Special Report

Companies With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

4. Comcast  (NASDAQ: CMCSA)
> Reputation score:
60.21
> 2015 score: 60.04
> Industry: Subscription Television Service
> CEO: Brian Roberts

Comcast is the largest television provider by subscribers in the country and has nearly the worst customer satisfaction. In addition to poor customer service, the company has been derided for its unfavorable bundling packages and unequivocally high fees. Comcast’s reputation has worsened since last year, when it was ranked as the eighth worst company on the Harris Poll reputation survey. Because cable television providers tend to face little competition in regional markets, a negative reputation has little effect on their bottom lines. Last year, the Department of Justice blocked an attempted merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable — two of the three worst rated companies in customer satisfaction. The merger was blocked due to concerns by the Federal Communications Commission that the resulting company would enjoy too large a market share in the broadband Internet and television industries.

3. BP  (NYSE: BP)
> Reputation score:
59.13
> 2015 score: 62.01
> Industry: Gasoline stations
> CEO: Bob Dudley

The majority of the companies on this list have developed their poor reputations over time, by implementing policies, methods, and products that vex customers. Some, however, owe their poor reputation to a single incident that continues to haunt them. In the case of BP, this incident happened more than six years ago, but the petroleum company is still feeling the repercussions. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 people and pumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The cleanup took months, and the company spent more than $40 billion in remediation costs. CEO Tony Hayward resigned in disgrace, but his departure was not enough to improve opinions about the company.

2. Halliburton (NYSE: HAL)
> Reputation score:
56.26
> 2015 score: 59.63
> Industry: Oilfield services
> CEO: David Lesar

Unlike consumer-facing companies, Halliburton’s appearance among the 100 most visible companies is likely largely the result of negative public press. The Texas-based oilfield services company has been the subject of numerous controversies, especially for its profiting off the Iraq War and connection to former CEO, Vice President Dick Cheney. Since 1995, Halliburton has paid out more than $2 billion in penalties for legal misconduct. The company was also found to be directly responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as the cementing it had done on the well under contract was found to be faulty. The company was forced to pay $1.1 billion in a settlement to Gulf coast residents and businesses. The company’s reputation has worsened since last year, when it was ranked the fifth worst on the Harris Poll reputation survey.

1. Volkswagen Group
> Reputation score:
54.75
> 2015 score: 75.21
> Industry: Automobile manufacturing
> CEO: Matthias Müller

Volkswagen’s case is proof that a company’s reputation — and fortune — can change due to a single incident. For years, clean diesel was presented as an alternative to hybrid engines and was promoted as a major reason for consumers to buy cars with TDI engines. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency accused VW of deliberately designing its vehicles to circumvent emissions tests. This was eventually confirmed, and overnight, the company went from a revered automaker to one of the most widely-disliked major companies. VW has set aside $18 billion to cover legal fees from various lawsuits and the buyback plan it is implementing for the vehicles. Volkswagen U.S. sales have plummeted as a result. The company’s reputation quotient fell by more than 20 points, from a score of 75.21 to a score of 54.75. The next biggest decline for a major company was CVS (NYSE: CVS), whose reputation quotient fell by just five points.