Sunday, July 22, 2012

companies can just give you the finger

i hate my gym.

ok that's a hyperbole. i don't really hate my gym, i  just hate a few things about it. it's not that it's crowded or noisy or anything like that, it's that the company behind it thinks it's ok to not provide what they're contractually bound to. things like old, broken weights, non-functioning showers, no soap.. the list goes on. i understand the occasional problem, but to simply ignore members is unacceptable. i mean, i've been a member for 3 years, and one month my credit card payment didn't go through. they wouldn't let me in! i was pissed, of course, but recently i've been thinking about it and i noticed there's a massive asymmetry between the rights of companies and their customers. one slip on my side (didn't pay a bill) and i'm barred, many slips from theirs and life goes on.

and of course, this is isn't just my gym, it's all companies. first and foremost, of course, are banks. i think after law, financial services is the closest industry to actually being outright thievery. when they offer something, they explicitly mention that they can change the terms and conditions without notice! we read these terms and conditions and skim over them because they're boilerplate, but it's like this: imagine if you agree to rent an apartment and half way through the year you call up your landlord and casually inform her that you'll be dropping the rent by 15%. because you can't afford the current rent any more. and she can't complain. THAT'S what banks do to us with increased rates.

see the asymmetry stems from the fact corporations have to make a profit, while individuals have to make do. it's because corporations don't care about an individual customer (the gym certainly wouldn't care if i left), but do they do care about their bottom line (how much it would cost to get new weights). banks get record profits year after year, yet charge you $5 to stamp 5 pieces of paper. the list goes on and on, and the simple fact is this: modern economies have created enough protections and laws to protect companies from loss, but almost no laws to protect individuals from corporations. as an individual, your only options are to either sue (ha ha) or start a mass demonstration (ha ha ha).

so next time you feel the urge to complain to a company, keep in mind that they really don't give a fuck.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

we like to judge, don't we?

when celebrities say they will never get a boob job, only to get one a year after they're famous. when tech leaders say they will not copy someone else, or ask each other not to be evil. we like to point at a person and her broken vow, and exclaim at how weak she is, how she isn't worthy.

it's easy from where we stand, from where we are, from the comfort of our ipads, swiping through historical records and quotes and pointing out contradictions. it's easy to be indignant, to claim that we'd never do that if it were us!

from our static lives, someone changing is unthinkable. during the ten minutes it takes us to read an article, it's hard to imagine that a month or a year or a decade had passed. it's easy to snort at the passage of time, events, cuts, scars, misery, happiness and all that makes a person. it's easy to forget all that. easy to brush away the details.

easy to forget that the person who proclaimed the statement 10 years ago is not the same person rejecting it now.