On yesterday's CNN Saturday Morning News, business correspondent Alison Kosik reported on Verizon Wireless's reversal of a day-old plan to charge some customers a $2 bill-paying fee. Citing recent about-faces by Bank of America and Netflix, Kosik concluded:
Now, there's no direct connection here, but I can't help but believe that the outrage that we witnessed in the Occupy movement around the country has encouraged consumers to band together and protest what they see as unfair.
The Verizon Wireless fee fight is another example of the growing power of U.S. consumers, especially when they take their case to the internet.
Like others in the mainstream media, Kosik seems determined to credit the Occupy movement with some positive accomplishment regardless of reality. Forget all the crimes, disturbances, threats, and associated costs emanating from the malcontents with no discernable agenda other than taking someone else's money. Their motives are pure and, although the media can't identify a direct connection between their often contemptible behavior and consumer empowerment, people like Kosik will say she believes there is one.
Guess what, Alison? Consumers hold the upper hand in a free market. It's been that way for years. Look at what happened to the Ford Edsel in the 50s, Studebakers in the 60s, Betamax in the 70s, New Coke in the 80s, the McDonalds Arch Deluxe in the 90s, and HD DVDs in the last decade.
They're not around anymore - except perhaps on eBay - and the reason is consumers didn't like them. The Internet is, as Kosik contends, playing a role. Through Twitter and blogs and on-line petitions, feedback is relayed much more quickly to businesses.
Linking the outrage of Occupy's hapless wretches to increased consumer power is more than a stretch, though. Even for CNN.