Games and entertainment company EA was voted by readers of The Consumerist to be the worst company in the USA. The competition was tough, including the usual targets of consumer ire such as; banks, airlines, delivery services (linked video shows Fed-Ex delivering a computer monitor), mobile networks, cable/satellite companies and large chain stores. Nevertheless EA triumphed, but this might say more about the vociferous online gaming community than EA’s impact on the country as a whole. Equally it might say more about the readership of The Consumerist but the site isn’t games/entertainment focussed, so probably not. Previous winners include oil company BP, Comcast and AIG Insurance.
Some commentators are putting the unpopularity of EA right now down to the Mass Effect 3 erm… effect. A small but highly vocal group of gamers have been disappointed with the game ending, says Michael Pachter, videogame analyst at Wedbush Morgan; “As far as I can tell, it was a vocal minority of several thousand, but given that the game shipped 3.5 million units and likely sold-through 2.8 million, I can’t believe that the backlash comprised more than 10 percent of consumers, and think it’s more likely closer to 1 percent.” He also defended EA’s products in general: “I can’t think of anything that EA does that is bad enough to warrant this distinction. They sell entertainment products that are better than the average, at competitive prices.”
There were more than 250,000 votes cast during the awards this year. EA won in the final round against Bank of America, 64 per cent against 36 per cent. Chris Morran, Deputy Editor of The Consumerist, said: “Some may look down their noses at the idea of voters picking a video game publisher as the Worst Company In America, but that is the exact kind of attitude that has allowed EA and its ilk to nickel and dime devoted customers for a decade.” He continued: “This is not just a few people complaining about bad games - this vote represents a large group of consumers who have grown sick and tired of being ignored and taken advantage of.”
EA has responded to its 'winning' of the Golden Poo: “We’re sure that bank presidents, oil, tobacco, and weapons companies are all relieved they weren’t on the list this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide.” Customer complaints about the Mass Effect 3 ending did reap rewards with the extended-cut free download, though for some it still comes short of the pre-launch promise of “radically different ending scenarios.”