Special Report

Companies With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

The Companies With the Worst Reputations.

10. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC)
> Reputation score:
60.7
> 2014 score: 55.3
> Industry: Financial services
> CEO: Brian Moynihan

While it is among the 10 companies with the worst reputations, Bank of America’s reputation has improved among the most of any company on this list. BofA was actually the worst-ranked corporation last year. During the Great Recession and subsequent bailout, most of the financial services sector firms took a hit to their reputation. The bank was still rated one of the absolute worst in terms of vision and leadership, although it did score better than AIG and Goldman Sachs in this category. BofA also stayed out of the bottom five in each of the five other components of the reputation score, while the other two banks were among the worst in all six components. In a Zogby poll commissioned by 24/7 Wall St., nearly one in four people said the bank’s customer service was poor, worse than any other company included in the survey.

9. Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR)
> Reputation score:
60.3
> 2014 score: N/A
> Industry: Telecommunications
> CEO: Thomas M. Rutledge

Telecommunications companies also tend to have a poor reputation. Charter Communications, while not the worst in its industry, is certainly no exception. In the ACSI, Charter’s customer satisfaction scores in the telecommunications, Internet, and subscription television services sectors took a dive between 2013 and 2014. These scores were poor even in these already poorly rated segments. In early 2014, Charter lost a bid to acquire Time Warner Cable to Comcast. But with regulators expressing concerns about the merger and the deal abandoned, Charter may once again pursue TWC for a possible merger.

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8. Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA)
> Reputation score:
60.0
> 2014 score: 62.6
> Industry: Telecommunications
> CEO: Brian L. Roberts

Like many cable service providers, Comcast has one of the worst reputations for customer service. In Zogby’s poll on customer satisfaction, just under one in four people said the company’s service was poor, second-worst rating overall. In the Harris Reputation Quotient survey, the company scored in the bottom five for its products and services. Those surveyed also thought Comcast had one of the worst workplace environments. For a while, it appeared the company was on track to merge with Time Warner Cable, but regulators’ concerns over already limited competition in the cable services industry led to the deal failing in April. According to Ars Technica, the company spent over a third of a billion dollars in the unsuccessful acquisition attempt.

7. Koch Industries
> Reputation score:
59.9
> 2014 score: N/A
> Industry: Conglomerate
> CEO: Charles G. Koch

The Koch family sponsors several philanthropic foundations, which donate millions of dollars each year to a range of organizations and causes. Yet, Koch Industries’ reputation among the general public is worse than all but a handful of other companies. Few corporate leaders inspire more controversy. The diversified global conglomerate helps fund the large-scale conservative political activities of brothers David and Charles — often as part of philanthropic works. David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity foundation has bankrolled and worked closely with the Tea Party movement since its inception in 2009, for example. Survey respondents may have also associated the company with its long history of gross environmental violations.

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6. Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: SHLD)
> Reputation score:
59.8
> 2014 score: 60.3
> Industry: Retailer
> CEO: Edward S. Lampert

Survey respondents found that Sears has the worst vision and leadership as well as the worst financial performance of any company reviewed — and these ratings were not unwarranted. Sears has been in dire fiscal straits for some time, and its operations and financials appear to be getting worse. In each of the last three fiscal year, the company reported net losses in excess of a billion dollars, including a $1.8 billion shortfall in its most recent fiscal year. The company also scored poorly in customer satisfaction. In the 2014 ACSI, the department store chain’s scores fell significantly from the previous year to one of the worst in the department store sector.