Reclaiming Consumer Sovereignty (part one)

Sep 5, 2011 by

It is obvious to me that we no longer have all market principles at work. Overall, there are some principles that still exist. We can still say there are many different and competing manufacturers producing a great variety of goods and services. Consumerism even in a rebounding economy is high. We can buy products at all price points, from all over the world, and on every street corner in America. We do not even need to leave our homes thanks to mailed catalogues and the internet. Our homes do not have enough space to contain all our stuff so we use our garage and that spills over into a costly storage unit for things we will probably never need. There is definitely enough products to buy.

Are we still well informed buyers? I think not. Take packaging for example. The contents of most packages could fit into much smaller containers. For example, buy any size bag of potato chips, box of cereal, most any product in a can, and you will get the picture. Do the manufactures believe that we, the consumer, will not notice what we are really paying for? Do they think it escapes us that we are paying for extra packaging and not product. I also wonder if, as good shoppers, we are using the unit price as a more accurate guide to cost than the item price. If you look at the price label which price is prominent? Why do you think it is the item price? Producers want to sell more at higher prices and if they could get us to buy half empty boxes they would do it. Wait, they do it.

Demanding quality service is essential to protecting our sovereignty. How many times do we accept inferior service and continue to pay for it? A famous restaurant used to advertise “have it your way“. We should have it our way because we are paying for it.

Anytime we buy something, the first thought in our head should be to equate the cost of the product with the amount of labor it took to earn the pay to purchase it. That is fiscal responsibility, anything else is an impulse buy. Which is why we need a storage unit.

The idea that both parties must benefit in a transaction is long gone. Any time we transact business there is a contract. It may be written or implied. Whose interest does the contract protect? Corporations have lawyers on retainer to draw up ironclad contracts to protect the corporations interest. They pay those lawyers with the profit off the extra packaging we are paying for and do not need.

At what point do we loose consumer sovereignty? When we choose conspicuous consumption, trying to impress others with what we have, over fiscal responsibility. One choice is based on reason the other based on passion. If you can figure out which is which you can be saved.

How can we reclaim consumer sovereignty? Here are the easy steps. Demand that you get what you pay for. Customer service is not what is hoped for, but what is required. Spend less money by spending more time informing yourself to make better decisions with your hard earned paycheck. If you can’t pay for it now maybe you do not need to buy it. You will save more, and when you really need something you will have the money to buy it instead of putting it on a credit card. Here is one radical idea. Draw up your own contract when doing business and have the corporation sign it. Whose sovereign now?

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