Worst Company In America Round One: Sallie Mae Vs. Ticketmaster

For today’s afternoon bout, two companies that probably avoid walking down dark alleys for fear of being beaten up by angry consumers get a chance to kick each other in the teeth.

Ticketmaster might as well invest in a nice apartment across the street from the WCIA Octagonal Steel Cage. The company has coasted to the Final Four for three tournaments in a row. It even made it all the way to the Final Death Match in 2010 before losing to Comcast.

So why do people hate Ticketmaster? If you have to ask, you’ve probably never had to buy tickets for a concert or major sporting event. Which means you’ve never faced the company’s ridiculous fee structure which can increase the face value of the ticket to the point where no one can afford it but scalpers who will just flip it for an even higher price.

Speaking of ticket-flipping, Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation (which not only owns many of the country’s biggest concert venues but also acts as the promoter and manager for a large number of performing artists) have recently made a very public crusade to fight secondary ticket sales sites like StubHub. Of course they do this without mentioning TicketExchange, the NFL’s official site for buying resold NFL tickets, often at grossly marked up prices… which is run by Ticketmaster.

With that out of the way, we can talk about Sallie Mae, which acts as both creator and collector of private student loans, and does a miserable job of it.

Aside from past allegations of overcharging the federal government millions of dollars for federal loan subsidies, Sallie made a lot of news recently for the $50 fee it charges borrowers each time they defer payments. It only took hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition — and much shaming in the mass media — for the company to agree to apply that fee to the loan instead of its own coffers.

Beyond all that, many Consumerist readers nominated Sallie Mae for being a big ugly mess.

Take Neale’s testimonial as an example:

Between emails, phone calls, regular mail, every day it’s another communication from Sallie Mae. The problem, of course, is that almost all of it is junk (it’s not about the loan, they’re trying to sell you something). Then when they do send you a real letter, it’s indistinguishable from the junk. So you have to read each mail or letter, or log onto your account to read the notification. Then there’s the problem with their statements. Each loan has a grace period. But they send the new bill before the end of the grace period, so it always shows a balance due. Then, there are the phone calls. Even when the grace period hasn’t run, they start. “Hello this is Heather from Sallie Mae financial services”. Three messages a day on my home phone (yet another reason to get rid of it). And of course, my favorite are the Saturday, 8:00 AM calls, wonderful, just wonderful. “We’re just calling to remind you, etc., etc.”. I’ve never missed a payment in nearly 10 years. I don’t need reminder phone calls.

I bank with Bank of America. BofA are angels compared to these people.

We know, we know… You came here to vote. So hit one of these companies with your best shot in the poll below.
(Voting for this poll will close at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 15)

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.