Decline of the Bullshit Company

Earlier today, Harry Marks posted an article on his site rebutting an argument made by Jim Cramer of CNBC. Here's the quote:

When the smoke clears off this miserable Dell quarter, people will realize that Apple’s behind the destruction of the laptop,” Cramer said. “And with that destruction comes a world of hurt for just about everyone, save Apple.

Harry Marks replied by saying:

It’s not a matter of the iPhone and iPad obsoleting the laptop. Apple’s success isn’t just with iOS devices, it’s with MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros, too. What Apple has done is obsolete poorly-made computers, poor shopping experiences, and poor customer service.
Apple isn’t destroying laptops, it’s making its customers happy. What are the other guys doing?

He hit the nail square on the head. The other companies aren't only not doing anything, they're not even thinking.

Not limiting this to the tech business, I believe we might be witnessing the decline of "Bullshit Companies"; companies that are trying to bullshit their (potential) customers in many different ways: By pre-announcing products that might never see the light of day, by making promises they won't even attempt to keep,  by adding asterisk after asterisk and footnote after footnote in order to shroud the truth about what they are trying to sell and last but not least with bad customer service.

Apple being the one of the forerunners here (and a gargantuan at that), I'm starting to see more and more "Non-Bullshit Companies", companies that seem to work by a very simple business principle:
Here's what we offer. We believe it'll make your life easier in this and that way. Nothing more nothing less. This is how much we want for it.

Among other things the wild success of social funding platforms (like Kickstarter) illustrates where things are going:
If you have an honest and good value proposition, people will pay for it. Not out of the goodness of their heart, but because they know they're going to get something out of it.

Here are a few examples of this, that I've noticed around me lately:

  • A new bus company has started to take advantage of the fact that the Deutsche Bahn (Germany's predominant railway company) isn't properly serving the population of the region. They set up a bus route covering the major cities on the way from Luxemburg to Frankfurt Airport. Their prices are good, the service is executed well and they know how to communicate.
  • A local beer garden, situated in one of the most scenic spots in Trier (with everything from a great vista, large meadows to football and beach volleyball courts) put up a sign telling customers that they could use its accommodations and bring their own food, as long as they buy their drinks here. You have no idea how uncommon this is and I'm sure that this was not the case last year. I should add that their beverage prices are very decent and the service is excellent, which only adds to the positive impression. This tactic has gotten them a lot of good will from guests and from what I have learned their food sales haven't declined and overall business seems to have improved.
  • How funny it may seem, my cellphone operator o2 Germany is on this list. The company has many flaws and does plenty of things wrong, but they offer a post-paid plan that is as simple as it can be, not forcing me into a long-term commitment, while having per-minute and data prices that are decent even compared to prepaid plans.

Customers are smarter than most companies think and those still believing that trying to fool customers is the way to go, are going to realise that "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me." will turn into "Fool me once… FUCK YOU!" more quickly than ever before.

People don't begrudge companies for making money (not even for making boat loads of it), they just hate companies who are trying to do so by making false claims and essentially ripping people off. Only those businesses that are trying to make money without feeling the need to scam customers will prevail long-term and prosper. These are the companies that will get the money I earn.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney