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laureth's avatar

Why do people get so angry when a profit motive is involved?

Asked by laureth (27184points) December 15th, 2009

There are many fine non-profits out there. This question is not about those.

I’m talking about pure, straight-up businesses that are in it for the money, but sell some sort of service or product that people think should be free. People often seem put out that the business wants to make some money out of their endeavors.

For example, I used to work at a grocery store that sells things like granola and organic vegetables. However, every day, people would complain about the prices, saying, “You’re only in it for the money! If you cared about people, you’d sell for much cheaper!” Currently, I work in the entertainment/music field, and I constantly hear, “You’re clearly in this to make a buck. If you really cared about music, you wouldn’t charge for your service!”

Do they not realize that employees aren’t volunteers, vendors need to be paid, and the landlord doesn’t just lend his office space out to nice businesses for free? Yes, we care about things like organics or music, but it’s also a business, not a charity.

What is it about the profit motive that drives people so crazy?

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17 Answers

King_of_Sexytown's avatar

Customers don’t wanna pay and business people don’t wanna lose money.

tinyfaery's avatar

Because we are basically a world of the have and have-nots. The have-nots can’t spend what they do not have, and the haves never want to become the have-nots.

However, some people are extremely self-righteous and think that the world can operate according to their own idea(l)s. Sometimes I think this type of thinking is immature, and belongs mostly to the young. Once people get a little older they learn the ways of the world.

I am one of those people who hates what capitalism has done to the world, but I also know that there ain’t shit I can do about it.

Harp's avatar

People don’t really understand how razor-thin the profit margins are in certain businesses. I was on the website of a very fancy Parisian restaurant recently and saw that they had a page actually breaking down where every 100 euros of income goes in their operation. Turns out that the profit on that 100 euros is only 2 euros. But I’m sure that the popular perception is that a luxury establishment charging high prices like that must be skimming big profits.

LocoLuke's avatar

People often feel exploited when they have to pay large amounts of money for something they feel is not “worth” as much as they paid. They have the general notion that someone, somewhere is profiting hugely from their “exploitation” (for instance, a common target is Microsoft founder Bill Gates), but they don’t really understand the amount of money it takes to keep a business running.

Berserker's avatar

Yeah people bitch alla time. And business is business, and many peeps in a business have rent to pay too. It’s never been a secret that you start a business to try and make some mollah.

I think the problem is though, in many instances, pretenses about respect of the customer and product quality are quite present, and claims are not always true.

But there’s making cash, and there’s ripping people off. There’s paying your employees and treatin’ em right, and then there’s slavery…

Since some aspects stick out like a sore thumb, it’s easy for someone like me who struggles to pay bills and rent to generalize everything and dilute all the concepts…it’s easy, it gives you a target and releases tension and stress, in a pretty harmless way.

Not saying stuff isn’t too expensive…it usually is, at least, as proportioned besides my measly waitress salary.

But yeah, people like to complain, it’s natural…we don’t ever really need a reason, despite the naturally arising moral conflicts in between the average citizen and the dude puffing on cigars he just lit with your twenty dollar bill.

phillis's avatar

I hate deception. While I feel it is intrusive and socially reprehensible that I would waltz into a Radio Shack demanding to see thier P&L spreadsheets, I just about FEEL like it sometimes. It is a reality that some companies do indeed work to rip people off. A classic example is restaurants. Order in-house, the portions are fine. Take the same plates to go, and you realize once you get home that the salad has been reduced to a julienned carrot and a lettuce leaf.

Some companies make the cheapest product possible to insure the greatest profit. In and of itself, I have no problem with that. But what about companies whose standard practice it is to create products that intentionally fall apart? Then they all but insist that you buy a warranty “for added protection” because they know the product was never intended to last. This is creates an imbalance strictly in the retailer’s favor. Customers have the right to expect a product that won’t fall apart or present a hazard.

This is NOT acceptable on any level. It’s deceitful and it’s cheating. I have no respect for businesses like that. But it doesn’t matter, you see. Because it has become accepted by the public that this is the only way to half way get your money’s worth. I see it, but it looks like I am definitely in the minority.

Someone I pointed in this thread mentioned that Joe Public doesn’t realize the money it takes to run a business and turn a profit, and I agree. We had three family businesses as I grew up and saw this ad naseum.

There’s a third group the author brought up which I find bizarre. Thankfully, I’ve seen very few of these folks. Apparently, I am one of the lucky ones. How many people want you to stock your shelves and announce that everything inside is free? That defies all common sense. I’d be very interested if jellies would let me know how often you see this in your respective industries.

LeopardGecko's avatar

Haha, well it sounds like they just don’t want to spend the money on the stuff you’re selling. They want to take their frustrations out on you because they know they can’t afford what you’re selling.

ninjacolin's avatar

it seems strange to state but most people don’t understand the purpose of money. they fallaciously associate greed and money. hell, they fallaciously associate greed with evil.

people who complain about a fair priced item simply do not understand it’s value. this isn’t to say that they wouldn’t appreciate a lesson. i suggest you prepare a really short and sweet response to money gripes that semi-educates people about what the money you’re asking for is used for and why it is the price it is.

laureth's avatar

GA @Harp – thanks for the Euro site.

But I think @ninjacolin comes closest. It’s not that people just want to pay less really (and I may have phrased the question poorly), but that they somehow think that taking money for something taints the whole thing. Like, it’s not that the expensive French meal should be 98 Euros instead of 100 (to eliminate the profit margin), but that if they really cared about good food and feeding people, they wouldn’t take money for it at all.

And if my friend, a singer, really cared about the art of music, she wouldn’t charge any money for singing – she’d just do it because she loves to sing.

Why does taking money mean you don’t care about people, about food, about music?

mattbrowne's avatar

Profits can be a good and healthy thing. The problem is excessive profits or short-term profits at the expense of long-term losses (to be covered by somebody else).

SeventhSense's avatar

Well it may be immaturity and naivete. Some people create and some consume.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. I basically come down to hypocrisy. People want goods and they want them near free. But then when you point out that near free or very cheap pair of jeans that are decently made was done with foreign labor or even foreign labor that was children they want to scold the company/store that had them created or purchased the. Same with houses, no one cares about the illegals that set the tile and did the carpet if it means they will get the house for %23,000 less. They don’t care about the illegals sweating in the sun if it keeps them from having to pay $7 a head for lettuce or $3 a piece for apples.

Those who have little cash resent those who have it because they can live a life style the less off wish they could live. They really do not have a grasp of the free enterprise system. You can have anything done quick, done well, done cheap, you can have any 2 but you will rarely get all 3. If you want it fast and cheap don’t expect it to be very good. If you want it cheap and well done, don’t expect it to be very quick. If you want something quick and well done it won’t be cheap.

As you pointed out, there is a lot of cost connected to bringing those cans of soup to the market; trucks that need gas to haul them there, a machine often very large to can the soup, some person to stock it on the shelves etc. People often hate profit unless THEY are making the profit. No one wants to feel they are giving their hard earned money to make another person rich.

laureth's avatar

I agree with you, @Hypocrisy_Central, but I think that’s a Great Answer to a slightly different question.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@laureth Basically the bottom line to your question is those who are not making the profit hate it because they are not the ones making it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If they have a job they’re making a profit of sorts, @Hypocrisy_Central.

I had a mechanic once who was appalled to learn that we sold our mowers for more than we paid for them! He just thought that was a rip off!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Dutchess_III I had a mechanic once who was appalled to learn that we sold our mowers for more than we paid for them! He just thought that was a rip off!
Because you, or your business was making the profit (aka extra cash) and not him

Dutchess_III's avatar

I explained to him that it was those profits that made his paycheck, along with a lot of other stuff. Our take home? About $15,000 a year.

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