Sure, it’s just googleplay, but I typed health insurance companies bureaucracy and got 4 million hits. The point is, bureaucracy is bureaucracy, whether it’s the Veterans Administration or large for-profit corporations.
The VA mess is life and death, and while some of the allegations may be new, the basic problem is old and sad, as laid out in such books as Martin Kantor’s Uncle Sam’s Shame. But the VA mess is also open to public scrutiny because it is the VA. As a former journalist, I encourage government-bashers to demand the same access to the records of corporations that they can get to those of government agencies. Good luck.
My gripe of the moment is puny in its implications compared to the VA, but I recently had a Kafkaesque experience with a large Internet provider that took five days and 10 long conversations to fix, and then only because I telephoned and chatted furiously until I found a superior bottom-runger in the corporate bureaucracy. Numerous pleas for someone to call me got nowhere, and no one has gotten back to me yet.
Americans have long known that, like big government, big corporations, in the name of efficiency, routinely create big headaches for their “valued customers.” Witness automated phone trees. We have management books at the Main Library that try to shake companies out of their customer service doldrums. That’s the aim of The Best Service Is No Service: How to Liberate Your Customers from Customer Service, Keep Them Happy, and Control Costs by Bill Price and David Jaffe. One of their main points is to make the initial product/service so good that the customer never needs customer service to fix something, but, if that fails, make customer service truly customer friendly. Making it easy to contact the company is one way.
There are good reasons for bureaucratic procedures, but those of us who get lost in them have every right to let the politicians and corporate executives know when bureaucracy has trumped the needs of their customers. That can mean simply writing letters or it can mean campaigning for other politicians or changing Internet providers. It could still fail to get service improved, but silence surely will.