Before they do it for you, you thought criminal:
Halifax customers are closing their accounts today after its social media team told them to leave if they don’t like their new pronoun badges for branch staff in what is being branded one of the biggest PR disasters in British business history.
Britons have been pulling out millions of pounds in investments and savings as well as cutting up credit cards or transferring balances to rivals after they accused the bank of ‘alienating’ them with ‘pathetic virtue signalling’.
The row began this week when Halifax tweeted its 118,000 followers on Tuesday revealing that it would allow staff to display their pronouns on their name badges, in a post that read ‘pronouns matter’.
It showed a photo of a female staff member’s name badge, which featured ‘she/her/hers’ in brackets under the name Gemma, and said the policy was to help avoid ‘accidental misgendering’.
One customer replied: ‘There’s no ambiguity about the name “Gemma”. It’s a female person’s name. In other words, it’s pathetic virtue signalling and is seen as such by almost everyone who has responded to the initial tweet. Why are you trying to alienate people?’ Within 20 minutes a member of the Halifax social media team, calling himself Andy M, replied: ‘If you disagree with our values, you’re welcome to close your account’.
Andy M’s response has outraged customers, and seen hundreds claiming they will boycott the bank with many saying they have closed their accounts. Others have cut up their credit cards or getting rid of insurance policies.
It’s going to be fascinating to learn if corporations can survive without customers or if customers can survive without the services provided by corporations. Because it’s only a matter of time before corporations start exercising the rights they have granted themselves in their contracts of adhesion – the one-sided EULA statements to which one “agrees” by virtue of using the service or purchasing the product – to deny those deemed thought criminals their services.
On its website, Halifax say any customers they deem to be ‘transphobic’ could have their accounts closed.
Underneath a page titled ‘what we stand for’, they say: ‘We stand against discrimination and inappropriate behaviour in all forms, whether racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist, regardless of whether this happens in our branches, offices, over the phone or online on our social media channels.
‘Such action may include account closure or contacting the police if necessary.’
And as we saw with Patreon, this self-granted corporate right to police customer behavior has been, in practice, expanded to include places and platforms that have nothing to do with the corporation itself. This is another reason why the BRICS economy is going to completely swamp the converged neoliberal economy.