24 Sep 2008

Why Hank Paulson Made Sprint Be Mean to Me

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Now this is going to start off on a wild tangent, but bear with me. We are working toward this thesis:

Resolved, Treasury Secretary Henry “I Love the Free Market (I Have a Thing For Weakness)” Paulson is directly responsible for the mean treatment I received at the hands of Sprint.

OK, so I just bought a Blackberry. The sales clerk was really trying to impress me, I got the sense.

(Screeeeeeeeeech! Sorry I have to take this Freudian cul de sac for a moment. I think I have a very intimidating persona with sales people; it’s something I picked up from my dad. Once we were at a car dealership, and after the sale the guy said, “You are the most intimidating customer I have ever had.” Now what’s funny is, I never thought my dad was upset, and he wasn’t. So I think my dad’s normal face must look like he’s really disappointed, to insecure outsiders.

In a future post I will relate how I scared the heck out of an exchange student, and again without trying to at all. But we must now end this Freudian digression.)

Anyway, the guy is truly taking about 20 minutes to explain my new Blackberry to me. And the guy really was knowledgeable; if I were Don Murphioni, I would ask him to come work for me.

So when all is said and done, and he’s truly sold me on how cool this Blackberry will be, he then explains that with the mail-in $100 rebate, you have to use blue or black ink. And that you can’t omit any of the questions, or else they’ll deny your rebate. He says that Sprint does everything it can to deny that $100 rebate to as many applicants as possible.

Now isn’t that crazy, that this guy felt the need to volunteer that? Have other people been told that?

Anyway, assume it’s true, and that this guy was really just looking out for me (as opposed to demonstrating his savvy). Then that means Sprint views me as a two year host to be parasitically drained as much as possible that won’t be bad enough to make me eat the early-cancellation fee. Is goodwill really so cheap in our culture, that a company like Sprint doesn’t find it profitable to treat customers very well, and have (say) a 5-year policy, with a $50 early-cancellation fee?

But I realized that Sprint can’t possibly assign much weight to such a long-term contract. That wouldn’t be enforced in any court; people would object to the “slavery” etc.

What Paulson has done is absolutely catastrophic to long-term business planning. You thought bankers were incredibly short-sighted during the last few years? Well, imagine how they’re going to act now–when they don’t even know if the US dollar will be in use five years from now.

Oh, and now on Wall Street as in other areas: It’s about who you know, more than anything else. I’m so glad that high school meritocracy has been transferred to the markets where capital flows are routed. Yeah, nothing too important going on there. It’s not the “real economy.”

(Sorry folks, if you’re new. I am being sarcastic in the above paragraph.)

In conclusion, I urge the judges to rule in favor of the proposition: Henry Paulson made Sprint be mean to me.

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