Why I peck

James Morton

It's not water off my back

A friend recently gently accused me of being too vocal on Twitter about bad customer service. “Do I henpeck too much?” I asked her. “It’s what makes you you,” she said. “Keep pecking.”

Being a consumer reporter is one of the things I do. Being a travel writer, too, is a form of consumer reporting.

But beyond the fact that it’s one of my bailiwicks, it’s also the right thing to do in a society that increasingly marginalizes and takes advantage of the masses.

Bad value is a form of poor governance.

I could get all Naomi Klein on you right now. In our society, corporations are the new governments. In fact, in many cases, they hold the puppet strings to the government itself.

And when businesses treat customers poorly, or milk them, or coddle them, or rip them off and refer them to script-reciting Indians to be assuaged, then they are bad stewards of our destines, and fighting becomes a form of good citizenship.

I feel the same irritation with a business that cavalierly betrays me as I do with a politician who disregards my vote, or calibrates the denial of my needs as an acceptable loss.

Some people permit poor customer service as a necessary byproduct of a capitalist society. They say businesses have to make money somehow. I see it more as a breach of trust. So some see it as complaining. I don’t. I see it as having my say after a business has had theirs.

There’s not much justice to be had in our consumer culture, partly because the natural state of consumption is to become apathetic. When people deign to appraise the value of the consumables, or gauge the essential ethics of the contract, it makes some people nervous.

Pecking, to me, is a form of critical thinking. It’s a way of keeping consumer culture in check.

“I’m a huge critic of abusive systems,” I told my friend. “And the best way to do that is to point out abuses.”

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