Everyone knows that a bad reputation can kill a company. But do you know which companies have the worst reputations worldwide? To avoid being buried, brands must work consistently to build, maintain, and nurture a positive reputation. One grave mistake, such as an employee scandal, inappropriate statement online, or unethical business practice, can dent the reputation of a company. But what if those mistakes become a pattern? When a company consistently makes poor decisions, their reputation can be permanently damaged. The majority of American consumers will alienate a company with a tarnished reputation (that isn’t taking the proper steps to repair it).
24/7 Wall Street and USA Today put together comprehensive lists of the most hated companies worldwide using a variety of metrics on customer service, employee satisfaction, financial performance, and consumer surveys.
According to USA Today, the consumer credit reporting agency Equifax is the number one most-hated company in America. The company experienced a massive data breach last year – one of the largest in history. A report from Horicon Bank estimates 142 million American consumers had their personal information exposed during this attack, including social security numbers, credit card numbers, and dispute documents.
It wasn’t just the blatant security flaws that were exposed by the breach that upset America – it was the way that Equifax managed the crisis. The company stalled for over a month after discovering the breach before they shared news of the attack with the public. Those at risk were outraged further when Equifax forced consumers who wanted to find out if their information was hacked first to agree not to sue them. For Equifax, the reputation repair and reputation re-building process will be a long road.
It is uncommon for a company’s reputation to be damaged entirely beyond repair – but The Weinstein Company has proven that not all reputations can be rebuilt. A story published in The New York Times in 2017 brought decades of sexual harassment allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein to light. Hollywood responded with shock and anger, and American followed suit. The reputation of Weinstein and his company fell so low that even the PR company he hired to manage the crisis dumped him.
After filing for bankruptcy in March 2018, the company revoked it’s non-disclosure agreements. According to Deadline, “a federal bankruptcy judge has given Harvey Weinstein the right to use the correspondence to fight a grand jury criminal case that could see him serving time for the rest of his life.” Regardless of the verdict, it’s fair to assume the reputation of the Weinstein Company won’t be making a come-back.
The report by 24/7 Wallstreet ranks the University of Phoenix as one of the Most-Hated Companies in America. According to the report, the for-profit college, and its parent company, Apollo Education Group, have been the subject of a series of state and federal investigations. The controversy surrounds the aggressive and deceptive recruiting, advertising, and financial aid practices of the college. The Department of Defense also temporarily barred the school from recruiting on military bases. The barring came after allegations arose from veterans who claimed the University of Phoenix preyed upon them, despite their low chances of graduating, to receive federal aid money.
It isn’t just the public that disapproves of the company, but also its employees. According to Glassdoor, only 40% of University of Phoenix employees would recommend working for the company to a friend, and only 21% have a positive business outlook. To repair their reputation, The University of Phoenix will need to build trust and credibility with the public, as well as internally.