This past weekend I wrote about how I’m leaving GoDaddy over $46 and a bad customer experience. Yet, I didn’t leave them when I knew their women-objectifying ads clashed with my personal sensibilities. Someone in the comments that day called me on it and I had to admit I had no excuse for my apparent misplacement of priorities. I stood guilty as charge.
As I’m want to do, I took a comment from one blog post and used it as fodder for another. I started thinking, “When do you let the policies and business practices of a vendor you do business with, or a store you frequent, or a service you use, keep you from continuing that relationship?” It’s a hard question, not easily answered. There is no black and white. As if often the case, there are shades of gray.
I asked my daughter about it. Despite being 17, she is an extremely thoughtful young woman who frequently impresses me with her outlook on life. We discussed this topic for nearly an hour. After much discussion and deep thinking, this is what I came up with. There are four areas that seem important to explore when deciding on whether to cease doing business with an organization because of their actions.
1. How much of those activities make up the business?
There are many companies and organizations that are so huge, their divisions are autonomous and in many cases the left hand has no idea what the right hand was doing. (I’ve heard that the traditional camcorder division of Canon had no idea the still-camera division was producing the 5D Mark II). So ask yourself: if you found out that the factory that makes one of the blue wires in your iMac uses child slave labor, do you throw out your iMac, iPhone and iPad in protest?
2. How much of your business or livelihood depends on that business?
Some of you live in a part of town where you have only two grocery shopping alternatives: Wal-Mart and Whole Foods. You’ve heard some nasty things about Wal-Mart and you know that Whole Foods is such a socially conscious company. But the cold, hard truth is that, you just can’t afford to pay $100/lb. for tomatoes (I’m exaggerating, but you get my point). Sometimes companies and organizations (for good or bad) have a hold on you and you frankly have no choice.
3. How much influence do you have to affect change?
Instead of dumping a service or business, maybe you have the power to change their ways. Do you have a large social media platform from which you can rally large groups of people around your cause? Are you a relatively large customer for that business and have the power to influence their decisions threatening to change vendors?
I am proud to announce that the Wikipedia domain names will move away from GoDaddy. Their position on #sopa is unacceptable to us.
— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) December 23, 2011
Even if you think you’re a “nobody,” don’t sell yourself short. Don’t underestimate the power of a passionate and dedicated person to affect change. If elementary and high school girls can do it, you can too.
4. What does your heart say?
Lastly, and most important, when considering whether or not to continue doing business with an organization, listen to your heart. Regardless of how you answered 1-3, this one question trumps them all. If that still, small voice inside you says “Go,” Then you probably should. Frankly, this is where I failed. I had tuggings on my heart about GoDaddy and their ads, yet didn’t leave until what they were doing affected me directly. That, for me, was wrong. The longer we ignore the voice of our conscience, the more hardened our heart becomes, and the more that injustices in the world can continue.
I admit these are not perfect answers. I’m also not trying to ever excuse apathy towards something terrible that’s going on in the world. But I think these are fair and honest ways at looking at a tough question. This is how I look at it anyway.
How do you see it?
I couldn’t help but think of this video when addressing this issue.