When it comes to dealing with big companies, just about every consumer has a story of something gone bad. And just about every consumer could tell a tale of a company that went above and beyond.
Consumer Reports came up with its own list of companies for a "Naughty and Nice" list, kicking off the holiday season with examples of contrasting styles of corporate citizenship. Some on the list are pairings of companies for taking a particular action together.
Here are the companies on the magazine's Naughty list: Allegiant Air, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Costco, FedEx/UPS, LifeLock, Tom's of Maine, Turing Pharmaceuticals, Verizon/Sprint, Volkswagenand Whole Foods.
And these are the ones on the Nice list: Brinkmann/Home Depot, California Health Insurance Exchange, Chipotle Mexican Grill/Panera Bread, CVS, Dish Network, Dr. Martens, JetBlue, Nomorobo, Procter & Gamble, PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers), Southwest Airlines and Target.
What earns a company a place on either side of the list? Turing Pharmaceuticals infamously jacked up the price of a decades-old drug it had purchased by nearly 5,000%. But a closer look at some of the other companies named offers subtler insights.
Take Costco. The chain of warehouse clubs had endeared itself to customers by offering what seemed to be incredible deals on Tiffany diamond engagement rings. But Tiffany was hardly thrilled, filing a lawsuit accusing Costco of selling counterfeits.
Costco said its use of "Tiffany" was not a claim that it was selling products made by the famed jeweler, but rather it was promoting a type of ring setting. In September, a federal judge found in favor of Tiffany.
Tom's of Maine is another example from the "Naughty" side. The company conjures images of a small business selling wholesome goods. It boasts of using only natural ingredients in its line of products from toothpaste to sunscreen. But it seems Tom's (now a division of Colgate-Palmolive) might have strayed some from its all-natural pledge.
The company recently agreed to put $4.5 million in a settlement fund to close out a class action lawsuit for allegedly using such less-than-natural ingredients as the sweetener xylitol and cleaner sodium lauryl sulfate. In the proposed settlement in which Tom's admitted no wrongdoing, the company said it would include more detail on its ingredients on its website and be more transparent about how it uses such claims as "natural," "sustainable" and "responsible."
On the "Nice" side is Dr. Martens, a shoe company that offers a line of products with a lifetime guarantee. "The FOR LIFE guarantee covers the failure of any component which has been subjected to normal wear and tear (such as upper leather, stitched seams, eyelets, soles, welt, linings and reinforcements) and not unreasonably abused," Dr. Martens explains on its website. As Consumer Reports noted, a lifetime guarantee lasts for as long as you're alive -- which could be a very long time.
If you've tried to redeem frequent flyer miles and, like many other consumers, were unable to use them to get on a flight where and when you wanted to go, you might like Southwest Airlines' approach. The airline delivers the most trips using frequent flyer rewards of an any major airline.
What's the trick? All seats can be booked by frequent flyers. There are no blackout dates. "Every seat is available as an award seat, even the last seat on the day before Thanksgiving," Jonathan Clarkson, director of Southwest's Rapid Rewards program, told Consumer Reports.