July 21, 2006

One Opinion Matters

Too often people feel paralyzed by situations thinking they have no control over anything outside of themselves. We may get frustrated, angry or disappointed by something but never do anything about it. We convince ourselves that one opinion does not matter and one person can not make a difference. We see it over and over again as people feel more and more ineffectual in our society.

One of the areas I think this is most rampant is in the realm of customer service. In the day of big box stores and conveniences it seems customer service is nearly non-existent often. We have fought so hard for the bottom line we wonder where customer service went. It is not a hard surprise. But I will say there are exceptions though and if you look for and demand customer service you will receive it. But you need to expect it and be willing to fight for it (in pleasant ways).

Two personal examples from my own life these past few months can be seen. Just last month I was disappointed by a t-shirt display found at a local Target. I talked to the manager and shortly thereafter the tshirts were no longer on display at the store. I went through the channels but did so in a kind and respectful way, yet still firm about my beliefs and the reasons behind them. I have no idea if others felt the way I did or not and expressed their opinions or if it was just based on mine, but I was pleased with the results.

Just this week there was another example. We have a family membership at a gym/club. My kids spend some time in their kids center which has a big wide screen tv in the littlest kid room (primary ages 1-4), though sometimes older kids sit in there and watch TV too. This is the only room available to the youngest children and where many of them spend most of their time. There is also a wide selection of toys in this room. When I dropped my kids off they were playing Dora the Explorer, when I returned they were playing Shrek. I was surprised to discover that they were showing PG rated movies in a toddler room much less in any room in the child center. It is not the movie Shrek persay that bothered me, though I would not let my 2 year old watch it, and here she was watching it. Maybe you think it is a great kids movie and that is fine, I did not question the particular movie what I questioned was the policy of showing PG movies to children without their parents present.

For your information, this is the definition of a PG movie from the MPAA:

"This is a film which clearly needs to be examined by parents before they let their children attend. The label PG plainly states parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, but leaves the parent to make the decision. Parents are warned against sending their children, unseen and without inquiry, to PG-rated movies. The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. However, these elements are not considered so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated film. The PG rating, suggesting parental guidance, is thus an alert for examination of a film by parents before deciding on its viewing by their children. Obviously such a line is difficult to draw. In our pluralistic society it is not easy to make judgments without incurring some disagreement. As long as parents know they must exercise parental responsibility, the rating serves as a meaningful guide and as a warning. "

Now we let our kids watch some PG movies, but we watch them with them or before they watch them. It is our responsibility as parents to decide what is and is not appropriate for our particular children. We take this seriously and we do different things for different kids. For instance our 5 year old can watch things we don't let our 7 year old watch because they are affected differently by different things. But the point is that as parents we are making this decision. By showing a PG movie in a child center you are removing the parents decision - unless you are going to have a policy that says it is your policy to make those determination what is and is not appropriate for all kids (including the one to four year old set).

I asked about the movie and its rating (which I already knew), I asked about their policy and then I went to find the manager on duty for the entire club. I calmly explained why I objected to a policy that allowed children to watch rated PG movies without their parents present or without their parents even knowing. The manager was very understanding and said he would talk to the child center. Today when we went I asked about what television programming would be on and they informed me that there was a recent club wide meeting explaining a new policy which states that only G rated movies will be shown in the child center. I was very pleased and made sure to take the time to thank them and tell them I was impressed by their responsiveness and their change in policy.

Now I realize that sometimes older children want to watch a movie and they may not be thrilled at G rated options. Still having a G rated only policy makes sense in an environment where young children are watching television without their parents present. After all the MPAA clearly states: "This is a film which clearly needs to be examined by parents before they let their children attend" I applaud my club for taking a stance on this and being responsive to my inquiry. I am very pleased with the customer service I received there.

Now I am just one person to be true. But I am one person who also represents likely opinions of others who would not say what they felt. If you have an opinion that is based in reasoning and you express that and make it clear to the right people chances are that opinion will be at least considered and perhaps even result in a change that you wanted to see. You will never know if you never say anything.

As someone who is not afraid to state my case and my reasoning I have found that often companies and individuals will atleast listen to you, and if your reasoning is sound often even do what you suggested. So please don't feel like you are just one person, because your opinion counts and if you expect that it will and act like it should it usually holds more weight. There may be a lot of people in this world but not a whole lot speak up and stand up for what they believe. Don't be afraid to try and if nothing happens at least you know you did all that you could on your end. Then you can decide what to do from there.

Just my .02 and experience,


  1. Good for you! Your message is right on.

  2. I agree! We didn't let our older children watch Shrek because of its distastefulness. It would downright scare the little children!