Business corporations in the USA have the same rights, but none of the responsibilities, as American citizens. Corporate goals are seldom shared by us actual humans and citizens. And since corporations never sleep, and neither do their lawyers and lobbyists, they are engaged in a forever-war with us actual, human United States citizens. And the odds are on the side of the big battalions.
We must use any weapon we can find against the corporate co-option of our humanist values and their replacement by corporate friendly values such as greed. Since we are largely powerless and isolated, direct action against our plutocratic overlords is difficult. We must use other weapons such as boycotts, lawsuits (even small claims courts) and reputation damage and destruction through (truthful!) publicity, using any legal means to present our case and prevail.
You may think you cannot affect the actions of the mighty corporate pseudo-citizens, but I have found, in two cases, that I could convince (coerce?) business firms into making things right for me by subtle threats of web-based reputation damage.
I’m a lifelong student pilot so years ago I bought an aviation headset from an American firm for around $400USD. I used them lightly for a month and then stored them for a few years in a cool, dry closet.
I took them out a few years later to find the vinyl on the ear-cups had deteriorated into black dust, one cup’s plastic was cracked, they had a bad squeal and the ANR light no longer worked.
So I emailed Stratosphere Headsets* pointing out how their early model headsets were deficient. I bought this thing for years of hard use like a David Clark, I wrote, not to have it fall to pieces in the dark after 15 easy student hours and proper storage. Please send a RA# for repair.
To their credit they responded quickly-but negatively. Sorry, years out of warranty, we don’t make it any more and can’t get parts either. I said OK, but it’s not fair and not good business to stop support for a clearly defective safety-related product from an early adopter and good customer. I wanted to write nice things about your ANR headset in my popular blog instead of this story of lack of corporate after-sale response. For some reason they shortly sent this email:
Dear Tod V. S. Germanica auf Elm,
Thank you for contacting Stratosphere Headsets Customer Care.
Please send your current headset to:
1234 Anystreet St
Anodyne, ST US 77777
Upon completion of repairs, we will return your headset to the following address…
As it turns out they sent me a newer refurbished headset at no charge. At no time was I abusive or anything except polite. People generally want to do the right thing, I’ve found, especially if it costs the firm little, and the corporate officer responding nothing personally.
They want to sell more doohickies, not spend their important, expensive time dealing with an angry old crank with a blog and all the time in the world. As with the NORKs, appeasing me is the best and cheapest thing to do.
I bought a high tech European inflatable kayak last year and it shed the very necessary fin skeg on a circumnavigation of a local Sierra lake. I emailed info@euroeuryak-yaks*:
Sat, Aug 12, 2017 at 11:26 AM
Euroeuryak Yaks Kayak Skeg Loss
My 1st expedition on my Euroeuryak Yaks I kayak and the Skeg fell off and is now polluting Sierra Lake, Eldon County, California, USA. I had to cut short my vacation because it was dangerous without the skeg. When I deflated it I saw the skeg was gone.
Web search showed me more than one has lost its skeg. I blogged my paddling trip here: https://todgermanica.com/xxx/
Notice don’t much criticize Euroeuryak Yaks for my bad experience. Because in my next trip report on my boat I want to write, “…the fine Euroeuryak Yaks firm from the beautiful Bohunkus Republic made it all good by shipping me a new replacement skeg the next day and my circumnavigation of [another] Lake was successful, Euroeuryak Yaks is a company you can trust even though it is in Europe.”
Please make sure I can write the above as my next post and not a different post about a needed product recall for safety reasons. I still like the boat and hope to continue testing it and reporting favorably on it now that I know to lash the skeg to the skeg slots as I learned from Web searches, typing ‘euroeuryak yaks I loses skeg’.
I need to hear from you soon. You can read a previous review I posted on the Euroeuryak Yak I by searching ‘todgermanica.com, Euroeuryak Yak I Kayak Review’-pretty favorable.
Tod Von Shirtfactory Germanica auf Elm
27 Gasoline Alley
Anytown, USA 77777
That elicited no Euro response so I sent this:
Sun, Sep 3, 2017 at 12:47 PM
Several weeks back I contacted you via email regarding a design fault on my Euroeuryak Yaks I inflatable kayak after the skeg fell off, threatening my health and safety and shortening my planned vacation. I reproduce my email below.
May I assume the Euroeuryak Yaks firm is still in business and this email address is correct; and that you care about your international customer’s concerns enough to answer emails?
This is important in case I resort to Small Claims Court as is my right here in California, USA. In which case we might be meeting in person. And my readers are waiting for more kayak reviews.
What I am seeking is a replacement fin skeg so I can continue to write mostly good things about my/your boat.
I don’t want my next post to a sad tiresome one on corporate arrogance and stonewalling, about a small (at this point) skeg problem.
I’m guessing shareholders don’t want more blog posts about Euroeurak Yaks skegs that fall off, polluting our waters and endangering (MY!) life. I sure found plenty of examples on the Web already. Reputation management should rule here.
You should admit fault, contact us buyers, US and world wide, and ship us all replacement skegs that do not fall off. At any rate, send me a replacement skeg to my home address below.
This finally got this text response from Jurgen*, corporate spokes-model (I presume, could be the rich-ass CEO or maybe Jurgen is the janitor with the email password).
Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 12:01 PM
It came ti my attantiin that You are missing a Euroeuryak Yaks I fin fór your kayak.
The Fin was shiped and this is your tracking Number:
Pls keep me postel when the fin arrives
I am presently on the road and will reply when I am back in the office.
Me: Thank you for your attention to this matter. I will be watching for the fin.
Notice my actions ignore warranties, EULAs or the entire ‘legal’ side of my case. The warranty on the headset and kayak was over.
The reasons these firms might do the right thing for me outside of their legal obligations are several:
1) Positive Customer Relations-I spent hundreds of dollars for your product and I might do it again if you treat me right. And I tell my friends and family, blog, comment on forums, use social media to tell my sad or happy story.
2) Public Relations/Reputation management. With today’s Web search software even a tiny, unpopular personal blog like todgermanica.com can easily be found in every country by anybody that might want to buy a new aviation headset or high-tech inflatable kayak and is searching with a search engine for pros and cons, defects and recalls.
3) Simple human desire to treat others correctly- empathy. This is a motivation in my life (and getting by) so I assume it must motivate others, trump excepted.
Blogs, forum comments, social media, etc. last basically forever and can’t really be expunged by corporations. They rightly fear search engine memes such as ‘My Stratosphere II Aviation Headset Turned To Dust’; or, ‘Euroeuryak Yaks Brand Kayaks Lose Skegs’. Cheaper for them to shut my mouth [keyboard] with a replacement whatever.
We both win since I’d rather post a happy story with a pretty picture and they want this annoying guy to just leave them alone, like Britteny.
Notice everything I wrote is either true or cannot be verified (my popular blog!); this is our protection in the USA against libel or slander charges. I understand this is not true for subjects of the Queen of England and the UK.
Notice the tone. I am not in any way presidential. I do not vainly threaten, accuse, condemn, vilify, belittle, mock, slander, denigrate, bluster or lie (much). I just politely but insistently point out how much cheaper and easier it will be to pay me off with this cheap thing they have lots of.
It’s clear I’m an old retired person with a perceived grievance and the free time and tenacity to keep up endless email exchanges, texts, phone calls, small claims court filings and any other legal obstruction to business as usual I can think up until they give up and just fucking send this annoying old fart the gizmo and get him off my back!
Remember when you use these tactics that you are communicating with an actual human and not software or a corporate golem. Don’t let your anger lead you to bad behavior.
Our goal is not to feed our ego by abusing others with a feel-good raging trumpian/Hitlerian/Mussolini-like rant. You want them on your side because they are the ones who will be sending you the replacement (or new!) widget. Be patient, polite, factual, insistent. Never act presidential: no empty threats, no bombast, no lies.
Be prepared to escalate your communications up the corporate ladder; to spend your time emailing and writing angry blogs; to finding forums where you can hurt with the truth the corporations who have hurt you, financially or otherwise.
It’s David against Goliath when us little guys go against corporations . We must use obstruction of normal business, subtle or not threats against corporate reputations, boycotts, tying down of corporate personnel through persistent communications and small claims court filings and other legal underdog tactics.
Remember, Russian hackers used similar techniques, not the idea or threat of reputation destruction, but its bot-based successful implementation against Hillary Clinton last year. Putin’s talented and effective hackers stole an election for a paid Kremlin ‘asset’, the traitor Donald J trump. YMMV but it worked for Putin and just the reputation threat worked twice for me. Good luck.
[12 Sep 2017: Postscript: Received the new replacement fin skeg yesterday via USPS. I sent this text:
The fin skeg arrived in good shape. I will tell my friends about this example of fine customer service and I look forward to more fun with the boat. Thank you.
They might have sent it to me anyway but the delay leads me to think I’d have been ignored. Lashing this puppy to the boat on the next expedition.]
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