How Much Does "Trust" Cost?
by Seni Nabou, NFP General Secretary.
Opinion piece published in the Fiji Times on:
7 May 2022
We've all been there. Naively throwing our trust in glossy marketing advertisements or slick word of mouth plugs, and racing to fling our money in the vendor's hands anticipating that the product or service, will live up to our high expectations.
And then only to be bitterly disappointed later that we let our emotions overtake rational logic, whereby that packet of chips turns out to be more air than actual chips, and/or stale to boot.
Or the mechanic; lawyer; carpenter; accountant; hairdresser; plumber; supermarket; market vendor; State agency; tailor; construction company; hardware supplier; mat/tabua seller; white goods shop; fabric seller; stockbroker; medical consultant, etc turns out to be disappointingly, and grossly overrated.
Then we comfort ourselves that "we live and learn", only to be suckered again later by another faddish phase. All these lapses in judgement, big or small, leading to poor purchases in goods or services, cumulatively add up.
You can prove this for yourself. Calculate over the last 6 months, how many impulsive or irrational purchases for goods or services your family has made, just based on a polished marketing blitz, or a nagging child triggered by advertisements subliminally appealing to their base instincts of hunger or thirst?
So if we ask ourselves, how much does "trust" cost? The answer in all likelihood, would be - A Lot.
When we trust blindly without doing good "due diligence", we pay more than we planned to, for it.
Getting conned or cheapening our trust costs us all in the long run. Allowing ourselves to be continuously cheated by clever words, glitzy marketing pictures and empty promises, costs us more.
There are however some exceptional individuals among us who are astute and street smart buyers.
These are the one's who never make rash purchases. They painstakingly wade through advertisements comparing prices, reading product/service reviews, asking or seeking other's views on services received, customer service, warranty's and insurance. They make it their business to read the fine-print.
Some of these astute buyers may go even further. They analyse the actual company selling the product or service. They examine third party companies or organisations that the service/product vendor company associates with, either through sponsorships or partnerships. These buyers are looking for ethical and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives of the company, because they know that every dollar they may hand them, circulates to others.
These buyers have a strong sense of social and civic responsibility because they care that other's should also benefit from their investment or purchase.
They will not hesitate to publicly call out or denounce shoddy worksmanship, overpriced services, laxity in customer services, con artist sales pitches etc. They will follow all avenues of a complaints process to demand redress or compensation.
These sharp people are the services and product marketers worst nightmare. Because they unapologetically ask the hard questions, often many times over, until they are satisfied that the product or service is a good investment. Or they may have received enough information to know that it is time to consider other options.
These are the people who know the value of their hard-earned dollar. They know that placing their trust in the service or product through monetary exchange, must conclude with a return on their investment that they are authorized to receive.
When trust is sealed through an exchange of money, expectations must be met from both sides of the equation. The vendor should be confident that they money they receive is from lawful sources, while the buyer is as confident that the product or service they get in return, as exactly as the vendor said it would be.
Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware!
Caveat Emptor is derived from Latin, and loosely translated to mean "buyer beware".
It basically means that the buyer bears the burden of being solely responsible for assessing the quality of a purchase, before buying.
When a consumer makes a fully informed decision during their due diligence research, they are making good on this principle of "caveat emptor".
But often it’s just more than simply asking questions to a product or service vendor. It's also about knowing how to ask the right questions.
Consider a situation where (while trying not to stereotype) a woman is advised by a mechanic that she needs to go and purchase brake pad fluid as soon as possible. Or a young man is sent on an errand to urgently purchase milk formula for a newborn child.
These are very important decisions that need careful consideration with urgency. These kinds of purchases aren't simply made by taking a trolley down the supermarket aisle. Both fictitious characters need sound advice. Both need to ask the right questions so that their purchases are made on sound judgement in exchange for the granting of their Trust.
Which brake pad fluid brand does His Excellency the President's official vehicle use? Can I see the LPO to prove that they bought it? What brand of milk formula does a good pediatrician recommend based on nutritional value as close to breastmilk as possible?
Asking the right questions means looking beyond the glossy, show-stopping hype, and becoming confident that you are forcing yourself to become more knowledgeable about the product or service that you need.
What's "Trust" got to do with Political Party campaigning?
The parallels between making rational purchases based on fully informed decisions, and voting are quite similar.
Voters are looking to place their trust in a political party or individual by granting them their tick of approval. Voters will be doing solid due diligence, fact finding and asking the right questions of the various political parties. They will be motivated by ideas, approaches and the character of those offering them.
At NFP, we especially welcome this. Because only through voter interaction can we become more engaged in the building of that Trust.
On the other hand, political parties like us, are actively seeking your Trust and vote, in exchange for our capabilities, capacity and tenacity to serve you.
During this official campaign period, we will all be plying you with our messages, our pictures and our vision of a Fiji we all deserve.
It is up to the voter to parse through slick taglines like "Boom" and ask the questions like why the Fiji Times article of the US State Department’s Human Rights report, says that our minimum wage does not typically provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family?
It is up to the voter to do robust due diligence research, and question how it is even remotely logical for the Government to proudly acclaim its "smart borrowing", when 48-year old Anil Dewan Singh (featured in the Fiji Times) who is unemployed and living in Kalekana settlement with his family, are solely reliant on his wife's $80-$90 meagre weekly wage to survive on, such that they are forced to miss meals?
It is also up to the voter to question why their current representatives in Parliament cannot ask or speak to their issues, such as why the notorious Aspen Medical group highlighted in a recent Four Corners (Australia) investigative piece, are facing hard questions from the Australian electorate soon about to vote, when they have been feted and celebrated to operate here in Fiji, despite long delay’s?
Voters have the power, and the voter’s Trust is up for grabs. Voters are well within their rights to be in "hire" and "fire" mode, to seek out and interrogate those of us who are seeking to represent them in Parliament.
Make us be accountable for the granting of your Trust.
Make fully informed decisions on whether you have been getting the Returns On Investment (ROL) from your taxes since 2006.
Do your due diligence well.
Your Trust is worth way more than $360 or $1,000 or $5,000 that may soon come on offer as grants.
Seni Nabou is the general secretary of the National Federation Party