Customers Will Have Short Memories When This Is All Over

So here is a question for you. Which brand treated its workers in the best possible way during the global financial crisis a decade ago? Which treated them the worst?

Wrack your brain and you will probably find it impossible to even remember which brand let people go over a text and which did the most to keep them in their posts. It's the same with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Social media has been abuzz with campaigns to out bad behaviour from bosses of major companies.

The Wetherspoon pub chain owner Tim Martin is top of the list, as he always is, being an arch proponent of Brexit. Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley is also receiving a lot of social heat after trying to keep his stores open after the Government ruled that non-essential shops must close. Richard Branson has come in for some social media stick too, being a millionaire who wants his airline supported by government money. 

On the other hand, BA didn't so much furlough staff as put them all on 80% of their wages. Given that means keeping on people who have little to do right now and may well be earning more than if they had been furloughed -- at BA's expense, of course, rather than the Government's -- that would surely mark them as a great employer.

But when you want to fly from Heathrow to LA in the autumn, what will guide the choice between BA and Virgin Atlantic? Will it be what a bunch of people told you to think on social media? Will it be your own feelings when, hopefully, the current pandemic is over or under control?

Or will it be the cost of the ticket, the legroom, the time of the flight, the rewards programme -- you know, the normal stuff you would base the decision on. Will it be influenced by potential strike action or the risk of another IT disaster afflicting the country's flag carrier?

Opinion from top media execs is split on this, as a Campaign article makes clear today, with some thinking we have short memories and will shop like we did before, while others believe we are going to be a lot more "woke" about the brands we are loyal to when this is all over. 

For me, I'm with the short memory proponents. After all, the headlines are often critical of Amazon's employee relations and its low tax bill (from legal accounting arrangements). Yet, who is it we've just all been turning to for presents and bits and bobs in the past month? Who is it we always turn to?

The type of people who are lining up to say they would never got to a Wetherspoon pub are, dare I say, the type of people who wouldn't go there anyway. Tim Martin is outspoken and not someone I agree with regularly but he did raise a good issue.

Brands are supposed to furlough staff on up to GBP2,500 per month, but the Government won't be paying this money until the beginning of May. That means companies that are shut have to pay their staff in the meantime. Many are and will just claim the money back later. Some will not be prepared to take the hit to their cash flow.

Will this impact where you have a pint when this is all over? I doubt it. I'm not a Wetherspoon pub user so it makes no difference to me but for someone looking for a cheap lager or a meal deal, it will probably be business as usual. 

So, expect some rage now but soon enough we will be going for the brands that offer the best products and services based on price, quality and convenience.

Put it this way -- when the new football season starts and Sports Direct have football boots for half the price of the Nike website, are you really going to boycott Mike Ashley still? I doubt it. 

Next story loading loading..