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.