It’s not an exact piece of science but I’m coming to the conclusion that the quality of service you get from a brand is the converse of their size. Take my bank or my energy company to name two culprits, they have more data on me than I have on myself, this should mean that their understanding of me as a customer and the products I buy from them should be amazing - in fact the opposite is true. Both the bank, in my case the HSBC and my (recently fired) energy supplier Npower are beyond incompetent, often arrogant and plain stupid in their dealings with me 99% if the time. I’m glad neither brand make their money from running parties in beer manufacturing plants, this would ruin them.
This is partly because to grow and keep shareholder profits high they need to use computers instead of humans, so they fire staff and replace them with data centres and the staff that are left have zero power to make a decision off the script, they have to do what the computer says, so I can’t blame them. There are notable exceptions to this malaise, Amazon for me continue to be able to offer outstanding service irrespective of their huge scale, I also hear many people speak highly of Sweetwater, although although I’m sure there are some who have their own experiences that may contradict me on both counts.
Setting aside my theory of computers replacing people, there’s a fundamental problem, the bigger a company gets the less personal the service becomes, it is inevitable unless you can clone the founders or at least do an amazing job of imparting their visions and values into every member of their team. Of course this is assuming that the leader of the brand who imparts those visions and values has decent ideas and ethics to starts with - it isn’t always the case, it is said that what walks in the parents often runs in the kids. In other words arrogant CEOs have a tendency to impart that spirit throughout an entire brand, so most of their employees soon catch what they are, save for the few brave mavericks who want to try and swim in the other direction - but sadly they seldom last in a bad corporate culture for long.
You may ask what does this have to do with Pro Tools and studios?
Simply this, some of the best companies and best stores selling us the stuff are the small people; software houses, hand built hardware manufacturers, and corner street stores. Some of the worst are big brands that you’ve already got a mortgage worth of gear with. I’m not suggesting you can simply think small=good, big=bad, that would be too simplistic, but in my experience some of the best service I get is from the small companies and some of the worst from the big brands, which is as I said part systemic, part stupidly, part don’t give a shit.
You can’t always avoid buying from a big brand, but if I’m given a choice then I’ll support the company that has this thought at the back of their minds, that if they treat their customers well then they are going to eat, if they don’t then they won’t.
The reality is this, there are too many people doing the same thing these days and the internet has made buying from them easier than ever, we do have a choice. You can buy from an artisan who has a workshop in the middle of nowhere as easily as you can from MegaCorp who have a branch on every high street and in every airport lounge.
At the end of the day we should buy from whoever gives us the best service be they large or small, but I find them having a personal stake in the game does tend to focus the mind on looking after their customers. Discuss.