Round 23: US Airways vs Washington Mutual

This is Round 23 in our Worst Company in America contest, US Airways vs Washington Mutual.

US Airways: According to Zagat’s, they’re the number one worst airline (“as “unhelpful” as “the DMV,” “schedule should be published under “fiction” and the Philly hub is the “Bermuda Triangle of luggage”). They’ve also joined in with the other airlines in devaluing their frequent flyer programs (translation: legally steal money from you). If that sounds bad, just be glad you’re not a US Airways employee. A recent NYT article revealed US Air employees actually hate their own airlines more than their customers do.

Washington Mutual, but one cockroach feeding off the sub-prime mound of bat guano, recently rejiggered its executive bonus pay so no execs would feel any pain from the imploding mortgage market they profited off of and helped create. Two years after acquiring Providian, they still haven’t integrated the two systems, sometimes resulting in customers getting completely stranded overseas after having their wallet stolen.

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2008 series. The companies nominated for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. Keep track of all the goings on at


American Airlines vs Blockbuster, Time Warner Cable vs Radioshack, Wellpoint vs Charter Cable, Dell vs Home Depot,
Sears vs Citibank, Wal-Mart vs TJMaxx, Mattel vs ATT, Capital One vs Video Professor, eBay/Paypal vs COX, Apple vs SallieMae, Diebold Vs Pfizer, MTV vs TransUnion, CompUSA vs DirecTV
Target vs Best Buy
Allstate vs Verizon,
DeBeers vs 1800 flowers, Starbucks vs United Airlines,
Exxon vs Crocs, Google Vs Sony, Ticketmaster vs Wachovia, Facebook vs The American Arbitration Association, Comcast vs Menu Foods

(Photo: Jaunted)


Edit Your Comment

  1. johnva says:

    No WAY U.S. Air should lose this one. They are the worst of the worst among one of the worst industries in America.

  2. Trai_Dep says:

    There’s gotta be one airline to make the finals, and the poster boy for Worst Airline EVER politely raised its hand for us.

  3. sgodun says:

    WaMu for the win. US Airways sucks to be sure, but they haven’t contributed to the economic crisis that this country is currently mired in.

  4. Raignn says:

    US Airways gets my vote. As evil as Washington Mutual is, it’s still easier to choose a different bank than airline. Although, I’ll admit, this was a very touch choice.

  5. ChuckECheese says:

    So far this is a very close vote. I had a hard time deciding. WaMu tried repeatedly to rob me of my deposits, holding them for up to 20 days at a time, until I closed my account. And US Airways is just sad. I have a friend who had been with America West since its inception, who is deeply unhappy at how bad things are now. He can’t understand how, in the merger, US Airways’ business model and policies prevailed over those of AW. Supposedly AW was doing well financially at the time, and customers were pretty happy with the airline. WaMu got my vote because their shenanigans have caused more widespread damage to the economy than those of US Airways.

  6. Corydon says:

    Hmm…I’ve been with WaMu for a few years now and I can’t say I’ve ever had any complaints. Their free checking doesn’t seem to come with asterisks. I pay all my bills online through their site and no-one, from the cable company to my landlord, has ever not been paid right on time. Even their tellers are friendly and helpful.

    I suppose, given how they contributed to the subprime mess, there’s an argument to be made about their larger impact, but from a customer service point of view, I have no complaints.

    Airlines, on the other hand, seem to have been waging a war of attrition on the whole idea of customer service for the last 20 or 30 years. When it gets to the point that it’s less painful to take two days to drive across the country with all of horrors of inflated gas prices, fast food, nothing on the radio but Rush Limbaugh and country music, and the state of Nebraska, you know something is terribly, terribly wrong.

  7. DeafChick says:

    Don’t have WAMU but do fly US Airways. I haven’t had any bad service from them but I can’t use my miles.

  8. VikingP77 says:

    I would rather have a colonoscopy than deal with US Airlines!
    Oh wait its about the same only worse! Maybe a colonoscopy and a root canal at the same time…..???!!!

  9. sleze69 says:

    This is so close. I fly US Airways a lot and don’t deal with Wamu. US Airways is actually improving the Philadelphia baggage handling (it couldn’t get any worse, I guess) and it has one of the best perks in the industry for frequent travelers (free upgrade to “first” class if available).

    I don’t think I have ever heard anything positive about Wamu. I guess I have just talked myself into voting for Wamu.

  10. nicless says:

    I’ve flown with US Airways numerous times, and actually have enjoyed most flights. I suppose I’m a lucky guy then?

  11. Claystil says:

    Tough call, btu US Airways has fucked me over the last 2 times I flew with them, so they get the vote.

  12. theblackdog says:

    Tough call, I have an aunt who worked for WAMU that suddenly “retired” right as the subprime crunch started, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a big hand in it in her area.

    I also have not flown with US Airways, but I know how it has gone downhill since they took over AMWest.

  13. silver-spork says:

    PHL is my home airport – guess who got my vote!

  14. DeepFriar says:

    @silver-spork: I live in Charlotte, right there with you

  15. Murph1908 says:

    WaMu’s commercials are racist. If a white guy had a bunch of black guys in a pen, the outcry would be enormous.

  16. @sgodun: WaMu for the win. Besides, their commercials are silly. I especially hate the one where the bankers get naked. Barf.

  17. @Murph1908: I hadn’t considered the race angle with the silly WaMu commercials. You have a point.

  18. hiland says:

    UGH! I have been waiting for US AIRWAYS to show up. Thanks for turning my 7 day vacation into 2 and lying about it every step of the way. I hate you. And I hope your drunk of a president crashes his car with his kids in it.

  19. plustax says:

    This is not a good matchup here, it seems more suited for a later round once we get rid of the fluffy non-competitors. But as always, banks get my vote unless satan himself is up and then I’d have to think about it a bit and come back later and vote.

  20. JustaConsumer says:

    WaMu! Pretending to be the “Everyman’s” bank all the while screwing you.

  21. Buran says:

    @johnva: Considering who they’re up against, I’m not sure who’s gonna win this one.

  22. sleze69 says:

    @plustax: There are always going to be tough 7 vs 8 seeds in the first round…

  23. dotyoureyes says:

    A shame this is a first-round matchup. These guys could be finalists.

    US Airways is still the worst airline in world history (and I flew Aeroflot in the Soviet era!) but they never played a huge role in tanking the nation’s economy.

    WaMu all the way to the championship, baby!

  24. cmp179 says:

    WaMu. You had me at sub-prime.

  25. muddgirl says:

    US Airways has the worst customer service of any airline, and thus the worst customer service in the world. I was told by a ticketing agent, “We have the power to accomodate you, and we have accomodated others in the same situation as you are, but it’s too hard in this situation, so we won’t do it.”


  26. Munsoned says:

    Tough choice. But, I gotta go with US Airways as it’s part of the US airline oligopoly. Anyone can move to another bank.

  27. ionerox says:

    WaMu is also being sued for their questionable appraisal practices.


  28. Tough choice…
    I’m going to have to coin flip this one.

  29. manta says:

    WaMu for the win. They won’t let me open an account since I have my credit file locked. They’ve lied about the problem and keep giving different excuses.

    So either they’re completely incompetent about fixing a problem, or simply don’t care about prospective customers who’ve been affected by ID Theft.

  30. pal003 says:

    Its a tough decision because I really hate the banks right now and that WaMu CEO Killinger still made too much money compared to the damage inflicted.

    But my recent experience of horrible customer service by a USAirways rep at the airport counter – and that I got no response to the complaint email I sent – wins out here. You can tell some of the USAirways employees hate their jobs – but please don’t take it out on the traveler. And management needs to be more responsive.

  31. maevro says:

    I have only had 1 issue with WaMu since I began banking with them a few years back.

    I placed an order online and the retailer used Google Check Out. Anyway, I was charged twice, leaving me with a negative balance. The company / Google refunded the 2nd charge right away but they still charged me the overdraft charge and would not refund me. I let it go but that will always be in the back of my mind….

  32. sirillium says:

    Washington Mutual for the win.
    They hit my credit stating I was not 30 days, not 90 days, but 60 days late for over a year. This was for a closed account with a zero balance. The credit report even stated I was 60 days late with 0 owed. They could not fix, transferring me to their collections department, but since I owed nothing, I was not in their system. I had to get all three credit reporting agencies involved to clean it myself.

  33. EyeHeartPie says:

    Wow…close race.

    As of 3:45 pm Central, vote stands at 1828 for US Air, 1827 for WaMu.

  34. JaneBadall says:

    Wamu, hate ’em. Last year I spent 3 months traveling Europe. Before the trip, I called the bank 3 times to let them know that there would be A LOT of overseas spending.

    Didn’t work. They put a hold on my card EVERY THREE DAYS for the entire trip. And sometimes the next day if I had used the card in a different city the day before. So, not only did I have no access to cash, but I needed to spend at least 2 hours every three days talking to a variety of non-helpful customer service idiots.

    Oh and you know that “call from anywhere” 800 number on the back? It doesn’t work. You get a recorded message, 30 seconds of dead air and THEN an operator that can accept the collect call. So if you’re in a country where the telephone operator doesn’t speak English (Italy, I’m looking at you) then you are screwed.

    Unless you have enough cash left over from the last withdrawal. If you don’t, you end up spending your last euros on a phone card which works just long enough for someone to put you on hold.

    Nothing like standing next to the Grand Canal in Venice cussing your head off because your phone card ran out while you listened to hold music. Kinda spoiled the wonder of it all.

  35. Carencey says:

    wow. if it didn’t feel like we’d be voting well into the next century to finish it, I’d ask if we could have a loser bracket, because whichever one loses here would certainly do well.

  36. KarmaChameleon says:

    The only time my luggage was ever lost, it was flying US Scareways. I was flying to Maryland for my aunt’s funeral last March. I was in a terrible state of mind to begin with (my aunt died in a car accident), and after nearly missing my connecting flight in DFW because we were running late, got into BWI three hours late to discover my baggage was missing. The staff was unbelievably rude. They told me I would just have to wait until they delivered it (their exact words). I left my sister’s address in Laurel and they said it’d be there in the morning. Next day, nada, not even a phone call. Meanwhile the funeral was the next day and I had nothing, not even a toothbrush.

    I ended up borrowing a dress from my sister. To add insult to injury, they had the nerve to finally deliver my luggage the morning I was supposed to fly back to Phoenix (apparently they couldn’t find my sister’s house in Laurel). That was the last time I flew US Scareways.

  37. Umisaurus says:

    My Consumerist-level story about US Airways:

    My now-husband’s aunt flew me out to the East Coast for his college graduation using her massive stash of frequent flyer miles. My flights ended and began at a small airport in Connecticut (Hartford-Bradley, I believe), which was about an hour away from the college and two away from his house. The way in, we had no problems. There was a massive storm on the way out, though, so I was stuck at the airport for over three hours.

    When I got to Philadelphia to connect, I was sent to about five different ticket counters to find my flight which I thought I had missed. After two hours of counter-tag, I found out that not only had I missed my flight, but it didn’t even exist anymore.

    At first, they tried to pin it on me, telling me that they sent me an email regarding the change and that I’d need to rebook. There was no email in my box or his aunt’s. Even so, why did the ticketing ladies put a tag with that flight number on my luggage at Bradley? Why didn’t they tell me I’d be stranded in PA?

    They wouldn’t give me a free room, only an $80 voucher. I had no money to my name, so my guy drove another three hours down to PA, then drove another hour and change to the closest hotel with vacancies. When I got back to the airport the next day, I tried to use my free food voucher at the food court. Nobody accepted it.

    I will never fly US Airways again.

  38. With a vote like 49.9% to 50.1%, I’m going to have demand a recount, no matter who wins.

    Can we start the “who seeded these brackets” argument again?

  39. elislider says:

    wow currently within 2 votes of each other. thats a tough call…

  40. SisterHavana says:

    I went with WaMu, for very quietly instituting ATM fees after making this big splashy PR blitz about how all their ATMs were no-fee when they entered the Chicago market.

    And for laying me off when I temped there in the loan review dept a few years back. ; )

  41. bhall03 says:

    neck and neck

  42. pnkseashel says:

    Easy vote. When I had to get home from a business trip early to attend my grandmother’s funeral in January, USAir told me they couldn’t change my flight because she wasn’t “immediate family”

    Unfortunately, they have taken over the Philly airport and I don’t really have a choice other than to book their flights.

  43. apotheosis says:

    WaMu. Mostly for their obnoxious commercials. :)

  44. ByeBye says:

    Voted for WaMu. I don’t fly, simple enough – we will eventually have that card paid off in a couple of months too…

  45. tape says:

    Wow, this one is actually a pretty tough call.

    Though, I suppose a company who willingly involves itself in the destruction of an entire nation’s economy gets the “edge”. Voting WaMu.

  46. tape says:

    @pnkseashel: Wow, since when is a grandmother not immediate family? That’s a pretty impressive reach, even for a company full of assholes.

  47. dieselmachine says:

    My fun with US Airways: I was scheduled to fly from Rochester NY to Burlington VT for my parents’ 25th anniversary, with a stopover in Philly for a few hours. It was intended to be a surprise, and my brother was going to pick me up from the airport and bring me to the party.

    So the plane in Philly gets delayed because of snow. There is another one scheduled to leave later, but obviously, not everyone can get on it, so I talk to a person at the desk about being put on standby for the next plane, because the issue is time sensitive. I am informed that I am the only person on the standby list! Yay!

    Later, from a different person, I was told that by being put on the standby list, I had queued myself to be last priority, after the people who were scheduled by -didn’t- request to be put on standby. I was now absolutely last on the list. When I asked them why I wasn’t informed of this when requesting to be on the next flight, I was told that I should’ve had an understanding of how the standby list works. I thought I did. I was wrong it seems. The next flight was leaving entirely too late for me to have any chance of making it to my parents’ anniversary party.

    So I tried to call my brother in VT, and couldn’t get ahold of him. I next called my parents’ house and explained what happened, and she called US Airways right then and put them through on a three way call and reamed them out. Eventually, they conceded that they had pulled a dick move on me, and suggested I fly to Manchester NH, and have someone from VT drive there and pick me up.

    So I ended up sleeping in the Philly airport, flying to NH, and my brother drove up from VT to pick me up, then drove all the way back down again.

    So much wasted time. Thanks, US Airways.

  48. ByeBye says:

    @dieselmachine: That’s the nicest thing anyone ever said about them too…

  49. hejustlaughs says:

    This one is looking like Obama-Clinton so far.

    US Airways 50% (3111 votes)
    Washington Mutual 50% (3058 votes)

  50. Derek says:

    I draw a distinction between WaMu’s consumer banking division and their credit card division.

    Since switching my bank accounts to WaMu from Wells Fargo about 7 years ago, I haven’t had any real problems. Their online banking page could use an uptime number closer to 100%, but that said, it is a really easy page to use. Stained though they may be by the subprime debacle, is there a major American bank whose hands are clean?

    Their cards division, however, sucks. I got zero useful help from the overseas client service reps the few times I needed to contact them. Their usurious eagerness to raise your APR, hit you up for fees, and change the terms of your agreement is at least equal to that of other major card issuers.

    USAir, on the other hand, is probably the poster child for the sorry state of affairs in American-run airlines. They’re essentially a rush-hour subway car that flies.

    I say USAir takes it.