Special Report

Companies With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

Companies with the Worst Reputations

10. Sprint
> Reputation score: 62.33
> 2013 score: 63.25

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is hardly known for good customer service. Last year, 12.8% of consumers surveyed by Zogby Analytics said they felt Sprint’s customer service was poor, among the highest percentages in the nation. Additionally, no wireless provider received worse ratings from Consumer Reports in 2013. However, Sprint conducts business in a sector where most companies are poorly rated — competitors Verizon and AT&T also do not perform especially well by most consumer satisfaction or service measures either. Last year, Sprint merged with Japan-based SoftBank, which owns the majority of Sprint shares.

9. JPMorgan Chase
> Reputation score: 61.08
> 2013 score: 58.20

Just like most firms in the financial sector, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) reputation score improved slightly from 58.2 last year to 61.08 this year. But most firms in the sector still have generally low reputations following the financial crisis, and JPMorgan Chase is no different. The bank is seen as one of the architects of the 2008 financial crisis. In fact, it has recently agreed to pay $13 billion for its part in misrepresenting the quality of mortgages that culminated in the mortgage meltdown. Since then, JPMorgan Chase has failed to steer clear of new controversies, including the recent London Whale trading scandal.

8. Sears
> Reputation score: 60.30
> 2013 score: 63.54

Sears Holdings Corp.’s (NASDAQ: SHLD) reputation quotient dropped notably in the past year. Sales have been steadily declining for years. In each of the past three years, the company has also posted an operating loss. Some Wall Street analysts expect Sears to have no other recourse but close hundreds of stores. Customer service was not especially strong by some measures, with nearly 10% of customers rating the retailer poorly. This was worse than the majority of companies reviewed by Zogby Analytics. To many Americans, Sears and sister brand Kmart often appear outdated in the competitive retail world. However, the company’s ACSI score was roughly in line with other department and discount stores.

7. AIG
> Reputation score: 58.26
> 2013 Reputation score: 48.57

American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) is among the nation’s least admired companies due to its role in the 2008 financial crisis. No company, aside from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, received more Federal Government money to help it remain afloat during the crisis. In all, AIG received more than $67 billion from the U.S. Treasury, and more than $100 billion in other commitments and asset purchases from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Despite those investments returning a sizeable profit to the government, AIG’s reputation remains poor. Additionally, the company’s decision to award bonuses following its bailout was seen by many as adding insult to injury. Despite the poor score, AIG’s reputation score improved more than that of any other company in the past year.

6. Goldman Sachs
> Reputation score: 58.09
> 2013 Reputation score: 49.39

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) was yet another financial giant that received federal funds during the financial crisis. While the bank returned the money within a year, its own activities leading up to the crisis were heavily scrutinized and criticized. In 2009, Rolling Stone columnist Matt Taibbi famously described the bank as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” As most banks’ reputations improved the past year, so did Goldman’s. According to Interbrand, while Goldman’s brand value rose 12% in 2013, the company “will need to manage its reputation carefully to avoid further damage.” While the bank continues to struggle with public perception, its reputation score improved the second-most among the 60 companies measured by the Harris Poll.

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