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Top 5 Most Hated Companies in America: Are Their Reputations to Blame?

There was an old adage in the world of PR and media that, “Any press is good press.”  While that might hold true for certain Hollywood starlets or even some politicians, it doesn’t work in the business world.  A bad reputation can cost companies big time–in lost revenue, lost new hires and more. For a case study in reputation management, here are 5 of the most hated companies in America and how you can avoid being one of them.

Spirit Airlines’s Failed Reputation Management

Airlines have frequently become hated over the years, often for some very poor decisions. Nearly twenty years ago a giant of the airline industry, Eastern Airlines, suddenly went bust and left their passengers stranded in destinations around the world. Fortunately, other airlines stepped in to at least honor returning tickets to let passengers fly back home.  But, going bust isn’t just a thing of the 80’s. Just last year UK-based Monarch Airlines left hundreds of thousands of passengers with tickets in hand, without flights.

United Airlines can count themselves among the most hated airlines in the world, particularly after video of them dragging a ticketed passenger off of an airplane went viral. 

Yet, Spirit Airlines takes dislike to another level.  As Consumerist reports, Spirit Airlines is the only US airline to make the list of “20 worst airlines in the world.”  Their add-on fees, stiff penalties and lack of customer service have become part of their branding.

Wells Fargo

Another industry with plenty of customer dislike to go around is the banking industry.  They were bailed out in the market crash of 2008, even while customers lost their homes. And, yet, they still charged customers inordinate fees. Few people are huge fans of the banking industry…unless they are bankers.

But even in a sea of hatred, Wells Fargo bubbles to the top. 

It’s one thing for a customer to land themselves a fee for a mistake made on their account. It’s something else entirely to get charged fees for a fake account set up in your name. This was done by employees who felt such pressure to open new accounts that they opened millions of fake accounts in customers’ names.

Despite a general loathing for banks, customers do need to trust a bank with their money…which is why Wells Fargo may not survive this PR nightmare.


Speaking of nightmares, Uber has had more than a few.  Though the company disrupted the field of taxi-ing and ridesharing like never before, to the point of becoming both a noun and a verb, they’ve had waves of scandal haunting their progress.

  • Uber murders – Multiple Uber-driver-related murders have made headlines, prompting headlines to go so far as to say, “Uber has a murder problem” (of drivers), but also they’ve been the ones doing the murdering.
  • Uber corporate theft – Uber has also had a corporate espionage problem.  An FBI investigation is looking into how Uber intentionally sabotaged rival Lyft.  Meanwhile, Uber is also accused of stealing Google technology in their own quest for creating self-driving cars.
  • Uber sexual harassment – Uber garnered the wrong kind of national attention when a culture of sexual harassment was exposed, resulting in the firing of multiple employees, including founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.
The Weinstein Company

Uber may ultimately survive those high-level scandals. At least, the company itself is not in the name of the founder.  The Weinstein Company, on the other hand, may have fired co-founder Harvey Weinstein, in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment. But, the once darling-of-Hollywood company still has his name attached.

A rebranding, even a name change or a closure, may be on the horizon.


Despite all the horrors and PR-fiascos named above, the most hated company in America right now is probably still Equifax.  The Atlanta-based company lost the identity of at least 145 million customers. These customers didn’t even elect to do business with them, but must as a part of the normal application process for most kinds of credit.

What’s more, Equifax handled their PR in a way that was both tone-deaf and unappealing.

Salvage a Reputation

Can these companies fix an online reputation in the wake of such scandal as espionage, forced exit and murder?  That remains to be seen. 

Fortunately, reputation solutions for your company need not struggle at that scale.

We can help you build, maintain, expand or fix your online reputation.  Contact us to find out how.

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About the Author

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva has worked in the Internet marketing industry for the last 20-years. Erica is the top-secret SEO weapon to marketing and advertising agencies in the world. She has generated over 300+ million in revenue for high-value brands such as Walmart, Pottery Barn, iRobot, Cutting Edge Firewood, Kelley Blue Book, and many more. Erica has custom-created more than 1,000 content, SEO, and marketing strategies which held the key to doubling and tripling online traffic, and marketing ROI. She has also authored a series of online publications including The Digital Branding Survival Guide, Million Dollar Marketing, 5 Steps to Increase Web Traffic by Blogging, and Repairing Your Online Reputation.