get on the boycott bus…

Papa Johns Pizza
Sorry Papa John’s, your pizza is not that good. (Photo credit: powerplantop)

I’ve never been one to get behind a consumer boycott. Sure, I believe voting with your wallet is a powerful move, and yes, I understand the value of clearly communicating your convictions. Where most consumer boycotts fail is that, outside of a few more global causes, they are based on incredibly polarizing and political views.

Pro choice? Then don’t shop at companies X, Y or Z. And if you’re pro life, don’t go to companies A, B or C. Ditto for any polarizing topic.

And therein lies the rub. The boycott essentially has no effect. For every consumer who stops shopping at Company X, there are 10 more lined up to support it because they feel the opposite.

Net financial impact? Nil. Net social impact? Potentially positive for the company.

Over the years, there have been a few places that I refuse to patronize. It’s not out of any belief that my few dollars will significantly impact their bottom line, or that they’ll change their wicked ways if enough people stop shopping there.

No, it’s because I have no desire to spend even one cent of my own money supporting the endeavors of any corporation (or person) whose beliefs and practices I find abhorrent.

Will shopping that way change the face of the corporate world? Meh. Not likely. It’s more likely to stir up politics and make the participants feel better about their own choices.

Which brings me to the current situation… the rash of company owners popping up claiming they will have to raise prices, lay off workers, or institute a “service charge” to cover health care reform (AKA, “Obamacare”).

Thus far, the most offensive I’ve seen was from Denny’s franchisee John Metz whose solution for dealing with the cost to him was (are you ready for this?) “If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare.”

So, wait. Let me get this straight. Rather than simply absorb the cost, or increase prices slightly, he’ll add on a service charge and offer the customer the option to reduce their tip amount by that percentage? Oh I’m sure his servers are going to love to hear that! Wonder how many will be looking for a new place to work.

And that’s just one example. There’s also the Papa John’s approach. The list goes on, and on, and on.

Which brings me back to my point. I’ve never really been one to get behind a consumer boycott, except in cases of serious personal conviction. That’s about to change.

It’s not that I have a problem with companies passing on costs to the consumer. That’s expected. It’s the whole inflated calculations of what health care will actually cost the employer, and the not-so-wonderful ways some of them are choosing to get their pound of flesh.

And really, it’s that I don’t want to put even one penny in the pocket of some corporation (or corporate prick) who acts like that.