Some people have written and accused me of being anti-business for railing on Groupon. I don't think so at all. Here's my rebuttal to people when they say that Groupon intent was not to commit fraud or intentionally rip off people and that I shouldn't complain:
I think Groupon intent, in this case, is important, but what's more important is how, after a screwup is found, how they handle the problem. The CEO of Groupon fails to understand his customers feelings and, on top of that, is perceived as having a a bad attitude... For that, should Groupon be out of business?
If people were asking the government to intervene, I would be against that. No one is asking for government intervention to stop him. And, if he does fail (doubtful) no one is stopping him from learning a lesson and trying again.
The people complaining have every right to do so and are completely in line with Libertarian ideals.
Products, services, and understanding peoples wants and needs are all integral parts of running a company, They are not mutually exclusive.
If people complained about your products you'd better listen to them and make them happy or you take the risk of creating ill will and these people today, thanks to the Internet, have to power to organize. Ignore these people at your peril.
One need to only look at Hosni Mubarak for evidence of what that can lead to.
Here's a simple example of what I think about any free association movement or boycott (which I believe is completely in line with Libertarian ideals):
1950. A restaurant opens up. The food is bad. The restrooms are dirty. Customers complain. The owner takes a bad attitude and fails to apologize and fails to promise try to do better next time... He says things like, "Other restaurants are worse" (maybe so, but not the point). Word of mouth spreads and the shop gets a bad reputation...... From that, perhaps the restaurant gets no customers then goes out of business... Hopefully, the owner might learn a lesson and try again - next time with some humility and more accommodation to CUSTOMER concerns.
2011. A restaurant opens up. The food is bad. The restrooms are dirty. Customers complain. The owner takes a bad attitude and fails to apologize and try to do better next time...He says things like, "Other restaurants are worse" (maybe so, but not the point). Word of mouth spread and gets around the way word gets around in 2011: people use the Internet....... From that, perhaps the shop gets a bad reputation. From that, no customers then goes out of business... Hopefully, the might learn a lesson and try again - next time with some humility and more accommodation to CUSTOMER concerns.
I'm sure there were people who wrote letters in defense of McDonald's when there were (still are) boycotts. Did anyone write letters of defense of toys with lead paint when parents considered boycotts of Mattel due to lead in children's toys from China (until the US government intervened and made them illegal)? Perhaps these are outrageous comparisons, but I think they prove my point.
People can defend Groupon, but to criticize other people from trying to freely associate and create a voluntary group to get a company to understand customer anger and frustration - in order to get that company to react to their concerns - is a disservice to the free market and Libertarian ideals, no?
I would be right there with the defenders of Groupon if the boycotters were trying to get the government to ban Groupon or control their business.
No. Calling for a free association, a voluntary boycott of Groupon in order to get them to understand people's unhappiness and concerns is not anti-free market. It is the free market in its purist form.
Customers deserve to have their concerns addressed and
their voices heard. They also have the right of free association and freedom of speech. True tenants of the free market and a free society.