Business Language Translated for Consumers

Corp-Speak  1. Corporate: use words and phrases without fully informing consumers, alarming stockholders or alerting regulators. 2. Consumerist: create new words and define old to assist consumers in clarification of corporate language.

Corporations hire experts to massage language used in promotions, guarantees and plea bargains. The corporate concern is that anything said in one context not be held against them at some later time. Corp-Speak to the rescue: Done right, it simultaneously informs, promotes and obfuscates.

Consumers may need both translation assistance and awareness of new words in preparation for doing battle with corporations that abuse consumers. To help, I have developed a glossary called Corp-Speak for a book I have written. That is the source of the phrase abuse cluster I came up with to describe a multiple-abuse problem. For example, suppose you buy a toy for a child—and the toy needs assembly described in a manual written by a well-intentioned person whose English Language skills are in an early development stage. And then you discover a part is missing or is defective or probably belongs to another toy—and the Customer Service toll-free number recording says try the website. You have the makings of an abuse cluster. More important, you have the ingredients for putting together a complaint that might result in expanded compensation. 

We are coming into the Holiday Season. Ten days from today, you may be among early shoppers ready to storm the stores, perhaps trampling one or two fellow consumers who made the mistake of being first in line. Many of the products that await you may have been rushed to market, have defects, were manufactured in faraway places where “quality control” is trumped by “quantity concern.” It may be that you will eventually be turned over to the Customer Disservice folks. As you enter the season of lights, remember the concept of abuse cluster.

Update: In the Covad Communications service fiasco described in yesterday’s post, one action has so far resulted in a $150 refund.

Tomorrow: Awards Update




Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.