Chapter 5

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Once in a while I have an idea concerning some commercial product.

There was a time when corporations were terrified of such things, thinking that some guy would suggest something that was already on track for release, and try to take credit for it.* Recently, however, I'm seeing portals in which a corporation will state the rules up front, and if you have a suggestion, a beef, or even a patent you'd like to show them, go right ahead and we'll see where it falls. 3M does this, and a few others I've seen. Most admirable!

In an interesting display that that American corporate insularity is still alive and well, today I attempted to send some compliments and support to Colgate-Palmolive, for an unpopular product that I really like and am afraid they'll mess it up somehow -- which happens sometimes.

The aperture that Colgate-Palmolive provides for customer input is restrictive to the point of insult. Their only contact point is a tiny little field, with instructions that they only want one short sentence.

I was going to say that disrespect for one's customer is probably bad for business, but there are plenty of people in the consumer flock who don't even notice when they're getting disrespected.


Incidentally, you can influence things like product discontinuations. I've done it, with a Nestea product that apparently I was the only person who liked it, but I really like it. It came back. And Rico has started making the Metalite saxophone mouthpiece again. It had been discontinued, but the web forums were full of people begging for it back. (I just bought one myself. It's great). And I can talk about the effects of letters I've written to a few others, too...


* The guy who claimed that he invented the intervallic windshield wipers won a big case against the auto industry, despite the fact that all he did was build a slow oscillator. The oscillator is probably the second-oldest circuit in all of electronics, after the amplifier. Every radio has one, as does every computer (they call it a clock).