Charnell Lucich

The Power of the Public

Posted on: July 3, 2008

It amazes me these days watching businesses make bad decisions (TimeWarner anyone?) only to be slapped in the face by the general public. Lately, I’ve been noticing companies non-chalantly toss out a small piece of news with their new ‘idea’ or make a general statement here and there to test the waters and see how well it’s going to go over with the public or how hard they’re going to be smacked.

Tonight, I read an article about another company making or beginning to make a bad decision – eBay (imagine that!). It seems that eBay decided it would be grand to form a PayPal monopoly. Apparently they thought that they could force all of its users on to PayPal. This policy would have locked out all other payment methods such as direct bank deposits, checks and money orders – except PayPal, which eBay owns, and cash on delivery and pick-up.

I wonder what moron brilliant person came up with that idea?

eBay’s proposals inspired a massive backlash among sellers, who would have been slugged with extra fees because PayPal charges them for each transaction.

Sellers complained eBay users should be given the choice of which payment method to use, rejecting eBay’s claims that the decision was purely to protect users from fraud.

Protect users from fraud. When I read that, all I could do was laugh (as I am now just from typing it). Did they really believe that using that as the excuse was going to fly with the public?? C’mon now!

As this article asks, “If PayPal is truly the best payment option, why does eBay need to force people to do business with them?

No matter your business, large or small – if you’re going to succeed at all, you better pay attention to your consumers and their thoughts/feelings when it comes to making decisions. Today’s power of the public via social networks, blogs, and the like can certainly make a huge impact, right or wrong in how people view your business.


6 Responses to "The Power of the Public"

This strikes a couple sore spots with me. The first being that people accept BS excuses for being inconvenienced or taken advantage of. The government wants to collect private data on arbitrary people “for safety”, but really they want total control over the lives of US citizens. Companies harvest your personal data, supposedly to serve you better, but really they want to delve into your personal life and find out what makes you tick for their own gain. The worst part is that the general population just rolls over and takes it. If you don’t like what eBay is doing, exercise your power as a consumer and tell them to piss off by not using their service anymore.

The second being companies that engage in unprofitable business practices and expect their customers to suck it up and make up the difference between their operating costs and expected profit margins. TimeWarner and other broadband providers are the perfect example. They sell broadband at dirt cheap prices with a 200:1 oversubscription ratio just to say they have the best deal .. and bet on the fact that 90% of their users will never use the bandwidth. Now that people are actually using the bandwidth, they are back-peddling and trying to figure out how to not go bankrupt without losing all of their customers. If you can’t afford to offer 5mbit+ broadband for $45, THEN DON’T DO IT. Cut it to 2mbit, charge a reasonable price, and be done with it. Don’t mess around with bandwidth caps and charging people exorbitant fees for overages.

Henry, as always – I completely agree with you. I’m glad to finally see that more and more of the general public is speaking up and lashing back and that it’s actually becoming effective.

Nicely put Henry!!

exercising your right to boycott, while it’s a nice gesture and makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside has zero impact on the offending company’s bottom line. Unless of course there are a significant number of you that agree to band together, but that’s more of an exception than reality; otherwise this very issue wouldn’t even be brought up time and time again.

Instead, let’s utilize technology to create a win-win situation for both sides, one that requires both sides to contribute something to the whole. Don’t get the wrong impression that this means a honky dory idealistic dream; this scenario commonly plays itself out in the form of mutually assured destruction, where both sides stand to lose, so the only way everyone wins is to not play.

people are ditching PayPal left and right. if the best eBay can do is threaten users, then eBay will get ditched as well.

Minijonb – It’s certainly human nature to leave if you’re unhappy, in any situation. More often than not, it’s only a small percentage that follows through. Companies like PayPal and eBay have enough customers to not have to worry about that small percentage, as they have new customers daily – enough to make up the difference and then some.

In the end bad decisions will continue to be made. It’s how they recover from them that will make the difference in the future of their business.

The voice of the general public is stronger than ever now when banded together and I think eBay realized that in this situation. Perhaps moving forward, they’ll learn that no matter how big they are – customer satisfaction will always play a big part in the decisions of their future.

But then again – some people never learn from their mistakes.

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