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Customer Service: By changing nothing, nothing changes

Customer Service: By changing nothing, nothing changes

“By changing nothing, nothing changes” – Tony Robbins

In this election cycle, the candidates from both the Republican and the Democratic parties, vying for the office of the President of the United States, have the lowest ratings of any candidate in history. It seems Americans – albeit not the majority of the population - want to vote for someone else, because they find themselves increasingly identifying with the views of either an independent or a third-party candidate.

But come Election Day, these same people will vote for one of the candidates from the two major political parties, because that’s what everyone else does. When these people talk about wanting to vote for a third-party candidate with their family or friends, they’re unduly influenced by them. They chastise them by saying that they’re “voting for the enemy” or “throwing their vote away.”

First, we can blame the attitudes of the masses above, on the fact that in our country the process to elect our officials favors a two-party system. Therefore the viability of an independent or Third Party candidate is discounted by the masses from the get-go. Even though the credentials and the electability of this candidate may be viable, the masses assume the odds of mounting a successful campaign against the established two-party candidates are insurmountable. I humbly suggest this phenomenon as intellectual laziness on the part of the electorate.

As an example, in 1996, and especially in 1992, independent candidate H. Ross Perot set records with his presidential campaigns when he polled in first place at various points. Yet, despite getting a respectable 19 percent of the popular vote, he did not win a single state due to the nature of American elections, where electoral votes are given to the candidate that has the largest plurality.

Second, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which provides the only national platform for the electorate of our country to hear the candidates debate each other and share their vision for the country, stack the odds against the third party or an independent candidate and favor the two- party establishment. This is how they do it.

When considering which candidates to invite to these debates, the CPD  rules require “… candidates must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College, and have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.” These rules effectively ensure that these alternate candidates are never given a fair shot at sharing their message on a national stage.

And finally, “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine” mentality is pervasive among the national media and the two-party establishment. The corporate media never covers things that are not beneficial to their bottom line. And only the two major party national committees and their candidates, who have sold out to corporate money, amass war chests in the billions of dollars to spend on each election cycle. The national media is more than happy to provide all the coverage these parties and candidates need to reach their constituents - for the right price, of course - in this quid pro quo relationship.

It is no wonder then, that when an independent candidate or a candidate of the third-party, like the Libertarian or the Green Party, who offers real solutions never get heard because his/her voice is drowned by the constant babble from the candidates of the two established parties.

While the national media maintain their focus on the candidates of the two dominant parties going at it like petulant children, the alternate candidates who present nuanced solutions to issues are ignored. Issues like, raising education standards and accountability for our children, providing affordable college and vocational education for our youth, jobs with livable wages for our citizens, growing an economy that is grounded in providing equal opportunity for all and not a privileged few, simplified tax code that ensures fairness to taxpayers across all income groups, nation building in our country as opposed to the countries we invaded, reducing poverty, providing health care, championing human rights and climate change initiatives. 

In the online home repair referral space, the above scenario plays out on a daily basis. The entrenched players in this space, Angie’s List and Home Advisor, (like the two political parties, which have been around for over a century) have been in business for almost 20 years. And using their early entry into the marketplace, they created for themselves a massive customer base. This customer base bestowed a financial windfall for these companies. But their excesses came at the expense of their constituents, either the customer or businesses, who registered on these sites. How, you ask?

Angie’s List settled a lawsuit that was bought against it which claimed “…the online-review site lures consumers of local service providers to pay for access to purportedly unfiltered reviews, ratings and search rankings when it actually profits from secretly manipulating those features.”

Home Advisor doesn’t fare much better. According to a lawsuit filed in July 2016, “… tens of thousands of small to mid-size Home Service Professional businesses operating around the country have been victimized by their association with Defendants IAC and HomeAdvisor, Inc. While the service is free to homeowners, Home Service Professionals are required to purchase an annual membership in order to join the HomeAdvisor network, plus pay an additional fee for purported “quality”, “project ready” and “qualified” Leads, which charges can range from $8 to over $90 per Lead. C&T alleges that in reality, and undisclosed to the Home Service Professionals, the Leads are not qualified or quality, and do not have the characteristics of being from “project-ready homeowners”, as promoted by HomeAdvisor.”

It amazes me. Like the electorate of our country, who - despite not liking either candidate from the major political parties - refuse to endorse an independent or a third-party candidate, the customers and businesses that consistently receive the short end of the stick from the companies mentioned above, continue to give their businesses to these sites, and get abused, but will not take a flier on a smaller site like ours (, that is everything these big business are not. Honest, fair, and service oriented.

And just like the two-parties have an unfair advantage in the presidential debates, any small player in the home repair referral space doesn’t stand a chance of getting in front of their potential constituents because, the entrenched players with their 20-year head start dominate all the search engine results, hoard all the relevant keywords, and have fostered an environment of utter distrust among the prospective customers – the home-owners and small businesses – of other businesses like ours that succeeded them.

And finally, like the established two-parties, that developed a symbiotic relationship with the national media, Angie’s List and Home Advisor spend tens of millions of dollars each year on their marketing and advertising endeavors. And the media return the favor in kind, by writing fluff PR pieces extolling the greatness of these companies, and how they are disrupting the marketplace for the better. They somehow always seem to forget to write about how these companies “bite the hand that feeds them.”

To conclude, whether you’re choosing a presidential candidate or a referral company for your home repairs, tune out the hype, the noise, and let the facts, your research, and finally your convictions guide you in your decision making process. It doesn’t hurt to be bold, and stray from the normal path. Because, “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”  - Jim Rohn

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Last Updated: 2017-10-26 20:08:45


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