Worst Company In America 2008 "Sweet 16": American Airlines VS Microsoft

Here’s your sixth “Sweet 16” match-up: #43 American Airlines VS #6 Microsoft

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

American Airlines:

“AA just released a statement saying they will be charging $15 per checked bag and cutting flights.”

“You might as well ask “which business model is more doomed — renting movies from a store, or the hub & spoke airline system?””


“MS trying to force people into using Vista is really the last straw. If they succeed on pushing XP out of use I will go back to using Mac. “

“Broken XBoxes; prolonging/supporting the HD disc war so they could get more time to let their digital download service mature; releasing Vista prematurely; multiple/confusing and overpriced Vista SKUs; removing XP from the market because people weren’t buying Vista; Zune not supporting Microsoft’s own Plays for Sure standard; DRM and Activation schemes that treat paying customers like criminals. I could go on, but I think that’s enough to make my case.”

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. MaytagRepairman says:

    I just heard on the radio on the way to work that American Airlines is now going to staff people at TSA checkpoints to police people bringing too many carry-on bags.

  2. svandals says:

    Neither of these companies foisted the bushitler regime on us, so I will abstain from voting.

  3. Machina says:

    Sure, Microsoft has held the standard high as far as evil corporations go, but AA has really been pushing hard.

    Their lack of customer service, constant nickle, dime and 15 dollaring it’s customers to death, lack of customer rights and the overall BS of the airline biz is one of the reasons my vote goes for AA.

  4. bostonhockey says:

    @MaytagRepairman: No complaints here. I think this is a great idea and will help cut down on all the jackasses with numerous ‘carry-ons’.

  5. Asvetic says:

    RROD! VISTA! ZUNE! – These are some of the more prevalent reasons to vote for Microsoft.

  6. AceKicker says:

    @Asvetic: All of which you could simply not buy. Not so easy with the transportation industry.

    And exactly what was wrong with the Zune anyways, besides it didn’t have an Apple logo?

  7. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @bostonhockey: Now all we need is something to cut down on the lost and mishandled checked bags.

  8. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I voted for AA, because at least Microsoft pretends to care about where I want to go today!

  9. dktcluff says:

    I swore many years ago that I would not fly AA again, but I broke my vow and flew them two weeks ago. I paid dearly for it. AA STINKS!

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s nearly impossible to catalog the scope and breadth of Microsoft’s missteps and downright buggering of consumers.
    Okay, now about this: foist a DRM scheme on trusting users who by millions of tracks so hobbled. (I get it: it’s the record labels that make them do it. That’s fine.)
    Then come up with a new DRM scheme incompatible with the previous (this isn’t fine, since they can no longer say, “Evil Record Execs made us!”).
    Then (and this is the consumer buggery part) tell the first set of customers that ALL the tracks they bought will be worthless, and tough luck. No credit, no cashback, no mitigation). Which, considering their wealth and number of programmers at their disposal, is something they were clearly capable of.

    Just mindblowing.

  11. grumpymo says:

    M$ all the way. How can you not vote for a company that has a record for breaking up marriages of it’s workers from overwork? The creator of the Bi-Yearly Microsoft Tax (you MUST upgrade, that’ll be $150.) Heck, Gates wrote the infamous VERY FIRST evil YOU ARE ALL PIRATES letter!

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    @speedwell: So having a PR person saying, “We wuv you” makes everything okay?
    Wow. Just wow.

  13. strangeffect says:


  14. grumpymo says:

    Here is the citation for the YOU ARE ALL PIRATES letter.

  15. grumpymo says:

    M$. How can you not vote for the company who ruined so many of it’s first workers marriages, created the Microsoft Tax (You MUST upgrade! $150, please) and the infamous “Open letter to Hobbyists” that basically said that everyone was a pirate!

    The Open Letter to Hobbyists is on Wikipedia, if you don’t believe me. I tried posting a link but the spam filter didn’t like it.

  16. @speedwell: My parents landed in Jamaica yesterday . . AA decided to send their(and 14 other passengers) luggage to San Francisco . .

  17. dlmccaslin says:

    Microsoft didn’t stop selling XP. I just bought a copy of XP professional for work on April 29. I did this because we bought a new computer that came with Vista, and I was warned by a computer tech that Vista and XP don’t like to talk to each other over a network. Of course, two days later I got my shiny new Dell XPS laptop with vista Home Premium and within about 2 hours I had it linked with my PC running XP Home, so I really just wasted $200.

  18. Techguy1138 says:

    Don’t hate MS for 20 year old plus behavior.

    You have the previous year and it is much more applicable.

    1 vista- It’s new innovations were limited almost exclusively to DRM additions.

    2 vista certified- The Vista certified stickers were very misleading and anti-consumer.

    3- vista pricing tiers – anti consumer. It’s okay to have lots of business sku’s but seriously, what does home basic do differently than premium? Do some programs not run? do I lose security options?

    4 xbox 360- It took MS years to acknowledege that the 360 was actually having problems, as opposed to a serious of unrelated minor technical issues.

    5 xbox 360 DRM- The drm scheme fell apart for some customers when it became obvious that you didn’t have the same rights to your content on a erplacement xbox that you had on your original. The replacement xbox you got because your first one had to be repaired.

    6 zune- DRM the zune DRM scheme all but crippled the WiFi features that were highly advertised.

    7 Vista- Support for the Broadcast flag restriction on time shifted TV content.

    For the MP3 player there is plenty of competition. For the xbox you can always get a Wii or PS3.

    For a computer operating system MS is the only professional one you can buy. Apple is even less consumer friendly and Linux is difficult to make inter-operable.

    As For AA airports are frequently serviced by multiple carriers. I actually have a choice there.

  19. 11hawkinst says:

    I’ve gotta say that I don’t think either of these companies bother me that much. Sure, I got stuck with Vista on my new PC, but, once you work all the tweaks out of it, it’s that bad. They are also coming out with a bunch of cool new stuff like Microsoft Surface and Microsoft Photosynth. I also really enjoy the new Office suite (it is so much user friendly than the older versions).

    American Airlines haven’t been that bad to me. I mean the new fees and stuff aren’t cool at all, but there service is much better than some other airlines I have flown with (coughusaircough).

    So, I don’t know. It’s a tough one, but I’m gonna go with American since their quality and service hasn’t been like what it used to be.

  20. mycroft2000 says:

    I have a special hate-on for MS at the moment. I recently needed to buy a copy of Excel, and so I sprung for a reasonable deal on MS Office 2007. I wasn’t thinking when I installed it, and soon saw that Word07, part of the Office suite, had erased and replaced my copy of Word02. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this ‘upgrade’ sucks the big wazoo in just about every respect. Of course, I can’t find my Word02 install disk. Microsoft!! Word already did everything 99.99% of users require of it 15 years ago. STOP IMPROVING IT, for Christ’s sake.

  21. GregGates says:

    Microsoft. Airlines are feeling the jet fuel crunch, I don’t care if they start diming you on bag fees and evaporating the snacks. I don’t ever fly, but I could choose a different airline. Microsoft has no excuse, tons of money, ridiculous sku confusion (though an employee told me you can thank the federal government for that), your only alternative is to use an entirely different OS that has tiny market share (I use PC + Mac but the average Joe is screwed). S-canning XP while announcing Windows 7 on a 2010 release table is shameful. Vista flopped with its 25% installed base VS XP’s what like 80%~?

    Good game M$ is worse, though I will mention the following. Their 2000 era Intellimouse Optical still is the king 5 button wired mouse. Nice and light, big comfortable well-places 4/5 buttons, good scroll feel. It bowns most every other mouse out there to this day, with their tiny poorly placed 4/5 buttons. Look for OEM ones on Newegg.

  22. Rask says:

    Yes the way Vista was brought to Market was bad/confusing and the Vista Capable stickers were a blunder.
    Vista itself though, if bought with a new PC is really good. I wouldn’t go back to XP cause there are Vista features I couldn’t do without. The Search for one, Media Center is another. The new Explorer is also fantastic. I run Vista on every computer I operate(At work and at home) and it’s almost always pleasant.

    As far as the Xbox, the RROD thing still happens but MS has taken a lot of steps and a huge financial hit to make sure it’s customers were covered. Sony didn’t do a thing until they lost a class action on the Disk Read Errors on the PS2.

    As well, I suspect that the only problem you have with the Zune is the fact that it competes with the iPod. I just bought a Zune last weekend(Canadian here) and it’s a great platform.

  23. adamsummers says:

    Since I only fly a few days out of the year, and have to use Windows EVERY DAY at work, I have to give this vote to Microsoft. Thanks for making computing hell for so many years!

  24. Rask says:

    @mycroft2000: Wait, you’re actually faulting them for improving their products??

    Seriously, relax with the kneejerk reactions, sit down for 15 minutes with Office 2k7 and see how it improved. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  25. hi says:

    When a Microsoft product crashes you don’t die.

  26. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Trai_Dep: JOKE, stupid. IT was a JOKE. Wow. Just wow.

  27. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Trai_Dep: Did you seriously not get that that was a joke? What kind of geek do you call yourself?

  28. provolone says:


    Fly a different airline people.

  29. mycroft2000 says:

    @Rask: No, I’m faulting them for shuffling things around and calling it an improvement. I assumed that I would not have to put the word ‘improvement’ in quotation marks in order to have fellow Consumerists cotton to its ironic usage.

    And I’ve been sitting with it for 15 days — more than enough time for knee-jerks to subside — and can’t see how it’s better in any way. How have you been pleased by it, exactly?

    All right, I’ll confess that I’m glad Clippy’s gone, but that’s about it.

  30. tape says:

    American Airlines.

    Use a Mac or Linux, people.

  31. Microsoft, just because the Zune is the lamest product since Zima. Now all we need is another lame product that starts with a “Z” so we can have the zzz trifecta.

  32. Caslonbold says:

    Microsoft wins.

    They have hired so many foreigners to work at Microsoft world headquarters in Redmond Washington when they could have hired American talent and kept the jobs for citizens of this country. Their imported engineers from India invade our communities and send all their earnings out of the US. Microsoft hired so many workers using the loophole of long term contracts that finally the state of WA had to force them to give these poor contract workers actual benefits like health care and retirement and recognize them as employees. Microsoft screamed at this.

    Microsoft wins because Paul Allen is a dickwad egotripper who is buying up huge tracts of land and cool old buildings in Seattle and is redeveloping and forcing long term residents out so he can own the world. His personal redevelopment plan has raised property taxes and made buying affordable houses impossible for most citizens in Seattle.

    Not to mention that Microsoft products totally suck, they crash and the coding is just nasty. Microsoft programs are the ONLY programs that crash on my Mac. I have to pray my computer won’t crash every time I open MS Word. I feel sorry for anyone who uses a PC and has to use any MS products.

  33. Rask says:

    @mycroft2000: Well for one I’ve been a big fan of the way it hides the controls for all the opbjects that are not actually in the document that I’m drafting. Why should I be cluttered with t Table tools when tables are not actually in my document.

    The options to clean up a document for publishing are also fantastic. No more sending out documents with Tracked Changes that are hidden as opposed to removed.

    As an IT guy responsible for shared storage, I love the new XML file formats as they tend to make documents a LOT smaller than their Office 97-2003 counterparts.

    There’s just a lot of win in 2k7 imo.

  34. AceKicker says:

    When I look through all the complaints against Microsoft, a number of it is justified but an also very significant number of it I would call good ol’ USER ERROR. Also known as the dumber side of the vocal minority. If you take the time to figure out what it is you’re doing, you’ll be fine. If you can’t do that, than by all means, go buy a Mac. Or make friends with those Geek Squad guys we all love here on the Consumerist.

    As for the “fly another airline” argument, they’re all in the same boat. When one pulls a stunt, the others quickly follow suit. That doesn’t make AA very unique but no less crappy. And they got themselves neck deep in bullshit LONG before gas prices went up. It just expedited the process.

  35. Cap'n Jack says:

    American Airlines

  36. TwoScoopsRice says:

    Microsoft wins for so many reasons. Here are two perennial faves:
    1. Bloat.
    2. Porousness to hackers.

    More recently, it takes the cake for driving away a decent sector of its younger client base, college students, who have a lot of purchasing decisions and years of spending money ahead of them. You see, Microsoft ran a software promotion for college students. Set up some decent parameters, including that purchasers needed to be currently enrolled in school and have a college dot-edu e-mail address.

    All well and good. However, the savings were only available to PC users, not Mac users. The Mac bundle was still priced at a premium above the standard PC bundle pricing. Wondering whether there was some sort of error, I called. Talked with a CSR who semi-understood the frustration, but who didn’t quite grasp the concept that the company was probably breeding ill-will against people who would remember the snub and perhaps have it influence not only their personal but perhaps their corporate buying decisions down the road.

  37. Angryrider says:

    American Airlines. I don’t need to buy a Zune or an Xbox. I do need a computer, but it’s the manufacturers’ fault if it goes wonky. I’ll be happy using an XP cd that I borrowed from a pal, or the latest Ubuntu distro.
    However I might have a need to go somewhere far away to see some relatives or friends, and AA makes it a living hell to get there. Add some of their human rights violations, and their lobbying to destroy OUR RIGHTS, they are evil compared to Microsoft the monolith.

  38. AlphaTeam says:

    This may sound crazy, but Microsoft as been very good to me; no hardware problems; nothing pushy about Windows; issued me a new product key when I over activated my Office 2007.

    And American Airlines has been crappy forever, so this new charge is like a suicide note.

  39. Trai_Dep says:

    @speedwell: Okay, my bad. Sorry. It’s just I saw the “I voted for AA because”, which is okay since, yay – America! But paired with your joke (which I missed: again, whoops) I didn’t catch the snark.
    And MS’ DRM thing really boggles my mind, in a universe of jaw-dropping MS actions.

    Sorry? Friends? :D

  40. JeffDrummer says:

    Two really terrible companies, yet I only get one vote. And, it goes to microsoft!

  41. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Trai_Dep: On the grounds that I too shoot from the lip… friends :D

  42. sisedi says:

    Decisions decisions…both have made some megaton awful decisions…

  43. Kendra says:

    That’s easy-
    American Airlines.

    They stranded me in an airport for 10 hours with no food vouchers,
    no hotel offer, and no way to escape (I didn’t have a license or old
    enough to rent a car).

    They PERSONALLY ruined my family’s entire weekend – my sister’s wedding.

    I thought arriving a day and a half (a journey that should have only lasted two hours) early was enough!

  44. agency says:

    @Rask: Word 2007 – an improvement? What a crock! Maybe it is if you’re illiterate but reading-capable humans tend to find a desired function more easily by reading through menus instead of trying to search through a series of tabs filled with little pictures one by one and wait for the tooltips to pop up. Especially if they’ve been using the exact same menus for almost 15 years. The way toolbar customization got limited to one toolbar also very much sucks. And I miss Clippy. And Rocky and F1 the Robot and the kitty cat. Why did they have to go?!

    I do prefer the new Outlook because of the indexed search function. And the fact that it has menus although the fact that there’s no way to use an old Word for an editor is annoying. And I find the new Excel useful because it can actually handle a bigger sheet than 256x65k and takes advantage of multiple core cpus. But I still use Word 2003 whenever possible. Making it the default program for doc files was a pain though.

  45. Trai_Dep says:

    Although, I have to say (arrgh, my office uses Office) the new one has the same keyboard shortcuts. So if you’re really an Office maven, it’s not so bad. The active previews are nice. And I’ve adjusted to the new ribbons. Plus smaller file sizes.
    So it’s not SO bad. I’m 50:50, trending towards 2007 over the previous version.

    I happily use iWork at home, though: as feature-packed and more elegant.

    I hereby notify all & sundry that I will cite the above paragraph for the rest of my natural-born online life as proof that I’m not an unthinking, reflexive Microsoft hater.

  46. JSBC says:

    Try buying another copy once July 1st hits. I dare you. ;)

  47. JustaConsumer says:

    Meg – you should have a talk with polldaddy. Something is wrong.