“Patronize” has two meanings. The first is to be a frequent or regular customer of a business. The second is to treat someone with sugary disdain, wrapped in an extra-yummy layer of bogus sincerity.
To me, “patronized” perfectly describes the modern vendor-consumer relationship.
Unless you know them personally, business owners, bank managers, waiters, UPS drivers – these people aren’t your friends. But they pretend to be, because you have something they want. (Money, to be received at a profit.) And you aren’t their friends, but you pretend to be. Because they have something you want. (Goods or services, presumably at a fair price.)
When this special dependency works well, customers patronize a business and the business thrives. When a business thrives, it can afford to offer new, fairly-priced goods and services. This in turn attracts more customers, the business expands, and the cycle wheels ever-onward. It’s the Sex Panther (by Odeon) that fuels our economic mojo.
The second definition of “patronize” comes into particular effect when the vendor-consumer relationship derails. A business, for example, because of its success may start to take advantage of its customers’ goodwill. (Rogers, I’m looking at you. Don’t pretend you don’t see me.) Sensing this, customers quickly become disenfranchised and concoct strategies to undermine what they perceive to be the business’ grotesque profitability.
What do you get?
The bored customer-service flunky who’s clearly been trained to give a shit about your problem – but he really doesn’t. The adult Honey Boo Boo who loves your restaurant so much she brings Tupperware containers to the all-you-can-eat buffet.
The effete store manager who calls you “sir” with that special inflection. The rabid bargain-hunter who cheerfully bottlenecks the checkout line until someone, anyone, gives her the discount she clipped out of last year’s newspaper.
Condescending pricks serving assholes. Patronized.
We believe customers should demand respect from businesses.
We believe business owners and their employees deserve to be fairly treated by customers.
Thus, sadly, is the state in which we find ourselves today. It’s why my wife and I created the website you’re reading now.
We think it’s time to restore the balance.
We believe customers should demand respect from businesses. We believe business owners and their employees deserve to be fairly treated by customers.
Sometimes either party needs a nudge – or, in many cases, a two-by-four to the back of the head – to shake off the reptilian notion that the other guys are enemies. Patronized is about that. It’s about deals: where to find them, and how to go about harvesting them. Sustainably.
We’re not about eating pancakes on our vanquished adversaries’ graves. We take what we need and leave the rest for others. We treat our consumer environment with respect.
I’m into cars, technology, the arts. My wife loves travel planning, mystery shops, and personal finance. I once owned a retail business. My wife hoards food. (It’s weird, but she has a good heart.)
We’re rational consumers. If we encounter obstructions, we plot ways around them. It’s intellectual, never emotional. And we share what we learn.
We share, because we know there are others who understand things have to change. We share, because the moment you let it get personal – the moment you make yourself the centre of some idiotic public spectacle – that’s when we all become Patronized.
I am the Underground Man. My wife and I are your hosts. You are very welcome here.