Self-Image, Coffee is for Closers, An Economic Last Stand, Whiskey Lies, and Other Things

This entry is part 71 of 100 in the series Today's Tidbits

The big non-shock in the feed today is that every level of Comcast is all about sales.

This hot on the heels of an 8+ minute recording of someone trying to cancel their cable service.

All that sales, of course, came at the cost of actual customer service–something cable companies are notoriously bad at to begin with.

Now current and former employees and customers are more or less coming out of the woodwork with their own horror stories from both sides of the phone. It’s utterly terrifying and completely expected.

If we think that Comcast is the only big business doing something like this, we’re wearing blinders. Profit above all else seems to be the modus operandi of the economic powerhouses. I guess it’s served them well enough. It was certainly glorified in the Gordon Gecko era of the 80s, when it certainly seemed good for everyone.

But now the disparity between the top and bottom has grown to historic proportions and the middle class has been squeezed right on out of the equation. All those years of being told it’s good for the rich to keep getting richer–and the general population swallowing that lie (often sweetend with the pie-in-the-sky dream of hitting it big themselves, somehow… the lottery is not a business plan)–is starting to fall apart as the super rich are now on their way to making their own rules.

And that quest for eternal profit continues at the cost of everyone who’s helped supply it.

While Comcast is trying to sell to people who just want to be left alone (or, alternately, annoy and confuse them enough that they give up trying to leave), the workers and customers of Market Basket are fighting for the company to keep on with the business practices that have made it a favorite in the regions that it severs.

Market Basket has actually provided solid service, it seems. Both to its employees (who have been known to willingly and happily stick around for decades) and to its customers. But now in-fighting among the family members that own and operate the corporation is threatening to tear it all apart.

It would seem that the issue at hand is the amount of profit to be made. While the business appears to be profitable to continue comfortably–despite the fact that it pays out profit sharing and other bonuses to it’s employees who are already compensated at an above-average rate and it maintains cheaper prices than it’s competition–one faction of the family seems more interested in a quick jump in profits for themselves.

According to what I’ve seen, they’re interested in getting out of the business altogether by selling it off to one of the huge conglomerates. (None of whom are particularly well known for how they treat their employees and who Market Basket is currently beating in most price categories, too.) Through some semi-questionable maneuvering, they’ve managed to oust the CEO who’s been behind the last few decades of sustained business and good-will.

This, of course, has employees and customers livid. Neither group wants to lose the benefits they have–benefits that don’t seem to be hurting the sustainability of Market Basket’s business model.

They’re doing what few can sensibly do against questionable corporate action–they’re standing up to it.

They can do it because the corporation in question is comparatively small and there are many other options for the goods they provide.

There is serious ability to vote with your dollars.

This is not the case with Comcast, which already controls nearly a third of the country’s cable and Internet service and is poised to merge with Time-Warner Cable, the second biggest cable and Internet provider.

It would take millions of people to stand up to just one of those companies. Tens of millions to really make a difference. And the only other real options in most areas for solid Internet service (let alone television service) are generally rated just as bad and engage in the same practices (former phone companies like Verizon and AT&T).

That’s not a market that a small population can have an impact on. Not without destroying their own lives in the process.

And so, unless there’s government intervention of some sort (this would be the importance of the FCC supporting Net Neutrality, among other reforms and safeguards), the people are just stuck with whatever the not-quite-monopolies feel like handing out.

So that’s kind of the state of things and it annoys the hell out of me.

Mostly because I have no real solution that can be implemented.

Anyway, all that and more in the feed below…

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About Kier

I've been on the web since about 1994. I have a background in a lot of things, including a five year stint as a journalist and over a decade of helping people get their message out to the world.

I write on a number of subjects--everything from relationships to personal development to politics and every day life. I hope you get something worthwhile out of it.

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