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Thursday, November 10, 2011

When it comes to Screwing Over Customers, Bankers Ain’t got Nothing on Comic Book Publishers

Recently Bank of America proposed a $5 monthly fee for the use of its debit cards. Customers revolted nationwide. They threatened to take their money to credit unions In the face of so much bad publicity competing banks like Wells Fargo, Citibank and JPMorganChase announced they wouldn’t even think of proposing a debit card fee.
Just this week Bank of America backed away from its new proposed fee and announced it wasn’t going to charge its customers to use its debit card.

But if this were the comic book industry, Bank of America would have gotten away with getting customers to pay that monthly fee to read comics on top of the purchase price- and more. In fact comic fans are so naïve they’ll explain away any price increase a toy company or comic book publisher presents to them and justify that company’s reasons for overcharging them.

Sadly the only customers to get least entertainment value for their money are comic book fans. Unfortunately they’re eager to accept being screwed on a regular basis.

Storylines in today’s comic books crawl at a snail’s pace. When I was a kid back in the 1980’s a reader got an entire story with a beginning, middle and end for the low price of 75 cents to a dollar.

Nowadays a whole 32-page comic book will cost Three to four dollars. And for that price all that will happen is Spider-man going to see Aunt May or two members of the Justice League to just meet up to talk about Lex Luthor’s plans to take over the world. Part of a beginning, but no middle or end.

On average, it takes six to eight months for a story to reach the first plot point, and 24 issues to finish a storyline.

I’ve seen Dragon Ball Z episodes with faster pacing over 20 minutes.

At $3-$4 for each comic the comic book customer has shelled out $72-$96 for a story that goes nowhere.

Twenty-five years ago a customer paid $6 and finished an entire storyline or two in that time.

In the time a comic fan spends waiting for a storyline to just setup and reach the first plot point, a person could have:

Watched several dozen DVDs,
Watched several dozen movies at the theater,
Completed a video game like Call of Duty,
Watched two-thirds of the entire TV season of several shows,
Watched several soap opera storylines pay off,
Watched an entire season of a summer cable series,
Watched several wrestling storylines pay off,
Watched several wrestling Pay-Per-Views,
Listened to over 1000 mp3s,
Finished reading several paperback novels,
Read over 180 newspapers, or 36 magazines,
Or surfed the internet for seven months.

With such a slow pace for storytelling these days, the comic book is the lowest value for the entertainment dollar when compared to other forms of competing media. Taking roughly 24 issues to finish a single storyline at $3-$4 an issue a comic fan has spent $72-$96 to get the same entertainment value of a $15 DVD, a $10 movie ticket a $14.99 paperback or a $2.99 eBook!

Wall Street ain’t got nothing on the Comic book industry. Goldman Sachs should send their brokers to DC or Marvel so they can learn how a professional fleeces customers out of their hard-earned money. Subprime mortgages have nothing on the screwjob performed the few remaining comic fans every month.

Stories that take a Twenty-four to a hundred issues to finish? Comic fans will go along. Books that are constantly late? Comic fans will go along? Reboots every two or three years or so that have customers starting their collections over from number one for the third or fourth time? The comic fan goes along. A crazy numbering system that would make a librarian insane? The comic fan goes along. Price increases? Yeah, they’ll go along. A nominal fee per issue for “handling” comics in order to ensure they get to the comic shops? I actually believe that comic book publishers could get away with this.

The Banking industry would love to have comic fans as customers right now. They’re the perfect consumer for their laundry list of fees and surcharges. Comic fans justify every wrong done to them and still open their wallet to hand over their money and wait to be abused again the next month. Wall Street salivates over customers like this who go along to get along and provide absolutely no resistance to their polices outside of bitching on a message board.

I wish comic fans would get some resolve. I wish they’d flex their muscles as consumers and revolt the way Bank of America customers did when they felt they were being abused. It would make comic book publishers wake up and stop taking their readers for granted. If comic book customers demanded better of publishers maybe they’d actually get something of value in exchange for all the money they shell out every month.

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