Nice Or Naughty? The Best (And Worst) Companies During This Pandemic

News

GNN polled readers on our Facebook page to find out which companies have excelled during the pandemic of 2020, and which ones didn’t live up to normal standards of customer service (even in a time of turmoil when they might actually want to level-up their usual performance).

THE NICE LIST
Two Fortune 500 insurance companies earned high praised for their service.

“Progressive has been my insurance company for 15 years now. They have great customer service and are open 24/7, so any time I think to call them I can. During the pandemic, they got so few claims that they refunded all their clients the money that they saved,” reports Jolene Birchfield. “They could have kept that as unforeseen profit but instead they returned it to those they knew could use it—and they have, so far, done this for two months. It just shows how committed they are to being a company that cares about people.”

For three years in a row, Progressive was named to FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list (at #49), after employees from across the organization provided anonymous feedback about the company.

Geico came through with wonderful service for one employee at GNN, when National General refused to sell her a new auto policy after she forgot to pay the premium while traveling out of country. The telephone representative for Geico was unbelievably friendly and thorough, and had her Toyota covered within hours. Their rates were the cheapest anywhere, too. Michelle reported also loving Geico: “Their excellent customer service has remained excellent.”

It’s no wonder that workers are upbeat: 68% of employees at GEICO say it is a great place to work (compared to 59% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company), and it was named one of the “Top 50 Large Companies for Perks and Benefits.” The CEO, Bill Roberts, was also named by Comparably’s as one of the “Best CEOS for Diversity.”

TECH
In the American cable internet industry, it is rare to hear praise for any of the big companies but Mairead Boland wrote in about a technician from Xfinity. “He came to install, was very careful with mask, hand cleaning, and whatever he touched. He sat outside and waited while I completed the setup.” He even handed out his cell phone number to let him know how it went or ask further questions.

“OMG Best Buy has THE best curbside pickup process,” wrote Kammy Caruss. “Miles better than everyone else.”

RETAIL
Margaret Èlise wanted to nominate IKEA for the good list: “Last time I was there they had a person at the door checking for masks, sanitation areas along their aisles… and the food area was only take out and traffic was in one way, and out another! They kept population control as well. BRAVO!” Stephanie Spaniol added that they have also been providing free meals for their employees since May as a thank you for working during the pandemic.

The Bombas sock company has made an excellent impression on several readers. “Their socks are a little expensive, BUT for every pair purchased they donate a pair to a homeless shelter. And they don’t make a cheaper sock for the shelter, they actually add antimicrobial treatment,” wrote Kim Turner. “Plus they have a lifetime guarantee and a hotline of sock happiness experts if you have a problem with them.”

“They are pretty awesome,” agreed Liz McFarland. “I run a nonprofit that helps homeless, disadvantaged, or displaced high school students. One of our volunteers saw their ad and reached out maybe 18 months ago. They sent us 6,000 socks. Then, during the pandemic they told us to get ready for our next shipment. A lot of them know Bombas by name and are very complementary of the socks. It was funny because a student was talking about them two days ago, and he almost sounded like a commercial.” Kim Turner replied, “I don’t have a lot of disposable income but I will always spend the extra on their socks.”

Jellycat, a wholesaler that makes “amazing stuffed animals” earned praise from Jenifer Steele “They were very proactive when COVID hit in March. Literally, just as we all shut down, they sent an email extending time to pay all outstanding invoices.” They continued to offer new items, so we were able to keep our shop looking fresh and even offered free shipping along the way, which helped us maintain sales through a difficult time.” Alison Gray also loves Jellycat, and agrees that “they’re an amazing company!”

Online Pet Food
“Chewy’s saved us, and no price gouging either,” said Victoria Aja. “When people were hoarding pet food, Chewy’s took great care of us & our Rx fur kids who needed special food that everyone else was out of. They were prepared when Petco & other companies failed us.” And, several others praised the online store.

Corin Hotchkiss also nominated Chewy. “They have the most responsive and supportive customer service I have encountered. Super convenient for pet household delivery during the last year.” Michele Craig Victoria replied, “This company is excellent.”

Groceries
H-E-B Grocery Company, is one of the largest privately owned supermarket chains in the U.S., with more than 340 stores throughout Texas. We got several comments praising HEB, which donates 5% of pre-tax profits to charity and has been named Retailer of the Year by Progressive Grocer.

Elisha Moore says “HEB has done amazing things during covid! From supply chain management to raises for their workers and special arrangements for elderly shoppers, they are the model for corporate responsibility during a crisis. But truth be told, they have been such a model for as long as I can remember.”

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Bobbi Frels Farris praised HEB, saying, “They help so many all the time,” and Wendi Mote agrees. “Yesterday a friend who works there told me they gave every store employee a $500 bonus due to Covid, and they’ve done that a couple of times on top of non-annual bonuses and raises.”

Employee-owned and based in Vermont, King Arthur Baking Company, was nominated by Kerry McAniff for the NICE list. “It pivoted its distribution model to meet extraordinary demands and is credited with keeping many bakeries afloat across the country. Kerry reports they organize several volunteer and donation programs, such as the Bake for Good kids program.” She touted their high-quality products, as well. Heather Gleason Biesanz also nominated King Arthur Flour, saying they were “working with local businesses to feed their communities.”

Kathleen Pfaff reports, “Costco and Amazon always have done right by me every single time.” Melanie Linn also nominated Amazon Fresh. Terra Michelle also pointed to Costco as an example of a large company doing a good job.

Kroger does not charge or have a minimum for pickup, reports Annette Brown. “That helps me.”

Eating Out
Dixon Distillery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was not only serving customers, they were helping other restaurants—even though they are a restaurant themselves. “They supported other local businesses at the peak and beginning of coronavirus by offering their outdoor tables for folks to purchase food from local eateries who were unable to have outdoor seating—and that provided revenue for these local small businesses to stay afloat.” wrote Elizabeth Anne Mason in her nomination. “They donated to a large health system hand sanitizer from their own facility, as well. Their owner publicly commend their hard working staff regularly on social media and is always looking for a way to be better and serve the community. They are a true example of community leadership and partnership.”

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Opa! Greek Taverna, a small, family-owned business in Rowlett, Texas, “stepped up big time” for the community, says Brandi Hurst. “They made sure no one in the community went hungry. They also donated snacks and water for a community peaceful protest for BLM, which our chief of police joined. For a young father and business owner, he did more for the community than most of big businesses.”

“Johnson Cranberries in Johnson City, Tennessee is absolutely amazing!” says Rebecca Bennett. “They even dress in costumes to bring orders to cars, to bring a smile, too.” It is family owned, family run, and offers home-cooked food.

MOD Pizza has been donating to health workers, as well. “We are near locations in Foothill Ranch & Lake Forest, California,” wrote Kathi Cook, “and they have donated pizzas to local frontline healthcare workers.” Erin Oliver said, “I second MOD pizza. Our restaurants in Colorado have been amazing as well with their service, keeping their restaurants super clean, and donating.”

Pizza places around the country have earned nominations:

House of Pizza: “My son is medically complex and has a compromised immune system. They were the ONLY place we trusted to get food. They also donated pizzas to the local food pantry so those families could have a pizza dinner too!” said Heidi Marandos Enfield.

The 4 Corners Pub in Silver Spring, Maryland, has been amazing, says Sherrie B. Pilkington. “They’ve donated pizzas to local hospitals and front line workers, they set up delivery and pickup—then outdoor seating once allowed. When one employee tested positive they closed, cleaned like mad, kept their community updated on how everyone was, and overall was just a great part of our community. I’m proud to support them!”

Laura Marie called out the folks at Sherm’s Catering in Delaware, who left free bagged lunches for the neighborhood for many many months during the pandemic. “Never asked for a penny in return. Never asked for recognition. Just good people helping out because they could.”

In Collingswood, New Jersey, Westmont Diner and Market has stepped up and created a market offering free deliveries in the community, “when so many were struggling to get needed groceries from the larger chain stores,” reports AnnMarie Smyth-Glisson. “They’re still providing the service! They’ve gone above and beyond for the community!”