Over the past decade I have been amazed at how little impact near blatant illegal and dangerous acts have on corporations that market products in the retail space. There has been no shortage of disgraceful and dangerous acts conducted by stock traded companies that have shocked the buying public. We have watched while: several financial institutions had senior management placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, foreign political leaders say they want America ruined while they continue to ship valuable commodities to us, some pollute the Gulf on a scale not seen before while blaming the other guy, and more recently trusted information providers are secretly capturing private details about us when we are told they are not.
When these acts that break a consumer’s confidence become public, people are outraged. They feel violated and quickly realize that the careless acts end up costing the general public in terms of money, resources and confidence. It is hard to find a kind word about these companies while these acts are examined and reviewed by the world and many times congressional committees.
When this occurs you begin to wonder why the company even exists, especially when they commit infractions on a repeated basis while expressing no knowledge of the violation or intent. Is the marketplace working?
If the consumer took action when a company breached the confidence of the public, the company would be in such financial straits they would correct the action immediately. If BP knew the American consumer would stop buying their products if the company damaged the environment, would they think long and hard before they participated in actions that might lead to environmental violations? As Google prepares to defend itself against privacy violations involving search activity, they might re-consider allowing software code anywhere near their software that monitors your search actions if they knew that tomorrow no one would use Google search engines.
Can you imagine what would happen if a company that commits an egregious act, such as those mentioned above, suddenly found itself in the court of the consumer, and sales dried up almost instantly? This would be the greatest level of consumer protection – the marketplace. The government would find their job much easier.
So why doesn’t the consumer take action? There are tons of alternative products and service providers, so choice is not the problem. When you are treated poorly by a company, do you return just to be abused again? Why?
Maybe it is time for the consumer to say, “I’ve had enough”.