Should companies be immune from complaints? Cory Doctorow put together an answer to that question. Cory is one of my new heroes, I think.
I’m always astounded by this reaction. Companies aren’t charities. They’re businesses. It doesn’t matter why they’re offering an unacceptable product — all that matters is that the product is unacceptable. Companies aren’t five-year-olds bringing their fingerpaintings home from kindergarten. We don’t have to put on a brave smile and tell them, “that’s just lovely dear,” and display their wares proudly on the fridge. I don’t care if Apple adds DRM because Lars from Metallica has incriminating photos of Steve Jobs, I don’t care if Sony BMG put a rootkit on its CDs because they were duped into it by a trickster spirit that appeared to their technologists in a dream. I care whether their product is worth my money. It’s the market — there’s no A for Effort.
Even weirder is the idea that companies shouldn’t be criticized because in a market, you should just take your business elsewhere. Free markets thrive on good information. For a market to function, customers need to have good information about which goods are worth buying and which ones should be avoided — that’s why we complain in public, to help companies make better decisions.