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Articles: Why That Guy In Munich is Changing Your Life

The internet has helped create a world where everyone is our neighbor. An individual in Munich (I just picked that city at random, I’ve never even been there) can look at a price offered by a merchant as easily as the house next door to the company. We can receive emails instantly from Nigeria (promising thousands of dollars to help out this poor prince who can’t move his money out of the country no less) quicker than it takes a neighbor to walk to your door (which doesn’t happen as often as it used to; they probably just send an email as well).

So now that we understand that a huge number of people in the world are now your neighbor, we also need to understand the effect their behavior has on your world.

Between the internet and big box stores like Walmart, Costco and Home Depot, we have created a flood of commerce that is based almost solely on price. Even if you’re an individual who values service above price, since the majority of any given merchant’s customers are giving their business to price-driven merchants, there often isn’t enough business left for the service-oriented companies to stay in business. For me personally, I always enjoyed the pleasure of a shorter trip to our neighborhood hardware store to pick up small items or ask for some help. But since most of my neighbors flooded the area Home Depot with their business, my local hardware store is gone and I have to drive another ten miles to walk another 1,000 yards through a Home Depot to find my little item. So all my area neighbors have affected my life in this manner. I can gripe about it all I want, but my neighbors change my life constantly, and that’s just the way it is.

Additionally, even the small percentage of world-neighbors I have who are outright thieves have made my purchasing experience more difficult on the web. Now the merchants I deal with have to worry about whether I’m a credit card thief, and so having a product conveniently shipped to a different address, as a gift or whatnot, can be a little problematic depending on the value of the product and the industry I’m ordering it from. If there were no thieves in the world, heck, we’d all just order something and get a bill and pay it. But there are also too many thieves-in-the-making who somehow think that not paying a large group of people (ala a company) is okay even if they wouldn’t engage in the same behavior with a physically close neighbor (although some do that too).

As a result, we’re all placed under a burden, solely caused by a small minority of our neighbors.

The effects of both a price-driven commerce model and an easier theft model (it’s a lot less risky to steal via the internet than to shoplift, so more bad-guy-idiots-low-lives-I-hope-they-have-a-special-place-in-hell-for-them swarm the web trying to steal whatever they can from merchants just trying to make a living, and it’s also easier for the average Joe to take advantage of something when the transaction isn’t face-to-face), mean that manufacturers have often been forced to cut back on their warranty support services or take a hard stand on the way they do things (which is also why you end up trying to communicate with someone in India for support). After all, if collectively we demand the absolute lowest price, we can hardly expect a manufacturer to still offer outstanding service as well. It’s just a matter of simple economics.

I think about that sometimes when people bemoan the higher prices of Apple products. Shouldn’t they thank God, Steve Jobs and the universe that there’s still at least one product that can demand a premium because of its higher quality than most any competitor, along with what is still excellent customer service? It’s all a matter of forcing yourself to have a global perspective… if the only consideration at any time is me-me-me, then you’re never going to be happy, because the world has over six billions “me’s,” and their behavior absolutely is going to affect whatever company you’re dealing with.

I guess the bottom line is that everyone needs to remember these issues when they run into a personal situation that isn’t being resolved to their satisfaction. At PowerMax, we bend over backwards to do everything we can within industry constraints and manufacturers’ policies to help our customers. We may end up being the last company standing in our industry to make this a focal point of our business model. But no matter our intent, we’re still affected by all these neighbors. Because even when something we sold is in the customer’s hands, ultimately the manufacturer’s warranty and service is the thing that has to take over. And we’ve found time and time again that these companies have cut back their support to match the pricing demands of the customer base at large. Sometimes customers think we’re the problem, but really, it’s your world’s neighbors that have created this situation.

The internet is just one big neighborhood. So just like I can’t go to our local hardware store and have my personal interaction with my good friend the hardware store owner anymore, even if I value service above price I have to remind myself as to why a certain manufacturer is no longer willing to replace something a day out of warranty, or advance replace a part ahead of time just because it’s crucial to my business, and so on.

It’s what my “world neighbors” have forced on most manufacturers… and I can decry the situation and have nothing change, or just accept that we’re all interconnected, and what some of my neighbors do is going to affect my life just as if I did it myself.

On the other hand, I do what I can to support what I believe in. So I do support local businesses, and those who emphasize service, etc., anytime I can. And then I only hope that more of my neighbors do the same. It’s why I insist PowerMax operates as a business where I would be certain to be a loyal customer. I don’t want there only to be mass merchant big box warehouses available when I want to buy something. I just hope enough of my world-neighbors behave the same way, so those options are kept open.

It’s an interesting time we live in, indeed.
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