Business in Bad Faith

A Crumbling Corporate-Consumer Relationship
Scamming today's consumers appears to be an increasing and ongoing trend in the manner of doing business. Consumers are being abused at various levels of marketing, sales, product quality and support. It is a common buyer experience to make a purchase only to discover that it is not as was presented by the seller, and that there is little or no recourse. Nor is it much of a corporate public relations concern anymore - everyone else is doing it and there are no repercussions worth worrying about.

More often than not, with costly transactions it is not impossible to find someone to write to, or to complain to in person. If there is, frustrated purchasers are easily turned away with scripted words of fluff.

"... the advertisement meets all legal requirements."
"... subject to the ethical standards in the industry."
"... our intent has never been to mislead and I believe our practices are . . ."

Purchasing products or services that increasingly turn out to be much less than what was expected for the price, or just no good at all, is part of the business model. It is commonly expected and too often accepted by shoppers. A tricked buyer's only reaction might be; "It was stupid of me to fall for that one!" And the retailer rings up another bit of profit in yet another underhanded transaction.

So many clever and deceitful techniques flourish in the market place with new ones appearing regularly. Double-dealing is a creative booming business.

I have read of large retailers that were fined for unethical marketing practices like bait and switch. In this scenario you are attracted to a store by an advertisement for a bargain-priced product. Even though you rush to the store on the first day of the sale you discover that the product is sold out or otherwise not available as perceived in the ad. While there you may be tempted to purchase a similar product at the regular price; they expect.

Not much hinders business from using dirty tricks in marketing. On the rare occasion where they are charged and fined the public is unaware. The company will simply tweak the sales technique for the next ploy, to its advantage.

There are many sleazy methods such as deceptive ads, displays and price tags. One must study the complex words and look for double meanings. And then there is the use of fine print that is immensely popular with corporate marketers including many of the largest, most successful companies.

The communications, credit and some large retail corporations quickly come to mind as leaders of the pack.

Admittedly there are still a great many shoppers that do not pay attention to price at all and gladly pay top dollar with little concern if the item or service is overpriced or unsatisfactory. These deficiencies are the retailers' advantage and if it does not work out these customers simply buy something else. The rest of us feel cheated and are upset. We know from experience that an adjustment or rebate may not be a possibility or is not worth the annoying effort required in dealing with the issue.

Such is our free enterprise system, allowing business almost freely to take advantage of individuals. But heck, it's good of commerce.

But that's the way it is, and that is the direction in which a more or less self-regulating market has taken us. And it will continue as sellers want more sales and profits and the competition is vigorous. It is unfortunate that there is little negative publicity about bad business ethic and the dwindling consumer reaction. Thank private media and owners. Shoppers today expect bad treatment in certain industries and must be studious and alert or be sorry.

So the business-consumer relationship continues to evolve in a very negative way.

The 'good old days' is somewhat of a misnomer because so much in our lives is so much better now than then. Some things however, are very much worse.

55 years ago I had just purchased my first car and I was ordering insurance for it, over the phone. After supplying the details to the agent and completing the transaction verbally, I then asked how they considered the information adequate and truthful when not related to them in person.

He replied that the transaction was conducted in good faith.

As I recall businesses were more trustworthy back then and customer complaints were taken seriously. There were easily accessible complaint departments and public relations personnel. A familiar store motto was; "The customer is always right."

Where have these nice business principles gone?

What is good faith? It's trust of course, but what we have in our present day consumer world is bad ethic and greed. I don't long for the good old days but it's time for a corporate trend back to transacting honestly and kindly and in good faith. Positive change will not be happening until the nature of government changes to reflect a deeper interest in citizens rather than in corporations.

Free Enterprise: Free to conduct business and maximize profit in any creative manner, preferably without being convicted of breaking the law. - Grampa Ken

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