Author: Robin Moore
What NEED does this meet?
In a globalised market we need a global tool for making our consumer power count, whether it is changing a corporation’s global policy or a small gripe about a local public service.
A resource that not only helps us find sources of info about and sign-up to boycotts big and small, but also regularly communicates to the target company the number of people boycotting and what the company needs to do to stop the boycott.
What is the APPROACH?
A neutral network building tool that:
a) lets people sign-up for or swap boycotts.
b) at critical numbers of signatories an email/fax is sent to the press office of the company/organisation concerned notifying them of the number of people signed up to boycott them who are waiting to receive a response from them.
So basically it is about creating change through strength in numbers and effective communication.
Here is a first stab at the process, comments gratefully received –
I’ve got a botcott I want to get support for, I enter into letsboycottit.com:
- Who they are
- Brief synopsis of Why I’m boycotting them – linking to another site if more info is required.
- How I’m boycotting
- what the company need to do to stop me boycotting them
- their email address (customer service dept., embassy or press office – easily researched) .
- my email address
My boycott would be listed by brand/company name and location and when I sign up to other boycotts it is cross-promoted amazon style to other signatories i.e. ‘people who boycotted this are also boycotting Nestle, Esso etc..’
Once 10 people are signed up the press office at the company get an email saying that 10 of us want to hear what they are going to do about the issue we want resolved. The process continues as per hearfromyourMP. If people on the list are satisfied by the response from the company (which is distributed to all boycotters via the site) they can take themselves off the boycott. The site could publish data on how quickly companies respond and resolve issues.
This would work for big and small boycotts and creates a dialogue between the boycotters and the boycotted, making it stand apart from other boycott lists.
What are the BENEFITS to people?
From global corporations to small companies, our life is probably shaped more by the commercial and services sectors than by the government of the day (whose party they may well be funding;-). We can encourage these organisations to change through group action, for instance I would:
* join a boycott of Asda (as they fund the Republicans).
* hassle our council about why there’s no green recycling bag scheme in our area.
* boycott HSBC because they gets staff you complain about to deal with your complaint.
* boycott films with Tom Cruise as part of Boycott Scientology (and for reasons of taste;-)
Without such a site the work involved in organising boycotts will remain prohibitive for most of us and we miss the opportunity for using this to change the small things that effect us everyday.
What is the COMPETITION?
There are numerous boycott lists, complaint sites for individuals and there is an overlap with pledgebank but I couldn’t find any generic tool targeted at bringing considerate consumers together and then communicating their issues to the company. Big boycotts can always create their own site but there is definitely a space for a site which helps create smaller ones.
Obviously if anyone can suggest a better name… letsnotbuyit.com, helpmyboycott etc.. I’m not even sure that boycott is the best word as you could use a tool like this to make a group complaint about, for instance, your GPs surgery opening hours and you obviously can’t boycott your Doctor.
What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?
While the detail of how the system functions needs more thought, at the core is the merging of functionality from systems mysociety.org have already created – pledgebank, writetothem and hearfromyourmp. Would be good to harvest mail addresses for major companies, embassies, public services (e.g. partner with howtocomplain.com?) and need to be cross checking boycotts as entered to stop multiple entries for the same companies/boycotts.
The only difficulty I can foresee is that publishing the reasons for boycotts as input by third parties could lead to libel action against the site. We would need to get a legal opinion on this and whether to moderate or not.