None of us can stand a mosquito, buzzing around with that high pitched whine and sucking our blood. Sure the sanguine sip is too small of an amount to cause harm... but definitely we are left uncomfortable enough to scratch at that point of irritation until it fades.
I am not going to advocate that you begin (or continue) killing mosquitos... you know my Buddhist "no kill" position... but I wanna talk about where we can swat at mosquitos metaphorically. In paid services and supporting companies that count on our unwillingness to act because we are dependent on their luxuries... these bloodsuckers don't mind that they have to sting us, and leave us scratching just to maintain their bottom line.
Some cases in point for me recently. 1) Netflix 2) Most Airlines 3) Bank of America.
I cancelled my Netflix account the day they announced the splitting of their services into streaming vs disks as two separate sites (communicated as an "oh by the way" during an email apology for their recent price hikes.) My protest is not because I am oh so bothered that I would have to navigate twice as much and pay twice as much to be entertained. I did think it was a horrible decision on their part to remove the thing I so valued in their company - awesome convenience when I wanted to be entertained. I am easily capable of doing what their changes to service would require, but since I pay them to provide ME with service and instead they keep flipping me the finger like a heartless dealer to a mindless junky... I will get my fix elsewhere.
They get you hooked on a good thing and then make you do unsavory acts that you do not agree with because you have to have that fix. I decided even though I know they don't give a rat's a$$ about my $18 a month (heck that is a lot of entertainment for the price of one movie at the theaters these days)... I felt good deciding I was going to stop sending it to them for a while. I am sure they didn't notice... but I stand by my principles.
I can get my jollies over at hulu.com now. And since we have DirecTV and there is a Redbox in most grocery stores nowadays... I presume I will not have to die from lack of entertainment without Netflix (nee Netflix/Quikster). But I will send the message that I do not pay my well earned compensation to companies which treat me poorly! I loved my time with Netflix. I referred them to everyone once I was hooked. Now I feel like they moved into my house, slept with my spouse, slapped around my kids and just expect me to keep paying their rent. Well... I choose to say NOPE to that red envelope. (I will need to find another way to get excited about checking my mailbox every few days... but I digress).
Airlines have undoubtedly encroached slowly over the years on what used to be an assumed part of the hundreds of bucks we shell out to them. I am sure that the privilege of traveling encased in their logo emblazend aircraft is not a cheap service, but why bother pretending you provide anything REMOTELY close to customer service anymore? Forget about brand loyalty, I am just a frequent flyer number to them and unless you travel CONSTANTLY they are not that loyal in return. It is like selling your soul for the lowest priced insult... sans the perks of yesteryear. (Wow Mr. Airline... a whole bag with three pretzels in it... just for ME?? Gosh you SHOULDN'T have!! I was gonna pay that $40 for my luggage anyhow, but now that I know I get to enjoy half of an off-brand soda pop during my flight... well I bet that I will fly with you forever!!)
In 2009 I also walked away from Bank of America as a customer to protest their rapidly deteriorating customer service practices. Sure they have ATMs everywhere you go, and you can deposit money and withdraw from practically any state if you are traveling or working from the road. That decision to leave them was after forgiving them many transgressions and I haven't looked back. I LOVED their website and the services plus a great mobile application they offered - but I was never impressed with how they would just start imposing higher fees randomly and how if you found yourself trying to get customer service assitance via their phone numbers you were put through a song and dance of transfers and impersonal service. Now I understand that they are on the brink of imposing the $5 a month debit card fee? Wow. If I were still with them I would leave again! Seriously. The country bailed them out of debt and to thank their loyal customers they are gonna charge you for using your ATM card which they FORCED you to get because you cannot make a transaction at a teller window without swiping it even if you have 80 forms of ID. And a while back they charged you money to speak with a teller if you can conduct the same transaction at an ATM (though I think that fee eventually got taken away). I preferred the good ole days when every bank fought for your loyalty by giving you a goofy gift if you chose their free checking account. Coolers, tools, clock radios... I racked up on them in college simply by gravitating towards the appreciation. Now it is buyer beware. (My new favorite bank is ING Direct - great interest, great website... and they pay me to refer friends to them. Seriously! So if you want a new bank hit me up and we will split the dough!) Another digression though...
Whatever your political. economical or personal opinions... you have a lot of power as a consumer if you are willing to assert it. The work is on us to make a small effort to move our business away from a company that doesn't ask what we want, and reward companies that look out for us. I know you can get anything at Walmart for dirt cheap... but do you KNOW what that is costing you as a citizen of this planet? Your very soul is the price you pay! (Okay bad hyperbole for me cause the soul is not a Buddhist concept). Rather than reward a conglomerate that imposes fees on us to get what works for them, or abuse their power through political interests or monopolizations... we should show companies that loyalty is earned through being a welcome beacon of correct consumer interests and ethical behavior.
I know we approach the end of our golden era as a materialist super power, but my feeling is that intelligent consumerism could be very effective. It is time to be showing this Golden Calf we idolize the way that we customers expect to be treated for that much coveted green paper. It is time to reclaim the consumer portion of the supply and demand equation by embracing your power to demand or boycott. Speak softly and carry a big debit card balance.
Spend your hard earned resources deliberately. Check out less shiny, but sustainable-minded, up and coming businesses that are bending over backwards to attract clientele away from maniacal over the top corporate competitors who are becoming so large they are crushing your civil rights and also slowly bankrupting us with hidden fees and penalties. Like barbarians they are raping our planet of resources and yet they remain comfortable in their choices by observing that we will continue to allow it in marketplace. Seriously... are we destined to whore our income out so that their method works? I bet they are banking on it!