Occupy Wall Street (Part 2): Craptastic Capitalism
A nationally known sandwich chain has a franchise across from the recreation center my children attend. Thus, on an almost weekly basis, because we have Bible study on that weeknight almost immediately after the rec class, we often stop by to pick up sandwiches for dinner.
This particular venue used to have terrific customer service. In fact, one of the shift supervisors had our order on file because we had something akin to a standing order. However, a few months ago, things began to change, and the store got our sandwich order wrong at least 50% of the time, but often more.
Because my "day job" is in social media, I decided my time, my money, and my patronage were valuable assets, so I posted a comment on the company Facebook page. It was polite (not, "hey you filthy capitalist pigs...."), and within an hour or two, I got a personal response saying my experience wasn't what they wanted for their customers, and invited me to write them a more detailed summary of my experience.
I did. And, a few days later, I got a response that was not a form letter, but an actual personalized response, just like their Facebook note. It said they had reviewed my issue, found it fell short of an acceptable consumer interaction, and they wanted to make it right. They were going to follow up with the location in question to affect long-term changes, but, in the short-term, they wanted to send me a gift card.
I didn't picket the store. I didn't poop on a delivery truck. I didn't write/shout/use profanity. Nor did I accuse them of "not caring about the little people." I didn't demand a gift card, or "free sandwiches for life, you slimy corporate weasels!!" with fists shaking mid-air! I merely realized my dollars meant something to me, and surely, any business in this economy worth their salt is going to realize they can't afford to hemorrhage customers if they get lax about customer service. No one had me over a barrel. I am a steward of my own dollars and I invest them as I see fit.
Case study #2: My daughter is on a swim team. The coaches have failed to communicate with parents in a timely manner on a consistent basis. I won't even go into detail here, but you can believe I noted it with this particular swim school. Again, I was polite, specific, and I offered solutions to what I saw as the problems, rather than just contributing to the noise. I got back a compilation of snarky one-liners, and before you could say, "where's the cardboard for my protest sign?" I had contacted one of the other reputable area schools and sent "Coach Snarky" our two-week notice. I didn't poop in the pool. I didn't picket. I didn't even call a parent meeting or demand a parent pow-wow. Again, realizing my dollars meant something to me, I put my money where my mouth was.
Unless you live under a rock, most readers will be aware of the Netflix/Qwikster debacle as a textbook case of "what not to do." They doubled the price, lost a million customers, introduced a new service and abandoned it....all in the span of a month or so.
Customers said "enough" with their money, and went to competitors. Yes, nasty comments were posted all over the corporate blog by angry customers. But no one picketed, that I am aware of, no one pooped on Reed Hastings' vehicle. And while many lambasted the company for their "corporate greed" many industry analysts said it was more the way Netflix communicated (or rather, did not communicate) that was the problem, and their "flip-floppiness," not that they were making changes to their corporate model, as is the right of a company to do (though usually a little more thought goes into it -- including making sure the Twitter name is available first -- but I digress!).
Consumers are angry at Bank of America for charging a fee to use their own money. Yes, moving your bank account and changing linked debit cards is tedious, but it allows the consumer autonomy, and lets the bank know they are not the only game in town....more than pooping in the doorway of the ATM ever could.
As a consumer, the contract goes both ways. If you don't like a certain big-box store often noted for allegations of wage issues and gender bias, you do not have to shop there! Take your dollars elsewhere, or shop online if you live in an area without a lot of choices. I boycott companies I don't like, not because I think the absence of my money is going to ring some CEO's big red phone. But because I am free to spend my money where I please.
Yes, we have a constitutional right to assemble and protest. We can even burn a flag as a legal form of expression (though why that is baffles me). Since pooping on property necessarily involves dropping one's pants, I see how that could get you strung up on indecency charges...and it is nasty, gross, and doesn't make me hate the corporation you are defecating upon, rather, it makes me hate that you seem to have the manners of a barnyard animal.
As in my last post, I wonder why people fail to realize that companies behave in unacceptable ways because we, as consumers, allow them to and because our government is in bed with half of them. Your vote, like your dollars, means something. Poop is free, albeit ineffective and pretty worthless. If you want to spank corporate America, hit them in the wallets and in their regulatory oversight, not their latrines.