Worst Company In America Round One: Target Vs. Best Buy

Go make some popcorn and gather the family by the glow of your data-receiving device of choice — It’s Worst Company In America time! And it looks like the first blood to be spilled in the WCIA 2012 Octagon of Shame will come from the veins of one of these two retail titans from Minnesota.

Best Buy is no stranger to these brackets, though it’s had trouble with being able to upsell its way out of the second round. Maybe its complete inability to fulfill Black Friday orders by Christmas, or the way CEO Brian “Dunn-dunn” Dunn tried to assure U.S. employees the company was doing fine by talking up all the new stores it’s opening in China, or those Geek Squadders who don’t know the difference between a laptop battery and a power cord, that will finally propel Best Buy into the later rounds.

Target may not have Best Buy’s years of tournament experience to call upon in the Octagon, but it’s certainly screwed up enough times in the last year to merit its spot in the bracket.

After years of riding Amazon’s e-coattails, Target finally took over the reins of Target.com last summer, a move that only served to show how unprepared they were for e-commerce and to fill up our inbox with complaints from customers, like the woman whose debit card was repeatedly charged for the same purchase over the course of several weeks. It got so bad that the President of Target.com departed less than two months after the site’s relaunch.

The company also got no love from retail workers around the country when it shrugged off a petition with 100,000 signatures, asking Target to open just slightly later on Thanksgiving night so staffers could actually enjoy their holiday.

We’ve asked readers to write us at WCIA@consumerist.com with their reasons for condemning or forgiving the companies in this year’s WCIA tournament.

Kimber actually wrote in to defend Best Buy:

My husband has worked for the company for 25 years. Many of our closest friends have also worked for the company for the same number of years or close to. It is a great company to work for or why would someone spend their careers working there?

Well, Wendy was one of many to voice a less loving opinion of the company:

Every item I’ve ever purchased from that store requires more money after the initial purchase. Whether it’s the $140 extra to get the “background ads” off the computer I just purchased or the necessary warranties for everything because it will break or not work at some point in time. And the Geek Squad, also known as “here’s what your warranty includes, but here’s all the other necessary things it doesn’t cover, but will cost $60/hour more because you need it to fix our defective merchandise.”

Their business model is clear: low pricing, hidden costs. In the end, I always spend way more money trying to fix an item than what it’s worth.

Meanwhile, Mike points out that “Target donates a certain percentage back into communities and to non-profits,” which we don’t think most people will have a problem with.

But as numerous e-mails nominating the retailer pointed out, it wasn’t that long ago that Target irked a lot of customers by giving $150,000 to help try to elect a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who was pro-business but anti-gay.

Okay, okay… enough chit-chat. To quote the great Jeff Probst, “It’s time to vote.”


This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2012 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2012 bracket and schedule of match-ups HERE.