The Art and Science of Boycotting

by Mr. Cheap

I boycott companies often.

I don’t make a big stink about it (like picketing out front, setting up a website, or anything), but if I’m unhappy with a product or service and the company won’t fix it, I stop shopping there. I’m like the soup nazi as I’ll give different punishments for different crimes (sometimes I won’t patronize them for 6 months, sometimes for life). I’ll warn friends away from them if it comes up in conversation, but that’s about as far as I go.

I don’t pretend to believe that this hurts the company in a significant way, I’m sure they’re usually not even aware of it, but I view consumer activity as voting with your dollars, and I refuse to “vote” for companies that do a poor job. I certainly experience some schadenfreude when and if the company goes out of business.

One unfortunate side effect is a built-up black list of nearby businesses until I have to move in order to purchase the necessities of life. I live in fear that the moving company will piss me off one day. Sadly this is only a half-joke.

The things I boycott over are usually poor products or rude service. I won’t pay to be disrespected (enough people will do it to me for free). I realize that employees are individuals, and perhaps the company owner can’t control everything they do or say, but if you haven’t trained your employees to deal with customers in a civilized manner, I’ll shop somewhere where they have. I’ll sometimes boycott stores if they have a convoluted purchasing process – if it takes too much effort to shop there, I’ll go elsewhere.

I don’t boycott over expensive prices, but I probably won’t buy much there either if its pricey. I never boycott based on political / social issues that don’t affect me as a customer. If the owner of a cafe donates money to pro-life or pro-choice causes, how does that affect my latte? Society would be a pretty miserable place if we only did business with people who had the exact same world outlook as ourselves.

Meg at “The World of Wealth” recently wrote up her bad experience ordering sushi (I was sympathetic as I know what its like when you’re jonesing for sushi!). I’m 100% behind her to not order from a restaurant where she can’t interact with the staff (and which leads to order mix ups). I wouldn’t make the same choice she does about not eating at a restaurant that employs illegal immigrants.

How often do you boycott a company? Which company has treated you the worst, and what have you done about it?

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