Saturday, December 09, 2006

On to the producer society

I drove down to Wilmington, NC earlier this Saturday morning for a class. As I zipped down the road, I stopped to take this picture of the the frost on the marsh running out to the White Oak River. The marsh grass looked like it had a dusting of snow.

It was a beautiful scene to have in your mind at the beginning of the day. Wilmington is the shopping mecca for the Crystal Coast. I guess that's good for us since it is closer than Raleigh, Charlotte, or other more urban places.

Buy as I cruised by Best Buy today winding my way through parking lots to find a lunch spot, I had to wonder if it is good for any of us. The swarming crowds reminded me of the holiday buying frenzy. We live in a consumer society where in theory the consumer is king. We have a multitude of choices, and we buy what we want.

The problem is that we end up buying stuff we do not want and part of the stuff we do want and or need ends up being defective. This may be a consumer world from one perspective, but from another it is certainly a producer controlled world. I have not tested the old LL Bean's warranty lately on the one on Sears' Craftsman tools, but beyond those I think there is little hope for the consumer.

We are in a world full of consumers. That is the good and the bad news. If you become an unhappy consumer, it is likely less expensive to ignore you and fill your space with another consumer. Satisfying unhappy customers is an expensive business. I just read about the Volvo throttle body recall. That's worth a good laugh. I paid nearly a thousand dollars to have my Volvo's throttle body replaced. It was a well known problem and Volvo fought a recall tooth and nail. Probably most Volvo owners ended up like me, getting rid of their cars and being stiffed by Volvo.

Despite all the customer surveys, does Volvo really care that they have lost me as a customer for life? Probably not. I'll run out of good, reliable products long before Volvo runs out of customers.

The manufacturers or producers of product are running the world, not we consumers.

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