It’s the Holidays everybody. The staff at “Things I’ve Noticed” would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. ‘Tis the season for joy, peace, happiness and for buying stuff. Deciding what to buy is hard enough, but d eciding whose products to buy or where to buy them is getting harder. There are a lot of admirable movements to boycott certain companies for various reasons. Many of us want to speak our mind and make a statement with our wallets. But I’m finding that the reasons for doing so sometimes conflict and frequently leave one with no choice but to just buy without thinking or to not buy at all.
A great example of a boycott movement was when people stopped buying BP gas because of the Gulf oil spill. It makes sense, but the gas station owners get hurt the most and they make little on gasoline anyway. Then I found out that Royal Dutch Shell has had many environmental violations and we all know about the Exxon Mobil oil spill in Alaska. Oil in general is a dirty business but most of us need it to make a living.
Sometimes I feel compelled to stop buying from a company simply because I’ve had poor (or nonexistent) customer service, but I’m finding that this is the norm. Case in point. I avoid Comcast due to many instances of really bad service. I now have AT&T for cable and internet, but their service has been poor as well. They errantly changed the price on me and make it impossible to correct.
One might choose to only buy products that are not made in China so as not to support a nuclear weapons capable Communist government with a questionable human rights record. Good luck with that. I recently did find a pack of New Balance socks that were made in the USA. I was shocked. Along the same lines, activists boycott companies that use child labor in undeveloped countries, but what about companies that have frequent mass lay-offs and work their white collar employees to the bone? I’ve heard this is the case with Progressive Insurance which I support because they are from Cleveland. But I’ve been a loyal customer for 11 years due to good service and prices. I am probably getting lower prices at the expense of their professionals’ personal lives, physical and mental well-being.
Another obvious reason to boycott a company is due to offensive advertising. Some religious groups try such movements. I would ideally like to support companies that hire a diverse workforce but what if their Board of Directors is all rich older white men? I used to boycott products from companies that interviewed me and didn’t hire me but then I realized that they at least gave me an interview unlike others who never called.
There are no easy answers and it’s not practical to buy everything local from people that aren’t supporting huge corporations. What if the local farmer is just a jerk? Do you want to buy from that guy? I guess the only way not to have to make boycott decisions is to go live in the woods and live off of nature. But nature can be mean and nasty too.