2018-06-08 / Commentary

Remorseful Corporations

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation

Been seeing the same commercial over and over recently: A Wells Fargo ad featuring old pictures of stagecoaches and supposedly relevant pictures of new construction, perhaps a new beginning, a voice-over by a Sam Elliott wannabee, explaining their remorse over stealing billions from regular consumers.

Scapegoats were selected. Deals were made. Not sure how many lost money but there are two things I’m confident of. The richer the customer, the smaller the odds he lost money. The higher in the Wells Fargo organization, the less likely that person was involved in prison, dismissal, or even a stern talking to. But they are sorry, they fixed everything, and they want our trust once again.

While this ad has been airing, I’ve also noticed one where an actual razor blade builder from Gillette is introduced. A similar ad, although more read between the lines substance.

We’re sorry we fixed prices with Schick all those many years until Dollar Shave Club and others called us on it. We’re really sorry we overcharged customers and oversold new technology so men would have to upgrade their shaving equipment at an astronomical cost. And we’re really, really sorry everyone found out.

So now Gillette is telling us how much better their blades are and they’ve reduced their prices out of the goodness of their corporate hearts. You should continue buying Gillette blades because that regular guy who builds blades needs to feed his family. Don’t consider the CEOs and shareholders. Not part of the conversation.

There seems to be evidence, at least to this sometimes distracted observer, once proud corporations are being revealed as less sterling than their reputations. Maybe I missed one, but I’ve yet to read of an established business that revealed to the world they had been cheating and were coming clean because they had trouble sleeping. All the ones I’m aware of only got remorseful when they were discovered by someone else. Lots of elected officials in this group, too.

Not sure if this is significant but all this came to mind today as I loaded a couple of bags of charcoal into a shopping cart. I’ve sworn by one brand since I first started cooking on a grill five decades ago— Kingsford.

But I’ve noticed some changes in the way Kingsford performs compared to the same stuff a few years back. Shorter fires, irregular temperatures, more broken pieces in the bag; all this might be my imagination. I believed in Kingsford for many years and always could count on quality, long lasting coals, and a dependable cooking time and temperature.

During Memorial Day Weekend, I slow-cooked a Boston Butt, something I’ve done so many times I’ve lost count.

At the end of the day, there was a toughness I’ve never had before. While some of that may be attributed to a worn out, forgetful cook, at least part of the problem was having to refire my grill constantly. So today I loaded something other than my usual into the cart because I can’t tell the difference anymore and refuse to pay higher prices for equal quality. I’m not trusting corporate reputations anymore.

No matter how apologetic their spokesperson is.

Return to top