Monday, June 18, 2007

Pointing Fingers

I want to address a comment from last week’s post. The comment was made by Bradley, friend of the blog.

AMERICA, FUCK YA! but seriously no matter how good service gets, you always have some people that will find something to complain about. you are seriously justified in your "angry" as this story is pure steven king grade a+++ horror.
i'm sorry to hear about all the crappy commie-left-over social economic failure. perhaps in 50 more years all the companies struggling in bungary can be bought out by att, walmart or exon mobile for the win.

While I understand the irony in his comment and its concerns with global corporations, I think we are missing a major point here. T-online is a subsidiary of Deutsch Telekom - a huge global corporation, westernized in every possible way. AT&T is not getting a shot at them.

Deutsch Telekom is a company that knows how to train employees as well as any American company, but they aren’t getting that job done in Hungary, because... well, I think it has a lot to do with what I wrote last week, but there are other factors, factors that speak to Bradley’s comment: people’s need to complain, capitalist greed, socialism’s failings, and so on. And while these issues all frustrate me, there’s one finger I’m not going to point.

I’m not going to throw all the blame at corporate driven globalization. That argument is tired. I think the anti-globalization crowd is holding an umbrella before a tidal wave.

What gets me upset is consumer apathy. If we want to channel the forces of globalization, I think efforts to stem consumer apathy will be more effective then marching whenever the G8 holds a meeting.

It is a lack of consumer awareness and consumer assertiveness that allows the T-online Customer Service Center in Hungary to be managed by morons.

That is only one instance, but it is telling. We get walked on because we don’t know we’re being walked on - or else we just don’t care. This passive attitude, illustrated by the employee I wrote about last week (and by my own actions during the whole ordeal), is pervasive in this country. Hungarians love to complain, but they complain to themselves. They rarely take their gripes to an authority that might make changes.

That seems backwards, but when I look at the bigger picture, I can see that this is not just a Hungarian trait. Blaming Coke for ruining the world hasn’t switched that many people to Shasta. Only the finger pointers participate in those boycotts.

If you want to steer this ride, I think the answer is in customer education. Here in Hungary, and really everywhere else, people don't understand the rights and responsibilities of the consumer. This is not unimportant. The consumer is the market, and the market drives corporations, and corporations are stoking the fires of globalization.

While I think there is a role for governments in all of this, I don’t think they’ve got all their ducks in a row just yet. The US seems to have all the carrots, while the EU favors the stick. It would be nice if they could get together on that, but democracy is slower then business. This is really in the hands of the consumer.

What we can do as consumers is communicate, vote, and consume wisely. With the kinds of communication now available, we should be capable of relaying this information, but the key is acting on it.

Do you use energy-saving light bulbs?

Do you avoid companies with poor human-rights records?

Do you write a letter when you feel your rights as a customer have been violated?

Do you tell your friends when you learn/experience a company’s failings?

Maybe we should.


Dan said...

Noble, but wishful thinking. By it's very nature consumption, as practiced in industrial societies is all about excess--or better put--irresponsibility. It's about convenience, not causes. To ask for responsible consumers is like hoping for ethical politicians, or original television programming.

Bradley said...

(the swearing means i'm happy, don't be fool'd)

"Do you use energy-saving light bulbs?"

a couple. and I FUCKING HATE florescent lighting, i mean BRAZIL man you've seen that movie, we might save some fucking energy, but we trade our souls. i just turn off the lights as soon as i leave a room.

"Do you avoid companies with poor human-rights records?"

not always. but i've done my small share. that is all it takes, EVERYONES small share, just like taxes? wait the rich in America Fuck Ya have enough money to PAY someone to reduce that tax responsibility to ZERO, that is so fair i just shit my pants. BUT is there a EASY was to find a list of companies with "poor HU-man rights records"? i mean shit someone needs to make that website yesterday, and make the humorous UTOOB videos that help get the fucking word out to the KIDS. forget the old people like my parents that are living it up and CONSUMING much much much more then i ever will. i'm on the path of "living simply that others may simply live".

"Do you write a letter when you feel your rights as a customer have been violated?"

yes. canon sold me a camera that with an LCD that broke too easily. when i sent it in for repairs, they paid for everything even though it was technically not covered in the warranty.

"Do you tell your friends when you learn/experience a company’s failings?"

all the fucking time brother. it makes me feel better.