Maybe it is just me, and I'm getting old. Maybe something fundamental changed when I wasn't looking. However, it seems now everything is based on the 'Culture of The Ripoff'. It seems like the mantra of today is "If I know more about my product/service than you do, it is acceptable that I rip you off because of your ignorance." I realize that the IRS, banks, utilities, insurance, etc., have been using these tactics for years, but lately it seems to have spread to just about every business corner. You're even considered smart if you do so. In my day, you were considered a dirt bag if you used those tactics.
Case in point: I get hired to do a consulting job. I agreed to use their contract rather than my own as the two were very similar. Mine is very straight-forward, there are no weasel words. Theirs was big on transparency. Which I have no problem with. As is usual, I do a week or so work upfront to see thing will go. Any issues that come up. I try to straighten them up before any serious money is on the line. They've seen my success in other venues and want me to market their book online. We sign a JV agreement where I'm to be a partner in their on-going concern. I'm to have my own budget and treat it like my own business. Partners are to have 100% decision making capability in their area of expertise, but joint responsibility in overlapping areas. Open books in all areas of profit and expenses, and confused customers don't buy.
I pointed out they made a typical rookie mistake of naming their book and website before researching their market and understanding their niche. Their title, while catchy, had keywords which would lend itself to the wrong market on-line. (sex related) These people were offline sales insurance professionals and brought their offline experience and figured they would apply it on-line. I told them offline marketing or not, just about everyone these days were going to go online to Amazon to check out the reviews before buying the book and having a professional business book grouped with sex themed titles was, at the very least, going to cause confusion in the mind of the customer. Pretty basic stuff.
I pointed out that title would be surrounded by sex books on Amazon in the "Customers also bought" section. That their cover, while excellent for a paperback or hardcover, wouldn't translate well on Amazon. (Graphics were too small) I suggested a new title with appropriate keywords, and a new domain name. (I even gave them about 10 examples and screenshots to illustrate my point) They also weren't targeting the right niche, or market. They were targeting one which made the least money, and retooling their title with appropriate keywords, they could target a much bigger and more lucrative one. Keep in mind, I'm paid based on my ability to produce a profit. The issue of targeting and keywords are crucial.
My ideas were vetoed right out of the gate. This is when I find out that the main person involved, the guy with the purse strings isn't even a part of the agreement. The agreement's stakeholders had no profit or expense accounts, and the person who did, wasn't a signatory of the agreement. In other words, they could present whatever figures they wanted into the "transparent" accounts to justify whatever they wanted to pay me. In other words, I was going to do all the work and get ripped off at the end with no way of even knowing if I was ripped off or not.
My point is, I'm seeing this in just about every deal these days. There is always some detail left unsaid, or hidden, which allows the other party to screw you at will. It seems like the current business philosophy is it is perfectly OK to withhold information, as long as they can screw you with it at the end, and it's perfectly justified. When I pointed out that the entire contract was based on false pretenses, they weren't even apologetic. It was like, "Yeah, so? We don't like you anymore since you figured out our game."
Is it me, or have the rules changed completely in the last 20 years?