Successful companies don’t kill their customers

Dustin Hurst Articles

Sitting in a rather dull committee meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon, I experienced something I rarely see in the building: an authentic defense of free market principles.

Then, just hours later and a few blocks away, politicians provided a stark reminder how little they regard the market and businesses seeking success.

First, the committee. In a presentation about Elio, a three-wheeled wonder which claims to notch 80 miles-per-gallon on the highway, the company’s government relations manager, Joel Sheltrown, explained why his company has high safety standards for its cars … err … autocycles.

“My wife is going to be driving one,” Sheltrown said. “My daughter is going to be driving one. I have seven on order.”

Sure, an auto executive wants safe cars for their own families, but what about the peasants in the streets of Boise, Post Falls or Middleton? For them, Sheltrown offered this gem:

We don’t want to get people killed or injured.

Oh? The auto executive doesn’t want to harm his customers, the people who keep food on his table? Interesting.

This argument is particularly salient for Sheltrown and his buddies at Elio. Selling a three-wheeled car to the American public skeptical of change might be a tough sell. If this company wants to last for more than a few years, it has to, you know, keeps its customers alive.

Fast-forward a few hours to Boise’s hearing about a temporary agreement with ridesharing service Uber. City regulators want the innovative company to bow down to a host of rules and guidelines, including special background checks for drivers and a safety check similar to those of taxis.

Two councilors, including TJ Thomson, supported the temporary plan, which would have allowed Uber to connect riders and drivers in a safe manner. Thomson told me over at IdahoReporter.com he’s entirely comfortable with the company’s own safeguards and consumer protections.

He added, too, that riders get extra protection with Uber because they can provide nearly immediate feedback to the company if rides go awry.

Yet, four councilors rejected an agreement Tuesday night, asking for tougher policies.

Before returning to the issue, those four councilors should channel Sheltrown and realize one simple fact, a truth inconvenient for those so eager to control and regulate:

[tweetable alt=”‘The best companies keep their customers alive.’ — @DustinHurst” hashtag=”#IDleg”]The best companies keep their customers alive.[/tweetable]