Worst Company In America 2008 "Sweet 16": Wal-Mart VS WellPoint

Here’s your fifth “Sweet 16” match-up: #3 Wal-Mart VS #51 Wellpoint

Here’s what some of you had to say about these two companies:

“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.”

“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.”

“Personal information that may have included Social Security numbers and pharmacy or medical data for about 128,000 WellPoint Inc. customers in several states was exposed online over the past year, the health insurer said Tuesday.”

“$2600 root canal – they covered about $435. filling? $16. right, like any licensed dentist is going to do a filling for $16.”

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 consumerist.com/tag/worst-company-in-america.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Wal-mart FTW!

    They might try to arrest me for four bags of sugar.

  2. NightSteel says:

    Usually, IMO, health care companies should win most of these matchups, because bad customer service just doesn’t compare to companies that play fast and loose with your health/life. Walmart has to win this one, though, because they work so hard to keep their employees poor, denying them affordable health care among so many other things. I feel sorry for people who work there.

  3. scooby76 says:

    I refuse to walk into a Wal-mart, my friend want to stop there, sure but I will sit in my car. I refuse to buy from this company at all. Their evil practices and greedy ways will never get a dime from me.

  4. Guizzy says:

    @NightSteel: If they spare their employees the pain of having to deal with a health care company, isn’t Walmart doing them a service?

    Joking, of course!

  5. cef21 says:

    @NightSteel: Why should you feel sorry for them? Feel sorry for the people who applied to get jobs there, but were denied.

  6. NightSteel says:

    @cef21: Maybe a little, but there is one thing those people have going for them; they never get sucked into the Wal*Mart machine.

  7. JustaConsumer says:

    Wal-Mart, the poster child for corporate greed bleeding Americans dry. The pinnacle of the new “Gilded Age”.

  8. mookiemookie says:

    This weekend, I walked by the WalMart reciept checker at the door and said “no thanks” for the first time. It felt good.

  9. Shouldn’t Wal-Mart win it all, it should get a lifetime achievement award.

  10. Juggernaut says:

    Didn’t Roy Scheider and Jon Voight run Wellpoint? They made a movie about it. They wouldn’t pay for the operation and then Denzel killed himself in the end so his son could live.

  11. Angryrider says:

    I’m torn. WellPoint is in charge of our health, while Wal Mart runs our lives. We allowed both to exist and grow. But I’ll have to give the point to Walmart, even though I’m saddened by that choice.

  12. Pancakes?? FRENCH TOAST!! says:

    It’s much easier to find an alternative to shipping at Wal Mart than it is to find an alternative to your health insurance provider.

  13. Pancakes?? FRENCH TOAST!! says:

    @Sushiwriter: shopping at walmart, I meant. Not shipping.

  14. AaronZ says:

    I voted for Wellpoint.

    As Kang and Kodos would say “Go ahead! Throw away your vote!”

  15. Leohat says:

    This is a complete no brainer.

    Wellpoint could sacrifice live puppies and STILL not be as evil as Wallmart

  16. LUV2CattleCall says:

    Wal-Mart haters are usually yuppies who want to protest it to feel like they are making a difference.

    In reality, it’s a success story of capitalism.

    To be honest, I’ve gotten GREAT customer service at Wal-Mart…believe it or not, the employees like what they do (try talking to them instead of being rectally-fed union propaganda suppositories). I’ve seen a Wal-Mart employee talk a couple OUT of buying expensive cables that are overkill for their TV… Another one gave me advice on how to fix my short circuited brake light wiring – saved me over $500 at the rapefest that is Fields BMW.

    One thing to consider when people see those figures that show Wal-Mart is “straining” Medicare is whether or not your average Wal-Mart employee would have a job that provides health care if Wal-Mart wasn’t around.. the Walmartwatch figures assume that 100% of those employees would have upper-middle class jobs if Wal-Mart had not existed, which we all know is untrue.

    Try returning something at Wal-Mart with the receipt…you’ll get what you paid. Go to Target, however, and if the price has gone down, you’ll get the LOWER amount – found that out the hard way when I bought some Xmas gifts for friends there.

    Also, as a vegetarian/somewhat of an animal rights-giva-a-damner, I’m proud of Wal-Mart pressuring meat companies to treat animals better and such. They even got Kraft to roll out cheese from milk without hormones.

    Oh, and don’t forget that they were the driving force behind affordable CFLs…now they have a little calculator in the light bulb aisle that shows people how big of a moron they would be if they went for the old-fashioned type of bulb.

    Getting an oil change? Unlike some other chains, they won’t talk you into random ass repairs that you really don’t need…and they won’t try to pull crap like reusing your filter or filling your car with dead dinosaur oil when you paid for synthetic.

    Don’t have health insurance? Guess who started the $4 generics thing?

    Worried about the welfare of factory workers? Guess who does random, unannounced checks of overseas factories of suppliers?

    Cost of gas got you down? Guess where you can go to get all the things you need for your day to day life, in one stop?

    Wal-Mart is, above all, efficient. Their distribution network eliminates a ton of middlemen, and it also eliminates products from zig-zagging across the nation, saving a considerable amount of energy. They were also the dominant force behind the UPC code becoming standard. Recently, they got detergent companies to concentrate their laundry soap by removing excess water…afterall, why haul H2O all the way from the factory to your door when your washer is full of it already?

    For the record, I don’t work for Wal-Mart or any related company (I work for an airline = zero connection) and I don’t own stock in Wal-Mart or any related company.

    I lived in the small town of Knoxville, Iowa and witnessed first hand how much of a POSITIVE impact Wal-Mart can have on a community despite all the whiny asshats out there. I live a comfortable life and consider myself well off, and I’m sure I could afford to shop elsewhere if I felt like it…but Wal-Mart does a great job at great prices so why throw money away to less efficient retailers?

  17. RvLeshrac says:

    No contest. Wellpoint should win this.

    I can’t recall the last time Wal-Mart has murdered someone because they refused to allow them to shop in the store. Health insurance companies, on the other hand, kill people by refusing to pay for necessary, life-saving treatments. Every day.


    On the other hand, Wal-Mart *is* still a terrible company in many ways. Not providing health insurance or other benefits, providing the most low-wage of jobs, etc. The people working at Wal-Mart can only afford to shop at Wal-Mart, which is a win-win for them.

    Now, I’m not saying that being out of work is a good alternative. Wal-Mart just needs to turn some of those massive profits back over to the people that actually keep the business running.

  18. JeffDrummer says:

    IDK who to vote for, because I don’t think either company does anything really wrong. I guess Wellpoint because the insurance industry is broken – Wal Mart is just competing.

  19. ogremustcrush says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: I agree completely. People give Walmart too much crap for just being good at what it does. I live in a small city based around my college, and for shopping options there is Walmart and a bunch of really small stores with limited selection and high prices. I choose to go to Walmart because it has what I want at a price I will pay. Sure they don’t compensate their employees as much as they could, or provide the best benefits, but its a retail job, its kind of expected really. The cost savings that Walmart gains from this is passed down in their prices, and that matters to me more than whether or not someone who chose the job they chose gets paid as much as they like. People will never think they get what they are worth, the economy couldn’t work if they did. But really they do, otherwise they would get a better job that they are supposedly so qualified for. — Not a Walmart shill, I work for the University I attend

  20. drjayphd says:

    @Juggernaut: Dunno which verion you saw, but that wasn’t the ending…

  21. allstarecho says:

    This isn’t even a fair match-up. A giant like WalMart should be up against another giant like Exxon. I’m willing to bet that most of humanity has used WalMart but millions have never heard of, much less used, WellPoint.

  22. allstarecho says:

    Case in point: Me. I have never used WellPoint nor ever heard of them until reading a previous post here on Consumerist.

  23. boxjockey68 says:

    Made for walmart = complete trash

  24. Vishus says:

    Thank you. That needed to be said.

  25. Squot says:

    I worked for Walmart.

    The problems with Walmart?

    They undercut the bottom lines of companies so much that the company barely gets a profit – but if the company says “No, I can’t afford to switch all my manufacturing to 5 gallon jars of pickles”, Walmart says they won’t carry any of that brand’s products.


    It’s between a rock and a hard place, and it’s a ruthless way to do business. They would much rather work their employees to nothing so they quit, so they can train more – it’s cheaper then giving the ones they have raises. Yes, the employees are enthusiastic – you’re forcefed “Walmart is the BEST” 24/7.

    It’s… a culture, all to itself.

  26. LUV2CattleCall says:

    To add to the reasons Wal-Mart isn’t so bad: Guess who the first company was to do their own independent testing of toys, pet food, etc? Guess who went after Horizon milk when they tried to sell “Organic” milk from cows that had no access to the outdoors?


    While Wal-Mart isn’t turning their associates into millionaires…they do pay a bit above minimum wage… There’s a reason they are in favor of a higher minimum wage: It won’t cost them a dime more but it’ll give some of their customers more money to spend…



    See where we differ? I offer points with evidence to back them up, and you spew bullshit buzzwords for the hell of it. The stuff at Wal-Mart is the SAME EXACT stuff made for other stores. The only “evidence” to the contrary has yet to be proved. For example, that GE skillet that someone said was “made for Wal-Mart”…I’ve yet to see that anywhere. In fact, I googled quite a few phrases related to that and the only thing that comes up is that moron’s original complaint. Wal-Mart, unlike most stores, has a 90 day return policy…they obviously have some confidence in their products. If you want to see shitty products, go to Wal-Greens..they’re practically a show room for as seen on TV stuff. Also, knowing a bit about appliances…there are a finite number of failure points. I’d be interested to see how this supposed skillet stopped working.


    WRONG. Target, not Wal-Mart, is the one that puts the vise grips on the proverbial balls of companies. Check this story out…it’s by Mya Frazier, who, per disclosure documents, is a shareholder of TGT.

    [goliath.ecnext.com] (<— That’s called evidence to backup what you say; you should try it out some time)

    By the way, I can tell the difference between someone who is faking enthusiasm and someone who is genuinely happy with their job. You, obviously, on the other hand, probably believe that a Hooters waitress is truly interested in you and is flirting because she wants to sleep with you…

  27. magnoliasouth says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: Without having time to read your very long comment, I have to say that I agree and disagree with you.

    I am very conservative, so naturally I’m not opposed to the Walmart Corporation. That said, their customer no service is just that.

    I have spent hours at Walmart trying to shop in only one day. I live in a small town where the competition for grocers just does not exist. The Super Walmart grocery aisles are so crowded that you have to wait in line just to go down the aisle! I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life.

    They have over 30 registers and on a typical day, only about five are open. I’ve NEVER waited for less than 20 minutes… even in the cash only express lane!

    No, no, no. I’m not a yuppie nor am I anti-corporate America. I simply am a customer who is sick to death of Walmart’s bad management. They really need to get themselves together.

  28. progrocker69 says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: @LUV2CattleCall:

    I can attest that Wal-Mart DOES INDEED sell really crappy products which are made specifically for them by other companies, or even use other companies’ manufacturing facilities in China to slap their own cheap junk together, and pay those other companies to use their names.

    I am a former tech support agent for Logitech (former because they pulled out of their best support center and now have a bunch of donkeys elsewhere running the show). I wish I had license to show you the Excel spreadsheets of the product lists we had where several items in each category (mice, keyboards, webcams, etc.) had the words “Wal-Mart SKU” in red, in the comments box to the right of the listing.

    It was standard practice, when a customer called and read back the product numbers from one of these Wal-Mart only products to do anything in our power to get that customer to try and get the warranty honored through Wal-Mart rather than Logitech, though if that were impossible Logitech always WOULD honor the warranty.

    Why was this so? It was because Logitech never actually stocked any of the products with the Wal-Mart SKUs. The truth was that Wal-Mart paid Logitech to use Logitech’s Chinese production centers so that they could make items which looked very similar to the normal product lines, but which had components in them which were solely the responsibility of Wal-Mart (ie, not purchased, inventoried, or in any way guaranteed or the responsibility of Logitech). Wal-Mart just paid a certain amount per unit to put their crap into a shiny Logitech box and have the Logitech logo shown on it.

    When a customer had one of these products which was still under our warranty, but which Wal-Mart would no longer replace for whatever reason, they received the lowest-rung, similar-looking genuine Logitech product as a replacement, and in almost every case it was at least a slightly better item in terms of its internal componentry, and also cost a significantly higher amount to produce because of that.

    Again, I’m sorry I can’t provide internal and confidential Logitech documents to back up my claims, but after nearly two years in their tech support department I know exactly what I’m talking about.

  29. girly says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: So now they need to work on whatever is causing so many incidents of customers’ rights being violated. Maybe they aren’t teaching their employees to do this, but obviously they need to teach them not to do it.

  30. mantari says:

    Wal-Mart: Squeeze your vendors, not your customers.

  31. Cap'n Jack says:

    Wal-Mart all the way.

  32. Cap'n Jack says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: @LUV2CattleCall:

    Well, someone drank the Kool Aid. How is it that most people disagree with you, including former and current Wal-Mart employees?

  33. AlphaTeam says:

    I don’t exactly like either company, but Walmart lets me buy what I need cheap; of course I don’t buy cooking-ware, clothes, etc; I mostly buy the occasional motor oil, tool kit, water; I don’t see how they can fake that! Anything else, Costco FTW!

    Well Wellpoint is just evil–they should lose their business license.

  34. LUV2CattleCall says:


    I agree…you aren’t the typical “Hate Wal-Mart because that’s the cool thing to do” type of person… You stated specific incidents which directly adversely affected you as your reason for disliking them….and that’s 100% logical/rational reasoning! What annoys me are the floods of people who hate Wal-Mart because of something some AstroTurf group bankrolled by a union said. Those types simply spew random talking points (see Cap’n Jack’s comments for a good example)!

  35. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @Cap’n Jack:

    Ok, “captain”, (by the way, what branch of the armed forces are you in?) ….you really don’t get this whole “don’t spew shit you can’t back up” think, do you? I could care less if someone hates/likes Wal-Mart, or any other company for that matter. I just despise people who don’t have enough of a brain to research things for themselves and are sheep. You, therefore, are the Kool Aid drinker. As I said earlier, I actually take the time to talk to employees, do my own research, etc… nice try though, attempting to drop a pejorative to discredit me.

    Where do you get this statistic that “most people” disagree with me? Was there some Gallup poll that I missed? Many people on the Consumerist may disagree with me…but the nature of this site as one where you express complaints makes for a severely statistically skewed representative sample… If someone wrote into the consumerist every time they had a smooth transaction at a store, it would be boring as hell to read.

    Also, there are many corporations which have former employees disliking them…there’s a reason they’re “former” employees…while it’s possible that they left due to a move or something, it’s also possible that they got fired or something else. Of course, those people are the most vocal… Again, someone who moved jobs due to a family relocation or something has little motive to yell and scream and get attention. The guy who got fired, however, is disgruntled and will whine like there’s no tomorrow.

    As far as current Wal-Mart employees go…. again, you’ll always find exceptions, and I’ll admit that Wal-Mart isn’t a Nordstrom – but it’s not supposed to be. People like to act like every single associate will rape your firstborn and, while you’re distracted by the rapist, another will defecate in your wallet. I actually like Wal-Mart better than most stores for the reason that their employees aren’t commissioned and are highly un-obtrusive unless you need something. One thing Wal-Mart started doing, on the credit card swiper screen, is asking an anonymous question such as “Was the Store Clean,” “Was your cashier friendly today,” or “Did the cashier smile?” If they weren’t concerned about maintaining a standard of service…why would they do that?

  36. girly says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: I would say consumerist is for both ‘above and beyond’ and ‘below and beyond’ interactions.

    I don’t think smooth transactions are not posted because they are ‘boring’–they’re really just irrelevant, unless we’re discussing the overall dependability of the company.

  37. girly says: