The title of this article “To Our Valued Customers” is a phrase that is often seen posted (with slight modification of wording) in and around a lot of businesses. It makes sense for the business to at least give the impression that they care about the people they are selling their products or services to. The phrase has become so common that it is cliche to most people, or so it may seem.
For some time, I have been thinking about my gut-level reaction against this statement. I have only recently been able to specify EXACTLY what it is that has bothered me about this phrase.
I’ll give a very clear reason why this idea is unsettling to me, on several different levels.
First and foremost, I detest being labeled as a consumer, or customer. I know that it can be only semantics for some, but when you live the way that we live, you may view typical, mundane business interactions as worthy of writing an entire article about. So here we go….
Here’s an example that happens frequently enough for us that it causes our blood to boil, especially in a country that supposedly promotes freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, as mentioned in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Picture us at your local mega-grocery store, handing out our recent DVD called “Choosing.” As people are are approaching their cars, unloading their groceries, we dare have the audacity to approach them in broad daylight and offer them the chance to obtain a copy of our film! Oh the humanity!
Some people politely say no thanks, others hear what we are saying, but still decline, and then there are those people who actually take what we offer them, and even go so far as to share a gift donation in return.
This is where the main gist of the article is heading. A store employee, a store manager, a security officer, sometimes even a janitor employed by the company feels it is their duty to tell us we need to leave “their customers” alone. And then, in mid-sentence, we are told to leave the premises.
I don’t know about you, but if I decide to walk into a Walmart and purchase a can of beans, I did not unknowingly sign a contract somehow indicating that I belonged to Walmart in any way, shape, or form. I am a human being when I walk inside that store, and I am a free human being when I leave that store, regardless of whether or not I purchased even a .67 cents can of pinto beans.
To bring this all to a simple matter, when did *I* become in essence, *theirs*? When did I, as a free, autonomous human being, become the “property” of some store? Were you aware that this is in fact how *they* really view you?
When you walk out of a particular business/store, you are your own person. You have rights. You can choose to do what you will. Or at least, that’s what *they* want you to think.
Here’s a simple question: At what point do you cease to be *their* customer, and resume your God-given right as a free individual? Is it when you exit through the last doors at the supermarket? Is it when you pick up your sales receipt? Is it when they nod and say: “Thank you?” Where exactly is the cut off point, as they say?
When *we* approach you, you have already conducted your business with *them*. We are not in some sort of business competition with them; we have an entirely, radical, different “PRODUCT” we are trying to “push.” If we were offering the same goods and services as *them*, it might be somewhat understandable to be irritated by our presence. However, the bottom line is that what they SELL (read, demand a certain price for) and what we are OFFERING cannot even dare to be compared.
Take back your right as an individual, created in God’s image to interact with the rest of God’s creation in ways you might never expect.
You don’t belong to: Walmart; Target; Dillons, Tesco; Marks & Spencer; Food4Less; Kroger; The Mall of America; Gap;….
The list is endless….you get the idea. The next time a “store associate, employee, manager, security guard, janitor, etc, walks up to US during OUR conversation, tell them to leave you alone, as you want to be able to make your own choices about who and who not to interact with! Amen?!
Tell them to treat you like a valued person instead of a customer.