Have you tried to complain about a bad product or bad service lately?
Weren’t able to reach a human being, were you?
Other than walking into the front door of the offending store, screaming (and being in danger of being escorted out by a rent-a-cop, or a real cop, for making threatening sounds), you have no chance of venting your anger and getting justice.
Face it: You the consumer have no power and are largely ignored by corporate America.
How did this happen?
What ever happened to “The customer is always right”?
For one thing, the men who believed in that old adage have died and gone to corporate heaven.
Being old and cranky, I blame our current plight on technology.
First came phone technological improvements that insulated the producer from the consumer.
The hold button is a fiendish device that enables the person you want to reach out to, and scream at, say to his or her secretary, “Tell him I’m in a meeting.”
Then there’s voicemail, a sneaky hiding place where an executive can hide from a dissatisfied customer for days.
The language has changed, too. One day in the 1970s, a smart corporate executive decided to eliminate the complaint department and replace it with the “Consumer Relations” department.
No complaint department—voila, no complaints.
Have you tried to register a complaint lately—with anyone?
Try getting through to consumer relations at any corporation in the United States. I maintain that there isn’t a single person working in consumer relations—they are all voices in voicemail. Have you noticed that all the voices sound exactly alike? I’m convinced that it’s the same actress who records this message for every corporation. She then leads the caller through the voicemail maze, telling you to answer every question by hitting button number one, two, three or four.
“If you are slightly unhappy with our product, press one. If you are quite unhappy, press two. If you are looking to rip someone’s head off, press three.” So you press three and then the new questions start. “If you are planning to sue us for less than a million dollars, press one. If you are planning to sue us for more than a million, press two,” and so it goes.
So how do we get our power back? To understand that is to learn why we lost it in the first place.
The reason consumers were respected was because for years the heads of corporations were afraid of them.
Today the head of a corporation is only frightened by his or her Board of Directors.
This brings me to ScaryLetterheads.com, which, according to the rules of this fine newspaper, I must disclose that I am the founder and sole shareholder.
ScaryLetterheads.com works this way: Let’s say you’re a consumer and are fuming because you had a lousy ride on a Northwest Airline flight. Your pilots fell asleep and woke up grumpy and they missed the city they intended to go to by 150 miles. This is a case for ScaryLetterheads.com.
ScaryLetterheads.com will have any one of 10,000 letterheads. A consumer can check out a menu of authentic letterheads and select one. He or she can then download this letterhead for just one dollar.
Perhaps you would like to download the official FAA inspector letterhead? Or how about our Goldman Sachs letterhead, featuring those three terrifying words: airline industry analyst?
Never, never pretend that you work for the letterhead you are sending out. That’s against the law. Just tell them that a settlement under a million bucks would be out of the question. Then sit back and watch them jump. When you consider that there are at least 10 million angry consumers out there every day, you can see why ScaryLetterheads.com is a financial scheme that could make us all rich just as soon as I take it public.
And if you find subscribing to ScaryLetterheads.com didn’t work and you wasted your money—try and find me.
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