I have already written about how bad customer service has become. That’s an indirect way that companies cheat you out of your money. But I have been keeping my eye on suspect if not shady business practices and it’s getting to be annoying.
With inflation, many companies are creating new packages that are smaller and contain less product but for the same or a higher price. Notable to me is Optifree which moved from 16 oz. contact lens solution to 12 oz. That’s a 25% reduction in volume and the price has gone up at least 15%. This amounts to a 36% increase in price per unit volume! And notice how big cereal boxes are compared to the bag and quantity of food inside. At least with food, we might all lose a little weight (while going broke).
The other phenomenon I’ve noticed is rebates being sent as rebate cards instead of checks. At least they’re getting sent more quickly instead of the former 6 to 8 week stall. That’s probably because they can’t earn as much interest on your money as they used to. With a rebate card instead of a check, when you get down close to a zero balance, you can never quite use that final $.47. I’m sure the companies profit from this. $.47 on $50 is almost 1% which seems trivial but turns out to be a lot with banks paying little as they do for savings account interest.
The last scam I’ve noticed that companies are trying is to move customers to paperless billing. This is a good thing in that it saves paper and we get fewer stacks of paper waiting to be filed, but the companies only let you access statements on-line within the last 12 months or sometimes 6 months. Why? Memory is cheap isn’t it? Well, they do let you get older statements (often with a delay due to a special order) and then they charge you. Outrageous.
Of course, consumers can fight back by voting with our wallets. But some of these practices are shared by all companies who provide certain types of products. Of course, I haven’t done a full scientific market survey so take my blog post with a grain of salt but just remember to keep watching what “big business” is up to.
I overheard a conversation a few years ago when our department’s administrative assistant said to a very tall gentleman, “you’re so tall!” He replied, “thank you.” And that started a chain of “notice-ings” for me on how we compliment and appreciate others. “Why was he thanking her?” He didn’t do anything. And “why was she complimenting him in the first place?,” I wondered. In another more recent instance, I heard Bo Derek talk on the Oprah Winfrey Show in a very humble manner about how her natural beauty had nothing to do with her actions. She realized that she was fortunate enough to have the genes and environment to grow into a beautiful woman. She made a career out of her beauty, something which took very little effort for her to maintain.
What do we get by complimenting somebody for something that they were given at conception? Is it just an acknowledgement of how much we appreciate those attributes? Perhaps their beauty made our day. Maybe we compliment the tall, the beautiful, the naturally smart to make them feel better. But that would only make sense if they were friends or loved ones. To compliment strangers on these traits means perhaps that at a deeper level, we want their approval or we want them to be our friends.
Here’s an idea… When we meet a naturally beautiful person, we should praise their parents. I know that it takes effort to maintain a good physique as one gets older so those efforts deserve praise based on the results even though we never really know how much comes from diet and exercise and how much comes from genetics. But one can’t mess up their own height or facial symmetry. Many of these same principles should apply to how we tend to compliment others for things they own. All it takes is money and perhaps good taste, but the items could have been bought with old money through no effort of the possessor of the object.
I don’t think we should appreciate physical attributes the same as work people do. I would argue that instead of praising people for things they aren’t responsible for, we should instead, for example, tell people who perform acts of kindness how nice they are. We should show appreciation to people who work hard at a task that few others could complete in the same successful manner. Many of us make careers out of action-based work based on abilities. But much of this work takes effort. It doesn’t stem from a state of just being. It’s not passive. There is often behind-the-scenes effort to develop knowledge and keep it up-to-date.