What Do You Think: Financially Sticking It To A Company

by Nicole · 7 comments

in Notes On Culture

As consumers, we now have a few venues to take out our frustrations with a company. We can tweet a complaint, to all our friends and directly to a company if we want. We can write on their Facebook wall, or reply to their latest newsletter. And of course, there are the traditional venues: writing a letter to the editor, calling customer service, or simply walking into the establishment and having an actual conversation.

Recently I’ve heard of a few ways people are financially ‘sticking it’ to companies in addition to or sometimes in place of complaining verbally.

My friend Nick sent me this link, which tells people how to mail heavy objects on the offending company’s dime in response to junk mail. In short, you tape a ‘no postage necessary if mailed in the United States’ envelope to the outside of a package filled with, say, bricks or something else heavy. Upon delivery, the company pays the postage. The website explains this is perfectly legal and the only way we will stop receiving junk mail.

Another person I ran into told me about his friend who Googles expensive keywords (I guess ‘pay day loans’ is one) and then clicks on the sponsored links of companies he doesn’t agree with, chuckling that he costs a sketchy business profiting off someone’s desperation for cash $10 for his click. (I tried to find a link for this idea but my brain doesn’t seem to be working well today.- If you have one, let me know and I’ll add it to here, and give you credit of course.)

In other words, we’ve gone from communicating to action, only some of these actions are costing the company we disagree with money.

While I do have a thing for great customer service and treating people well, I have a problem being outright mean. But are these practices mean, or sending that company a message that they don’t seem to be hearing verbally? Do people feel increasingly desperate in this economy and use these tactics to get some control back they feel they’ve lost? Am I too uptight?

So I’d love to know: Heard of other ways people are making companies financially pay for bad behavior? Do you think these practices are ethical?


1 Kayla K at Kayla K's Thrifty Ways April 15, 2010

I don’t have enough time and energy to be mean to companies. Just sort the mail over your recycling bin and get your name off junk mail lists. I don’t feel like companies are mean to me, just a little annoying.
.-= Kayla K at Kayla K’s Thrifty Ways´s last blog ..Frugal (Re)Fashion =-.

2 Tina@ www.commoncent April 16, 2010

I believe a "lesson" is only learned if it is clear what the lesson is. I'm not sure that any big company will learn a lesson from having their links clicked, and mailing packages seems like an outright mean prank. Pretty sure that two wrongs still don't make a right! I try to teach my kids not to be mean to another kid just because the other kid is mean first, in my opinion adopting some of these "stick it to em" practices would make me a hypocrite. Just my two cents! 🙂
.-= Tina@ http://www.commoncentshome.blogspot.com´s last blog ..Homemade Grape Jelly =-.

3 Whitney April 16, 2010

I don’t think it’s ethical to mail something like that back to a company. It may be legal, but that doesn’t make it right. The intent is clearly to pay for something much lighter. They have the right to solicit you (most of the time) and you have every right to avoid such solicitation (including a phone call to get off their list, getting on the no-contact list, or my favorite method, simply tossing it in the trash. Really, how hard is that?

4 mb April 16, 2010

Um, taping that prepaid postage label on a new package is not perfectly legal. It’s either theft or fraud. Your friend should be careful! I always mark junk mail return to sender and tell them to remove the address from their lists. If they will not, I file a prohibitory mailing order (who is the US postal service to say that LA Fitness add isn’t sexually titillating to you?). Beyond that, it’s fairly hard to waste a company’s money (and I am one to mail packages from work or at least I was back when Americans had jobs). Perhaps you can make tiny purchases on the credit card that charges the highest merchant fee as a percent of the total (American Express). You can buy things and return them, which results in longer lines, destroyed merchandise that can’t be resold as new…it’s all passive aggressive.

5 used cell phone April 16, 2010

what i want to say is if a company is sending u junk mails then sort the mail over your recycling bin and get your name off junk mail lists.

6 Nicole April 16, 2010

I just feel like I’m hearing more about this stuff. I get how consumers feel more empowered, which is great on a lot of levels, but as a business owner myself, I feel like someone being outright mean to me seems counterproductive.

7 Abigail April 16, 2010

It’s not only wrong — vote with your dollar not with sneaky habits — but it’s kind of pointless. All this does is raise costs for the company, which passes it on to consumers. So these people are essentially just hurting other consumers.
.-= Abigail´s last blog ..Freebie Friday =-.

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