I don't want to drop this Wal-Mart thing just yet. Because, actually, I think it's a contagion in American business.
And here's the kicker. When things get bad, it really starts to stink. Not everywhere. And not with everyone. But with enough.
Just look at McDonald's. There's nothing wrong with the burgers or fries, but plenty wrong with the people who serve them. Mickey D's saying as much when it acknowledged a service problem.
Or K-Mart. It's still working its way through bankruptcy, in part because no one wants what it sells, but also no one wants the hassle it takes to buy what it sells.
Or just about any phone service. The Wall Street Journal just today outlining that from Sprint to Cingular, MCI AT&T Wireless, the pitch doesn't match the reality, nor does the commitment to the customer.
Or just about any airline: cutting back on flight attendants, cutting back on services, yet piling up on fees.
See a theme here? Chintzing on the customer -- the guy who pays your bills.
You see, you can have the best burgers, the neatest clothes, the fanciest phones, the most flights, but longer-term, burgers can't keep you on top, nor neat clothes, nor fancy phones, nor spiffy planes.
Caring for the customers who buy them does. It keeps them coming, or stops them from coming.
This isn't something you pick up as a Wharton MBA. This is something you pick up as a human being.
Watch Neil Cavuto's Common Sense weekdays at 4 p.m. ET on Your World w/Cavuto.