Public opinion goes a long way in business. In a world-wide economy, customers have many options for where they can do business. And thanks to the internet, news spreads fast. One little misdeed, and the whole world knows about it before the PR department has a chance to formulate a plan on how to handle it.
Don’t get us wrong, there are some companies and brands that are beloved for the way they do business. Some of them even have fans. Take Wegmans, for example. Wegmans is a beloved grocery chain based out of Rochester, New York, and fans of the store routinely write letters praising their service.
Wegmans is the most loved company in the United States, with Amazon coming in second. And both businesses are thriving, not surprisingly.
What is surprising, however, are the vast number of businesses who continually screw up time and time again. While some of these screw ups might amount to nothing more than customer service issues, others have hurt or even killed people. Is it any wonder people hate such companies?
Not really. Not once you’ve read some of the really terrible things they’ve done.
15. Dolce & Gabbana
One of the newest additions to the list of Most Hated Businesses list, people are now boycotting the Italian designers known as Dolce & Gabbana. Sure, many of the people protesting probably couldn’t afford their ridiculously, overpriced items anyway, but that’s besides the point.
This company screwed up. Not only did they insult the LGBT community, they also upset heterosexual couples who have trouble conceiving by bashing in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Their words were “I call children of chemistry synthetic children.” Which hey, maybe he’s being clever. You know – designers and synthetic and fabrics and all that. But guess what? No one is laughing.
Even though the two men are gay themselves, they faced enormous backlash from the LGBT community, and rightfully so. Elton John responded, sounding the call to boycott the designers. And many others followed suit.
Chocolate is serious business. And recently, when Hersey put its foot down and stopped the import of British chocolate into the United States, they found out exactly how much chocolate means to some people. Many Europeans (and non-Europeans too) insist that American chocolate just doesn’t taste as good. The recipes just aren’t the same, and some have described Hershey’s recipes as “smelling like dirty feet” and tasting like plastic.
Brits are used to the richer flavor as their chocolate has a higher milk and cocoa content than anything made over here, and Hershey’s will simply not do. For many Americans, that’s all they know. And because of Hershey, the only way they may ever get to taste the more delightful versions of chocolate is by traveling overseas.
Of course, Europeans living in the States are not too pleased with this. When you move to a new land, you often miss the foods you grew up with. After all, food is comfort for a lot of us. It brings back memories. It’s what we enjoy, what we’re used to. And by not allowing the British chocolate to be sold over here, it leaves many international residents with a bad taste in their mouth – both figuratively and literally speaking.
Their slogan may be “Love it or Hate it,” and yes, many people do love it, but that doesn’t stop Marmite from being the third most hated brand in Britain. The only two brands hated more than the popular yeast spread? The UKIP party and the conservatives.
Marmite is the brand name for two similar spreads, the original British version as well as a modified one produced in New Zealand. It’s a yeast extract spread, similar to Vegemite in Australia, that’s a by-product of beer brewing. It’s a sticky, brown paste with a very distinct, strong flavor. It’s also incredibly salty. Anyone unfamiliar with the brand is probably scrunching their faces up in disgust at the mere description of it. And we couldn’t blame you.
The world seems to have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Several years ago, it was one of the greatest websites on the internet. Everyone signed up for it, and before long, even your mother had a Facebook account. Maybe that’s part of the problem.
Nah, it goes much deeper than that. Facebook has changed the way we communicate as a culture, and in some ways, it’s better. In other ways, it’s far worse. Alongside the hundreds of photos of your aunt’s cat, you’re also inundated with game requests every few minutes (to play games that aren’t even fun, yet we can’t stop), messages from people who think you’re available the second you decide to check Facebook from the toilet, and drama galore. And every day, you hear people talking about how they’re “bored” with the social networking site, yet these same people come back again and again, because apparently, their real life is even more boring.
People claim to hate how narcissistic the site is, but here’s the thing – those same people also use Facebook, so what does that say about them? How can something so popular, that seems to be one place where everyone you’ve ever met can be found, be so hated at the same time? Who knows?
I’m sure it has a lot to do with their ever changing policies and sometimes arbitrary rules – for instance, allowing women to be sexualized in images, but removing breastfeeding images. It almost seems like Facebook has gotten too big for its own good, and maybe it will experience a mass exodus once the next big thing comes along. But before long, that thing will be just as hated too, once it too gets too big for its britches.
11. Goldman Sachs
Ever since the financial crisis hit America, many people don’t look too favorably on banks and other financial institutions. And can you blame them, really? Companies like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and yes, Goldman Sachs had all lost favor with the people. While many banks are slowly gaining traction once more though, it seems the American people aren’t going easy on Goldman Sachs – which is ranked as one of the most hated companies in the United States.
But not only can a negative opinion hurt the bottom line because customers boycott the business, there’s more to it than that. Because of their reputation, many of the top graduates from business schools are passing over Wall Street in favor of careers in other businesses. And because of this, it means Goldman Sachs, and similar companies, are going to have a harder time recruiting top talent.
Apple. Either you’re a diehard fan who owns every Apple product under the sun, or you despise those who do. There’s very little in-between here. No matter if you’re talking about laptops or smartphones, there’s always an ongoing debate over which is better – Android or iPhone? Mac or PC? Everyone has an opinion, and it would seem that while Apple started out as a company that was hip and cool, it’s now becoming too big for its own good. Now it seems too mainstream, and because of that, people are looking for alternatives.
But it’s more than just that. Apple has a lot of problems to consider as well. Problems such as the working conditions of the overseas plants that make the products. Also, for users, one thing that many can’t forgive is that Apple forces you to use their proprietary apps for the iPhone and iPad. Yes, you can download alternate browsers, but never make them the default.
You didn’t think we were only going to on Apple, now did you? No way. Both companies have their share of haters these days. And after that disaster known as Windows 8, well, Apple may just have the upper hand in this argument – though that depends on who you ask, surely. But don’t worry, as soon as you finally get used to the terrible operating system, they’ll replace it with something even worse.
And don’t get us started on Internet Explorer – does anyone even use that browser anymore? Besides your parents, that is? And it’s not just users who hate IE, but also coders since Microsoft doesn’t play by the same rules of the internet as everyone else does, and web developers have to write code that matches two different standards otherwise web sites won’t display properly if you’re not using the “right” browser. What a pain in the rear, right?
But that’s Microsoft for you. Always changing things, making things more difficult than they need to be. And once you finally get used to it – they change it again. That, and they always seem two steps behind technology-wise. I mean, seriously, does anyone remember the so-called iPod-killer, the Zune? Didn’t think so.
The idea of spending $5.00 for a cup of coffee is outlandish to many, even today. Yet, somehow, Starbucks has continued to thrive and find a way to place itself on nearly every single street corner. Seriously, in many major American cities, you can even find a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks.
And that’s one reason many people hate them so much. Like many large companies, it’s pushing out competition. For many cities, the idea of mom and pop coffee houses are a thing of the past. Now, if you want coffee, you’re going to pay Starbucks prices or make it at home. And maybe this wouldn’t matter too much if it weren’t for the fact that their actual coffee isn’t that great. Most people even describe it as tasting burnt. McDonald’s is said to have better coffee than Starbucks, so of course many local shops could easily produce better drinks. That is, if they existed in the first place.
There’s no such thing as bad publicity, or so the saying goes. Perhaps even the powers that be at Sony even though that prior to the infamous hacking scandal that took place in 2014. For those who were living under a rock last year, here’s the gist of the situation: Sony made a terrible movie called “The Interview” which offended North Koreans because the plot of the film revolved around the assassination of Kim Jong-un.
Hackers, supposedly from North Korea, were able to break into Sony’s computer systems and ended up leaking a ton of information on the company. Included in the document release was information about executive salaries and juicy personal email correspondence between those in the industry that made a bunch of them look really, really bad. Some of the conversations were petty arguments and insults tossed around, the type of thing you don’t want people to read. Add in a touch of racism from top execs in the company, and well, you’ve just insulted and offended even more than just North Koreans.
On top of that, many theaters refused to even show “The Interview” due to the potential for terrorist activity. Though, in the end, the film was shown in a number of venues. Still, it can’t make up for Sony’s ongoing financial problems. The company reports losses nearly every single year, long before the hack took place.
Let’s face it, traveling by plane these days is no fun at all. Sure, the idea of going on vacation or visiting family may be pleasant, and you may arrive at the airport in a perfectly good mood, but chances are, the airport or airline will do something to cause your mood to falter. With all those fees, the delays that seem more common than not, planes that are overbooked – the hassles just never end.
Yet, one airline seems to take the cake when it comes to the World’s Most Hated Airline. There’s even a website dedicated specifically to hating on RyanAir. For those unfamiliar with the airline, RyanAir is a low-cost, Irish airline that offers flights throughout Europe. And while they advertise really cheap flights, you have to be very careful – they always find a way to charge you more for other services. Taxes and fees are often omitted from their prices listed online, and they wind up charging you at the end. Their luggage and bag fees are more than most airlines, which says a lot. And they make you pay for every little thing. So in the end, you probably end up paying about the same as you would with an airline that doesn’t consider itself “low-cost”.
While many of the companies on the list have been caught up in more recent scandals, Nestle’s problems started back in the 1970’s. While you might be thinking of chocolate when you hear the name Nestle, the problem wasn’t with their candy, but their baby formula instead. Back in the 70’s, Nestle was accused of tricking mothers from third world countries into using their formulas instead of breast feeding.
Formula, as you may know, is more expensive than breast milk, which can be procured for free from the mother. But due to heavy marketing campaigns that included hospitals pushing free samples onto the mothers, enough samples that her own milk would dry up, rendering her unable to breastfeed, and even sending women to their houses dressed as nurses (whether they were actually nurses or not) to talk about how their formula was healthier than their own milk.
Not only has this been proven false (and was something they were aware of back in the 70’s), they used scare tactics to convince the mothers that they were harming their child by not switching. Problem is, formula is expensive and people in these countries couldn’t afford it. So this led to desperate measures such as diluting the formula with extra water, something they weren’t urged not to do. And in the end, this led to many cases of malnutrition and led to the death of countless babies.
Nestle was even bribing hospitals to push their products on new mothers by offering free bottles, formula and even millions of dollars worth of office furnishings, gifts, and more. Once this became public, a worldwide boycott of Nestle took place, and for many, is still going on today.
Even though laws have been passed preventing it from going this far, some say Nestle pushes the boundaries of what is legal, doing whatever they can to get mothers to switch to their products, whether they can afford it or not.
4. General Motors
2014 was not a great year for General Motors. After undergoing a number of recalls, most of them serious, customers weren’t exactly pleased with the company. And can you blame them? In the most serious incident, there was a defect with the ignition switch that caused a car’s engine to stall and the airbags to fail. This defect has been linked to at least 42 deaths, and triggered a recall of almost 3 million vehicles.
Yes, the company set aside hundreds of millions of dollars that will go to the families of those affected by the defect, but the worst part of all of this is that GM employees had known about this defect for a long time – at least as early as 2001. It would have cost them a mere 90 cents per car to fix. Yet they chose not to, leading to a pile of unnecessary deaths.
While McDonald’s slogan may be “I’m Lovin’ It,” it would appear that many consumers aren’t in love, or even in like, with the fast food behemoth. Okay, so no, McDonald’s isn’t healthy for you, but so what? Neither is Burger King or Wendy’s or any other fast food chain out there. And yes, they pay minimum wage, which many argue isn’t a livable wage, yet the execs of the company rake in millions a year. But again, that’s not exclusive to McDonald’s. In fact, very few restaurant chains in the US pay more than minimum wage.
So what’s the beef with Ronald and company? Well, we’d venture to say that a large reason people pick out McDonald’s over other fast food companies is because of its size. In many ways, it’s seen as a leader in the industry. They also happen to be one of the most well-known fast food chains in the world, a name most people instantly recognize which means it’s in the spotlight more – and under more scrutiny – than other chains.
One thing that amuses us, however, is that all these people claim to hate it – and yet, McDonald’s continues to thrive. It almost makes you wonder who actually does eat there, because as far as I know, no one is willing to admit to it. Yet, someone has to. In fact, a lot of someones have to in order to make as much money as this company does per year.
Another case of a company that people claim to hate, but that continues to do well year after year is Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, like McDonald’s, is a corporate giant. In fact, Wal-Mart pulls in more money than many countries in the world. Kind of mind-blowing for a company everyone hates, isn’t it?
So who actually shops at Wal-Mart?
Like McDonald’s, Wal-Mart is hated for being so large. Often when a store comes into town, the big box retailer takes out many local stores in a number of industries. It’s not called a Category Killer in the real estate development world for nothing. And that right there is enough reason for most people to hate them. They destroy small business, which is ironic considering Sam Walton’s original goal was to help small business – or so he said.
But not only that, Wal-Mart is criticized for the low wages it pays its employees, they stick to right around minimum wage like most retail jobs tend to do. Add on misstep after misstep, and the company just can’t get things right, making them more hated than any other retail outlet including Target – which really, is just one step down from Wal-Mart in many regards, they just haven’t gotten that big yet.
The most hated company in the world isn’t a bank; it isn’t a multinational, minimum wage-paying superstore; it isn’t even a superficial, bigoted fashion house. No. It’s an agricultural company.
If you don’t yet know Monsanto by name, the chances are good that your aunt or best friend from kindergarten is going to send you a link to an article about the dangers of GMOs pretty soon – and Monsanto are the face of GMOs today.
Monsanto can almost be compared to the evil, mega-corporations of science fiction novels and movies. Soylent Green, anyone? There were rumors that the company was making genetically modified vegetables from human DNA.
It would seem that Monsanto doesn’t even care about their reputation, making people even more angry and distrustful of the giant corporation seemingly every day. Their public relations plan seems to comprise of keeping on doing what they’re doing, unapologetically.
The Guardian, DailyMail, Bloomberg
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