Financial companies have been in bad odor since the onset of the 2008 crisis, and thus crowded the low rungs in Harris Interactive’s 13th annual reputation poll, which ranked consumers’ opinion of the reputation of the 60 most visible companies in the United States.
Four of the five biggest losses of reputation hit financial companies. The poll found that positive perceptions of the industry declined by five points after rising by six points in the 2011 study.
Financial companies’ reputation contrasted sharply with that of technology and retail companies, which were perceived as helping the American economy. Kraft Foods, for example, saw its reputation burnished in the current study; Harris said the company ranked among the “perennial reputation elite,” and was one of the Top 8 Favorite U.S. Companies.
The Harris Poll Reputation Quotient measures six areas that make up reputation and affect consumer behavior: social responsibility, emotional appeal, financial performance, products and services, vision and leadership, and workplace environment.
An RQ score of 55–64 denotes a “poor” reputation, 50–54 “very poor” and below 50 “critical.” Companies with scores below 50 “risk remaining viable,” according to Harris. Among previous sub-50 RQ performers were Enron, Adelphia and WorldCom, all now defunct.
Here are the Top 9 Most Disliked U.S. Companies:
9. WELLS FARGO (WFC)
Scored 59.5, well off its “fair” 66.15 score last year, when it held the 45th spot.
8. COMCAST (CMCSA)
Scored 59.1, dropping it three places from its 2011 ranking. Though not a big bad bank, anyone that's dealt with a cable company's customer service isn't surprised.
7. NEWS CORP. (NWSA)
Scored 57.14. Rupert Murdoch’s conglomerate is new to the RQ study; it was not ranked in last year’s study, which came out before the hacking scandal in Britain erupted into public view. Among the worst aspects of the scandal included a News Corp. paper being affiliated with the hacking of a young murder victim's voicemails.
Scored 55.95. The company climbed two rungs from its fourth-place position last year.
5. JPMORGAN CHASE (JPM)
Scored 54.84. The company took one of the biggest hits to reputation, dropping by 6.31 points from its 2011 score.
4. BP (BP)
Scored 53.5, an improvement over last year, when the oil producer was in “critical” territory, second from the bottom. Harris said BP was one of three companies in “reputation rehab,” having gained strongly in social responsibility and emotional appeal.
3. BANK OF AMERICA (BAC)
Scored 49.85. It suffered the biggest decline in RQ score, falling by 9.08 points and dropping three spots from last year.
2. GOLDMAN SACHS (GS)
Scored 47.57. The company dropped from third place last year, and entered “critical” territory after seeing its RQ score fall by 6.33 points.
1. AIG (AIG)
Scored 46.18. It thus held on to the dubious honor of being the lowest of the low; even its score dropped from its “critical” 47.77 last year.
Despite AIG recovering somewhat from the 2008 debacle and paying back some of its taxpayer bailout, I guess time does not heal all wounds.
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