Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 41 total)
  • Is every large company basically evil?
  • Flaperon
    Full Member

    Needing to switch my broadband and spotted a sneaky trick being used by Vodafone / EE etc in order to bump prices up each year by 10% instead of 3.9%. Price advertised is (for example) £32/month, but when the contract arrives by email it’s actually £51 with a £19 credit attached to it. Guess which price goes up by CPI + 3.9%?

    You literally don’t find out about this until after you’ve placed the order.

    Anyway, it got me thinking – are there any big companies out there which balance customer experience and making a profit? Or has it reached the point where customers are just the irritating part of making money?

    Andy_Sweet
    Free Member

    Every publicly listed company puts shareholders before customers; even if they say otherwise.

    cynic-al
    Free Member

    Surely that should be challenged?

    butcher
    Full Member

    Everything is data driven nowadays, and the profits returned from increased customer satisfaction are harder to measure than other means. And with a number of shareholders, profits will always come first.

    tomhoward
    Full Member

    Every publicly listed company puts shareholders before customers; even if they say otherwise.

    Happy customers are profitable customers.

    Happy employees make customers happy.

    I work for a FTSE250 company that puts employees first (top 20 best place to work), then customer service excellence.

    The shareholders still do plenty well.

    Ewan
    Free Member

    Isn’t a corporation’s legal duty to maximise their profit for share holders? They can get sued if they don’t do that…

    maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    are there any big companies out there which balance customer experience and making a profit?

    Timpsons

    maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    Surely that should be challenged?

    Certainly seems like it a needs a little oxygen of publicity wafting over it

    kerley
    Free Member

    Timpsons

    I think you may have missed the word big/large?

    maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    There are different models of large company – we tend to think of share-holder based corporations – which increasingly owned by anyone and no-one. Shares can be traded algorithms in fractions of a second – might even only be owned for a fraction of a second – share holders might not really know what companies they ‘own’ from one moment to the next. You might have a savings or pension income funded by stocks and shares – which ones? Who knows or cares. But other companies have much stronger relationships with their owners which means theres a greater expectation for something other than just a dividend or trading one share for another at the right moment.

    Lego for instance is the largest toy company in the world – by quite a long way – around double the revenue of Mattel – it’s also family owned. It means they have a long term interest in the company and its product and reputation. They’re incredibly profitable but that profit comes from making the best products they can in the best way from the best stuff. A lego brick is one of the best quality, best made pieces of plastic you can buy.

    maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    I think you may have missed the word big/large?

    Relative to what? I own a company and its bigger than that 🙂

    I am evil though

    slowoldman
    Full Member

    Isn’t a corporation’s legal duty to maximise their profit for share holders? They can get sued if they don’t do that…

    No. Directors must act in a way which they think is most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its shareholders. That does not necessarily mean maximising profit.

    J-R
    Full Member

    Isn’t a corporation’s legal duty to maximise their profit for share holders? They can get sued if they don’t do that…

    Your comment may have got lots of votes, but I don’t think it is true. Perhaps you can quote which law gives you the ability to sue them if they don’t maximise profit?

    I think the directors can do what they want on profitability and if most shareholders don’t like it they can appoint new directors.

    singletrackmind
    Full Member

    Pension funds own significant amount of shares in large corporations . They have to make a profit for us , so they have a vested interest to ensure that big corps make a profit.
    Plus most directors salary , bonus and share options as are linked to share prices, so they get wheelbarrow loads more cash if the company is profitable and the shares go up.

    jimmy
    Full Member

    Is this people just realising what capitalism means?

    Profits before: people, environment, anything.

    Sure, tick some cosy, feel-good boxes along the way. Sure.

    kerley
    Free Member

    Is this people just realising what capitalism means?

    Looks like it, still let’s all vote for more of the same.

    rone
    Full Member

    Isn’t a corporation’s legal duty to maximise their profit for share holders? They can get sued if they don’t do that…

    Myth. Although in reality it ends up a bit like that in some situations.  I’d settle for paying better wages to ourselves as directors currently or my company will be gone in a few months.

    Worth watching the doc – the corporation. Which likens the entity to a psychopath.

    Also think there is a difference between small companies and large companies as defined by corporation tax status.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    Are big companies evil? No. Evil means they want to actually harm for the sake of it.  Companies are somewhere between completely amoral and good-ish.  You need to think about why companies exist and why people run them.  It starts off generally because someone needs to make a living doing something that gives them a bit of a kick – either something that they like doing, or an opportunity to make more money than they do now.  Sometimes that thing they like doing is being responsible or environmentally conscious or whatever.  I think that generally speaking these companies get larger because the owners are enjoying playing the game and reaping the profits.  That game has rules, and like DnD you can choose how you play within them.

    it’s also family owned. It means they have a long term interest in the company 

    I am not sure that’s always the case.  Sometimes members of a family just want financial security but don’t really care about the product, so they sell or close a company – and why not?  A big family owned department store in Cardiff closed because the incumbent family members simply didn’t want to run a department store.  I thought it was a shame, but they I realised they didn’t owe us anything.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    Is this people just realising what capitalism means?

    Profits before: people, environment, anything.

    Not really, that’s what it has become fashionable to think. Making money the most important thing is certainly a thing people do, but it’s not the same as capitalism which really has a fairly narrow and simple definition.  Complaining vaguely about ‘capitalism’ doesn’t help a lot, you really need to be complaining about immorality and lack of social conscience.

    the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    Price advertised is (for example) £32/month, but when the contract arrives by email it’s actually £51 with a £19 credit attached to it. Guess which price goes up by CPI + 3.9%?

    With any media company – always read the very small print before signing/agreeing anything! It will be set out there and you’ll have missed it.

    It’s very sneaky tactics but they all do it. Sky have been trying to get me back for years – the headline offer looks great until you read the T&C’s.

    doris5000
    Full Member

    Timpsons

    I think you may have missed the word big/large?

    Thousands of staff, turnover in the hundreds of millions? Where’s the line?

    maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    Pension funds own significant amount of shares in large corporations . They have to make a profit for us , so they have a vested interest to ensure that big corps make a profit.

    So we get shit goods and shit service but its all for our own benefit 🙂

    I am not sure that’s always the case. Sometimes members of a family just want financial security but don’t really care about the product, so they sell or close a company – and why not? A big family owned department store in Cardiff closed because the incumbent family members simply didn’t want to run a department store.

    It’s a time that has passed for us in the UK – a lot of the family businesses we see passing now would have run successful as family enterprises for generations. My friend Sally has just closed her engineering/blacksmith business – she’s the 4th generation thats been using the same forge for 150 years. Not folksy crafty horse shoes, she made components for oil rigs, thermostats for foundary ceramics, her family had various agricultural equipment patents. But her son leads expeditions all around the globe, her daughter has just been headhunted to develop sustainable alternative polymers to replace single use plastics in the food industry – she doesn’t want or need them to hit bits of metal with a hammer for a living. But also business relationships have changed – her family business had business relationships with clients going back generations too. But as those business got taken over by corporate and foreign interests those relationships and loyalties were severed. There isn’t a ‘business’ to pass on. Theres work this week – maybe orders for next week or next month, but no sense that theres a continued role for the business to play for decades to come – so what would you be passing on? Some tools.

    But we’re now part of the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism (which we share with the US) where those things don’t matter any more. Lego is on the continent and their ‘Continental’ Model of capitalism (which they share with Japan) is different. And the relationship between worker and owner is much more important in those ‘Continental’ models and the role of ‘ownership’ means something different.

    That said the dismal state a lot of our big country estates in the UK are in is proof that primogeniture has its flaws. In Japan theres an interesting approach to it though – they have the world’s highest rates of adult adaption. If you had to advertise and recruit for a new CEO for your company what are the odds that the best candidate would happen to be your first born son? In Japan you recruit the most able/ talented person to run your business then formally adopt them so that they are the family member the business passes to.

    sharkbait
    Free Member

     are there any big companies out there which balance customer experience and making a profit?

    Patagonia

    I think you may have missed the word big/large?

    Erm………. did you think about that statement before hitting the keyboard?

    5,400 employees and 2,100 stores!

    kerley
    Free Member

    5,400 employees and 2,100 stores!

    It is all perspective isn’t it.   Where I work the IT Org alone has more than twice that number of people, i.e. I work in a big company.  Or maybe I work in a VERY big company or maybe a Hyper company, who knows we are all just making this up.

    bfw
    Full Member

    I have been close to some CEO, CFO and CIO’s and they are a mixed bunch.  A few were amazing and really looked after the staff etc, some were downright shocking – most get found out, and move on quick (to do the same again at the next place, be wary of Cxx people with lots of 18m roles under their belt).

    My wife is quite senior in TD SYNNEX (massive IT Distributor) she has worked her way up in the UK and now in Europe.  Mostly they are amazing.  UK Board are pretty dam nice people, Europe less so.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    where those things don’t matter any more

    Should they?  Why should my custom ensure someone else’s hereditary prosperity?

    orangespyderman
    Full Member

    Donning my left-wing French radical hat for a moment, the problem is money.

    Nothing is improved when money becomes a primary consideration, and even less so when increasing the amount of it you have is the “raison d’être” (of a company, individual or society as a whole). C.f. Water companies : they should be about ensuring that everyone has a reasonable access to reasonably clean water and money should just be an enabler – a mechanism for people to exchange an amount with an agreed value to ensure the service is delivered sustainably (in all senses of the word).

    However, we’re not there, and we’ll never get there.

    whatyadoinsucka
    Free Member

    try O2, if the network works for you, but wait a week, they are about to announce rate this week i think

    they split the device cost from the airtime, only the airtime increases yearly based on inflation +3.9%

    all the others are under investigation for charging beyond the initial contract length, when in theory the device will have been paid off.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    However, we’re not there, and we’ll never get there.

    We were there once.

    orangespyderman
    Full Member

    We were there once.

    Well before my time 😉  There’s no way back, in any case.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    Perhaps – we arguably shouldn’t go back to the 50s, but we could maybe see more government ownership of things (like TfW) or other arrangements like Welsh Water.

    tomhoward
    Full Member

    My wife is quite senior in TD SYNNEX (massive IT Distributor)

    She’ll be very familiar with my employer then 😉

    Kramer
    Free Member

    This is going to be an unpopular opinion I’m sure, but I remember reading about some economic research that said on average small and medium sized enterprises were more evil than large ones.

    I think that they were more likely to break laws, and more likely to treat employees badly. Not a huge effect, but apparently significant.

    orangespyderman
    Full Member

    Perhaps – we arguably shouldn’t go back to the 50s, but we could maybe see more government ownership of things (like TfW) or other arrangements like Welsh Water.

    That would probably help.  A large part of the problem, in my opinion, is that having a significantly large investable capital is by far the best way of making money “these days” and globalisation makes any realistic tax of such massive capital difficult or impossible.   Effective taxes on massive fortunes are tiny – and several very rich people have been vocal that it’s “wrong” (but far many more are almost certainly very happy with the status quo).

    Pierre
    Full Member

    Isn’t a corporation’s legal duty to maximise their profit for share holders? They can get sued if they don’t do that…

    No. That’s not a legal principle, although I think there might be something somewhere that allows shareholders to sue companies’ boards if they feel that the company is deliberately depriving them of dividends.

    But “it’s just business”, and the idea that making the most profit is the only thing that should drive any decision, is the most common excuse for being an arsehole. Nobody, including the shareholders, forces a business to screw everyone from customers to suppliers to employees into the ground just to maximise profit. The company’s owners or board may choose to do that, and they may use the excuse of “business” to justify it, but there are plenty of companies looking after their staff, their customers, the environment – AND their bottom line without being knobs. Look up the High Performance Podcast interview with James Timpson for an inspiring example.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Back to the specifics of the OP’s issue:

    Needing to switch my broadband and spotted a sneaky trick being used by Vodafone / EE etc in order to bump prices up each year by 10% instead of 3.9%. Price advertised is (for example) £32/month, but when the contract arrives by email it’s actually £51 with a £19 credit attached to it. Guess which price goes up by CPI + 3.9%?

    We moved from Virgin to Plusnet (now part of BT) and the service has been excellent, every 18 months they just email me saying your contract is ending and doubling in price or ckick here to renew at the same price for another 18 months. Although last time it did go up £1. So, total price increase of £1 over 3 x 18months so far.

    steveb
    Full Member

    Indeed, I’ve been with Plusnet for years. As one contract period expires, an offer arrives. It might be a smidge more than new customer rates, but always reasonable. In fact, ignore the first email offer and wait, a better offer sometimes arrives nearer the deadline.

    mattsccm
    Free Member

    I would have little respect or trust for a company that doesn’t do its damnedest to make every possible penny. That is their role. Charities give stuff away.

    tomhoward
    Full Member

    I would have little respect or trust for a company that doesn’t do its damnedest to make every possible penny. That is their role. Charities give stuff away.

    Ever heard the phrase ‘Speculate to accumulate?’ I’ve given tons of stuff away, to build very profitable relationships.

    funkmasterp
    Full Member

    I would have little respect or trust for a company that doesn’t do its damnedest to make every possible penny. That is their role. Charities give stuff away.

    and I’m the exact opposite of you. At what cost to people and planet to make every possible penny? We should demand more from every business and hold them to account for the actions they take.

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