Words are powerful things, like many other powerful things there is a limit to how much and when they must be used. Medicines are as powerful but their powers are realised when the right medicine is provided in the right quantity at the right time to the right person, otherwise they are just tablets in a container. While medicine only works once inside the body words only work when they are followed by actions. South Africa is a big talk shop and everyone has an opinion on something, although I think that we’re going in the right direction. Well some of us at least; if there is one thing that we should all have in common is that we are all consumer at some level.
We all have to play consumer at some point in our lives. This is regardless of race, religion or political affiliation as such we should be able to stand together on this. As stated above we’re a vocal bunch and complainers of the highest order but when these characteristic mix with the general pessimism that oozes down these comment strings we start tapping trouble on the shoulder. We whine, moan and criticise and talk ourselves down to the point where we affect our own morale.
I always thought that the government does too much talking and not enough action; all these lekgotla’s, commissions of enquiry and blah blah blah. I am sick of it all, but when I compare what I have done for my country vs what the government has done they beat me by a country mile. I never electrified anyone’s home, I’ve never educated anyone, nor have I given someone access to safe drinking water. As such while I can sit on the web and moan my and OUR collective opinions don’t count for squat. If you want to have a say in how the country is run then you should contest the elections otherwise just like myself you’re a back seat driver or couch potato coach.
Something I have a more direct and intimate relationship is money on the other hand especially my money. I might like my job but I work for the money first and to pass time secondly. Money is something we all interact with yet we have no control over the value of our money, we don’t get consulted on what the price of things should be and we are basically the end-users. Without our buy in all this stuff goes up in puffs of nothing. Why then are we so reluctant to tell the producers of this money how we want this system to work. Any person producing anything has a client in mind, that’s why Apple became such a big deal. They were concerned about the users experience and in fact any great product has had to meet user’s expectations meaning that they have had to receive user feedback.
Money on the other hand is a product that has been forced down our throats and as you get beaten into submission by the economy the same economy wants to take as much of what its cramming down your throat off your hands. More than the administration of this or any country money impacts us all and events outside the country end up costing you more and more and more. When are we going to start taking control of our economy and behave like the precious clients each one of these companies need?
If one day we all said we’re not going to pay more than R80k for new VW Polo what do you think would happen? Would the car manufacturer rather stay in business and make less or close up shop because people refuse to get ripped off? Would banks cease to exist if we said: “No we think this is too expensive”? I suspect they would adjust their behaviour so that they can continue to trade. Business needs us just as much; after all without us they have nothing.
We need to get our butts in gear and do something, our complaining gets drowned out by wars, gossip, politics and whatever other distractions have been put in front of us to make us forget. When a bank gets someone in a horrendous contract we shouldn’t take the banks side because a piece of paper got signed somewhere. A contract is a piece of paper the same way a R20 note is a piece of paper. What about common sense? A legally binding contract should not mean that you are right when you’re acting so wrong.
As South Africans we should know this better than anyone. Apartheid was legal but it was wrong, I’m sure killing natives was a sport for some people who never thought this was worth going to jail for. Point is whoever was there then decided this was the law and even though it made no sense and was wrong all the way though lots of people here lived through it and were not complaining. It took years and years of complaining, trying to reason armed struggle and eventually when it became economically and politically unviable to run SA that way apartheid collapsed and the true South Africa came out.
It took mobilisation, a communication network and pressure from many sides to make this happen. I fear unless we as consumers learn from how the ANC took apart apartheid we will never get out from under the thumbs of corporate and legal vultures. In whatever guise they come multinational organisations need to respect their clients, and right now they don’t. If in SA we said these cars or interest rates are too high they will go off and look for someone in a more desperate state and try the same stunt there.
If everywhere they went people said their prices are too high they will drop their prices. If all a banks clients withheld payment from them citing excessive charges do you not think the bank would then negotiate? The bank can’t afford to turn into a law firm and it would be easier for them to negotiate with their clients than try take them all to court. We have to do something and we have to do it in a coordinated way so that these companies feel the pinch. Once they feel the pinch maybe then they will stop thinking we’re walking ATMs
Unfortunately unless we employ their tactics of holding you over a barrel with a gun we will never win.
This is a call to all consumers out there; how on earth are we going to get these companies to act right? We can’t keep on defending them and trying to justify what they do; we have no problem giving the government lip for not delivering basic services we already have. Why are we being so lenient on these institutions when they behave worse than a pack of starving hyenas?
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