Here they stand, surrounded by the carved-up carcasses of their fallen competitors. “Make us proud… Win the poo,” the ghosts of the vanquished call out from another realm, demanding that these two remaining contenders for Worst Company In America prove that all this bloodshed was not in vain.
For the second year in a row, Bank of America has slaughtered its way through the WCIA brackets, only to end up in the Final Death Match against a rookie with such street cred it only needs to go by two letters: EA.
These contenders share a ravenous desire to swallow up smaller competitors in their respective industries with little to no regard to the possible consequences.
Bank of America expanded throughout the entire decade leading up to the collapse of the housing market and had the hubris to believe it could continue to do so even when things started to head south.
BofA can claim it had no idea it was buying such a toxic pile of crap when it scooped up the remains of Countrywide for virtually nothing. Even if you can believe that, the fact remains that Bank of America spent the years after the Countrywide acquisition doing little to nothing to repair the damage. False foreclosures, improper property seizures, misleading mortgage adjustment programs, robosigned documents and the subsequent lawsuits and settlements, have done significant damage to BofA’s public image and its coffers.
EA, meanwhile, has made a habit of sniffing out some of the best smaller video game companies, which are then acquired for their intellectual properties or to remove a competitor from the marketplace. Mass consolidation in any industry rarely works out to the benefit of the consumer, but the gaming business is one that regulators, the courts and the mainstream media have by and large ignored.
Another thing these two seemingly very different companies have in common is their desire to nickel and dime consumers at every turn.
EA is among the industry leaders in pushing for more and more “microtransactions” in users’ gaming experience. For its major titles it seems to be creating exclusive and add-on content, not with the game in mind, but with the sole intention of milking consumers who may not realize how quickly those small purchases add up.
And unlike the fee-happy discount airlines that use the “everything is a la carte” model to keep base prices low, a new EA game will run you $60 for the most basic version available, making it easily the most expensive form of home entertainment.
Many of EA’s sports titles — especially its Madden NFL franchise — are bestsellers with annual releases and exclusivity deals with the corresponding leagues. This means that no one else can enter the market to compete with a lower-price NFL game, effectively allowing EA to set the price for new releases.
The question you as WCIA voters need to ask yourself is whether or not such transgressions are on par or worse than Bank of America’s attempts to weed out those consumers who dare to have a standard checking account, especially one with balance smaller than five figures?
After all, if you want to avoid BofA’s fee-frenzy, there are any number of other banks and credit unions you can try. But if you want to de-stress from a day of being kicked around by the world by playing a game of FIFA Soccer with your friends, you’re out of options.
We’re almost down to the final buzzer, so it’s time to throw up a shot from mid-court and vote!
Voting for the Final Death Match will conclude at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 3
THE RESULTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED AT NOON ET ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4!
If you’re coming into the tournament late, below is the bracket, followed by links to each of the completed matches:
* Target vs. Best Buy
* Bank of America vs. Chase
* Charter Communications vs. CenturyLink (Qwest)
* Wells Fargo vs. Citi
* EA vs. Sony
* Sallie Mae vs. Ticketmaster
* DirecTV vs. Dish Network
* PayPal vs. Capital One
* Sears/Kmart vs. Walmart
* Netflix vs. GameStop
* USPS vs. UPS
* Comcast vs. Time Warner Cable
* Spirit vs. Delta
* AT&T vs. Verizon
* Facebook vs. Sprint
* Google vs. Apple