing that contact info?

  5. darkened says:

    @machete_bear: Your 56% assumption is most likely grossly inaccurate.

    The opposite of 44% do believe in NONE is NOT 56% believe in ALL, it is 56% believe in ATLEAST ONE.

  6. darkened says:

    @darkened: At best 3% could u believe in all the companies, or 2% given the previous years figures there.

  7. Ben Popken says:

    @ToadKillerDog: It’s not really that hard, follow the link and scroll down to methodology. There you would read the following:


    This Harris Poll® was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a total of 2,565 adults October 9 and 15, 2007. Figures for age, sex, education, region and Internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult populations of the respective countries. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

  8. machete_bear says:

    @darkened: Sorry, I misspoke. What I meant by “the 56% that DO believe in all” was the 56% total that do believe in any of them, IN ALL.

  9. Cad06 says:

    I see the standard “we’re taking this seriously” canned speech continues to survive.

  10. solidstate42 says:

    I’m surprised they left of cable companies.

  11. bohemian says:

    I am surprised any of them are as high as they are. Maybe there are still enough people blissfully ignorant in their consumption coma.

  12. Omi says:

    Now if we were to do the same poll here at Consumerist we can clearly see the percentage of people who don’t believe a damn thing any type of company has to say spikes up to 99.9% of the population.

  13. diamondmaster1 says:

    Is this really such a surprise? If you ask anyone not self-employed if they trust anything coming out of their home office, you’ll understand the rampant distrust out there.

  14. Rectilinear Propagation says:


    Let’s see:

    Hospitals are at 28% because healthy people probably don’t have bad experiences with them and people want to trust their hospitals.

    Banks are at 30% because they usually tell you about all the fees and such in disclosures: hiding the info isn’t quite the same as saying something that isn’t true. Also, people want to be able to trust their bank.

    Supermarkets are at 32% because the well publicized contaminations occurred before the product reached the store. People also don’t want to fear the food they’re buying and probably won’t until a recall affects them.

    As for every other group, they’re below 20%. I don’t think anyone has a need to trust any of them: you can do business with a telephone company without trusting them. However, I’d bet that for all of them there was a group of people who answered as though the question were only about the banks, stores, etc. they personally used instead of whether the industry in general is trustworthy.

  15. msquared says:

    I’m sure if you asked people if they trusted THEIR supermarket/bank/hospital, the number would be significantly higher for that reason.

  16. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    I cant belive HMO trust went up a point. Sure 5% isn’t much better than 4% but come on.

  17. loganmo says:

    How is it that anyone trusts anything that tobacco companies spout off?

  18. legotech says:

    @nemesiscw: Penn & Teller FTW :)

  19. TechnoDestructo says:

    I’m not sure this is exactly fair. Most of those categories have bad guys, with whom I would have to seek confirmation if they told me the sky was blue; and good guys, whom I am prepared to give the benefit of a doubt.

  20. scoosdad says:

    I’d like to see cable companies added to this list as a specific line item. I’ll bet they account for a big chunk of that 44%. When was the last time you trusted something the cable company told you?

  21. nrwfos says:

    “We’re aware of the results, and we’re taking them very seriously.”

    Yeah, just like our calls are so important to them they say so 100 times while we are put on “hold”.

  22. upokyin says:

    @loganmo: People know that smoking is bad for you. At this point, what more is there for the companies to lie about?

  23. I actually took that survey. I generally believed supermarkets; I’ve never had THAT bad a supermarket experience and most corporate statements by supermarket chains aren’t all that exciting. If they say they’re going to carry more soup from now on, I believe them.

  24. Only 44%? Hmm, well, I’m actually surprised. I’d more figured it to be 30.

  25. deadlizard says:

    In conclusion, 56% of consumers are suckers.