Whatever your belief, there is a tendency to think that technology has no ethics. By itself that’s true, same as a rock has no ethics. But in the hand of a human, it becomes something quite different. In the hands of a person, it can be a building block, a weapon, a hammer, or countless other things. It becomes “technology. It’s not the rock that needs ethics though, it’s the hand that wields it. The temptation to steal a little advantage at the expense of the unsuspecting customer is rife, from clickbait title editors, through “lolly” journalism to product sizing and claims in the supermarket. Here are a few of my worst…
- Shrinkage. – Products normally sold at 1kg is repackaged into 750g and sold for a lower unit price but higher price per kg. Packaging looks identical to the larger version. 10 biscuits in a package that previous held 12 biscuits. Crisps in a “Jumbo” package where more cushioning air is pumped in that needed to make the package look bigger. Smaller cans. Don’t try say “we are not trying to catch the consumer out”. You are. You know it. You are dodgy.
- Portion Control – Packaging in portions of 7. 7? Unless I have a family of 7, 14, 21 etc., I will end up with an odd number of leftovers. Are you kidding me? Who only gets one sausage in a family of 4? Divide a single portion of an unhealthy product into n number of “acceptable health” portions in the packaging. Who will buy a packet of crisps and then eat 5 crisps only? If you are shoveling shite, have the stones to say so. Dodgy as!!!!
- Visual Clickbait – “After the break”. So, you have something important for me to see after the break. I watched your adverts and then you told me (again) what I am waiting for was actually coming on tomorrow night’s show. You are a liar. Also, when there is a personal agenda as documentary. Lacking in real evidence, talking up a medical or health benefit claim or harm claim to further your agenda. Using emotive images or stories presented as fact to manipulate or enrage consumers into action in your favor. Manipulate the “working family” or “single mum” or “hungry kids”. Dodgy lying lowlife!
- Mental Manipulation – Restock your supermarket to manipulate people into walking past stock they don’t need every few months. Maybe laugh a little while you watch them struggle to find things that should logically be together. Dodgy! Use statistics to manipulate – not measuring all relevant metrics, using foreshortened axis to make the variance look bigger (not starting at 0) and all the other tricks in data visualization that can deceive while looking plausible. Double Dodgy!
I get why some folk will be strict on the terms of business. I accept that sometimes someone may be taking a liberty in a deal they claim to “broker” or in not reporting that side business to their boss. These are dodgy people and even here, I accept that some folk may feel they are wronged when a potential co-conspirator turns out to be less inclined to loosen their ethics. But usually this is an individual, and the per capita stakes are higher. Where it’s really annoying is that its brands I want to trust that engage in this, brands I need to use. Like a pork barreling politician, you only get a short term win for an enormous long term cost. We could have been lovers. Now we are not even friends.