When Your Patronage and Passions Clash

Scene from one of GoDaddy's controversial Super Bowl ads.

This past weekend I wrote about how I’m leaving GoDaddy over $46 and a bad customer experience. Yet, I didn’t leave them when I knew their women-objectifying ads clashed with my personal sensibilities. Someone in the comments that day called me on it and I had to admit I had no excuse for my apparent misplacement of priorities. I stood guilty as charge.

As I’m want to do, I took a comment from one blog post and used it as fodder for another. I started thinking, “When do you let the policies and business practices of a vendor you do business with, or a store you frequent, or a service you use, keep you from continuing that relationship?” It’s a hard question, not easily answered. There is no black and white. As if often the case, there are shades of gray.

I asked my daughter about it. Despite being 17, she is an extremely thoughtful young woman who frequently impresses me with her outlook on life. We discussed this topic for nearly an hour. After much discussion and deep thinking, this is what I came up with.  There are four areas that seem important to explore when deciding on whether to cease doing business with an organization because of their actions.

1. How much of those activities make up the business?

There are many companies and organizations that are so huge, their divisions are autonomous and in many cases the left hand has no idea what the right hand was doing. (I’ve heard that the traditional camcorder division of Canon had no idea the still-camera division was producing the 5D Mark II). So ask yourself: if you found out that the factory that makes one of the blue wires in your iMac uses child slave labor, do you throw out your iMac, iPhone and iPad in protest?

2. How much of your business or livelihood depends on that business?

Some of you live in a part of town where you have only two grocery shopping alternatives: Wal-Mart and Whole Foods. You’ve heard some nasty things about Wal-Mart and you know that Whole Foods is such a socially conscious company. But the cold, hard truth is that, you just can’t afford to pay $100/lb. for tomatoes (I’m exaggerating, but you get my point). Sometimes companies and organizations (for good or bad) have a hold on you and you frankly have no choice.

3. How much influence do you have to affect change?

Instead of dumping a service or business, maybe you have the power to change their ways. Do you have a large social media platform from which you can rally large groups of people around your cause? Are you a relatively large customer for that business and have the power to influence their decisions threatening to change vendors?

Even if you think you’re a “nobody,” don’t sell yourself short. Don’t underestimate the power of a passionate and dedicated person to affect change. If elementary and high school girls can do it, you can too.

4. What does your heart say?

Lastly, and most important, when considering whether or not to continue doing business with an organization, listen to your heart. Regardless of how you answered 1-3, this one question trumps them all. If that still, small voice inside you says “Go,” Then you probably should. Frankly, this is where I failed. I had tuggings on my heart about GoDaddy and their ads, yet didn’t leave until what they were doing affected me directly. That, for me, was wrong. The longer we ignore the voice of our conscience, the more hardened our heart becomes, and the more that injustices in the world can continue.

I admit these are not perfect answers. I’m also not trying to ever excuse apathy towards something terrible that’s going on in the world. But I think these are fair and honest ways at looking at a tough question. This is how I look at it anyway.

How do you see it?

I couldn’t help but think of this video when addressing this issue.

9 thoughts on “When Your Patronage and Passions Clash

  1. Ron,

    Good points, all. I might also add a fifth point, “When does the cumulative small bad points out-weigh the good”? It sounds as though you hit that point with GoDaddy. Personally, I like to feel that I am spending my money with folks I like. I will pay (a bit more) for goods or service from someone I know and like than with someone who provides the same at a discount but does not give me a good feeling.

    1. I totally agree Dan about spending more with people you like (if financially feasible). And your fifth suggestion is good too. I would kind of classify that with #4 in that, when those small points do start to outweigh the bad, your conscience will kick in most certainly.

      1. Ron,

        After a while, you know a lot of people in the business, so I always try to steer business to those folks I have enjoyed working with or have provided good products or services in the past. There is a reason why those folks with good product AND good reputations are always busy. I think that GoDaddy will always face a certain amount of attrition due to it’s poor business practices. Having said that, I think that GoDaddy will probably do reasonable business in the near future as many will overlook the poor service and limited usability because of the bargain pricing. I doubt that GoDaddy will make any changes until they have to.

        1. Unfortunately, I think you’re right Darin. But, no company should rest too much on its laurels. MySpace, Blockbuster and Borders books come to mind. GoDaddy could be #1 today and filing bankruptcy a year from now. Nothing is guaranteed.

  2. Good article, Ron. I really appreciate your honesty and willingness to publicly express regret over actions not taken rather than make excuses or justifications. We’ve all made these types of mistakes, but it takes a bit of courage to own up to it.

    BTW, I agree that both Go Daddy’s business practices and advertising practices are sleazy. Their “base” advertising demonstrates a lack of respect for their customer’s intelligence – especially their female customers. They use a business model based on “lost leader” prices and aggressive confusion generated up-selling. Their customer service is lousy as well. I stopped hosting my websites with them when my web developer complained about not getting adequate help or service. I’m slowly switching over domain registrations as they come up for renewal.

    1. Thanks for the comment Randolph. Luckily I don’t have any websites hosted with them, just domains and forwards.

      Confusion is right. I’ve used them for four years and every time I log on I cannot for the life of me remember how to do the things I need to do (e.g. manage emails, etc.). Such a pain. Simplicity is beauty.

  3. I’ve only ever purchased from them out of ignorance. Meaning, I knew they existed and what they did, and I knew they were cheap, so I just blindly purchased from them. But after reading this, I think it’s time I did some searching. I’ve never liked their completely uncreative commercials, the fact that the ONE female IndyCar driver who truly had made a name for herself allows them to be her main sponsor (sadly ironic), as well as the poaching habits (oh, pardon me, “large game hunting” habits) of their founder. Thanks for the post Ron.

    1. Glad if offered some light on the situation Andy. I too thinks it’s sad and ironic that someone like Danica, who makes a name for herself in a male-dominated sport, therefore becoming a role model for millions of girls, succumbs to the basest of advertising gimmicks. I guess the money was too good to pass up.

      In CEO Bob Parson’s defense regarding the elephant incident, in the video he himself posted, it states the reason they killed the elephant was because it was wreaking havoc in the African village (e.g. destroying their crops, etc.) Perhaps that’s true. The issue people had I think was the way in which the killing was video taped. Why flaunt the killing then show the gruesome scenes of the villagers hacking the animal to pieces for its meat?

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