Know ahead of time that I’m ranting. I know it. I own it.
I’m staying at the Doubletree hotel in Orlando for a training event, and found on my arrival that the curved rod holding up the shower curtain was pulling out of the wall in such a way that I could see the threads of the screw, barely holding its grip. As one who has put these in and who’s done much more extensive home repair, this is an easy thing to address. And how did it finally get resolved? Twitter. No, I’m not joking.
Of course I notified the hotel staff right away. That was on Sunday night. I also tweeted it, which got – surprisingly to me – an immediate response asking for a DM with some specifics. I did that.
When I hadn’t heard anything from hotel staff and since it still wasn’t fixed on Tuesday evening, I told them again. And I told them again on Wednesday afternoon. Nothing.
I tweeted this morning (Thursday) and again got an almost immediate response. And on getting back to my hotel room N hour later, it was fixed! Social Media saved the day!!
But this leads me to something. I’ve been unhappy for a long time with the changes I see in businesses and how they treat consumers. When I was a kid I learned two things from my dad about businesses and customers:
- The customer is always right
- Businesses are in business to make money
No matter how many times I went to the front desk to complain this week, there was still a disconnect between that action and the response to my request. They didn’t even call my room to tell me that there was a reason for inaction! Simply silence…
And I think it was because this particular business no longer felt accountable to me as the customer. The customer is no longer right. The customer is simply a source of income, and does not – and can not – have a voice in the product or service that is returned. It’s all about the bottom line. It’s all about the profit. Because businesses are in business to make money.
Maybe that’s the way of capitalism. But what happened to the power of the consumer? What happened to the power of the individual?
It seems that power is either given to – or is usurped by – the businesses! That’s the way it’s been and that’s the way it continues to be.
So why is it that businesses also want to have the same voice as the people? Why do businesses want to be classified as persons in the legal sense? Are people becoming increasingly less important? Are businesses taking away in an even fuller sense the rights of consumers?
I don’t know the answer to this. It all seems wacky and backward. In my Christian context, I feel like the historical Christ would prioritize individuals over any collective group.
So perhaps this engagement with social media and new ways to communicate are the answer to part of this. For angry consumers, for theologians and the religious voices, for the politically active… This is the new language. It’s a Pentecost moment! This is the method for communicating today. I will continue to participate in the global conversation in this way.