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02/07/2005 Archived Entry: "Dumb Corporate Tricks"

DUMB CORPORATE TRICKS. Speaking of repeating mistakes (as I was the other day), here's one that businesses regularly do.

I've been re-filling the cartridges on my HP printer with a kit I bought at Costco for, oh I think it was 17 bucks. This kit has enough ink in it to supply me for a year or more. The printer makers all hate these kits, of course, and issue Dire Warnings that using them will void your warranty, yada yada.

I came home from the Desert Hermitage and found that the cartridges I'd left in the printer (oops) had dried up beyond all my efforts at refilling and cleaning, so I had to go shopping for new ones and found that it was going to be a $50-some investment for the two cartridges. Slightly down from the price of a year ago, but still no fun.

If HP doesn't want to lose business to refill-kit makers or cartridge-knockoff producers -- why don't they just price their cartridges reasonably in the first place? I mean, these are not expensive items to manufacture (though they are little wonders of design). $10 apiece? $12? Dandy. I'd forego the messy business of refilling for that.

Similar thing with those $5.00 boxes of popcorn and $2.50 candy bars at the movie theaters.

If every theater owner from Cineplex Odeon to the local One-Plex is tearing his hair out because people are -- gasp! -- sneaking their own food into the theater ... then why not just charge more appealing prices at the lobby counter? Duh.

I realize that sometimes a company like HP has to try to recoup its development costs. And that the local One-Plex doesn't have the bulk-purchasing power of, say, Wal-Mart (though the big theater chains certainly should). But to respond to competition by issuing warnings and diktats and threats seems more like a Stupid Government Trick than like the response of a business that actually wants to make money while serving its customers.

Some of tech-product makers have even decided they can now remotely monitor unwilling customers' use of their equipment, which is really and truly a Stupid Government Trick. Not to mention the increasing use of such &^%$#@! as region-coding of tech products to prevent people from buying them in countries where they're less expensive. Not to mention actually disabling products remotely if they suspect that the user (and owner!) of those products is doing something the corporation disapproves of. These companies will get exactly what they deserve as purchasers start figuring out how the MegaCorps regard them -- unless that great Friend of Corporations, the MegaCorporateGovernment steps in to aid them.

As Charles Curley says, "Every corporation wants to be a government when it grows up." And they'll keep playing their stupid tricks on purchasers as long as they can get away with it.

Posted by Claire @ 09:31 AM CST

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