America's Most Hated Companies
20. The Weinstein Company
Once the darling of the American independent film movement in the 1990s, and the producer or distributor of over 80 Oscar-winning films, Harvey Weinstein is now one of the mosted hated public figures in the United States. Weinstein has been engulfed in controversy since an October 2017 New York Times expose revealed multiple accounts of sexual abuse committed by the disgraced movie mogul. Since the story was published, dozens of other sexual assault victims have spoken out against Weinstein.
Much of the public outrage over the growing scandal has been directed at The Weinstein Company’s leadership, which may have been complicit in Weinstein’s actions. One complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York alleges that the company knowingly enabled the criminal behavior of its co-founder Weinstein. The board of TWC fired Weinstein three days after the Times’ expose, after several board members had stepped down themselves. The Weinstein Company will likely be forced to completely rebrand or dissolve as a corporate entity.
19. United Airlines
The video of a passenger being forcibly removed from his seat on an overbooked United Airlines flight went viral last year, sparking outrage across the country and triggering a public relations crisis for the Chicago-based company. United’s handling of the incident only made matters worse as many perceived CEO Oscar Munoz’s apology as half hearted and dismissive.
United’s stock dropped 4% in the days following the incident, wiping as much as $1 billion off the company’s market value. The company has since made considerable efforts to regain investor and customer confidence. Munoz announced measures that include increased monetary incentives to leave an overbooked flight, reduced overbooking, additional employee training, and reduced paperwork for lost luggage reimbursement. Still, the company ranks near the bottom among airlines for customer service. United Airlines scored a 70 out of 100 on the 2017 American Customer Satisfaction Index, well below the average score of 75 among U.S.-based airline companies.
Since the 2016 presidential election, Facebook has been scrutinized by lawmakers and media outlets for acting as a medium for fake ads and news designed to be incendiary and divisive. While initially downplaying its role, in mid-2017 Facebook’s chief security officer made public that the company was paid some $100,000 for ads connected to 470 inauthentic Facebook pages that were likely operated out of Russia. A Facebook official also noted that the vast majority of these ads appeared aimed at amplifying political and social divisions — often specifically targeting Muslims and the Black Lives Matter movement. In a reversal of his position from one year prior, in September 2017 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to make it much harder for such manipulation to occur on the social media platform.
Currently, American consumers are relatively dissatisfied with Facebook. The company has a score of 68 out of 100 on the ACSI scale, nearly the lowest of any social media platform and well below the industry average of 73.
Telecom company CenturyLink is one of the largest internet and telephone service providers in the United States. It is also one of the most widely disliked in an industry of companies with poor reputations. The company’s ACSI score of 59 for its internet service is among the worst of any company in any industry. In the customer service poll commissioned with Zogby, nearly 43% of respondents reported a negative customer service experience, one of the largest shares of any major company.
In addition to low customer satisfaction, CenturyLink receives a subpar rating from employees — less than half of all workers submitting reviews on Glassdoor would recommend the company to a friend. Employee satisfaction may fall even further in near future. In early January 2018, the company announced it was suspending merit-based raises for all employees.
Few companies have garnered as much public ire as Monsanto, or for as long. Over the past century, the company has been behind some unambiguously harmful chemical products, including DDT, PCBs, and Agent Orange — a herbicide used extensively in Vietnam that has been blamed for 400,000 deaths and half a million birth defects. The use of DDT and PCBs was banned in the 1970s. Many also take issue with the company’s production of genetically modified organism seeds, or GMOs.
Capping off a long rap sheet of chemical products that have posed grave public health threats, Monsanto is the subject of a class-action lawsuit alleging that exposure to the company’s popular weed killer, Roundup, caused cancer in hundreds of consumers. While the National Cancer Institute recently announced that the product is not conclusively carcinogenic, California is fighting to require cancer warnings to be printed on the weed killer.