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Revive the Personal Boycott

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When I first watched the Move Your Money video, I was surprised with how much it resonated with me. The Move Your Money movement has really caught on, at least on the web, and it taps into an instinct we’ve taught ourselves to suppress.

When it comes to money, we try to suppress emotion as a factor in the decision making process. You open an account with the bank offering the highest interest rate, not the one you “like.” You pick a credit card that offers the best cash back rewards, perhaps not the one that treats its customers the best. You are taught to pick these products because they make the most financial sense, not because they appeal to something else.

However, perhaps we should move back towards an era where we consider those other factors, especially when the product that makes the most financial sense is less clear-cut. The Move Your Money video was a great example of how the qualitative factors of a local bank or credit union may outweigh any benefit you would receive from a major conglomerate bank.

One comment in that post really stood out for me, though I don’t agree with everything JimmyDaGeek said, I do agree with the idea of boycotting businesses, products, and industries you don’t agree with. Here is his comment in its entirety:

I wish you would expand the theme of boycotting businesses, products and industries you don’t agree with. Most Americans have become whiners, illegally using the political system to force changes that should be done through the market system.

For example, look at all the complaints people have about cable tv regarding customer service and pricing. If people don’t like it, don’t buy the service. You can get your tv off the air, rent movies so many different ways, get tv shows on the Internet, etc. Yet people call their local pol to pass some kind of law to give them what they want.

Americans have this expectation of getting what they want instead of doing without.

The part that I agree with is the idea of boycotting businesses you disagree with. It doesn’t need organized and structured such that you, or your group, appears in the news, though that certainly helps change the companies behavior (but let’s be honest, a company like Wal-Mart will only change because of litigation).

If you disagree with what a company is doing, don’t give them your money. I don’t ever go to a Jiffy Lube for oil service because I think they are overpriced and some have been shown to pull shady tricks (old oil filter trick is just one of their scams). I don’t order pizza from Domino’s because of this disgusting video.

Your dollar is your vote. When you give it to a company, you are telling them that you agree with what they’re doing. A personal boycott may not change behavior, but at least you aren’t contributing to a cause you disagree with!

{ 51 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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51 Responses to “Revive the Personal Boycott”

  1. zapeta says:

    I didn’t know that people didn’t do this already! There are plenty of options for most of us out there so if you don’t like how you were treated or the service you get, vote with your wallet and don’t use that product/service again.

  2. otipoby says:

    Amen.

    This is why I disagree with legislation to enforce net neutrality. As long as their is choice of ISPs, let companies stratify download speeds. My parents would probably love a really cheap ISP that throttled some content. I, on the other hand, could not live with such an ISP and would pay extra for a net neutral connection.

    The only exception to this libertarian stance is where local laws prevent ISP competition. I had a friend who had no option to her local “co-op” ISP, although she could have used satellite.

  3. Klippies says:

    I fully agree. A gas station near me started changing their prices by 20 to 30 cents per gallon during an approaching hurricane. I refused to buy gas there for years afterwards. They recently went out business and I would like to believe it was partly due to my actions!!

  4. cubiclegeoff says:

    I agree. I will never shop at a wal-mart no matter how cheap it is, but I doubt my one-family boycott will do much (although I often try to get other damily members to stop going there).

    • Master Allan says:

      cubiclegeoff: add me into your boycott. Remember that for every $ not spent at Walmart you’re spending the money at their competitors. A target store opened in my old neighborhood where Walmart dominated for many years. It felt satisfying knowing Walmart had a significant year-year same store sale loss.

    • Soccer9040 says:

      You would be surprised at how much you can effect a Wal-Mart. I went to grad school with a guy who was part of the Wal-Mart management layer and he said they have an approximate dollar value on each US family over their lifetime of shopping and its significant.

  5. Derek says:

    This is something that I do, though on a different level. If I receive bad service at a particular establishment, I will boycott that location for a period of time. I figure that the store management or individual employee is responsible rather than the chain’s corporate office. Though if it involves a corporate policy I would boycott the whole chain until that policy is changed.

    Banks on the other hand are a different story. My main gripe is with overdraft fees. It appalls me that banks are allowed to charge you $20 for borrowing $1 for a day, due to an overdraft. Why am I paying 20x what I borrowed? What is the alternative? You need a bank and they all seem to be cutting throats with overdraft fees.

    • zapeta says:

      I use a local credit union where they don’t nickel and dime me for any little thing and I get great service. I’d suggest shopping around to see if there are any credit unions or even local banks that meet your needs.

      • Derek says:

        I’m actually in the process of switching over to my local credit union. It really seems like it is going to prove to be a great decision and hopefully a lot less headaches.

        • Chris says:

          You can often find better deals than at the big box banks and the lines are way shorter!

          • ziglet19 says:

            And the tellers will likely know who you are and provide personalized service!

  6. freeby50 says:

    I certainly stop dealing with companies that directly treat me badly. I’d assume everyone does that.

    Boycotting companies due to philosophy or general objection to some of their business practices is a bit different. This is a personal choice and I think its a good idea for people to support companies that generally act ethically and to stop dealing with unethical companies.

    But I wouldn’t react too much to hearsay on the net. I wouldn’t necessarily boycott a big chain company because one or two incidents you hear about or see in a Youtube video. Jiffy Lube has over 2000 locations and theres certain to be a few bad apples in that bunch. Google any big company or chain and you can find someone angry at them about something. A broad pattern of multiple consistent and widespread is another matter.

    • Scott says:

      Jiffy Lube has more than just a few bad apples as evidenced by their widespread problems that have been reported. That doesn’t even count the problems that have not been reported to news outlets, like my own horror story with them, because Jiffy Lube paid folks to keep them happy and their mouths shut. (In case you’re wondering, Jiffy Lube stated on my invoice that they replaced my air filter with a Fram product but replaced it with some other generic brand that 8000 miles later disabled my car. They tried to pass the buck to Fram but Fram wasn’t buying any of it. Jiffy Lube eventually took responsibility and reimbursed me for all of my expenses related to the problem.)

      • freeby50 says:

        If there is a widespread pattern from a company then thats worth considering avoiding them. I hadn’t researched Jiffy Lube myself. My point wasn’t about them specifically but more in general. 1-2 horror stories about a big nationwide company don’t mean too much.

        • cubiclegeoff says:

          I used to go to a JiffyLube in Los Angeles that was great, the people were friendly, didn’t try to oversell me on crap and weren’t sketchy. I went to one once where I live now, it was junk and I won’t go back. If I could go to the one in LA, I would.

    • Scott says:

      Forgot to add that I have never been back to Jiffy Lube as a result of that incident over five years (and at least 20 oil changes) ago.

  7. Amber says:

    Well said. People forget that the masses are always more powerful than bureaucrats or CEOs. What you choose to buy makes a huge difference to what will be made.

  8. Amy says:

    Unfortunately, cable companies often hold a monopoly over the service in their areas. I believe that competition is good. The more businesses that provide services and customer service, the more competitive the companies have to be. When lobbyists and big business run all over local politics, it destroys the free-market, which is how America is supposed to be. The same thing is happening in health care. If businesses could compete, the consumer would win.

    • lostAnnfound says:

      I agree with competition for cable companies. We have one cable provider along with two satellite providers. we used to have satellite, but unfortunately, we now cannot get a clear signal for satellite and switched to cable a year ago. What a racket they have being the only cable provider servicing our city. The fees are outrageous. I guess it’s time to cancel & go to internet viewing.

    • tbork84 says:

      Keep an eye out though, in the next few years the cable companies that have a lack of competition for delivering services will begin to lose it. With more and more television content available over the internet, people will begin to question why they are paying $60 plus a month to catch the nightly news and sports. Most leagues are now offering all games through an online subscription and nearly all network shows are available for free on the stations web site. They may be able to control the prices now, but in a few years the game will be far different.

    • cubiclegeoff says:

      Lack of competition is definitely a problem. I hate hearing about the free market and how great it is, when few markets are truly free. If I hate my health insurance (which I did last year, luckily my company switched), there was nothing I could do except hope my company would switch.

  9. How’s this for raw punitive effect? Bank of America jerked us around on a $29 fee (for a bill that we likely didn’t receive) so we severed all ties with them.

    Including refinancing our mortgage when a different lender when we found a good rate …

    Yep, bad customer service cost them about a hundred grand …

    • zapeta says:

      Congratulations! I’ve always wondered why companies would be willing to throw away thousands in revenue over some trivial amount like that.

    • jsbrendog says:

      i too refuse to have anything to do with BoA.

      I closed an account and a yr later they told me i owed them fees cause it was below minimum balance and it had never been closed. and when i went in and showed the paperwork showing i had closed it (which msot ppl wouldnt have a yr later) they were telling me i was wrong. way to go BoA. You suck. and I will never go back.

      I miss Fleet, which is what I had before BoA gobbled them up. Similar to my current situation of missing my past love, WaMu and now being all pissed at chase for sucking

  10. BrianC says:

    I definitely practice this. With so many options, I move my dollars to those establishments that treat me right.

  11. Kate says:

    I will boycott a service/establishment if I feel they are not doing business the right way. However, I also feel it is important to let people know when you are happy with your service. If I am at a restaurant and get exceptional service, I always ask to speak with the manager. I recently used my AAA service and wrote in to let them know how pleased I was with the tow.

  12. Kudos Kate…

    Derek makes a great point, sometimes the failure in service is due to an individual. Boycotting the entire company may be punishing other employees unnecessarily. I always give the management an opportunity to show that they value my business and correct any errors.

    A response to a concern raised will tell you a lot more about a company than a single failure.

    However, if they do fail to provide you with service that is worth more than the money you pay, it’s time to walk!

  13. ziglet19 says:

    I love hearing that other people are doing this. There are a few places I won’t go on principle, due to bad experiences I’ve had.

  14. pmulroy says:

    Jim,

    Do you have any reason to believe that what was done by the Domino’s employees in those videos is also being done at other Domino’s nationwide? If so, why don’t you believe it is also being done at other pizza chains, why boycott only Domino’s?

    From my recollection, with some help from individuals online, Domino’s was able to track down the location and the employees in the videos were fired. Unfortunately, many people did indeed stage a personal boycott and that franchise location went out of business last I heard. The result of these boycotts were that a franchise owner lost his business and innocent workers lost their jobs. I guess I’m not sure what else you think Domino’s should have done in this situation and how they could regain your trust and business. Any thoughts?

    Also, what are some of the reasons you (and a good numbers of commenters) choose to boycott walmart?

    • Jim says:

      I have no reason to believe it was done at any other Domino’s or any other pizza places, but the consumer is a fickle person I’m afraid. Purchasing decisions are as much an emotional choice as it is a logical one. I know that all sorts of disgusting stuff I don’t want to know about happens at restaurants. Sadly, Domino’s is the recipient of bad luck.

      As for Wal-Mart, I don’t boycott them.

      • pmulroy says:

        Jim,

        Then I wouldn’t exactly consider your boycott of Domino’s “voting with your dollars” because there is no business practice you are disagreeing with or any behavior you are hoping to change.

        Of course you are entitled to spend your dollars where you please, but by posting which companies you boycott, you influence your readers opinions. I would hope you would only post logical choices rather than emotional choices because there are innocent people who suffer because of this incidence of bad luck for Domino’s. Encouraging others to follow your emotional choice does nothing to punish the people responsible for those videos.

      • I don’t boycott Wal-Mart either. They get a lot of flak for chasing out the mom and pop’s … but wouldn’t Target and K-Mart have done the same thing, if possible? It seems that Wal-Mart is being ripped because their business plan succeeded.

        As for the low paying jobs … it’s a free market economy. If the wages aren’t sufficient, people would quit and get a job elsewhere, right??

        I’ll concede that the labor law violations are a bad thing.

        • cubiclegeoff says:

          If all the competition is driven out by Wal-mart, then it’s not a free market. And if all competition is driven out, in many smaller areas, there is no other place to get a job.

          • (shrug) it seems like pure capitalism at work to me. More efficient competitors squeeze out less efficient ones in many industries. Take the toilet paper industry as an example. There are probably hundreds of companies that make toilet paper, but a handful have achieved nationwide distribution and shelf space in 95% of the countries stores.

      • jsbrendog says:

        i dont boycott walmart either, target is just closer.

    • Scott says:

      I avoid Walmarts if possible due to the minimum 20 minute waits in line to check out (self checkouts are usually broken or line is just as long). Unforunately, while I dread the store like the plague, it’s nearly impossible to completely boycott and/or avoid them while trying to live frugally in American these days.

  15. eric says:

    I am simultaneously thankful and regretful to see that Domino’s video! Ugh!

  16. tbork84 says:

    That Domino’s video is pretty terrible, and I had some very good friends in college who worked for chain restaurants. They had some horror stories and I tend to not go to chain restaurants.

  17. Shirley says:

    At 16 my son went to work after school at a quick-lube place. After the first week the manager told him that he needed to sell more oil filters, hoses, etc. When he was called on the carpet for not faking need, he quit and spread the word.

    Now that’s taking action. :-)

    • Decades ago, my friend worked at U-Haul, servicing their trucks.

      He got in trouble for doing repairs instead of replacements. Apparently he wasn’t providing enough profit for the (internal) parts department. Yes, they actually wanted him to spend $100 of company money to replace a part rather than $30 of labor to fix it :)

  18. Soccer9040 says:

    One place I avoid at all costs is TARGET! They have the worst return policies in the world. I’ve done my best to stay out of there, but inevitably we get a target gift card once of twice a year and have to spend it. For example, we got a 79.99 dollar toy for our son this year from some extended family members. Well our son is too old for said toy so we try to return it (knowing their policies suck, we expect to be hassled) The rule there is all returns must have a receipt. You are allowed two $50 returns per year with out a receipt. Well because this return is over $50 it has been blocked. You can’t combine your 2 $50s into 1 $100. So we are stuck with a nice toy thats too small for our son. Great! I have a list of companies I endorse to everyone when I talk about them, I also have a list of companies I will trash talk all day. You can guess where Target is.

    • jsbrendog says:

      the only thing i shop there for are toiletries, which i know i wont need to return anyway. But you can’t beat the conomy size target version of head and shoulders for 4.34 and the 1.5 liter of mouthwast for 2.79. and then there’s the 2.7 oz degree antiperspirant for 2.34, or 4 dollars for a 2 pack with free travel size thrown ion

    • Shock says:

      Sell the toy NIB on Craigslist. Make some money off of it instead of whining about Target’s return policies. They have those policies in place so unscrupulous customers won’t take advantage of them.

      • Soccer9040 says:

        Its all a matter of time and effort. Had this been Wal-Mart I would have taken the toy with me on a trip when we do our normal shopping. I would have waited in line for 2 minutes, the nice customer service person would ask me if there is anything wrong with it and I would truthfully tell her our son is too old for it and we were not given a gift receipt. I would get a store credit, turn around and go looking for something more suitable for him in the toy section.

        I have no problem selling it on craigslist, but returning it would have been the easiest thing to do.

        In the mean time I’ve told numerous people about this and hopefully a few people have read the story on here. I’m just trying to keep people away from the dark side (Target)

        • ziglet19 says:

          I am a crazy receipt-keeper and don’t get many gifts that I need to return, so I personally haven’t experienced this at Target, but I know in the past month or two I have had several people tell me how terrible Target’s return policy is.

  19. jsbrendog says:

    i protest with my wallet all the time. it is one of the few ways left we as consumers have

  20. On the flip side the personal boycott is the customer for life attidude. When I see a company give great service – even if it’s not to me – it makes a huge impression.

    Two of my favorite examples are a couple of indepedently owned Goodyear locations that are about 30 miles apart (one in a city where I used to live, the other in the city where I current live).

    At Goodyear #1: The first time I ever set foot in the place, they are gently arguing with a customer. The customer, an elderly woman, is insisting to pay for something. The Goodyear employee is insisting that there is no charge. I’m not sure what service was rendered, but it’s refreshing to see a company doing something for free for a customer.

    At Goodyear #2: I had been a customer for a while (having switched from Goodyear #1 only because I had moved) and a younger woman (college aged) was discussing her car’s woes with the employee. The employee indicated that everything was fixed and that the charge was somewhere in the neighborhood of $50. I forget the exact charge, but it was clearly for a minor issue.

    At this point, the woman comments that she will soon be leaving on a long trip and wants to make sure everything is working. “Is part X OK? Are you sure part Y doesn’t need to be replaced? What about Z?” The voice inside my head is screaming at this woman to shut up before he decides to agree to perform an expensive repair. But he doesn’t. He simply smiles and assures her each time that everything is OK. He probably could have done $1000 worth of unnecessary repairs without her batting an eyelash, but he didn’t.

    I don’t know the history of Goodyear #1, but Goodyear #2 has been in business for more than 50 years. Hmm. I wonder what could possibly be the key to their longevity ….


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