Easy Activism: Lousy Products, Lousier Customer Service?

Savage Chickens Cartoon

A few years ago I had to call ACME Widgets n’ More Customer Service for something. I was surprised that it was actually “good” Customer Service. Hours later I was still thinking about it. Why was I so surprised? I was never surprised by lousy Customer Service.

And that was the problem. For years I’d allowed businesses to treat me poorly. I never did anything about it. Apparently many other people were not doing anything about it either. My expectations had been systematically lowered over the years without my noticing.

I decided that day to change how I do business with businesses. Perhaps this will inspire or help someone else. I use the age old system of…





If I go to a new market or to a stuff store and I’m treated well (people are friendly, the store is easy to navigate, I’m not trailed as if I’m about to stuff a tractor down my skirt) I call the store later on, ask for the Manager, and tell him or her that I appreciate how pleasant shopping there was and exactly what it was I liked about shopping there. Every store Manager I’ve called was shocked. They couldn’t believe someone would take the time to call to say something nice.

Brick and Mortars don’t have digital ‘feedback’ buttons. We need to dial them. Afterwards I feel good and hopefully they feel good too. And yes, I do the same for online businesses.

…and Punishment

There are loads and loads of things in the world that I can manage to live without. And if not, there are loads and loads of choices for every item I could ever possibly need.

If I buy something that sucks I send it back with a note explaining why it sucks. I don’t throw it in a pile of sucky stuff I’ve bought because I’m too lazy or cheap to send it back. I don’t toss it on to the ‘donation’ pile. I used to do that but I don’t do that anymore. Not happy with the customer support I received with the sucky product? I call again, ask to speak to a manager and explain in painful detail why I will no longer buy from that business and that I will tell everyone I know not to shop there as well.

And I never do shop there again. The important thing is to let them know I’m not shopping there anymore and why. If I just disappear they’ll never get the message.

We need to stop allowing poor products and services. You may be surprised but… this simple method works quite often. Imagine if even 30% of consumers did this!

Last November I trailed along with a friend to a store I hadn’t been in since I lived in Venice, CA. When I stepped inside the heat blasting from the place practically knocked me over. December! Yes, its Tucson but it was 80 degrees out! Between the heat and the store being so packed we couldn’t get through the aisles, we had to turn around and leave immediately. I emailed the Manager who passed the email on to the District Manager. I thought that was the end of it but a few weeks later I received a call from the District Manager. She lived in another state but had flown in to visit that store and check into the problems I’d mentioned. She called me afterwards, agreed with everything I’d said and fixed the problems.

I not only do this for products and services I use. I do it for those I don’t use but am subjected to in one way or another.

Years ago there was a commercial for The Big Burger Conglomerate that irritated me to no end. A father sitting up all night holding the baby. The wife comes down the stairs after a good night’s sleep, tossed the car keys on the table in front of him and asks about breakfast.

After the third time seeing it I emailed the corporate headquarters and told them the commercial was insulting to men. That it fed into what I can only describe as “the emasculation of the American male” that I’d watched progress over the years. I was very surprised that someone from corporate not only replied but carried on an email conversation with me about it. When they told me the company thought it was funny, I wrote that if the situation was reversed and she’d been up all night with the baby and he’d come down the stairs, thrown the car keys at her and asked about breakfast it might not seem so funny anymore. And they got it.

And then the commercial was… gone.

Use the dollars you have left in this lousy economy to change how you are treated by businesses. Stop using services and products that suck. Thank those who provide good products and service.

Pick up the phone, send an email. It takes only a minute.


Kudos: George Orwell Animal Mall by Doug Savage of Savage Chicken Cartoons

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