Carol Forsloff – If you spent seven or eight hours this past month correcting bills and mistakes made by various corporations relative to your accounts, even at the grocery store, then you are among the many Americans likely frustrated and suffering either economic, personal or social problems as a result.
More than a decade ago, the television news magazine 60 minutes had a program in which they discussed the errors made by corporations, finding that approximately 1/3 of all transactions in the United States have errors not in the customer’s favor. Although this journalist has seen no research of late about this, it is likely that with the recession, and the cutbacks of employees made by various corporations coupled with the tendency to digitize virtually everything, creating more distance between customer and Corporation, that problems have increased.
Experience of this journalist is similar to many people who spend many hours trying to get service or correct errors on accounts. Some of these will be detailed here, simply to illustrate the consequences of ongoing problems that impact lives.
A scheduled medical procedure recently had to be canceled because of lack of insurance. The lack of insurance came as a result of clerical errors that continued from Blue Cross Blue Shield, and still continue, month after month after service representatives and supervisors promise they will not continue. But they do continue in the same form and with the same consequences. The company applies premium payments made monthly to a single account as opposed to both accounts which are clearly identified on the checks and statements. Despite these clear, identifying materials, premium payments are documented only on one account, resulting in an overpayment on one and no payment on the other. Representatives see the error, once the customer has described it, and promise to correct it. The following month, however, brings the same ever again. What are the social and personal problems that arise from these errors?
Corporate errors of various kinds certainly impact the customer but multiplied many times, they impact all of us as a larger group. In fact, errors like this are so pervasive that one might suggest they are purposeful, a method of creating distance between customer and corporation in a fashion that reduces the power of that customer to complain or even to discover the errors or to have them corrected. The number of errors also might indicate that the corporation recognizes that many people will give up when they encounter consistent difficulties they are unable to resolve. It becomes a personal problem when the issue is a service the customer depends upon. It results in frustration, the type of frustration that can bring strong feelings that can impact others. The service representative hears these frustrations, then must go home with the additional stress.
So as technology has on the surface provided an avenue for multiple types of communication, the absolute reliance on that technology has risks. Another example is this publication, which is an online magazine for three years. During those three years, however, Internet service has not always been reliable. In addition, hosting services have not always been reliable as well. The details of these are numerous, but suffice to say they exemplify the problem that impacts the consumer multiplied many times that results in wasted time, frustration, stress and all sorts of issues that can affect health and the community.
Contaminated foods entering the food supply has concerned many consumer groups. It is one of those errors made within corporations that can impact many people and create major health problems.
Medical bill errors are rampant, so much so that there are businesses that have been created simply to handle the errors.
There are also media groups that focus attention on corporate corruption, specifically the numerous errors that create serious problems for the public, costing millions of dollars.
So what is the solution to an ongoing problem that impacts everyone? One of these is for folks to enlist others in applying protest, a kind of protest that multiplied many times can impact a corporation’s bottom line. This means that protest groups are not always the ragtag group they are identified as by the same corporate executives or politicians supported by them. Many of them are you and me. And taking back the “government” may simply mean restoring the American dream of the customer first, which means that reducing regulation for businesses who make these errors may not be the right avenue, given the multiplication of mistakes made from the lack of internal regulation creating the problems in the first place.