There's no wrong way to hate a major corporation. If you're a customer, you can despise the product. If you're an employee, you can resent management. If you're a shareholder, you can skewer the strategy. If you're a taxpayer, you can loathe the bailout. And if you're an average Joe, you can hate on just about anything.
But what are the most hated companies in America? Abhorrence is subjective, but we based our rancor rankings on six criteria: (1) employee opinions; (2) return to shareholders; (3) customer surveys; (4) brand valuation; (5) press coverage; and (6) public opinion.* These most hated companies are in no particular order.
Some of the results shouldn't surprise you. Many of the companies on this list are partially doomed by their industry. Airlines, cable companies, and banks for example, are often maligned by their customers. Retail firms and companies that were sensitive to downturns in the economy had to lay off significant numbers of employees during the recession, which bred resentment.
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But several companies you might have expected on this list aren't. AIG became a pariah after its federal bailout, but it does not show up on the list thanks to high earnings over the past year, as its stock has nearly doubled. Goldman Sachs, that infamous vampire squid of Wall Street, earned a fair share of negative press and popular resentment since the credit crunch. But Goldman also ranked near the top in categories like customer satisfaction, shareholder satisfaction, employee satisfaction and CEO approval. GM has faced similar obstacles, but it's also seen a spate of good news in the last few months, with profits, hires, and a successful IPO winning it more positive press coverage.
*Methodology note from the authors: Employee opinions, using research firm Glassdoor and other services, were reviewed. We considered total return to shareholders in comparison to the broader market and other companies within the same sector. We analyzed data from a broad array of sources, including Consumer Reports, JD Power, the MSN/Zogby Poll, and the University of Michigan American Customer Satisfaction Index. We reviewed brand valuation changes based on data from Corebrand, Interbrand, and BrandZ. We considered negative press coverage based on 24/7 Wall St.'s analysis of media coverage and the Flame Index, which uses a proprietary algorithm to review more than 12,000 websites and ranks companies based on the frequency of certain negative words. Finally, the views of these firms by taxpayers, Congress, and the administration were considered where applicable.
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