If you have noticed a decline in the quality of customer service in recent years, you are not alone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index, a cross-industry corporate research organization, found that satisfaction among American consumers fell to its lowest level in 20 years in 2022. Experts attribute the rising levels of dissatisfaction to worker shortages and increased use of automation (fueled by a tight labor market), and market shocks triggered by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
The quality customer service – or lack of it – has tarnished the reputation of many companies, and undoing the damage, if possible, may take years. But while broader economic conditions have impacted how businesses interact with consumers, incidents that hurt corporate reputations are also often self-inflicted. Poor management, lax safety standards, controversial marketing strategies, and criminal fraud have all hurt the reputations of major companies this year.
Based on some of the biggest and most recent corporate scandals in the U.S., as well as data from the ACSI, 24/7 Wall St. identified America’s most hated companies. We focused on companies that are well known and received high levels of press coverage. Companies are listed in alphabetical order and include some that have gone bankrupt. (Here is a look at the 25 biggest bankruptcies in American history.)
While every company on this list is notable, either for widespread customer dissatisfaction, a major scandal, or both, the severity of these issues vary considerably. In some cases, like the two utility companies on this list, corporate missteps have resulted in death and destruction of property. In others, the products manufactured by these companies have had serious and widespread health consequences in the United States. These include a major opioid manufacturer and an industrial manufacturer that used harmful “forever chemicals” in many of its products.
For other companies, reasons are far less egregious or even non-existent, at least for the majority of Americans. This year, the culture wars dividing the country extended beyond politics and into the corporate world. The issue of LGBTQ+ rights has been particularly fraught for several major U.S. companies. Intentionally or not, companies including Anheuser-Busch, Disney, and Target waded into the culture war debate and upset large segments of the population for taking a side, or appearing to. In each case, doing so resulted in a public backlash and declining revenue. (Here is a look at the 25 brands customers are abandoning.)
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