Peanuts and Cracker Jack

April 21st, 2009 by Ilya Marritz

Over at Consumerist, the race is on for the title of “Worst Company in America.”  eBay v. Chrysler, GM v. Chase, Comcast v. Capital One…and so goes the parade of reviled corporate names even your dog has heard of, with the wildcard entry this year being the Peanut Corporation of America. (Remember them? Salmonella outbreak? Nine dead, hundreds made sick…against AIG they don’t stand a chance.)

Of course, these companies don’t want us to hate them. They want us to like them. But it’s interesting to note that some of the things they do out of their own self-interest are truly not in the interests of the consumer. And very often these conflicts are over personal data and the flow of information.

Let’s take Comcast v. Capitol One, just as an example. Comcast slapped limits on customers’ internet use, and critics say the policy is intended to deter people from watching TV online.  Funny, Comcast also has a cable business that would be adversely affected if people started watching shows on their computers.

Cap One is of course a huge and reviled credit card company, routinely accused of all kinds of chicanery you can just about get away with if you bury important notifications in nausea-inducing 2-point font. Also, they have the power to wreck your credit score.

At the time this post is being written, Comcast is winning handily.

Total aside: bless Nick Denton & the team he hired for creating a consumer news site that is hip and witty in a way Ralph Nader could only dream of. And bless Consumer Reports for buying it from him. This is a good match.

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