Corporate America: Declining Quality, Fraud as Policy
(August 2, 2007)
Astute reader Colin from Cape Cod reports on AOL's unstated policy of outright fraud:
I would like to give you an idea for a blog post. I just got off the
line with the service department at my bank. I was trying to block AOL
from taking $26 each month from my checking account. I have have been
talking to AOL for 8 months to stop them from charging me a fee because
I am no longer a member. In fact I was never a member- I was a trial
An excellent question, Colin. Why anyone is still a customer of AOL remains a mystery,
undoubtedly one based on their relentless marketing rather than on their actual service.
The funny thing was the service rep at my bank had the same
problem. He told me after he canceled AOL they would bill his account
different amounts each month so it wouldn't be caught. One month they
would charge 19.99, then the next month it would be 19.97, then the next
20.01, and so on. Then he light-heartily said, "You got to watch
them--they are crafty". What has happened to our society to make blatant
corporate stealing so light a matter?
The decline of quality is another fact of life which garners little attention. Could the
last five years of "record corporate profits" have anything to do with cutting corners
on everything but marketing? Longtime correspondent Mark D. filed this report on a water
heater which only lasted a few years:
I had another appliance
nightmare. my hot water heater went out. Combination of vent dusting up,
leading to flame arrestor lint build, leading to oxygen starvation,
leading to sooting, leading to pursuit of knowledge. appears our
government helped us out by requiring the flame arrestor, and in typical
fashion, the first few designs suck.
Mark had previously written about his refrigerator expiring after an
all-too-short working life:
I can't really figure out if there is
a class action lawsuit or not, but i don't care, the lawyers will get all
the money not allocated to having plumbers try and fix them, they can't,
and replace them. i ended up purchasing a Bradford White Defender model
which has the entire bottom made of an arrestor with stainless steel
rather than the thing which is similar to a catalytic converter.
defaulted to called repair shops to get recommendations on appliances. i
guess when they have no work, they will recommend the one's they like to
repair. by the way, i was quoted 1350 dollars to replace mine, with some
minor upgrades, which also included the pressure relief valve to be piped
outside, as it's TOO DANGEROUS to have it routed like it was before. what
a load of crap. The board appointed by the governor to recommend code
changes is full of plumbers, architects, builders with NO representation
for consumers, and even if there was one, there would obviously be no
They are of course motivated to maximize cost of labor, or
minimize it if it includes illegal aliens, as the cost of what they
install has all the margin taken out of it as it's made in china, or
mexico etc. blah blah blah. bottom line. don't purchase an appliance at
sears, osh, home depot, lowes etc as they only sell the low margin
appliances made with iffy designs. Investigate recall and complaint
I took apart the old water heater and inside, the burner was
sooted, massive soot was building up on the underside of the tank, a huge
fire hazard way worse than leaving the pressure release valve where it
was. can't believe the code board isn't banning the sale of these
heaters. they are more worried about increasing the cost of building a
house so they can make profit on high labor component changes after a
home is built.
As a builder you probably have a comment.
the hot water heater was a sears energy miser 9 or something like that.
My fridge just went out over the weekend. called repair to find out the
compressor is broke and will cost ~$600 to fix it. this is more than a new
fridge. I'm sure this was factored in as a motivator by Congress when they
went to the "energy" efficient fridges and ac units.
For a builder comment about big-box store quality and service, here is a report from
frequent contributor Bill Murath:
So anyway, the
repairman says ever since they went to the energy efficient design, they
only last 7-10 tops, which is more than you can get a warranty for, which
is about 100 bucks, which is stupid obviously. so I call my sister with
this info, as she has a Subzero, which supposedly last, but they also have
the same issue. so anyway, she says she just replaced her AC unit. it
lasted 4 years and would cost 4k to fix. a new one is 2k.
So into the
landfill at a rate 3 times what old appliances used to last, all just to
feel good we are wasting electricity. but what we are really wasting is a
lot more and not just landfill. we are killing our competitiveness, cause
we need a better paying job to buy disposable freezers and AC units.
have a theory, if an appliance is beautied up, it's essentially
disposable, as the cost is in the marketing and packaging, rather than the
design. Talk about wasting resources. so then i called my two useless
environmentally sensitive Senators' and guess what? the staff is so
clueless they get bored with my story, but at least they tell me they've
never heard of that before and it was a refreshing change. it obviously
went nowhere with them, so i thought of you, a man of action, and see if
anyone has similar stories. by the way, I have two unused fridges in the
garage unplugged which I'm going to keep when the next one goes out.
I was at Home Depot the other day...which I absolutely hate
and try to avoid if at all possible. I was buying a lot of Oak ($700.00) to trim the inside of
some windows. I had all sorts of different lengths and dimensions and profiles. It took a while
to scan all the trim and measure the lengths etc...
Welcome to Consumer Paradise, brought to you by "record profits" Corporate America: disposable
appliances, disposable houses, corners cut in everything but profits and packaging, deceptive
if not outright fraudulent practices, and all offered under the brainwashing banner of
"customer service." If this is "quality," and "customer service," I wonder what shoddy goods
and lousy customer service look like.
Then I asked the woman for a pen so I
could write a check. She says " a check, and you haven't filled it out already?" I said "Huh!"
She said "yeah they time us on each transaction." For an attosecond I was in disbelief. She
wasn't having a good day and it was obvious. I asked her in a derogatory tone not directed at
her " Am I at McDonalds?". Since she was distressed and I was in really no mood to hear this
from a store I hate in the first place, I asked her to get me a manager so I could tell them to
shove their time-tracking up their ass. I said this all in a manner as not to offend this women
in the least and maybe even lighten her up a little bit.
And on top of it they have the
crappiest oak. The crap they sell is high dollar shiny crate material at best. Since I am
buying a planer/jointer and a 1/2" collet router tomorrow I have sworn to myself that I will
no longer lower myself to buying the crap from HD. I will go buy rough sawn sanded 1 side
material from small local dealers and make what I need and charge a 30% or more premium over
HD prices. I am not anal like a furniture maker on the dryness of wood but I swear I could
feel the moisture in the wood with my bare hands. I truly hope my existence here lasts long
enough to watch all these community busting box stores go tits up. It would truly produce
one of the largest grins on my face that I could imagine!!!
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