This could really have been a side note to a recent post where I related the story of a major department store that lost an easy gift certificate sale simply by making the buying process so difficult I didn’t stay around long enough to buy from them.
This is actually a good example of how the free market works, when it’s allowed to work. The owners of the establishment have a right to operate their business in any way they see fit. The consumer has a right to vote with their feet and wallet and “do or not do” (yes, Luke, there is still no “try”) 🙂 business with them as a result of the way they operate.
Should enough consumers voice their disapproval, or if the business loses enough money to begin to seek out the reasons why, store leadership will then decide if they want the business enough to adjust their operating procedures. That is their choice. As it should be in a free society.
This works. No government intervention needed (aside from protection against force or fraud, of course) and, so long as that store hasn’t bought special favors from congress in order to keep out competition (though not common knowledge, monopolies are only possible with the assistance of government force) or bought special favors from congress in order to provide a context where they can take horrible risks knowing that they will not be allowed to fail regardless of the results (Think: “banking fiasco” and understand that was not free-enterprise), the consumer will eventually and always have enough choices to make it worthwhile.
One reason this works and why government regulation (again, aside from protection from force or fraud) is typically not needed is because the market is truly the best regulator there is. After all, if the market is not forced to buy, then it behooves those who run the company to do whatever is possible to please the customer (the market).
While we’d like to think they would do that simply because it’s the right way to be…it isn’t necessary for that to be the case. And, hey; we cannot control other people’s motives. What we can control is where we buy. And that is enough to make even the most “hard-core, we-really-don’t-care-about-you-at-all” companies act in a manner that is pleasing to the customer.
Yes, Free Enterprise really does work; for the business owner, their employees and, most of all, the consumer. But it must be allowed to operate. And, over the past 80 or so years, this right has been gradually and continually usurped – elected politicians of both major parties being nearly equally guilty.
What are your thoughts? Do you have specific examples where the above rewarding of good/punishing of bad has played out either in your business or one you know of?