There are a few things a corporation can do to anger the average person, but they usually involve an increase in prices or deterioration in services. In a normal world, a quick call to customer service would address such concerns promptly.
However, Americans don’t live in that world. Instead, you find yourself talking to a machine that can’t understand your voice before getting transferred to a foreign country, where the operator can’t help.
Don’t you love runaway capitalism? Worst of all, millions of Americans have no choice in the matter. Because you have to fly out of the nearest airport, accept internet infrastructure, and deal with just one cable company, many are subject to a version of corporate monopoly rule.
In recent years, we’ve seen so many U.S. companies abuse their market position with higher prices, obnoxious messaging, and laid-off workers — tax cuts be damned. Here are 15 of the most disgraceful corporations Americans have to deal with every day.
15. Bank of America
Whether you dislike clunky websites, $45 billion bailouts, or poor customer service, Bank of America has a record that will outrage you. However, the bank really found a way to disrupt the average person’s life when it announced it would charge $9-12 a month for the basic checking account.
Consider it a thank-you to the taxpayers who saved BofA from going out of business in 2008. But, then again, what have taxpayers done for Bank of America lately?
Next: This company spent $17 million lobbying Congress yet still laid off 4,000 workers after the tax cuts passed.
In many cities, AT&T runs local internet, cellular packages, and home phone service, too. It might sound like a lot of control over people’s lives, but AT&T pays Congress well for the privilege. In 2017 alone, the telecom giant spent $17 million in lobbying fees. Only eight organizations spent more in Washington D.C.
You see, AT&T wanted a merger approved and coveted those corporate tax cuts, too. While celebrating victory of 40% lower taxes and bragging about employee bonuses, AT&T quietly laid off 4,000 employees.
Next: This company can turn a simple oil change into permanent car damage with a huge bill.
13. Jiffy Lube
In another post, we listed the many ways Jiffy Lube ripped off customers over the years. Usually, they said you needed oil and repairs when you didn’t. Anyway they could possibly run up the price of an oil change, the service centers found a way.
Following a 2016 investigation in California, Jiffy Lubes got hit with a $220,000 fine and years of probation. But it’s still taking place across the country. If you need an oil change, the local Jiffy Lube might seem quick and easy, but this disgraced company’s past should warn you against it.
Next: This pharmaceutical company chose to use its tax cut for layoffs and stock buybacks.
There are few companies as powerful and all-reaching as Pfizer, the manufacturer of drugs such as Lipitor and Lyrica. When Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was formulating the GOP tax plan, Pfizer CEO Ian Read got a one-on-one with Mnuchin.
That was only part of Pfizer’s massive lobbying effort in 2017, and all that money paid off: Big Pharma got their tax cuts and drug prices remain the highest in the developed world. Meanwhile, Pfizer was quite clear about how it would spend its windfall from tax reform.
In January 2018, the company announced 300 layoffs. By February, Pfizer had spent $10 billion on stock buybacks.
Next: Rampant sexism, a nasty CEO, and numerous lawsuits made this ride-hail company’s 2017 quite a year.
Do you ever wonder how a company can send unregulated vehicles into the streets in massive volumes? When you hear about the sexist culture and obnoxious CEO at Uber, it really makes you think.
Then you hear about the lawsuit accusing drivers of sexually assaulting women and you really start to wonder. In many areas, Uber provides the easiest, most affordable option for transportation. Even the bare-minimum ethics would do.
Next: It really takes a disgrace to stand out among insurance companies, but Cigna manages to do it.
It’s hard to keep track of all the lawsuits against Cigna, so we’ll just focus on a few from recent years. In that class-action suit, patients reported being charged over 10 times (1,043%) the costs of prescription drugs by the insurance company. Now that’s some overhead.
Multiplied by the thousands of plaintiffs suing Cigna, these overcharges really boost a company’s profit. A 2017 lawsuit arose after overcharging for home health care services. Maybe preying on the sick and bed-ridden has become normal in America, but that doesn’t make it any less disgraceful.
Next: This social media company puts money first and things like privacy and national security further down the list.
As U.S. intelligence agencies investigated Russian meddling into the 2016 election, the trail kept leading to Facebook’s fake-news feed. Though the numbers keep rising, as of February 2018 Facebook had acknowledged foreign agents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on 3,000 ads that reached up to 150 million people.
Next: America’s biggest retail operation doesn’t play nice to customers, employees, or suppliers.
Just about everyone has a reason to hate Walmart. Maybe you’ve been ripped off there buying meat or diapers. Or maybe you were one of the thousands who got laid off when the company suddenly closed dozens of Sam’s Club stores.
Then there are the truck drivers who successfully sued when Walmart refused to pay them. Some Americans don’t have much alternative to shopping here, so a little company-wide decency would go a long way.
Next: This bank specializes in bailouts, tax breaks, and avoiding punishment.
7. JPMorgan Chase
Chase may not have gotten the huge bailout Citi and BofA did, but it got its $25 billion to stay afloat. Later, after learning about Chase’s shameless behavior that directly led to the foreclosure crisis, feds demanded billions in penalties.
However, Chase didn’t learn its lesson, and began forgiving loans on mortgages it didn’t own. That’s like paying someone back by telling them their boss added it to their last paycheck.
It doesn’t get much sleazier than that, but yet we saw Chase CEO Jamie Dimon waltzing around the White House throughout 2017 as he made his successful push for corporate tax cuts. Chase, still one of Trump’s rental clients, was under federal investigation (yet again) during that time.
Next: You may not have forgiven this huge data breach, but Equifax doesn’t care.
Whether Americans like it or not, Equifax has access to their most sensitive information. In September 2017, the credit reporting company admitted 145 million Americans had their data stolen by hackers.
However, Equifax knew about the breach in July and said nothing. Since then, the company has done next to nothing to make up for the offense while all that information floats in limbo. You’ll have to find out later if someone stole your identity.
Next: Whatever Time Warner calls itself these days, people hate the company with a passion.
5. Time Warner Cable (Spectrum)
Time Warner Cable’s monopoly on cable and internet has been in place for a generation in many U.S. markets. As a result, millions of Americans can either deal with the company’s notoriously terrible service or watch their living rooms go dark.
In exchange for that power, Time Warner (alias Spectrum, now part of Charter Communications) has delivered surprise price hikes, horrendous customer service, and inflated equipment fees. We don’t think a re-branding will take care of years of overcharging consumers. Maybe New York’s lawsuit will, though.
Next: This network combines rampant sexual harassment with political propaganda.
4. Fox Entertainment
Why look to Russia for propaganda? Just turn on Fox News any day of the week and get your misinformation from Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and the gang. Prior to the 2016 election, you could find Bret Baier there faslely reporting Hillary Clinton would be indicted by the FBI.
In February 2018, Fox pushed the conspiracy theory that survivors of the Parkland massacre were paid “actors.” This is the type of fake news we’d expect from our enemies. Instead, it qualifies as regular programming by a major American network.
Of course, the world watched Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and top anchor Bill O’Reilly become exposed for decades of sexual harassment in 2017. Other network personalities joined them in disgrace on their way off the air.
Stay classy, Fox.
Next: This company’s “friendly skies” involve minuscule seats, a terrible frequent flyer program, and terrorizing passengers.
Airline passengers have dealt with shrinking seats, the end of meals, and poor entertainment options for years — all while fuel prices dipped to historic lows. Yet the cost of flying has either stayed the same or gotten more expensive.
If you have to fly United frequently, you’ve had to swallow all that and one of the worst frequent flyer programs, too. Of course, when you’re talking about a company that’s fine with a customer being violently removed from his reserved seat, the rest comes with the territory.
Next: Comcast needs no introduction.
2. Comcast Xfinity
It takes more than a new name for people to forget how disgraceful a company’s employees behaved over the years. In the case of Comcast (alias Xfinity), it would take a lifetime for folks to get over the obnoxious “customer care” and the company-wide goal of ripping off customers.
At Comcast, infuriating customers is basically the business model, and most people around the country have no choice. It’s easily the most hated, most offensive cable and internet provider America can claim as our own. The fact Comcast has been able to get away with it in plain sight for decades suggests something very wrong with the U.S. system.
Next: Even in an era of rampant vulture capitalism, no company has played as dirty as Wells Fargo.
1. Wells Fargo
You have to play exceptionally dirty to stand out from America’s most rotten corporations, but Wells Fargo managed to get the job done. After decades of mortgage abuses, fake accounts, and auto insurance scams, the bank finally got a severe penalty from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
While Yellen’s parting shot will hurt, Wells Fargo was still one of the biggest winners of the GOP tax plan. With billions in rewards from a corporate-friendly Congress, you can’t blame these companies for never learning their lesson. For some reason, it’s become the American way.
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