Power Players

Wells Fargo, Spirit Airlines and Trump Organization all have better reputations than the US government, new poll finds

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Wells Fargo endured a high-profile sales scandal, The Trump Organization is being investigated by New York state regulators and Spirit Airlines is known for notoriously lackluster service — but all those companies still have better reputations than the U.S. government, according to a new report released by Axios and Harris Poll.

For its report, Axios and Harris polled 18,228 Americans, to determine a "measurement of what real people think right now about the companies in our cultural conversation."

The U.S. government ranked dead last (100th) on the list, with the worst corporate reputation ranking for 2019, earning it a "critical" reputation. Axios notes that it fell to the bottom of all categories, particularly in ethics, trust, culture, vision and citizenship.

Meanwhile, the company with the No. 1 best reputation according to the report, is grocery chain Wegmans, followed by Amazon, Patagonia, L.L. Bean and Disney.

Other notable rankings include Tesla, which fell from third place last year to 42nd this year. However, despite issues like CEO Elon Musk's troubles with the SEC and the company's ability to sustain profitability, 42nd is still a "very good" reputation, according to the list. Tesla declined to comment.

Facebook, which has experienced a tumultuous time due to privacy concerns and issues regarding election interference, ranked 94th, which is a "poor" reputation. Facebook declined to comment.

Spirit Airlines, which has been dubbed the worst airline, ranked 90th. When reached for comment, the company said that its guest satisfaction and industry performance metrics are improving and that it is actively investing in its guest experience.

Wells Fargo ranked 96th. The company told CNBC Make It that it is committed to earning back the trust of stakeholders and is working to become a better, more customer-focused bank through various initiatives aimed at both consumers and its employees. It also pointed out its third-place ranking in customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Retail Banking Advice Study.

The Trump Organization ranked 98th, considered a "very poor" reputation, according to the list. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The companies with the biggest improvements in reputation from last year to this year are Samsung (from 35th to 7th), Sony (from 31st to 10th) and Twenty-First Century Fox (from 74th to 53rd).

As for the biggest drops in reputation for 2019, Tesla was one of the top three decliners; Facebook fell from 51st to 94th; and McDonald's went from 59th to 88th. McDonald's did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For the survey, Axios and Harris Poll first identified the companies with the most "visible" reputations (whether it be for good or bad reasons), according to the general public, by using open-ended questions. A second group of Americans were then asked to rate companies across key dimensions of corporate reputation, including attributes pertaining to the company's trust, business trajectory and organizational character. The report then ranked each company from best to worst reputation.

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