You can't put a price on reputation. A study carried out by research firm Transacts found that 95% of people would stop doing business with a company that abused their trust, and two thirds of people had already done so. So it's particularly alarming that a separate study by Weber Shandwick reveals that half of all consumers trust corporate leaders less than they did just a few years earlier.
The global financial crisis is in part responsible, because trusted and respected businesses went to the wall, and dramatic flaws in their business strategy emerged. A study in 2009 by McKinsey found that two thirds of people trusted companies less than they did a year earlier.
However, it's not just general world events that dent our trust. Individual corporate scandals can destroy long-held faith in a firm overnight. Over the years we have seen scandals that bought down multi-billion-pound businesses, shook our faith in organisations, and saw respected business people jailed for years.
Watchmojo has put together its list of the top ten corporate scandals. Some companies made the list because of the incredible far-reaching consequences of the scandal on people and their environment - notably the Bhopal disaster in 1984 in India, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
But number two on this list may come as more of a surprise. Volkswagen gained second place for the emissions scandal in which it used software to falsify emissions results. The scandal could eventually cost the company up to $18 billion in fines, but much of its place at number two is due not to the far-reaching implications or the costs involved, but to the sheer astonishment that such a respected company could have done a thing like this.
It's no wonder we are losing faith in companies all the time.
But what do you think of this list? Would you have chosen these firms, or have other scandals shocked you more? Let us know in the comments.