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By Herb Weisbaum

Santa isn’t the only one who makes a list at this time of year. The folks at Consumer Reports have just announced which companies made their "Naughty & Nice" list for 2013.

Some major national retailers made the “naughty” list, along with a big airline and a cable TV channel. The “nice” list includes a major bank, a cell-phone company, some popular retailers and a different airline.

“This is an education campaign to remind people that they have choices in the marketplace,” said senior editor Tod Marks. “Companies have different policies — some are customer friendly, some are not.”

Nominations came from staff members and Facebook fans. Before a company made the list, the policy or practice in question was verified. But Consumer Reports stresses that this is not a definitive list.

“When we praise or criticize a company, it’s in regard to a specific policy. It doesn't mean that we give either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on everything else that company does,” Marks explained. "We've had instances where a company has done very well one year and gone on the negative list the next year and vice versa, so it’s about the particular policy not the company.”

Companies on the Naughty list include:

  • It raised the required purchase for free Super Saver shipping from $25 to $35.
  • Best Buy: The electronics chain will now require customers to show a photo ID to make a return, even if you have a receipt.
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club: Members cannot return perishable products such as food and flowers purchased online. The competition, Costco and Sam’s Club, will take back any item for any reason.
  • Fry’s Electronics: Most electronics stores give you 15 to 30 days to return most televisions, although there may be more restrictions on big-screen sets. Fry’s will not give refunds on TVs 24 inches and larger.
  • QVC: America’s favorite shopping channel was criticized for having 20 different price categories, such as the “QVC Price,” “Today’s Special Value,” the “Event Price,” “While Supplies Last,” “Last Clicks,” and “Clearance Price,” just to name a few. “It’s hard to tell whether you’re getting a great deal or a great spiel,” Marks said.
  • United Airlines: The airline no longer offers families with small children the chance to board the plane early. United said the policy change, which was announced this summer, was designed to “simplify the boarding process.”

Here are some of the companies that made the Nice list:

  • Citibank: The Citi Simplicity credit card is different from the rest because there’s never a late fee. With many other cards, that fee is $15 to $35. It’s great if you slip up and miss paying that bill. The bank is likely to close your account if this becomes a pattern.
  • Consumer Cellular: This wireless company, which has stellar customer satisfaction ratings, plays by a different set of rules from most other carriers. There are no contracts, no activation fees and no penalties for changing plans. Plus, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t like the service you can cancel and get a full refund.
  • Hampton Inn & Suites: They promise “friendly service, clean rooms, comfortable surroundings, every time.” And if you’re not completely satisfied, they don’t expect you to pay.
  • Lands’ End: They still have an unconditional guarantee that allows customers to get a refund or exchange on any product, at anytime and for any reasons. This refund policy even applies to personalized items that have been hemmed or monogrammed.
  •  Southwest: They score points for providing greater flexibility than most other airlines when you need to switch flights. Southwest lets you modify your itinerary and pay any cost difference in the fares with no penalty fee. Other airlines charge big fees for making any change in your flights once the ticket is purchased.

Click here to read Consumer Reports’ complete 2013 Holiday Report Card.

Herb Weisbaum is The ConsumerMan. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or visit The ConsumerMan website.