Dear GOP

Dear GOP,

I have been a loyal customer for quite a number of years. Your product may not have been “new” or “exciting” or “sexy” but it has always been pretty reliable and a whole lot better than any of the alternative products out there. Although there were occasions where your competitors actually did have a better (or slicker) product, I stayed with yours. I have always believed that loyalty counts for something. Besides, I always knew that whatever improvements your competitors might fashion, they would be short-lived; your competition have never really ever put out a durable product, not without incorporating many of your innovations.

But of late there has been an unmistakable decline in the quality of your product. I expected that you knew of that, and would take measures to correct the problems. Indeed, over the years it seemed that you were making an honest effort toward that end. I understand that the environment under which you produce your product is not static; can be confusing, even. As such, corrective measures cannot always be undertaken, or achieved, overnight. I understand that. I read your ads, and I believed them. I have been patiently awaiting the proper corrective measures to return your product to the quality and reliability that I have known.

The stumble in 1992, I’m sure, was as much of a surprise to you as it was to me. Unfortunately, the measures undertaken to correct the errors of 1992 produced the embarrassment of 1996. I’m sure you’d like to forget that one, as much as I have tried to forget it! (Even Coca Cola, with all their history and expertise, can really drop a big one now and then. Heh.) So we move on. The corrections that you incorporated into the product issuance of 2000 were a bit of a disappointment, being that they were somewhat substandard. Although the product was workable, it took a lot of time and special attention to keep it working. But eventually it stopped responding altogether. I’m not sure why you produced something that far below your usual standards, and with a usable life that was no better than what your competitors usually produce. Perhaps the measures to correct what went wrong in 1996 were not as well thought out as they might have been? You used to be pretty good at that.

But honestly, the version that you issued in 2008 was so far below your usual standards, it seemed to me that your organization had lost its leadership and its vision. This was probably when I first started to question whether my loyalty over all these years had been misplaced? I know that the marketplace had turned exceedingly unfavorable toward your product, and that even a much better product would have had difficulty to achieve a desirable position. You have to admit, though, that the short-term thinking that went into the 2000/2004 model contributed to the diminution in 2008 of your usual product advantages. To follow the 2000/2004 version on with a product that gave every appearance of something that was thrown together at the last minute was, well, it was insulting. Yes sir, it was insulting. Yes, it was an improvement over that 1996 embarrassment, and I really hoped that this would be the nadir; that my loyalty would finally be rewarded. Well, OK – maybe I just needed a little more patience.

I stated earlier that it seemed that you were making longer range efforts to improve your product and its positioning. Your 2012 version bore the hallmarks of that effort. But it was still not up to par. Oh, it was an improvement over that 2008 model, but you should not take that as a compliment. Nonetheless, I was heartened to see the product improvement, even if the marketing efforts were not seeming to keep pace with the rest of the world. I mean, really, the marketing environment in 2012 should have made your product the winner of the competition. The marketing situation for your competitors was the most abysmal that anyone has seen in decades. But you were not able to pull it off. Your product didn’t connect with the market. The product was better, if not quite up to your previous standards. I am not sure that you realized that, since the strategies of product and market that you selected didn’t work.

Your 2016 product has shattered every expectation of mine. Rather than undertake any sort of ‘continuous improvement’ model to recover the standards that had earned my loyalty, you actually went out and produced your competitor’s product! I can not see any distinction between what you are offering and what your biggest competitor is offering. Neither product is worthy of its history, yet you seem so proud of it.

I am wholly dismayed. I do not like being taken for granted; I do not like being lied to. I’ve no desire to continue shopping in your store.