Special Report

Companies With the Best and Worst Reputations

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5. Wells Fargo & Company
> 2019 reputation quotient: 52.7
> 2018 reputation quotient: 57.8
> Industry: Financial services
> CEO: Timothy J. Sloan

A recent technical glitch at Wells Fargo that prevented customers from seeing paychecks and direct deposits in their online and mobile banking accounts was a reminder of the recent troubles at the California-based financial institution. For more than two years, Wells Fargo was involved in a series of scandals that severely damaged its reputation. Wells Fargo was blamed for creating millions of false accounts, and it announced in 2016 it had discharged about 5,300 workers over a several-year period for this practice. The bank also confessed to charging customers for mortgage fees that they were not responsible for and for paying for car insurance they did not need. Wells Fargo also had to provide refunds to customers for pet insurance, home warranties, and other products they did not understand they were charged for.

Wells Fargo has run mea culpa commercials on television and in print ads in an attempt to restore customer trust in the financial institution. Even so, the bank has had trouble expanding its customer base in its corporate bank unit. It is also the lowest ranked financial institution on this list.

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4. Sears Holdings Corporation
> 2019 reputation quotient: 52.3
> 2018 reputation quotient: 64.1
> Industry: Retail
> Office of CEO: Robert A. Riecker, Leena Munjal, Gregory Ladley

Sears Holdings Corporation is the poster child for the retail apocalypse. Once an innovator because of its catalogue sales and warehouse infrastructure, the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company that filed for bankruptcy in October was slow to see the threat of e-commerce. Sears retail franchise has been undercut by Walmart and Amazon on price. The company has gone through waves of store closings and has sold off brands such as Craftsman. What stores remained had few items on the shelves, and patrons complained of poor customer service.

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3. The Trump Organization
> 2019 reputation quotient: 50.1
> 2018 reputation quotient: 57.9
> Industry: Real estate, hospitality
> CEO: Donald Trump Jr.

The Trump Organization’s reputation has fallen in esteem since the company’s namesake became president of the United States over two years ago. The real estate company operates a winery, luxury hotels, and international golf courses. It also operated Trump University, a for-profit enterprise that was open from 2005 to 2010 and taught real estate courses. A barrage of lawsuits forced it to close over claims it defrauded students.

The Trump Organization is now run by Trump’s sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. The company has come under scrutiny for possible conflicts of interests between the president’s family operating the business and Trump’s performance as president.

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2. Phillip Morris
> 2019 reputation quotient: 49.4
> 2018 reputation quotient: N/A
> Industry: Consumer products
> CEO: Andre Calantzopoulos

Cigarette maker Philip Morris hoped it could have a discussion with the World Health Organization earlier this year about products it is developing to move smokers away from cigarettes to what the company says are less-risky options such as vaping. But the WHO would have none of it, saying the organization’s rules prevented it from dealing directly with tobacco makers. Philip Morris produces 813 billion cigarettes a year — not including those sold in the U.S. — but cigarette use is declining worldwide as more people become aware of the health risks of tobacco use.

The New York-based company’s shares have been losing value in recent years as well, declining more than 25% since reaching a five-year high of $121.84 on June 16, 2017.

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1. U.S. Government
> 2019 reputation quotient: 48.6
> 2018 reputation quotient: N/A
> Industry: Government
> CEO: President Donald Trump

Perhaps not that surprising, the federal government has the worst reputation of any company or organization on the Harris Poll list. Congress routinely scores low in Gallup Poll ratings– reaching as low as 9% in approval ratings in November 2013. Currently, the approval rating of Congress is 26% at Gallup. President Trump’s approval ratings have hovered in the 40% range, depending on which poll numbers are used.

The politically polarized environment of a hostile Democratic House of Representatives and a Republican Senate spoiling for a fight means gridlock on issues such as immigration and health care, which may only further drive down approval ratings for the government.

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