Who's Been Naughty, Who's Been Nice; Consumer Reports Reveals Annual List of Company Policies and Practices That Help or Hinder Shoppers

25 Nov, 2013, 06:00 ET from Consumer Reports

Amazon, Kmart, and United Airlines among those that make CR's "Naughty" List; Lands' End, Walmart, and Southwest Airlines play "Nice" in Fourth Annual Public Education Campaign

YONKERS, N.Y., Nov. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Reports today unveiled its fourth annual Naughty & Nice List of company policies and practices. The list includes retailers, airlines, telecomm companies, and others that have been dinged for fees, fine print, or other punitive practices, or lauded for outstanding customer service or other customer-friendly policies. 

The full Naughty & Nice Lists from this year, 2012, 2011 and 2010 are available online at www.ConsumerReports.org/CRNaughtyNice.    

Although Consumer Reports cites companies by name, other businesses may engage in similar practices—for better or worse. And praise or blame for a specific policy doesn't necessarily mean that CR gives a thumbs up or down to everything else that company does or the way it treats customers.

"It's a hectic time of year when consumers are shopping freely for goods and services," said Tod Marks, senior editor and resident shopping expert at Consumer Reports. "They're vulnerable to sales pitches.  The Naughty & Nice list is our way of encouraging Americans to be critical consumers.  We want them to know they have choices."

The Naughty & Nice Holiday List is based on input from Consumer Reports' staffers who cover shopping, finance, electronics, and other focus areas and visitors to Consumer Reports' Facebook page.  Consumer Reports is asking everyone to join in on the conversation by submitting their Naughty & Nice nominee via Facebook and Twitter (#CRNaughtyNice).

Here are some of the companies (and their policies) that earned them a spot on the list:


  • Amazon. The world's 11th largest retailer, with more than $61 billion in annual sales, recently raised the requirement for free Super Saver shipping on eligible items by $10, to $35.
  • Kmart. This year, mass-merchant chain Kmart has taken holiday shopping to a new low, bragging that its stores would be open for 41 hours straight, starting at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving day through 11 p.m. Friday, making it just another marathon work  day  for those in the retail industry (though its parent company, Sears Holding Corp., says that stores are staffed with seasonal associates and those who volunteered to work).
  • United Airlines. One practice travelers can usually count on when flying with commercial airlines is pre-boarding for families with young kids. Not at United. "Families with infants or with children who are under the age of 4 may board the aircraft when their group number is called."


  • Lands' End. The catalog merchant has an unconditional "Guaranteed. Period." policy that entitles customers to return for refund or exchange any product at any time, for any reason. That largesse extends even to personalized items that have been hemmed or monogrammed.
  • Walmart. The mega merchant brought back its layaway program, but with a consumer-friendly twist: It eliminated the administrative fee typically required to open an account.
  • Southwest Airlines. Airlines typically allow flight cancellations within 24 hours of booking without financial penalty. Southwest offers greater flexibility if you need to switch flights. You can modify your itinerary without time restriction and simply pay the difference in cost between fares.

For more about Consumer Reports' 2013 Naughty & Nice list, visit www.ConsumerReports.org/CRNaughtyNice; and for information about finding the best holiday deals and expert advice on top products, check out Consumer Reports' online holiday-shopping hub at www.ConsumerReports.org/holiday.

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SOURCE Consumer Reports