The customer is never right
April 6, 2014 by Thomas Wictor
Everywhere you look you see the new way of governing and doing business: “The customer is never right.” This is what happens when decision makers become rigid, power mad, and self-deluding. It’s also a terrible time to adopt such short-term thinking, because capital is more mobile than ever. Consumers have more choices than ever. In the end we the coerced will get what we want. Count on it.
Facebook changes everything every three days. Google is as arbitrary as Kim Jong-un. Ebay consistently makes itself much less enjoyable. Flickr does the same.
Flickr image courtesy Drake Goodman.
Even though millions of users are fleeing, the head honchos know better. They’re not ready to listen yet.
“Mm, but you’ll listen now. Now that it’s too late.”
—Peter Tork, Head
It’s likely that they won’t listen even after it’s too late. What companies and politicians do is hire people to both comment online about how wonderful something is and to attack dissenters. This is a complete waste of money. Until voting for certain parties, using certain services, or buying certain products is made compulsory, no amount of propaganda will work if the product is crap.
I could read a million posts that Swedish fermented herring—Surströmming—is delicious, but I’m still going to have this reaction if I try to eat it.
Currently in my neck of Southern California, Verizon is trying to force me into signing up for FiOS, a “bundled Internet access, telephone, and television service that operates over a fiber-optic communications network.” What happened was Verizon went ahead and installed all the fiber-optic lines and then waited for customers to switch over from copper-wire lines.
The reasons I haven’t switched is because it’s at least three times as expensive as copper wire, I don’t have cable anymore, and changing my e-mail addresses would be a giant pain. Verizon used to call and try to badger me, until I’d cut them off at the beginning of the spiel by saying, “Thomas Wictor is dead. He died last week.” Sometimes they’d immediately hang up in horror.
Now what they’re doing is deliberately not maintaining the copper wires, so my Internet connection is spotty.
Well, what Verizon doesn’t understand about me is that I spent fifty-one years being subjected to an implacable will. All that mattered was that I submit. So now I simply refuse to submit. Ever. I will never, under any circumstances, switch to Verizon FiOS. Both the public and the private sector can lie, threaten, and harass, and my answer will always be “No.”
I’ve been doing tons of research, and I’ve discovered that Dad was right: There’s always a workaround. People who think in the short term tend to be quite stupid. They’re easily outmaneuvered. Having lost just about everything, I now cherish my independence and individuality the way I used to love the Cardinal Ghost, conducting a terrific interview, and playing a great bass line.
When I’m not writing, I spend my time searching for workarounds, and I always find them. The most important thing is that I’m not afraid of obese cubicle workers in either the private or public sectors. Do your worst, boys and girls.
People fear being alone. I don’t, because I know that there’s no such thing as being alone. Kindred spirits abound. We may not share the same time and space, but that doesn’t matter.
I stood musing in a black world,
Not knowing where to direct my feet.
And I saw the quick stream of men
Filled with eager faces,
A torrent of desire.
I called to them,
“Where do you go? What do you see?”
A thousand voices called to me.
A thousand fingers pointed.
“Look! look! There!”
I know not of it.
But, lo! In the far sky shone a radiance
Ineffable, divine —
A vision painted upon a pall;
And sometimes it was,
And sometimes it was not.
Then from the stream
Came roaring voices,
“Look! look! There!”
So again I saw,
And leaped, unhesitant,
And struggled and fumed
With outspread clutching fingers.
The hard hills tore my flesh;
The ways bit my feet.
At last I looked again.
No radiance in the far sky,
No vision painted upon a pall;
And always my eyes ached for the light.
Then I cried in despair,
“I see nothing! Oh, where do I go?”
The torrent turned again its faces:
“Look! look! There!”
And at the blindness of my spirit
“Fool! fool! fool!”
I’m not afraid of being told I’m a fool. Because I insisted on sticking to facts, it happened all day yesterday. And it’ll keep on happening. So what?
“Think as I think,” said a man,
“Or you are abominably wicked;
You are a toad.”
And after I had thought of it,
I said, “I will, then, be a toad.”
There are millions of toads out there. This is what they sound like.
No wonder people are so afraid of us.
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