Wednesday, November 13, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Customer is the king

...well, not quite, but the almost complete denial of this slogan of the markets is a big reason behind the ongoing decay of the Western societies...

OK, a week ago, I wrote about the shocking treatment of patients at a North Bristol hospital who are deemed politically incorrect. I believe that this flagrant violation of the Hippocratic Oath is a crime – in my country and also in the U.K. – and the rogue physicians would surely be punished in my country and will hopefully be punished in the U.K., too.

Physicians just can't refuse to help a patient for petty personal or political reasons. Even very unpopular and ugly mass killers who just returned from the prison have the right to be served by physicians if they pay for their health insurance! The idea that people in a city could be denied healthcare – just because they realize that e.g. mass immigration is a very bad thing – sounds utterly incredible. It is this kind of an idea that is a sufficient justification for wars.

OK, physicians refusing to serve patriots are scum and almost certainly certifiable criminals. But I think that even in much less "vital" occupations in which the human lives aren't at stake, many contemporary people have abandoned the Western values.

The issue I want to discuss may be described by the slogan The customer is always right. It has been popularized by three Anglo-Saxon businessmen in the late 19th and early 20th century. Clearly, this principle has been favored by many people outside the Anglo-Saxon world – and for a very long time.

In France, hotelier César Ritz said "le client n'a jamais tort" (the customer is never wrong) and one of the corollaries was "If a diner complains about a dish or the wine, immediately remove it and replace it, no questions asked".

In Germany, "der Kunde ist König" (the customer is king), while in Japan the motto "okyakusama wa kamisama desu" (お客様は神様です) meaning "the customer is a god", is common. In Czech, we simply say "zákazník je pán" (the customer is the Lord) although the famous shoemaker Tomáš Baťa (almost certainly the most celebrated capitalist of the interwar Czechoslovakia – in 1926-1928, his shoes made up 50% of Czechoslovak exports LOL – although his model may also be described as a kind of intra-corporate socialism) used the variation "náš zákazník – náš pán" (our customer – our boss).

I think that the Persians deserve a special credit here. "In a Persian Market" got this Czech lyrics in the 1970s that actually promote the same values. The exotic retailer offers discounts and treats the buyers as "saffron", among other things. The whole song is about the respectful behavior of the sellers towards the buyers.

Now, obviously, the customer isn't always right. He or she is often a parasitic lying spoiled aßhole. It is impossible to always assume that the customer is right because the company could go bust soon – as soon as some customers would start to abuse the generosity. So there is no doubt that there are always limits. Your company – or its employees – simply cannot be generous without limits. Employees are generally instructed what to do, how far they may go to please a problematic customer or a customer in a problematic situation.

However, the slogan is correct to the extent that there should be a bias. When two people are arguing about something – e.g. a restaurant guest and a waiter – which may be related to the food or it may also be completely unrelated, e.g. some personal disagreement or political disputes, the restaurant guest should be in some visible advantage. Why?

Because he pays for it!

A restaurant guest wants to be satisfied – with the food and with the treatment and other things. The waiter's being sufficiently respectful is unquestionably an aspect that co-decides about the consumer's satisfaction. The consumer satisfaction will decide about the demand in the future which is why the restaurant owner is surely naturally motivated to make the customer as satisfied as possible (at least assuming that very similar customers still contribute to profits of the company).

So when a restaurant guest is dissatisfied about something, perhaps for debatable reasons, and he says that the "waiter is a šitty chobol [a slur for a Slovak man]", the waiter must simply swallow it and keep his calm. I picked Slovaks because no hordes of PC Gestapo cops will bother to defend our poor little brothers. ;-)

OK, why is the Slovak waiter so respectful towards the outspoken guest? It's because he's afraid of being fired – and, on the contrary, he prefers a promotion or a raise. If the customer became really dissatisfied, he could start to visit another restaurant and reduce this restaurant's profits (and tell others to go elsewhere, too). This bad outcome – from the owner's viewpoint – could be classified as the waiter's fault. That's why it's common sense that a hypothetical cheeky waiter could be fired and why the waiter prefers not to be cheeky.

Now, there are no vital laws that say that the waiters have to be respectful. This adjective couldn't be even defined sufficiently precisely so the enforcement of such a hypothetical law would be a nightmare. But the markets have the invisible hand that pushes the waiters to be more polite than generic people. They're paid, they're afraid of losing that income, and that's why they are more well-behaved. By these pressures, capitalism generally makes employees do a good job – they work sufficiently intensely and they treat the customers sufficiently well.

I would say that the comments above are really common sense so I am surprised whenever I encounter an adult American or Western European who seems not to get these basic points. Maybe some experience with communism – where the basic mechanisms of capitalism don't work – is needed to understand how essential the rules of capitalism are?

Even during communism, most Czechs understood these principles – why it's good when the "customer is the king". The problem was that this outcome was just a wishful thinking: communism didn't exert the pressures that would guarantee that the "customer was the king". So the customer wasn't the king, the services and products sucked, waiters were often unpleasant, and so on and so on. Communism didn't exert the desirable pressure simply because no one could have been really fired. The communist countries were bragging that they didn't have any unemployed people – an omnipresent phenomenon in the capitalist world. Isn't it great? And many of my classmates bought this šitty communist propaganda, indeed (and many people buy it even today). No, comrades, it's very bad when one can't fire the employees. It is a recipe for the bad quality of the professionals – and greatly reduced living standards which is just the macroscopic or aggregate description of the same thing because the living standards are primarily created by professionals.

The idea that the "employee is the king" – e.g. a waiter who can't accept some critical words from the customer – is unfortunately spreading in the Western countries including the U.S. as they are (so far mainly morally and informally) abandoning the market economy as we have known it for centuries. Needless to say, the idea that the "employee is the king" is pretty much a defining slogan of the old-fashioned leftism, labor unions, social democrats, communists, and Marxists. All these leftist entities basically defend a lazy arrogant spoiled employee who feels entitled to be getting a salary regardless of the amount and quality of his work. The result is the kind of the economic underdevelopment that we saw in communism e.g. 30 years ago – when the "advanced socialist society" was finally approaching its collapse.

These days, America is full of situations in which "the employee is the king" while "the customer is crap". This approach isn't just a random choice of a winner in tense situations. It is the wrong choice because it is the denial of the role of the money in the society. The money exists for people to be able to buy things – including their comfort, freedom, and respectful treatment by the waiters in the restaurants. When the society adopts rules that beat this natural pressure exerted by the money – when it adopts principles such as "the employee is the king" – it simply evolves towards the economic decline for the same reasons why the real-world communism did 30 years ago.

And we're seeing this anti-market behavior everywhere. A restaurant refuses to serve people from the other side of the political spectrum. Most typically, a patriotic (or nationalist) restaurant doesn't serve globalist (internationalist) guests or vice versa. This refusal is symmetrically bad in both situations – but in the real world, it's one of the combinations that is happening more often. You know, I think it's OK when businesses are in principle allowed not to serve a certain kind of customers. They can choose.

On the other hand, when this selective approach becomes omnipresent, it shows a disease in the market. It shows that the money doesn't really do what it should do. The most shocking examples are the companies that refuse to serve right-wingers – a subset of the customers or potential customers that may be said to be comparable to 50% of everybody. It's intuitively insane because the business is at risk of throwing 50% of the revenue into the trash bin.

When a restaurant doesn't serve the Republicans or homophobes or Islamophobes or any other group whose percentage in the society is comparable to 50%, it really means that the business is no longer a "primarily for-profit entity" because a significant portion of the profit is being sacrificed for other goals. For-profit managers care about every percent of the revenues – to give up 50% is unthinkable.

When Facebook harasses Trump supporters and greatly discourages their usage of the FB servers, it is unquestionably losing huge profits. No sane for-profit company would behave like that. It really means that something else was placed above the profit. An important question is whether the stockholders do agree with these policies voluntarily or not. I think that Facebook shareholders are largely ordinary enough investors who prefer higher profits. They are being forced to do commercially harmful things by players that hold some political power – like the far left parties in the countries' government or rogue NGOs that scream at and constantly blackmail everybody – and that is why their business is suboptimal. The loss of the actual shareholders' power over similar decisions (those decisions are increasingly made by some trolls/moderators whose relationship to the shareholders is almost non-existent) is obviously another – but closely related – aspect of the evaporating capitalism.

Whether the companies are refusing to serve a significant portion of the customers with the consent of the actual owners – shareholders – or not (and reduce their profits in this way), is an important question because it decides about the "location of the problem". If the government pushes the companies to refuse certain services, then the government is the problem. When the shareholders want to do it, they may be blamed for it.

But whoever is responsible, it is still true that the widespread refusal to serve a significant fraction of the consumers is a pathology that may be described as "capitalism that is not working or capitalism that is being overwritten by a system with very different priorities and key mechanisms".

I think that it's obvious that the wrong people are getting their increased rights in various situations – physicians get the power to hurt the health of patients who dare to say the truth about immigration; obnoxious waiters are getting more room to insult guests – but these pathological trends aren't some convoluted surprisingly negative consequences of some other processes, perhaps beneficial ones.

Instead, this pathological evolution of the society is the openly declared goal of many very šitty people – such as almost all the U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidates. The very general idea that "the money is bad" and the misplaced excessive fight against "corruption" are the key forces behind this deconstruction of capitalism and the evolution towards a new communism. These totally wrong Marxist opinions may be seen everywhere these days.

For example, the obnoxious leftists have wanted to remove Donald Trump by a coup since the beginning of his tenure so the choice of the bogus Ukrainian plot is just a pathetic irrelevant detail in that disgusting strategy. However, the argumentation still shows something about them. We hear that it was "quid pro quo" – Trump got something for something – which "equals corruption". This proposed "identity" is a great summary of these would-be nice, but in reality, šitty Marxist people's hatred towards everything in our society that works.

"Quit pro quo" is why the human society works – when the cooperative forces dominate. We do good things for each other because it's generally good for both sides. A buyer gives X dollars to the seller for some product because the seller prefers to have the dollars while the buyer prefers to have the product. Both sides are happy about the transaction which is why it consensually takes place. The result of billions of such transactions every day is that everyone is a little bit happier than he would be otherwise. Or at least most of us survive another day.

How can someone propose the amazing generalization that every consensual, mutually beneficial trade is "corruption"?

The result of this totally idiotic version of the "fight against corruption" is that people aren't free to complete many consensual, mutually beneficial transactions. Even if they have (and sometimes pay!) the money, people may be incapable of getting the health care or a restaurant with a polite waiter. The society – which is drifting towards a new kind of communism – is placing the absolute, insanely inflated rights of some ad hoc people, rights that aren't supported by any payment, above all credible interests of the other people, even when the people are ready to pay lots of money for this interest (or when they have actually done so).

So quite generally, the absolute rights of all the privileged groups – workers, employees, privileged sexes (women but especially various perverts), preferred races (non-white ones), preferred religions (the murderous ones), and so on – are being placed above the basic civil rights of the new lower-class citizens – including homophobes, Islamophobes, and sane and honest people in general – and above the ability of the people to change the world to their image by paying the money. When successful people can't change – i.e. largely improve – the world to their image, the world will not improve much. It is more likely that it will get worse.

If and when these distorted priorities become omnipresent, the unavoidable result is the general societal decay. When the financial wealth doesn't really decide about the management of factories, the result is that staggering working-class morons such as our communist leaders before 1989 are deciding about things they have no talent to manage well. And the result is obviously bad – it is bad for almost everyone and certainly for the whole. Instead of the working class, we have other privileged groups today but the basic mechanisms (and especially the suppression of the healthy mechanisms) are the same.

So please, let's respect what the Persian seller has understood for a very long time. The customer is the king, treat him as a saffron. As a professional, behave professionally – and as a boss, expect the professional behavior from your employees. Your employees must surely allow the customer to do and say all "normal enough" things. The opinion of the customer should be heard because he partially pays for this attention – and more generally, the people's willingness to pay the money should co-decide which concerns are treated seriously and which are not.

And that's the memo.

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