Opinion

Staff editorial 11/3: Unified voices can bring change

There is strength in numbers.

Bank of America is just one example: In response to massive outcry from disgruntled customers, the bank announced Tuesday that it will drop its proposed debit card fee.

This new policy stated that customers would be charged $5 a month if they chose to use their debit cards to make purchases. Other major banks, including JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, have also backed down from plans to institute such new fees.

These banks’ decisions to retract the new fees come at a time when participants in Occupy Miami, which was involved in the opposition to Bank of America’s fees, and other similar movements worldwide have proclaimed themselves as “the 99 percent” who are protesting the overwhelming power of the wealthy “1 percent.”

And according to the Huffington Post, Occupy Wall Street – the umbrella movement that sparked Occupy Miami – is gaining momentum in Congress. This week, three Congressmen introduced a jobs bill that would target large-scale stock market investors.

Also, Netflix dropped its new branch, Qwikster, a DVD-by-mail service, so that Netflix could solely focus on streaming movies online. Customers denounced Qwikster as inconvenient, and the 60 percent price increase for all Netflix services didn’t help.

With consumers protesting – 800,000 accounts were cancelled – and stocks dropping, Netflix was forced to react accordingly.

Collectively, these changes prove that the public can indeed have a strong, influential voice when used appropriately.

These failed experiments in the marketplace as a result of customer dissatisfaction are not a new phenomenon. In 1985, Coca-Cola dropped its unpopular “New Coke” after the public demanded that the company return to the original Coke recipe. Delta nixed a $2 fee for tickets not purchased online in 1999. PepsiCo Inc. dropped a new Tropicana logo in early 2009, a mere six weeks after unveiling it, because of an overwhelmingly negative reaction.

Regardless of the power that the wealthiest in society have, consumers undeniably drive the market. Purchasing power is an influential force that should not be underrated. Companies are nothing without their customers, and there has to be a balance between profit and customer satisfaction.

If enough people speak their minds, change will never be out of reach. Nobody can do anything about the fact that Kim Kardashian made $236,111.11 for each day she was married to Kris Humphries. Unfortunately, that’s how some of the 1 percent lives. However, living in the other 99 percent does not mean that nothing can be accomplished.

Great things can happen when many voices take a stand.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

November 2, 2011

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