Saturday, January 12, 2013

Loud complaint brings quick free replacements

Last June when I wrote Complacent consumers have few if any rights I more or less indicated that the department store that sold me a new pair of sneakers would see to it, one way or another that it lasted as long as the sneakers they sold thirty years ago, which was close to two years then, now they routinely fall apart in six months. This was before the Occupy Walls Street protest began and I wrote Occupy Wall Street and Cash Register Protests indicating that one of the things that could be done to inform the public was to speak loudly and clearly at the front of the store when returning defective merchandise.

(This was first posted on Open Salon December 12 2011; since then I have followed up on this more in a series of posts under the author tag A small success against planned obsolescence.)

Not surprisingly this works quite well, in fact when they began to fall apart almost like clock work they didn’t even try to check to see if the complaint was legitimate or not; It was; but I expected them to at least look at the sneakers and perhaps try to indicate that it was normal wear and tear. I don’t know for certain but I suspect the fact that they’ve been putting up with Occupy Wall Street protests around the country for many things might have contributed to the speed that they replaced the merchandise with; the last thing they want is more attention to the protestors that are more organized than a single person.

I walked out of there with new sneakers in no time; which is presumably what they wanted since the last thing they would want is someone discussing the fact that there is an enormous amount of merchandise falling a part much quicker than they used to, whether it is planned obsolescence or not, loudly and clearly on a Saturday afternoon just two weeks before Christmas.

Needless to say this would lead to consumers that might be more informed and less complacent. If they attempted to dispute it I was fully prepared to go into details about how many other products fall apart much quicker and even cite some sources about some business practices that have been reported including many details that Naomi Klein wrote about in No Logo that talk about how they eliminated large permanent factories and replaced them with fly-by-night sweat shops to cut costs; at times she writes that they require “quality” merchandise at low prices; this may be true for the items they sell for much higher prices; if so the sneakers they sell for well over a hundred dollars may actually last over a year; but the reasonably priced, ones don’t; or somewhat reasonably priced, even these are overpriced at twenty to forty dollars a pair.

I was also prepared to discuss the fact that they use sweat shop labor to save money but they have to spend much more money on advertising to deceive the public, shipping and payments to many subcontractors that are necessary to keep labor costs down since they have to go half way around the world and hide their activities for the sake of weak claims of plausible deniability now; or that they use slotting fees, price fixing and other deceptive tactics to ensure that small companies can’t get into the market so that they can maintain virtual monopolies or oligarchies.

Discussion of the children that are forced to work in sweatshops are especially damaging right before Christmas when everyone wants to walk around thinking they’re good people and don’t contribute to child abuse through their purchasing choices.

Photo of Nike sweat shop in Pakistan; the brand I bought wasn't Nike but the others also use sweat shops that are just as bad 

This wasn’t anything as dramatic as what I wrote about in the Cash Register Protest blog which was somewhat of a satire so as the author I could make it as dramatic and effective as my limited writing skills allow choosing any ending, good or bad that I want; of course in the real world it doesn’t work that way; and one person returning a pair of sneakers, coffee pot, toaster or some other appliance isn’t going to change the massive amount of corruption they have in corporate America. They conduct studies in the corporate office on returns and if there are only a small amount of them and they have a large market share and can deprive the majority of good option they can, and will continue to conduct business as usual with a minor write off every time one or two people actually stand up for their rights. The majority will still be scammed and even those that do return their products will have to go out of their way to do it spending their own gas money and time.

And the only reason I'm telling you this now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the store wherever you are, just walk in say "Sir, You can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant; (original song and lyrics) but if you buy your sneakers or appliances anywhere else they’ll fall apart much quicker.” And get your replacements and walk out.

You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't change anything.

And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't change anything either they’ll just replace two items and continue stealing from everyone else.

And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant, demanding replacements for shoddy merchandise; and walking out. They may think it's an organization.

And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant demanding replacements for shoddy merchandise; and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come's around on the guitar, and of course return all defective merchandise.
With feeling. So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and sing it when it does. Here it comes.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

Can you imagine what would happen in the corporate offices if this happened! They would be pulling their hair out saying things like, “how the hell are we going to steal from all these customers if they start demanding their rights and report on our corrupt activities at the grass roots level?”

“Sir, perhaps we could just bring the factories back to the United States start producing decent merchandise at a reasonable price and save an enormous amount of money by cutting shipping, distributing, advertising, and all the other expenses associated with the enormous amount of subcontractors we’re currently using to suppress locals wages. Many of these things are extremely inefficient and they’re leading to an incredibly incompetent economy that ignores the semi-secret fundamentals of economics and provides much more incentive for con-artists than they do for hard working sincere and productive workers. We can still make reasonably good profits and sell things that will improve the quality of life for everyone.”

All heads in the room suddenly turn to this guy. The boss screams, “Who the hell let this idiot in here? Where the hell is security? Are we using Backwater or Xe Services now that the Gotti family isn’t available anymore? Do they still make sure no one finds the bodies anymore?”

“Ahem, No sir, we never did that kind of thing! However we will discuss protocol with him.” (Nodding head vigorously to indicate the idiot is still in the room and this isn’t the time or place for that kind of discussion.)

“I didn’t mean it sir I just had a temporary bout of insanity; but I’m much better now.”

“Didn’t you have another meeting to go to?”

“Yes, of course, sorry I couldn’t stay any longer,” he said before leaving quickly.

“Now lets get down to business; we’re going to have to figure out how to continue stealing from these people and turn them back into zombies. If they continue standing up for their rights and even demand election reform we might actually wind up with a democracy that holds us accountable for our crimes.”

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