"ethics" (?) of forced supply purchases

Less water a main impurity??

Reply to
Robert Baer
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...are you speaking of those Chinese hockey pucks that the druggies sell?

Reply to
Robert Baer

Sure! But, there's a limit to that sort of reasoning. You don't purchase your *electricity* from the device vendor (because electricity is a commodity). Do you buy your compressed *air* from a particular vendor?

Barring (intentional?) incompatibilities in dispensers, etc., is there some advantage to buying your toilet paper from the guy who sold you the dispensers? Is there some advantage to DENY YOURSELF the benefits of competition in the marketplace?

When I (we) purchase products, we look carefully at the supply issues. Does this camera need some special sort of battery (since we KNOW the battery will need replacement before the camera has served its useful life)? Does this coffee maker need some special sort of filter? etc.

I don't complain if my cassette deck uses a special belt that I can only purchase from the manufacturer. I don't

*expect* belts to be universal. But, I also don't expect them to fail very often!

OTOH, I am constantly annoyed by proprietary power supplies that seem to go to elaborate lengths to be mutually incompatible -- despite the fact that there is the same amount of "potential" :> behind the electrons! "Yes, I know you want to make sure I don't plug the wrong power supply into your device. And, as a result, have rendered the device unusable if I misplace that power supply -- as you don't continue to make them available 'indefinitely'. Is there some reason you couldn't design the power conditioning circuitry to be tolerant of a wider range of inputs? EVEN IF YOU REFUSE TO WORK IN THOSE CONDITIONS?"

Again, making these sorts of decisions without concern for what your customer is likely to think about them is done at some peril. Yes, you might maximize profits on the short term -- and lose the *market* in the long run!

[Anyone want to buy a microchannel machine??]

I'd like to be able to rationally argue for and against particular "supplies" decisions with clients so they are at least aware of both sides of the issue and don't succumb to the siren's lure...

Reply to
Don Y

I think some of the printer companies have taken a similar approach. I.e., the cartridge is "licensed" to you, not

*sold* to you! :-/

Yup. This is the risk any company takes when it adds artificial constraints to lock up a market.

And, if the market is lucrative enough, another pops up in its place. Now the original vendor is spending resources trying to locate, identify and prosecute "offenders" -- all because it chose to artificially protect a market segment to itself.

Meanwhile, their competitor is focused on coming up with a better *product*!

A (very wise) client told me many years ago that you should

*want* your vendors to make money -- otherwise, they won't "vend"! :> The trick is making sure they don't make *too* much (of YOUR!) money!

Exactly. You want to give me a "free printer"? Great! When the supplies run out, I'll discard it. You've taken the loss -- on the hope of an eventual "return". I've just ensured that return won't be forthcoming.

People are short-sighted. "Service contracts", etc.

"Would you like to buy the 3 year extended warranty on that $1000 TV, sir?"

"Huh? You mean the quality is so POOR that it's not likely to LAST 3 years??"

"Um, well, no, but..."

"So, the quality is *great* and you just want to charge me an extra $100 because you 'like me'???"

"Um, gee, um... let me get my manager..."

(sigh) We went looking at new refrigerators a while back. A few kilobucks and they don't even claim you'll see a "long productive service life". Sheesh! I'll stick to the old one and laugh at the folks with "refrigerator vanity" :>

Kodak is a perfect example of a company making lots of BAD decisions -- over lots of years! :<

Like the "classic" mop that we use to do our floors? :>

Reply to
Don Y

There are two sides to every "transaction". What seems "appropriate" to one might not be viewed in the same light, to the other.

If the transaction is completely voluntary, then each side can impose whatever constraints they want on how they choose to evaluate the potential transaction.

You have a terminal disease. I've got a pill that will prolong your life by one day. It's $1000. (It might only cost me $0.03 to make but that should be NO CONCERN OF YOURS!!!)

Is this ethical? ("Hey, no one is FORCING you to buy it!") I wonder what your thinking will be on the day your bank balance drops to $999?

While you're waiting in line, another guy shows up driving a Rolls Royce. I charge him $10,000 for the very same pill. Is *this* ethical?

Then, a homeless chap walks in -- and I give him the same pill FOR FREE -- writing off $1000 on my taxes as a "charitable contribution". Is *this* ethical?

[I care not what your answers to the questions are -- they are rhetorical]

Now, how do each of the parties in this imaginary scenario view these transactions?

Why? If you are making a handsome profit on razors, what do you care who makes the blades? You're just happy that

*someone* is making the blades -- otherwise, no one would be buying your razors!

Until people arbitrarily change their idea as to how "essential" that ink cartridge is! With artificially created dependencies, you risk your market disappearing overnight -- it's not a *real* need. Someone can offer a product that doesn't have that same need. Or, customers can decide they can live without the artificially inflated costs.

OTOH, that CEO's jet uses *real* aviation fuel to get aloft. And, the guy who sells it probably isn't interested in taking hundreds of ink cartridges "in trade"! :>

Reply to
Don Y

Marketers have known for centuries that you sell more if you put as much distance as possible between the cost and the benefit. They give you the printer free as a "benefit" to buying that new computer system. The customer didn't choose that printer, the vendor did. The kids pressing the print button have no clue what it costs. If there was a coin slot on the printer that required you to put in a quarter for every page, usage would be much different. You'd also have to put in a few quarters every day to account for the plugged heads if you didn't use it.

I have a monochrome laser printer. The heads are never plugged. There are months that I never turn it on.

Society has developed into a bunch of people who want instant gratification. Don't matter what it costs, I want it. I don't see that changing.

The best example of uselessness is the cell phone. I can think of a dozen people who NEED one. Tow truck driver. Doctor on call. Real estate agent. Sure, there are others, but having five billion of them is EXCESS. The majority of us could get by just fine with an emergency phone that had no recurring fees and we paid a dollar a minute. But that wouldn't pay for Verizon to sponsor sporting events or put gas in the corporate jet.

The cell is an excuse not to plan anything. People think they can call to say they're gonna miss their commitment and it's ok to waste my time, 'cuz they called. Well, it's NOT ok to waste my time. Get your ass over here when you said you would.

I don't think the cell providers need to worry about society coming to its senses and their market disappearing.

With artificially

No, they can't. They just hand over the credit card and continue with mindless chatter on their cell phone as they drive the SUV to the upscale clothing store.

Reply to

Sure, but one could ask... how many people really *needed* a non-emergency landline? These days, if all you want to do is talk a bit (no data plan), often a cell phone is actually cheaper than a landline.

(Note also that there emergency phones at $1/minute *simply wouldn't exist* without the infrastructure that's paid for by people who just want to chat about what Kim Kardashian is up to...)

Right. The bulk of the economic today revolves around things we just "want;" clever monkeys that we are, the actual basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter consume -- for many people -- only a modest part of their income, leaving lots leftover for "wants."

So wasn't the line-line also such an excuse? -- Letters worked just fine, they were just slower, right?

It's not OK to waste your time, although at least less of it will tend to be wasted if you get some notification prior to the meeting. Just how "not OK" it is depends on the actual reason, of course.

Reply to
Joel Koltner


"> A (very wise) client told me many years ago that you should

Yes! That's my attitude. A good vendor is better than money in the bank. You want them to succeed! There's all this talk about second sourcing, but lot's of times it's nonsense. (I wanted to use an excrement word, but refrained) We've got lots of parts that we buy from just one place. You work with your vendor and get it right. Qualifying a second vendor could mean a serious time commitment. And then you've got to split your order and 'screw' your original vendor. But purchasing thinks saving

10% on the price is what their job is about..... Grumble.

I don't have much to offer on the profit from consumables/ replacements question. This is a service we provide to our customers and we hope to break even. We make our money when they are happy and buy more 'big ticket' items. Mostly I try and be honest. If it's a part they can buy somewhere else I tell them where to get it. (It's cheaper for us that way.)

George H.

Reply to
George Herold

Sure! Until they have to replace the ink and discover how much it costs! After the *second* time, they probably have a good feel for how *little* use they got out of the printer before having to revisit the ink supplier.

Yup. I have two monochrome lasers and a color laser -- in addition to the "wax printer". And, a little "photo printer" that sees rare use. None of the supplies ever "spoil" from lack of use.

I *do* -- at least in certain areas. I.e., folks will print stuff at work instead of at home. Or, learn to live without paper copies entirely!

I prepare a lot of documentation. I dislike reading it "at" the computer. OTOH, I can't afford to be printing out 50 page copies every day just to see what I've done -- and what remains to be done!

So, I tolerate the "electronic" review of the document for most of my work. Periodically, I print a *monochrome* copy (printer has a duplexer so it takes half as much paper as it would, otherwise) that I can sit down and mark-up. When I am close to "done", I print a color laser copy and do the markups on that, instead. Once everything is ready to go, I'll produce final copies on the "wax" printer.

If these people NEED them, then are you implying that, previously, they were INCAPABLE of performing their duties?

My other half carries just such a phone (I think it's 25c/min) for "emergency" use. *Real* emergencies ("Don, I'm at the corner of WALK and DON'T WALK and the car won't start!").

I also have a couple of phones -- that I use as WiFi terminals (no phone service) and "911 phones" (for "emergencies" that the authorities would recognize as such -- not "car trouble")


The same can be said of the (regular) phone. Or email. Or...

I don't accept phone calls from clients. Too easy for them to waste my time while they *think* about what they actually want to ask me. "Fishing expeditions"

Think about what you want to know. Put your thoughts on paper. Mail/email them to me. Let *me* think about my reply (!). And, I will expend the same effort committing that reply to paper for *your* review.

[and we both have a record of the communication -- fewer "misunderstandings"]

Dunno. I don't pretend to understand the obsession folks have with their cell phones. I don't answer the *land* line so the idea of "jumping" because someone decided to ring my cell phone just seems "pathetic" (how many calls really NEED to be answered EXACTLY when placed regardless of where the recipient is located? Gee, what would happen if he was in a poor coverage area? Would the world come to an end??)

We've talked about using paint additives to cut down on RF leakage, here (WiFi, cell phones, etc.) but are unconvinced of its effectiveness.

[I wonder what the legal ramifications of doing this in a *business* might be?]

(sigh) You're even more cynical than I! :>

Reply to
Don Y

Exactly! We're tickled to be able to "buy" that sort of "cheap insurance" (remaining connected if stranded someplace) and appreciate all the folks who've subsidized that for us!

Of course, we have no idea when that capability will go away...

There are several good texts that address these sorts of issues (unfortunately, I've not been keeping a list). I'm currently reading one that addresses how *pleasure* works in the brain...

Depends on how important you are. Doctor's will charge you for an appointment if you fail to give 24 hours notice of a cancellation.

Granted, we can't (all) impose that sort of penalty on the folks we deal with day-to-day. *But*, you can exert some pressure to discourage behaviors that you aren't happy with (I was tempted to call them "bad behaviors" but that implies a judgement call on my part). E.g., friends who like to cancel on us at the last minute tend to NOT get invited to future functions/activities.

Reply to
Don Y

In some places, a cell phone is cheaper even if you talk a *lot*. Add in cost of any long distance and land lines are ridiculous.

Sure. I wouldn't have a cash-back credit card without the people who actually borrow money with them. ...or zero interest financing...

Yep. In fact that's why so many "need" to have both parents work. Their wants have become "needs".

I'm sure it's less "not OK" to not bother calling at all.

Reply to

Yes -- but not too much! ;-)

There are two sides to this (of course). I've seen companies find themselves scrambling when a vendor went belly up, left a particular market, had a sudden upturn in business that resulted in longer production delays, etc. I know of one case where "Pa" retired and "Son" started making parts "to print" (Pa never seemed to be able to do that). Customer suddenly discovered "correct" parts being supplied -- which were incompatible with the rest of the design (which had been modified to adapt to Pa's "problems").

Purchasing is a tricky business. You have to be concious of what sort of business (volume) you are directing to each supplier -- BECAUSE THEY SURELY ARE!

If you look at these relationships solely as dollars and cents, you end up funneling all your business to the guy with the best price. Then, when you get in trouble with "him" (or, when you need some capability that he can't provide), you find the other vendors giving you a less than warm reception!

As I said, "what business are you in: printers or ink?" (cameras or film, tp dispensers or tp, etc.)

When dealing with The Unwashed Masses, things are particularly difficult as consumers tend not to be able to perceive actual costs associated with services. E.g., "I bought the whole camera for $200 and they want $150 just to *fix* it!" or "Heck, they want $30 for the *battery*!"

Personally, I don't want to deal with the customer after the sale. I don't want to have to repair the device (what did I do wrong in the design?). Or, patch a bug. Or, figure out which battery he needs. Or, wait for him to decide what color *case* he wants (and listen to him complaining because only black and brown are offered: "Don't you have gun metal grey?")

Reply to
Don Y

But he should sell aviation fuel to that CEO in fractional ounce plastic containers at $75 each. Let him worry that he can only extract

30% from each, and that it's only good for a couple months .
You can't have a sense of humor, if you have no sense.
Reply to
Michael A. Terrell

You KIDS!!! They used two-way radios. A more expensive option was a 'mobile phone' from the phone company that cost you several thousand dollars, high monthly fees and a dollar or more per minute of use. They were usually installed in the vehicle, which added acouple hundred dollars to the costs, and that lowered the resale value when you sold it. I saw & repaired exactly ONE portable 'mobile phone'. It was owned by a doctor and built in a oversize briefcase. It had a rotary phone dial, and 'Gates' lead acid cells for power. He paid about $5,000 for it, just to be able to get calls on the local golf course.

You can't have a sense of humor, if you have no sense.
Reply to
Michael A. Terrell

I learned early on (from a Western Electric source inspector, of all people), that if your part didn't match your print, yet your part seemed to be acceptable as supplied, consider changing your print to match your part. If only "Pa" had done this.

Reply to

That's assuming anyone _informed_ "Pa" about that discrepancy in the first place. If "Pa" never knew his parts did not actually match his print, there was never any reason for him to change either. After all, if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Reply to
Hans-Bernhard Bröker

OTOH, leased cartridges and a swap-empty-for-full-one scheme of handling are just about the only way you'll ever manage to control the safety risks involved. A high-pressure gas tank in a private home, where nobody has the first idea about the safety issues involved, is a sure recipe for aiming a nasty class-action law suit your way. Keeping ownership of the cartridges enables the company to manage that risk.

Reply to
Hans-Bernhard Bröker

"If these people NEED them (two way radios), then are you implying that, previously, they were INCAPABLE of performing their duties?"

["Turtles, all the way down!"]

Yes, a friend was responsible for setting up Comms for things like presidential visits, etc. He had just such a briefcase. At the time, it was cool -- though obvious in functionality. Now, it's almost laughable... :>

Reply to
Don Y

No. Rather, the cartridge refuses to dispense fuel after the little chip claims enough has been dispensed -- regardless of how much remains in the cartridge or how high over the ocean the aircraft happens to be, at the time!

"We're sorry, but the license for your fuel has expired. Stop by the nearest AvGasRUs store to redeem your used cartridges for valuable prizes!"

Reply to
Don Y

Yes. Prior to that, they had to sit around the office and wait for a phone call. VERY inefficient and expensive. I guess that you never saw someone have a phone brought to their table at a restaurant?

You can't have a sense of humor, if you have no sense.
Reply to
Michael A. Terrell

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