The Corporate Brain

First thing to understand–  they’ve got the whole world, in their hands.   Corporations.   We live in a global corporatocracy [1], whatever else is also going on.

There are rules we must understand, living under the rule of “persons” accountable only to shareholder profits.  One is to know the kind of “person” a corporation is:  a psychopath — incapable of empathy, remorse, or moral reflection.  The corporate “person” has one legal interest: the bottom line, increasing stock value for its shareholders.   A corporate person will only do the right thing (like paying to remediate its own negligence, or even intentional defiance of existing laws) if targeted by law enforcement and, after exhausting every legal appeal, being ordered to comply by a court of law.   Since corporations spend a fortune on armies of lawyers and lobbyists to influence the drafting of every law that could have an impact on their profits, good luck there, Charlie.

Two is to understand the nature of the corporate brain — it is purposefully segmented into as many unrelated subdivisions as needed to shield the larger organism from harm.  This is a deliberate device to protect the corporation, in part by exhausting the consumer, who must often speak to many unrelated segments of the corporate brain to try to get a reasonable answer, or redress of any kind.  I provide two examples from my recent, ongoing experiences with two random corporations.

Brand new Dell computer does not perform an essential function, seeing my cellphone as a hotspot.   It sees other nearby hotspots and wireless networks, but it cannot find the only network I can use to connect to the internet.  The computer is under warranty so correcting this defect should not be a major problem.   

Except that Dell has compiled a legally unassailable list of specific exemptions from their limited warranty.  They have me run all the diagnostic tests on the brand new computer and, after an hour or so, tell me that there is no problem with the computer’s hardware, and that therefore the problem, which appears to be a software configuration error, is “out of warranty.”   Not to worry, they tell me, Dell has a paid service that can fix the problem for me.

As is typical in corporations, “Warranty” has no way of communicating with “Out of Warranty”, and therefore has no way of informing a customer that 3 years of “out of warranty” service costs $239, plus tax, a more limited version of this “premium” support goes for $169 and a one-time fix will set you back $129.  The customer can only learn these prices after another long wait on hold.   The customer must listen to a loop of ads for wonderful Dell products and services, while waiting to learn the price, and submit to being thanked over and over for how important their business is to Dell.

Enough reason never to deal with this particular corporate motherfucker ever again, but at the same time, Dell is merely on the vanguard of maximizing profits through express warranty limitations.  Corporations can make a lot more money by making customers pay to fix built in problems than by covering their repair for free.  They hire legal geniuses like now-Justice John Roberts, creator of the arbitration clause, to exclude the most expensive repairs, even of Dell’s own design flaws, from the limited warranty.   “What don’t you understand about the word ‘limited’, sir?   All of the limitations are explicitly set forth in the thousands of words of our warranty, which we will send you for free.”

The beauty is, there is nothing you can do.  It’s all legal and ironclad.  Put the computer back in the box, scrawl “FUCK DELL” on top and bring it back to the store.  (I would advise not scrawling “FUCK DELL” on top, it could void the return and force you to pay at least $129 to be able to use the brand new computer).  Caveat emptor, asshole.

Healthfirst, the corporation I pay for health insurance, told me, on January 22, and again on January 24 (after their internal “appeal”), that my insurance had been terminated for my failure to pay a “binder” payment during a once-a-year ten day “grace period.”   They also informed me that under the law they had no obligation to inform me of this “grace period” before terminating my policy.    Then, on January 28, another department in Healthfirst called to tell me that my insurance had never been terminated and apologized for their “mistake.”  

Since then I have been trying to find out what the law actually is.  No state or federal agency has any idea why I was cut off and why I was reinstated.  Nobody can point me to the section of the law that made Healthfirst reverse its unappealable termination.   None can confirm which of the various complaints I submitted resulted in the overturning of Healthfirst’s original determination.

Finding and publicizing the short answer would provide a valuable service for my fellow citizens, screwed by the thousands exactly as I was.   To put it simply: what protections against termination without notice do patients have under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obamacare?   You know, the federal law the right wing has been rabidly trying to abolish since it went into effect? [2]

I finally got a letter of explanation from Healthfirst, in an envelope marked “Grievance and Appeals”.  It was entitled “Notice of Grievance Resolution”, as though on February 14 I had contested Healthfirst’s decision to restore my health insurance after terminating it weeks earlier.   The notice states that my insurance was properly terminated for my failure to pay the binder during the ten-day grace period.  It states that my insurance had never been terminated, as confirmed by the call I received on January 28 apologizing for Healthfirst’s “mistake”.

Why this corporate change of “heart”?   That, sir, is nobody’s goddamned business.  Please continue to hold, your business is very important to us.

 

 

[1]  Wikipedia:

Corporatocracy is a recent term used to refer to an economic and political system controlled by corporations or corporate interests. The concept has been used in explanations of bank bailouts, excessive pay for CEOs as well as complaints such as the exploitation of national treasuries, people and natural resources. Wikipedia

[2] The law itself is now finally under reconsideration by the Supreme Court, in light of a federal court striking down the “mandate” that was upheld by one vote when John Roberts found this requirement of Obamacare constitutional.  Keep your helmets on, my fellow hostages.

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