I'm in agreement with Carol. Ultimately, its a business and as a woman involved in direct sales myself, I want to provide a quality product to my customers. If that customer is my friend I expect them to be totally hones with me. If the corporation won't stand behind their product then I don't want to be involved with them. In the end, I think those companies won't last the test of time because they'll lose customers.
I deliberately try to patronize small businesses and I learn of them by word of mouth literrally or via board like SCS. I'll give them a lot of wiggle room for problems, but eventually I'd give them up if the product or customer service is lacking. In my business, I expect to be treated similarly, but always with respect.
While the big box stores (including those online) can compete on price, my experience is that their sales force has no product knowledge and often doesn't even know some of the basics about our hobby. Just this past week I was asking about ArtBin and several clerks just stared at me with a blank face...frustrating.
By the same token, I'm willing to pay a bit more to get service, be it on faulty items or just plain old help. I go 3 hours out of my way to patronize a LSS because the husband and wife team have a great store and she's very generous in demoing anything you want to see or need help with. I'll spend a few hours there and leave a chunk of change, but it's worth it to me to do that a couple times a year.
Just my 2 cents or was it vents?