Worst Company In America "Elite 8": Wal-Mart VS American Airlines

Here’s your third “Elite 8” match-up: #3 Wal-Mart VS #43 American Airlines

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

“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.


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

“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.”

“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.”

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

“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.”

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

“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).”

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. retailnomore says:

    This is a tough one…

  2. Nogard13 says:

    At least Wal-Mart gives poor people the ability to save money. AA is just a drag on us all. My vote: AA.

  3. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    What Wal-Mart does is tantamount to instigating and colluding in fraud. They manage to act as if they were a monopoly. They conspire to lower value to the consumer without fairly revealing that their products are different from the supposedly identical products bought elsewhere. They engage in tactics designed to indenture small businesses to them, and then attach the cost-reduction thumbscrews, fully aware that in order to survive, the smaller firms have to cut quality until it lies bleeding to death just to stay in business. In small towns where they have successfully forced out serious competition in both selling and hiring, they are little better than the “company store.” They pretend to be patriots, but the effect of their policies is to weaken the country and enrich those abroad. They are not good for a free market or a free society.

  4. Caukin says:

    Wal-mart will sell you Grade D food for $2. AA will charge you $10 and a convenience fee of $3 and add an extra $2 if you want a fork and a knife.

  5. bmwloco says:

    Wal-Mart is the Company store for America.

    They put small businesses out of business. They’ve destroyed manufacturing in the US.

    Wal-Mart cost America jobs. They also create monolithic abandoned shells around the country when they build more monstrous “super centers”

    No other company has done more damage to the US.

  6. provolone says:

    @Nogard13: Spending a bit more money at a store that provides good jobs in your community is probably a better way to make the situation better for people who don’t have a lot of money than shopping at walmart.

    People have to look at the big picture when they spend their money. Are you really getting a better deal at walmart, or are you actually getting less for your money by supporting a business that undercuts the other businesses which keep your community strong?

  7. mythago says:

    Man, this is a toughie. I have to go with WalMart because at least AA has competitors–they haven’t managed to take over an airport and force all other airlines out. WalMart screws its employees as well as its vendors.

  8. bohemian says:

    I noticed Walmart was selling the branded yet not equal products years ago. It is rampant now. I found a Kitchenaid pizza cutter at Walmart and it was flimsy and looked poorly made. It was $9. I went to Macy’s and found one for $15 but it was heavy, had better mechanics and is solidly built. It will probably be the last one we need to buy. I spent $6 more but probably would have ended up buying 3 of the Walmart ones as they broke. I get better deals on better quality clothes for our kids by shopping sales at department stores.

  9. Wal-Mart encourages companies to move their factories abroad. When you want to sell your product at Wal-mart, they give you a book called “How to do business with Wal-Mart, and one of the main suggestions is to move your factory to China.

    Wal-Mart absolutely does not give poor people the ability to save money. People shop at Wal-mart because it is what they can afford. However, it is what they can afford, because they shop at Wal-mart.

    If people bought more expensive American made products, from independently owned stores, the economy as a whole would be strengthened.

    It is kind of scary that a Wal-Mart distribution center is the home to a Dept. of Homeland Security office.

    Wal-Mart should win this entire contest, given that Monsanto is not in it.
    Monsanto, definitely most evil. Wal-Mart a distant second.

  10. etinterrapax says:

    I have to go with Wal-Mart on this one just because of the sheer magnitude of their crimes. Times are tough for AA, as for all airlines, but the average person can find another way to travel, or choose not to travel. But it’s hard to find another place to get toilet paper if Wal-Mart is your sole retailer, particularly if you’re under economic stress.

    I worked at WM in the nineties, two different locations, and haven’t shopped there since. Recently, they opened one within 500 feet of our condo complex (grrr….), and I visited just to price-check. It’s a shocking contrast to the stores I remember–and a definite sign that under relentless downward price pressure, the manufactured goods are of increasingly poor quality, and selection is down. In groceries, there are a few deals, but not in everything. I’d still have to make two trips to get the best prices on everything. And let’s face it: saving eight cents on milk isn’t going to make that much of a difference. It’s a 2% discount. Their butter was sixty cents higher than our local chain grocery, regular price.

    Say what I would about the company’s business practices, the stores where I worked had very good quality merchandise for the price point, and plenty of brand names and selection within any given category. That is no longer the case, and they seem to have withdrawn many of their private label products across all departments. They’re going the way of K-Mart, and in a worse way, because they’re much more prevalent.

  11. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @etinterrapax: If Wal-Mart goes the way of K-Mart, it’s going to leave a big sucking hole that will probably pull in Target, and after them, maybe “all things to all men” Kroger as well.

  12. TangDrinker says:

    Has anyone read “The Store” by Bentley Little? It’s fiction (horror), but it describes Wallyworld pretty well.

  13. hi says:

    @speedwell: Exactly. Wal-Mart is China’s trojan horse to America.

  14. DeepFriar says:

    Wal Mart never needed government bailouts.

  15. Angryrider says:

    Hmm… Wal Mart helps poor people save money. But who caused them to be poor?
    American Airlines tries to screw us and our country in order to keep the multi-million dollar paychecks their CEO receives fortnightly.

  16. dallasmay says:

    Yeah, this is another one of those

    “Give Wal-Mart a Life Time Award and ban it from further participation.”

    Same with Exxon and Microsoft. They are just evil and will win every year.

  17. theblackdog says:

    With most airports, you have a choice of which airline you can take, in many small towns, it’s Wal-Mart or nothing.

    I vote Wal-Mart.

  18. battra92 says:

    Have any of you guys seen Penn & Teller’s Bullshit on Wal*Mart hate? You should.

    American Airlines because we had to bail them out. Tax money going to the airlines is not cool.

    I shop at Wal*Mart occasionally. I much prefer Target and tend to go there a lot more now that I work down the street from one (the WM is on the road home so they are both along the way.)

    I can’t really complain too much about Wal*Mart because it’s there for basic stuff that I need like razor blades, soap and deodorant. We do trek to the Superstore once a month or so to stock up but only because it’s near the BJs which gets most of our bulk purchases anyway.

  19. highmodulus says:

    Hmm, they’re both really really terrible. Also polldaddy truly is pokey again.

    I voted for AA due to be evil and grossly incompetent, rather the just evil like Walmart.

  20. Nogard13 says:


    Seriously? You guys are complaining because Wal-Mart helps America progress? Do you guys really want the low-wage, low-skilled jobs to remain in the US? How does that help us as a nation? In world economics, we’ve moved from no economy to an agricultural economy to an industrial economy to a service economy. Why would you want us to remain in the industrial age when we can move to the service age?

    Also, Wal-Mart amounts to a net increase in jobs in most communities. Yes, a few mom and pop stores go out of business, but they end up employing more people than normally lose their jobs to businesses that close.

    This Wal-Mart hate has always been a bit hard for me to understand.

  21. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    American Air is a piker compared to the evils of Wally World!
    The worst AA can do to you is make you late for business or vacation or lose your luggage.

    Not only do I second everything written previously here about them destroying the manufacturing base of this country, but they also try to get free stores built when they don’t have one using Tax Increment Financing [TIF] which is a giant scam on anyone that has to make up the lost real estate taxes that would have been generated by the Wal-Mart store.

    Then there’s the scam of the Walton Family Foundation. WFF gives almost all of its money to small “charities” in the southeast, where Wal-Mart started. The problem with that is that there aren’t any stores left to buy anything except Wal-Mart, so when these “charities” go to spend the WFF grants, they spend it at Wally World.

    I believe in the real world that’s called self-dealing & in many cases is illegal.

    And just where are all those billions that Forbes Magazine claims the Walton family is worth?
    They’re now into the third generation of Waltons & I don’t see a lot of that money getting pissed away on idiotic useless crap the way every other third generation of billionaires has done previously.

  22. tape says:

    I think this is the first legitimately tough decision I’ve had in this whole contest.

    I’m going with Wal-Mart. American Airlines, to me, seems to be primarily grossly incompetent and only a slight bit evil, whereas Wal-Mart is evil incarnate.

  23. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    The service economy is an humungous fraud!
    All our service jobs, the ones that were supposed to save us when our dirty industry went to cheaper places are also going to cheaper places, like India, Pakistan, Nigeria, The Philippines & a dozen other countries that supposedly speak English, but pay a lot less to their workers.

  24. Lambasted says:

    Not even a close call for me. I am going to relish voting for American Airlines, the evil bastards.

    Fly Southwest Airlines!!!!

  25. orsham says:

    Although I am not making excuses for AA, the airline industry as a whole is brutal. Personally I don t expect much, with the high costs of gas, with the workld changing after 9/11, wqith al the other cost increases the airline industry has had to absorb over the past several years.We havent really had much of a price increase in a long, long time. I believe we athe ameri=can peopl,e are a bit spoiled. I expect with all the above that there will be delays,not great customer service, and inconveniences along the way. Inngeneral if you have to get somewhere 1500-3000 miles away.. its still a nice option rather than driving( or boating). i’m just glad Im not in the business of running an airline.. howe the heck do you make money given all the above ciscumstances. By the way.. Southwest is someohow, in a class on its own. Kudos to them.

    Walmart on the other hand is killing America. We are outsourcing our whole country and W=M is leading the charge. Pretty soon we won t have any jobs for people to afford shopping at W-M or any other place for that matter.

    I sum up Walmart in a few words. Greed. Exploitation of suppliers, employees, and customers. Monopolistic. Taking advantage of local town and governments. Looking out for themselves only. Wiping out tons of local, old fashioned, high service, businesses that made Ameruica flourish

    Other than sometimes the lowest price, there isnt much to like good about this company. I ll choose to spend my money on principles and people I like.

    Walmart gets my vote BY FAR.

  26. Nighthawke says:

    Snapper Mowers told Wal-mart to pack fudge when they were approached to sell their product line. The family-run company that builds a fine line a lawn care products KNEW that if they went into business with the Big Box, that their product would degrade and they would lose money on the deal. Snapper, Ariens and Lawn-Boy are sold by Mom-and-Pop lawnmower dealerships and are proud of it.

  27. PunditGuy says:

    You can watch Penn & Teller, but then you need to check out Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. [www.imdb.com]

  28. orsham says:

    Speedwell…Kudos to you

    China s trojan horse??

    what a GREAT GREAT Analogy!!

  29. Trai_Dep says:

    Wal-Mart, because they’d be no where without their lush corporate welfare:
    * Blackmailing localities into granting “tax-holidays” for them for years, then moving the instant they were supposed to begin paying sales tax (like all the local mom-n-pops that they crushed since they had to pay sales tax)
    * Give such lousy health benefits that they give new hires instructions on how to get gov’t paid medicaid for their sick kids
    * Same as above, only with food stamps

    They’re not the free market success story that some like to think.

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    @PunditGuy: An excellent movie! On their Facts page, they document their claims (which are legion and not completely flattering):

  31. Trai_Dep says:


    Wal Mart never needed government bailouts.

    No bailouts, but every day, every year, they’re sucking $1,577,000,000 in Federal taxpayer funds. Add another $86,000,000 from California alone (yes, they suck both Fed & state monies).
    (Cited from above)

    Airline bailouts are a cheap bargain in comparison.

  32. Hairyback says:

  33. HeartBurnKid says:

    @battra92: I saw that episode, and frankly, it’s not one of their best. Most of their episodes, even if I don’t agree with their premise, I can at least say are well-thought-out and well-researched. That one was pure garbage.

    I don’t hate Wal-Mart because I’m elitist, like P&T claim; far from it. I hate Wal-Mart because they screw their suppliers, they screw their employees, and they screw their customers — in short, they screw everybody. I hate Wal-Mart specifically because of what they do to the little guy.

  34. battra92 says:

    @PunditGuy: I saw it in a business class. Quite a bit of Bullshit in it.

    Wal*Mart has good and bad. It’s not so much them but it’s the way things are working now.

  35. battra92 says:

    @HeartBurnKid: it’s not one of their best.

    But Penn Gillete goes all hometown boy on Greenfield! Of course, I live near Greenfield so I found that part really cool.

  36. @Nogard13: So everybody flies? Sorry – Wal-Mart FTW.

  37. @Nighthawke: Lowes sells John Deere, but when you buy one, it gets delivered by one of those Mom and Pop lawnmower dealers. Lowes just does the paperwork. I couldn’t imagine trading my Deere for a crappy Wal-Mart lawn tractor.

    Anyway, I went to Wal-Mart for a toaster a few months ago. The ones on display very nearly fell apart in my hands while I was looking at them. I ended up going to Target, where they have much sturdier “Made In China” stuff.

  38. Gotta go with American Airlines, simply because it’s WCIA 2008 and in 2008 AA has really gone above and beyond (below and ahead?) in their efforts to provide horrible service. I’m not a big fan of Walmart, but they’re sort of a perennial offender, and this year couldn’t match AA’s poor safety, massive cancellations, and generally deplorable work at getting passengers and their belongings from point A to point B on time.

  39. magnoliasouth says:

    @suburbancowboy: I couldn’t care less about Walmart’s business practices abroad. I’m not worried about buying only American made because that’s only supporting over regulation in the US government. The consumer ends up paying more for all that extra – usually not needed – regulation and no thanks, I’ll pass on that one.

    I also don’t care about the quality of Walmart’s merchandise. I mean, you get what you pay for. I wouldn’t buy high end items there and if I wanted something to last for years and years, I’ll shop elsewhere.

    That said, I still vote for Walmart as the worst. My reason is their simple disregard for their customers. Try and find someone to help you if you have a question, try and get in and out of the store in 15 minutes or less. My local store has over 25 registers and routinely only keeps 4-5 open. Even on black Thursday, only half were open!!!! Why did they waste all that money on extra registers if they’re not going to use them?

    Then don’t even CONSIDER returning an item. Being seen in an Emergency Room is faster than that!

    This vote was a tough call though because American Airlines has sunk lower than low, but Walmart affects a larger number of people than AA, so there it is.

  40. SuffolkHouse says:

    Where are the voting buttons?

  41. retailnomore says:

    Right below the article… Between it and the start of the comments.

  42. Savage says:

    I don’t like either company, but Wal-mart is bad.

  43. synergy says:

    Um, shouldn’t everything you buy be something you want to last for years and years??

    The mentality that almost everything should be disposible is a major problem in this country.

  44. @synergy: Well, buying new every year to 18 months has become the new normal. I’m going out later to buy yet another vacuum cleaner. I can’t seem to keep one running longer than a year and a half or so.

    I feel really old because I remember when those good old Hoover upright vacs would last almost forever. People would replace the cords because they wore out long before anything else. Next would be the beater bars. Pull the old one, snap the new one in place. Four screws and you’re back in business.

    Now, you’re fortunate if the damn thing doesn’t blow up while you’re doing the carpet.

  45. Harlan says:

    They’re both sucky companies, but Wal-Mart is making boatloads of money being horrible to communities, employees, and customers, while AA is barely breaking even. So Wal-Mart gets the nod from me.

  46. i buy those Crystal Light water bottle packs, they come in a pack of 14 at the normal grocery store… well, at Wal-Mart, they were considerably cheaper…. then I found out, they only stuff 10 into a box that is the same size as the box which holds 14. My boyfriend then proceeded to tell me that “Wal-Mart does that.”

  47. Wal-Mart, as American as obese people rolling out of their gas guzzlers to consume cheap, unsafe crap made in China.

  48. On credit.

  49. In a franchise-ridden Anytown, USA with a once-cute downtown now full of vacant commercial space that used to be filled with mom-and-pop stores.

  50. Extended-Warranty says:

    Even though I just flew AA and got delayed 2 hours and almost missed my flight and I frequently shop at Wal-Mart, I still choose Wal-Mart. AA and other airlines are getting screwed by the cost of gas to which they are nearly going out of business. I don’t remember that many airline problems before this gas crisis. Wal-Mart is driving down the quality of EVERYTHING. We pay taxes for healthcare for those wal-mart won’t cover. Suppliers of wal-mart have no choice but to sell to wal-mart and pay a high cost to do so. I could go on but Wal-Mart is everything thats wrong with America.

  51. JustaConsumer says:

    Wal Mart is evil. The destroyed U.S. jobs and employees. They wave the flag but only care about the money.

  52. battra92 says:

    @Steaming Pile: Honestly, if you want a toaster but a good quality American made one. Granted, they were made in 1960 something but they aren’t too hard to restore.

  53. pigeonpenelope says:

    I’ll fly with AA before I shop at another walmart.

  54. IrisMR says:

    Wal-mart is just a damned store. A store which is pretty handy.

    AA is a place where the attendants can get you arrested because you asked for two glasses of water.

  55. Cap'n Jack says:

    Wal-Mart all the way.

  56. @speedwell: My gods that’s well said. Thank you!!

  57. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Mary Marsala with Fries: If a company can get an ideologically pure libertarian… better than that, anarcho-libertarian… to say such things about it, imagine how obvious and egregious its abuses are.

  58. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    argh, trying to close bold with an italics tag again… sorry.

  59. charliux says:

    @IrisMR: Oh please… that proves that people vote based on bs.

  60. sherab says:

    AA, and I say that as their former International Customer Service Director.

  61. parrotuya says:

    AA sucks real bad. I know because I worked for them years ago. But Wal-Mart sucks worse. I will vote for Wal-Mart as the worst company in America. Wal-Mart sucks!