A Corporate Pincer Episode

Abuse Cluster

pin•cer  double envelopment military movement

Being abused by one large corporation is bad enough. If several gang up, we consumerists are in a pincer. When my wife’s Microsoft Outlook email stopped working last week, each of the corporations needed for the service tried to send me to one of the others: Covad Communications (DSL service provider now owned by MegaPath), AT&T (owns but leases the DSL phone line), Microsoft (the email service provider), Hewlett-Packard (maker of her computer) and Yahoo (owner of the cloud).

The underlying outrage is Abuse Cluster, my name for a multiple abuse involving multiple corporations. The above corporations compete with one another. Sometimes they reluctantly work together, like two heavyweight boxers pausing in attacking each other to attack a spectator. They all solemnly promise customer service when promoting products and services. Delivery is another story.

MegaPath/Covad said it was failed modem. It promised to overnight a properly programmed modem. I was to remove the old and plug in the new. It took six days to arrive. It did not work. A MegaPath exec said the modem was not programmed or programmed incorrectly. He drafted Wayne, a contractor for Covad/MegaPath, to come to our home to fix it. A day later a new problem emerged: A “stuck password.” Leo of the Philippines, who works for an outsource service provider for AT&T, took remote control of and fixed the password from half-way round the world where, symbolically enough, he was already in Saturday while we were still stuck in Friday.

The service problem has morphed into a billing problem. MegaPath issued a $271 bill for Wayne’s visit and the modem. As a consumerist, I see it differently: Covad and its corporate partners owe me $600 for my time to get the service they promised. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow: More about “abuse cluster.”


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