News headlines this morning declared that one of the major UK energy suppliers was raising their charges by up to 27%. Interestingly enough, a representative from this same supplier visited my doorstep a couple of months ago explaining the benefits of switching to their company because they are so much cheaper than the other suppliers.
Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident.
WHY do these companies promise so much and then just not deliver? What I find so offensive is that they clearly know that their prices are increasing whilst they are trying to entice us to change. The repeating pattern of this kind of dangle a carrot then snatch it away marketing means that now, whoever comes to my door with ‘offers of cheaper prices’ stays less than one minute. In short, I don’t trust them.
This ‘rip off’ culture permeates so many areas of business and society that no-one trusts anyone anymore. Belief in marketing and sales stories is at an all-time low; trust in each other is being undermined and compromised by what goes on around us. We are lured to fall prey to the concept of a free lunch when we know that there is no such thing as a free lunch in the business world and sadly more commonly, in our personal worlds. We expect to be ripped-off, taken for a ride, sold something by devious tactics.
I find this very challenging to my personal and business enterprises. I actually believe in a free lunch; in giving something and expecting nothing back. My Christian faith encourages me to give without expecting back, to labour with expecting a reward. AND YET I’m so excited that as I’m true to these values I am rewarded and I do receive back.
Please don’t confuse this with philosophies where we give so that we get back. That isn’t giving; that’s trading and it appeals to our naturally materialistic tendencies. NO: We give without expecting anything in return; our focus is on the giving, the helping of others NOT on what we will get back. That is why these periodic best sellers such as The Secret really hack me off because they are nothing to do with a secret: they are re-hashes of older, materialistic principals based on the fact that humans are greedy by nature and therefore, we will pursue almost anything, even compromise our principles and integrity on occasions so that we can gain more.
In reality, the rubbish that these books and gurus churn out benefits only one person … the author/guru! They are the ones that laugh all the way to the bank. And sadly, the ‘prosperity gospel’ of the church is no different; give SO THAT you shall receive. It’s just another wolf in sheep’s clothing. I call it clever marketing. I also call it deceit because like the energy companies they offer much and then let you down. They ask you to invest your trust (and money!) in them and then leave you with nothing more than hollow expectations with nothing to fill the void.
As I walk into the unknown of 2008 I aim to treat my family, friends and business customers with respect, dignity and integrity, so that what I say is what I do, and when I help I do it from the right motives. No doubt I will fail on occasions, but if I keep this focus I can at least begin to head in the right direction.
Hopefully, by striving to deal honestly with the people we meet and with whom we interact, we will be able to restore trust and buck the cancerous trend in society which threatens to undermine everything we do.
Please join me in putting integrity at the top of our resolutions and aims for 2008.