Companies Love You

This article is about my view on ethical relations between consumers and companies. I do not intend to say that companies do either right or wrong, but outline my generalized view on the matter.

I think most people perceive a company as an institution, like, a judicial court, a hospital, a police department, etc. I make these associations, because all these institutions are mechanism for solving problems of society or individuals. A judicial court is supposed to settle an argument between two sides, where one may have harmed the other. A hospital is the place where people seek help when injured, ill or in state causing them pain, either physical or mental. A police department is supposed to watch over the peace and order, and protect (groups of) citizens from being overpowered by other (groups of) citizens. All these institutions serve as tools for protecting the rights and welfare of people, with no intention for financial incentives.

I believe that most people think of companies as such institutions that help people. The help is in the form of a product. A shoe company helps us by providing us with shoes (newsflash), which prevent our feet from getting dirty or injured or from whatever harmful thing may be on the ground. However, this shoe company doesn’t offer their product only with regard for people’s comfort and safety: they expect a reward in the form of money in exchange for the pair of shoes. There is nothing wrong in the get-and-give relation: everyone’s labor is translated in the language of money, and besides the materials, people are also to be paid for their physical and mental work. It starts being wrong if the shoe company wishes to sell their products for prices, inadequate in relation to the amount of labor needed to produce them. If the whole process of manufacturing a pair of shoes costs, say, fifty dollars, and the company puts on a price of three hundred dollars, it is pretty wrong.(I’m talking about an imaginary shoe company, so the numbers I assign are only for the purpose of giving an example, and nothing more.) It is ethically wrong, because the company may use people’s desire to obtain the product as a way of earning more money. I wouldn’t feel good if I have bought a pair of shoes for three hundred dollars, and understand that they cost less than fifty dollar with the production expenses (The case is that I like the shoes and I don’t have a cheaper alternative, so I’m at the mercy of the price tag. I have the freedom of buying cheaper ones that are not as attractive, but the satisfaction of wearing them could be lesser than wearing the expensive ones, even if knowing that they are expensive for no meaningful reason. This is, of course, speaking of high prices that are bearable, and not of such as a thousand dollars and higher) I wouldn’t associate this company with some positive feeling, but with the negative feeling that it’s being run by people who want a lot of money.

I think that, in the general case, companies prime stimulus is money, and after that, maybe, costumer satisfaction. Costumers, on the other hand, want to pay the lowest price possible for a product. To be more precise, the situation is of two sides fighting each other, rather than one trying to help the other. I believe that to some extend this is embedded in people’s life philosophy: everybody wants to earn more money for less work, and pay less money for a product or service. However, human nature is not enough of a justification for swindling people. What is worse, some companies even try to persuade their clients’ that customer satisfaction is of greatest importance to them, and money come second to the joy of a content customer, and some other statement telling of the small concern for money. Are these statements something to believe in? Is it normal for people who don’t know us to want us to be happy even if they sacrifice a portion of their payment? I think the answer is straight as an arrow, but I’ll let you decide on your own. In the end, not only companies want to earn more money on the back of their customers, but they also want to persuade them that they have only the best intentions. How can a person not get irritated?

I bear in mind a real-world example, and that is Apple (again).Apple is an innovative company releasing cutting-edge technology. They manufacture computers, laptops, music players and their famous iPhones. They write their own software as well and have their own OS. Their clear design is renown among every technology-enthusiast. I respect Apple for their indispensable products that literally change the world. The iPhone has turned upside down the cell phone industry, and all major companies follow its main guidelines such as a touch screen display and a store for thousands of applications. But enough praise. There is a thing I don’t like about them, and that is the inconsistency in what they do and what they claim to do. Apple claims they wish “make everyone happy”. That’s rather interesting, regarding the absence of the option to choose your carrier (in the US), the fact that cross-platform applications are denied, and the possibility an app you have to be deleted automatically when you connect the device with your computer, because it may no longer be approved by the regulation of their AppStore. People decide to jailbreak their iPhones in order to do what they want on it. It this something a happy user would do? I don’t dislike them because of their policy: they have the right to manage their company in whatever way they wish as long as they don’t affect anybody else. What really bugs me is their desire to look good and innocent, when apparently that is no the case. I would like to note that I don’t have any experience with Apple or with their products. My opinion is obtained mainly from reading news about the company, their market strategies, their press conferences, and also from reading opinions of other bloggers, who have had experience.

These are the reasons I don’t think that there are companies that want their clients to be happy more than they want their clients’ money. That’s why I don’t like commercials that try to tell me that “we have put our heart in this product, so that you could be happy using it”. Companies want money, and I get that and don’t have a problem with it. I only hate the way they picture themselves as friendly and caring.

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Knock

I can’t say that today (24.08.2010) was a special day: I woke up around 7 am, studied for the Sat and had something to eat…’pretty interesting’. In the afternoon I went with my mother at a bank nearby (Fibank) to register a debit card with which later I am going to pay for my exams. After we had finished in the bank, we headed for home, but she decided to go to Kaufland, so I got home by myself, and turned the speakers up, so I could enjoyed my favorite band. After a few minutes I heard the doorbell ringing and checked who it was. Oh sweet surprise! – Jehovah’s witnesses. They were an old man and an old woman, trying to spread the words of God: I guessed they’d be indulging in some activity of the sort, because when unfamiliar people knock on our door, is either to show us the way through the teaching of Christianity, or to ask us, from the bottom of their hearts, to support a cause by donating money. It was a good thing that at least these weren’t assaulting at all – the woman just informed me that there is going to be a type of gathering, were we would try to reach for God, so God could reach for us, too. The aspect of our conversation, which seemed to be interesting for me, was that I could evade the invitations and suggestions by simply making myself look like there is a chance for me to visit this gathering. In some post later on I will discuss my view on religion and the ideas for some higher power and human souls, but I guess I could simplify things a bit: I don’t believe in religion, don’t find any answers in it, don’t find any consolation: I think I’m an atheist. So there are these people, trying to advocate an idea which couldn’t be less interesting to me as it is at this very moment. However, I did not shut the door when I heard the word ‘Christ’, nor did I try to make them feel bad for ringing our doorbell. Instead, I listened to every last word they wished to share with me, and after that they gave me a leaflet that explained the nature and benefits of the gathering. I simply responded, that I’m not too sure, but I’ll definitely consider the proposition, and after that I bade them goodbye. I can be honest here – I didn’t have even the slightest intention of trying to consider their offer. For reasons that I’m about to explain later on, I don’t believe in Christianity and in the ideas it promotes. Then why I wasted my time listening to something I find no meaning in? Well, I simply guessed that the difference behind our religious affiliations (or whatever my affiliation is), is not a reason, adequate enough, for me to reproach them. I looked at them and, religious or not, I’m no more human then they are: we both breathe, eat, drink, have dreams and sometimes suffer. They have simply found meaning in religion, and I have found it in another place. I thought that listening to what they have to say would be much easier than fretting about the little difference in our beliefs. Everything ended within a minute, and I was as calm and relaxed as before they appeared. I’m not sure if I would have been if I bothered to get irritated at them for taking my ‘precious’ time.

A guess

“How does this work?”

I think people really want to know how everything works and have as many abilities as possible. I think it is so because they want to know how to use and manipulate things in their favor. When people are ignorant of something, they are not aware of the proper way to use it, thus making them inferior. The more knowledge they have, the bigger the chance for then not to be inferior. I think people want to be superior to others, in order to benefit the most from a situation. The most beneficial people will have better chance in gaining either more knowledge or other abilities which will make them even more superior. Superiority equals power. People having more power, have greater chance in achieving their goals. I think achieving a certain goal, no matter what, is a source of happiness. That is all. People want to know and be capable in order to have a better chance to be happy.

This statement, I guess, has some flaws.

1st. From the start, people usually don’t care a lot how things* work (or care just for those which they find interesting) but are rather eager to achieve something. For example, a boy decides he wants to be the best virtuoso guitarist in the world. Okay. But with more that six and half billion people on Earth, there will be quite a few people sharing this very goal. In this case, only one can be called “the best”. With discovering that there will be hurdles on the way, the boy will come to understand that he has to have knowledge and abilities that others don’t (in other words – be superior), which may be achieved by gaining more knowledge and abilities. If this is truly his dream, he will try to get superior. If it is just a momentary whim, he will let it go after a little time.

2nd.It’s not necessary to be the best in order to achieve a goal. That I consider as true. A person’s goal may be something like, say, acceptance in a college. In this case, even if he is not the very best, he will still have a chance in achieving his goal. However, in this case, he can never know how good the other applicants are. He could think he is guaranteed to be accepted, and after that find that he was overlooked, for others were better than him. In such situation a person can never know, so the safest path to be taken is self-improvement.

3rd. Some goals do not require a level of superiority. If my goal is to visit South Korea, New Zealand, Argentina, or any other country, I would simply have to raise enough money for my expenses. So the only thing needed is patience on my way of gaining happiness. I suppose the following example also applies: I’m overweight and want to lose weight and keep a fit body. If that’s the case, I would simply have to have patience and perseverance until that goal is achieved. I recognize these examples as exceptions from the idea I had formulated above, but also I think I recognize the reason for being exceptions. In the last two cases, the person striving for his goal doesn’t have anyone to compete with. He doesn’t have to be superior to others, but rather only meet the demands of the goal. Nobody will benefit from him attaining his goal, but also nobody will suffer. It’s only up to the person that holds dear the goal to achieve it.

I have formed this understanding one time after we were given back our results from a test in physics. I was disappointed, not because my mark was low, but rather because there were a few people with higher ones. So I asked myself “Does the mark really matter. Yes, I will feel better if I’ve gotten a 6 (an A), but does it really matter that I’ve got lower score after I have the same level of proficiency.” But later I came to think, that this is only for me to know, and someone (like an admission officer or another person that is supposed to assess me) that doesn’t know me and doesn’t have any other criteria to assess me, will take only my marks into account. I’m not really keen on physics, but if the case is the same with a subject that I’m really interested in, I may be overlooked and miss an opportunity that’s important for me. And if that happens I won’t achieve my goal, which means I won’t be very happy. And I quite a lot wish to be happy.

The subject may be a straight-forward, but that was the first time I had given a thought why some people try harder than others; because of the difference in the magnitude of their goals.