Business Ineptitude

The most important lesson I learned from my businesses is that it is very expensive to acquire new clients and very easy to lose existing ones. I learned that it is much better to keep my existing clients than to get new ones. But it seems that greed, ineptitude and outright parasitic business models is what American business enterprise is all about.

About twice a year I get a Geico advertisement in the mail telling me that “Geico wants you back”. The mailing is timed to when my Progressive automobile insurance is set to renew. Each time the Geico advertisement I get reminds me of the stupidity of businesses.

About seven years ago I cancelled Geico and went to Progressive because a Geico representative could not give me a simple answer to my question. I used Geico for several years and when I was set to renew another yer, I got a quote that was significantly more expensive than the previous years. I called Geico and asked for an explanation. The response was that Geico had raised its rates everywhere. That was it, no matter how many times I asked for an explanation. When I said I was going to shop for a new quote before paying for another six months, the Geico representative’s response was “ok.”

Progressive offered me a much better deal and I signed up with them. I have been with them for seven years and I have no plans to change.

Why? Because it is human nature to be lazy. I don’t know if I can get a better quote elsewhere because I’m too lazy to ask for quotes, so I renew each six months with Progressive provided that their rate increases aren’t outrageous.

Yet, I keep getting Geico advertisements asking me to give them a chance to show me how much cheaper their prices are compared to Progressive. I promptly throw away their advertisement without bothering to seriously consider it. Geico lost me as a customer because they never bothered to take the time to explain to me why their rates increased so much. Geico has spent seven years trying to get me back when they could have offered me an explanation and kept me as client. The reality is that I would have been too lazy to shop for insurance had they made me feel like a valued client.

Geico continues to spend money trying to win me back.

But Geico is just one example of businesses who would rather spend money trying to get clients than to keep them. You see it all the time with special advertisements for “new clients only”. Do companies not understand that existing clients resent paying more than the new clients because of their loyalty to the company? DirecTV, cable and mobile companies are the biggest culprits.

Unfortunately, it is not just a lack of respect for existing clients. Sometimes it is outright parasitic practices that is worse than the problem they are trying to solve.

Take, for example, Norton.

The Norton Antivirus program by Symantec is supposed to keep your computer safe from parasitic viruses and malware the are prolific across the Internet. But the anti-virus has become the very thing it is supposed to keep me safe from. It regularly interrupts my computer use by asking me to install it on another browser, or to reboot the computer for latest update. It forces itself on my desktop each time it updates itself. I like to keep my desktop free of icons, but Norton demands to have an icon there, even though I delete it each time it adds itself to my desktop.

But that is not the most insidious part of their business model. Every time a news report comes out that a new data breach has occurred or that there is a new virus on the Internet, I get annoying alerts on my computer, either telling me my system is safe – thanks to Norton – or that I should be thankful for the protection Norton offers me by paying their annual fees. It just can’t silently do its work without being intrusive.

I keep asking myself what’s the difference between an intrusive antivirus and the viruses it’s supposedly keeping me safe from.

But Norton takes the cake with the endless, like twice a month, postal mailings I get with the creepy “action required” notice prominently displayed on the mailing.

What’s the “action required”?

Norton has noticed that I turned off the auto-renew feature in its subscription and through its letters it is “reminding” me that I must turn on auto renew to keep me safe from the parasites on the Internet.

Unfortunately, the problem continues with business models relying on faulty algorithms that replace simple human decision-making processes. Facebook is an example of this.

Unless the reader has been living in a bubble over the last couple of years than they likely know that the Russians interfered in the 2016 elections through manipulating social media advertising engines. This has resulted in social media channels imposing new requirements for “political” posts and, especially political advertising.

Facebook has implemented a new requirement for political advertisers to certify themselves before running political advertising. As readers likely know, my blog is about politics. I write about American and Mexican politics. But I do not work for any politician nor do I spend any money in supporting one candidate over another.

I understand that Americans are demanding transparency from social media channels when it comes to politics. I get that.

But apparently Facebook hasn’t taught its advertising algorithm that insistently interrupts my workflow with notices that I could be getting many more readers by advertising my latest blog post on Facebook.

Besides the insistence that I should advertise my blog on Facebook it is the annoying response I get when I go through the trouble of setting up a campaign to promote one of my blog posts that bothers me the most. After jumping through the steps to setup my campaign, everything comes to a screeching halt with the dubious message that my latest promotion is suspended because I haven’t certified with Facebook as a political advertiser.

But its not just the requirement to certify nor the insistence that I would get many more follows, but the note that my time-sensitive advertising request will be reviewed in weeks when it is set to expire within 24 hours. Weeks later, my post won’t have any relevance to my audience.

As an experiment I left one of my advertising requests open for over 30 days. It is still sitting there and I’m yet to get response on whether it is political enough to require me to certify on Facebook as a political advertiser. But I keep getting notices that my post would do so much better if I paid to run on advertisement on Facebook.

Obviously, the left hand does not know what the righthand is doing over at Facebook.

But most important thing about this over reaction by Facebook and other social media channels to the issues of Russian interference is that they have left bloggers out of the equation. Not all bloggers advocate for one candidate over another as these bloggers are generally concerned about public policy in general, not candidates.

But corporate America and American legislators don’t seem to realize that.

None of these issues are serious but all demonstrate the disconnect that exists between consumers and American companies.

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