Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sweet but Crude

Hallelujah, three of the companies we love to hate got their come-uppance this week.  Starbucks has given the boot to T-mobile, and a court has ordered Ryanair to pay thousands to the new Mrs. Sarkozy in compensation for unauthorized use of her image. (The judgment favored Hubby Sarkozy also, but he accepted only one Euro in damages.)

Over the years I’ve written twice to Starbuck’s corporate to complain about T-mobile.  It’s eerie to think about how something one has written may – or may not – have affected the outcome of events.  (I just had a similar experience with Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, which I’ll tell you about on another occasion.)

As Starbucks’ CEO is now trying to turn the company around, both of my epistolary thrusts return to relevance. First, bad wireless service wipes out the consumer loyalty won by good coffee.  Second, don’t ignore the b-school concept of core competence: My credit union, correctly claiming competence in banking but not in brewing, charges checking fees and gives me free coffee. Starbucks is good at coffee, doesn’t know spit about wireless networking, and so should charge for java and not for wireless.

I’ve already talked the VP of one small hotel chain into dumping T-mobile.  (It’s not eerie when you know you’ve influenced events.) Again, the core competence argument: Why use a phone company for Internet service?  If you want to give your guests good service, find a company that specializes in Internet.  Next on my list is the Hyatt chain, which contracts with T-mobile for wireless and doesn’t know how much bad will it’s generating. 

A couple of years ago on the Euroblog I said all I have to say about Ryanair. When you reach the Euroblog page, hit control-F and enter the search term “weeze” (sorry, I neglected to put an anchor there).

Oh yes, I said three companies… Hugo Chavez has cut off Exxon-Mobil’s supply of Venezuelan crude oil. If you’re still mad about the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill in Alaska (or the fact that the company still hasn't paid cleanup costs) consider that vengeance is sweet… but crude.

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