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Building a Better Mousetrap: A Baby Boomer Consumer’s Rant

February 10th, 2019 by Michael Dyet

Mousetrap

Hmmm, you get what you pay for. True or false?

Television commercials have a tendency to irk me these todays. I will concede that this is partly because as I get older my tolerance for bullshit is wearing thin. The fact that I am aging baby boomer that many companies no longer target is also a contributing factor.

Having declared my biases, I will forge on. There are two companies whose commercials particularly ruffle my admittedly graying feathers.

Let’s start with self-directed investing firm Questrade. You have likely seen their commercials. Actors portraying investors tell their investment advisor that they cannot afford to pay the exorbitant fees any longer and are switching to Questrade.

My distaste for these commercials stems in part from the fact that they are overtly negative. I have said it many times about politicians and it applies to businesses as well. Do not tell me why I should not do business with the other guy. Tell me why I should do business with you. If you are not willing to do that, I am not interested in what you have to offer.

My ire is also raised by the ridiculous exaggeration. I can’t afford to support you and my family too! I really want the advisor to reply: Fine by me. Take your money somewhere else. I have better things to do with my time than babysit bitch-and-gripe clients like you! And don’t come crying to me when your portfolio tanks because you did not want to pay for my expertise.

The other company on my hit list is Purple Bricks. In their ads, people who have sold their house using a traditional real estate agent are greatly distressed to learn they could have avoided paying the real estate agent’s percentage. The implication is that Purple Bricks gives you all the benefits of a real estate agent with none of the cost.

Of course, it just plain ain’t true. Purple Bricks works on the flat fee principle, by no means a new tactic, which they conveniently neglect to mention. And there is no way on God’ green earth that you get the same level of service as you would with a real estate agent.

Don’t get me wrong. Building a better mousetrap is a proven model for success in the business world. Questrade and Purple Bricks are staking out the better mousetrap positioning. But the truth is they are offering a cheaper mousetrap via the do it yourself, self-serve system.

Truthfully, this is the main axe I have to grind. The business world is moving steadily to the self-serve model. Its’ proponents want us to believe that the traditional, full service model is broken. The truth is it works just as well as it always has. But self-serve means lower overheads for the business and higher profits. Nevertheless, the old adage applies: You get what you pay for.

Now, my final word on the subject and the conclusion of my rant.

If you want me to consider your mousetrap, be honest with me. I know deception and half-truths when I hear them. I will not consider doing business with you on principle. And I’ll say it one more time: Do not tell me what the other guy is doing wrong. Tell me what you will do right. If you can’t do that, I’ll mute my TV every time your commercials play.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.com or the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.

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