I Guess We Prefer Food Over Drugs

It has been argued that Americans are driven nuts by the excess of choice confronting them when they shop at a supermarket. That idea gets no support from a Harris Poll that asks whether various industries do a good or bad job of serving their consumers. As you can see from the chart, people are nearly unanimous in saying supermarkets do just fine. And supermarkets’ co-conspirators, the packaged-food companies, are close to the top of the standings, whether because of or despite the proliferation of choices they offer. Though the pharmaceutical sector is still widely scorned, its net score (“good job” minus “bad job” vote) rose 17 points, from -4 last year to +13 this year. Harris speculates that this results from “more moderate price increases and effective advertising to promote the industry.” The phone companies also boosted their net score (+17 last year, +42 this year). Harris points to the advent of the Do Not Call Registry as a probable factor. For obvious reasons, the oil industry fared even worse this year than last, as its net score fell from -25 to -36. Some Internet-related industries made their debut in this annual Harris survey. Online search engines scored best, with 79 percent of respondents saying they do a good job and 11 percent saying they do a bad job for their customers. Internet service providers (72 percent good, 21 percent bad) and online retailers (70 percent good, 19 percent bad) fared a bit less well.