supply line

My struggle with one computer company (but it could be any)

So you can experience some of the process– here are some snipets of my journal to give you an idea of the frustrating process trying to get a straight answer from a company about something that they clearly advertise on their website (corporate social responsibility or ethical purchasing). I have edited out names and numbers, because I don’t think this is necessarily the fault of any of the employees (and do not want them to be punished), but rather a systematic failure on the part of the company and the industry as a whole (and others!). This company and industry are not alone on this— keep reading on for more updates. If you’d like more details or specifics– please feel free to contact me at apeaceofconflict@gmail.com.

 

Day 1

 Called 1-(800)-XXX-XXXX, redirected three times to 3 different locations. Frustrated that in the end I was finally sent to an HR hiring office instead of where I wanted to be, I hung up and called again.

This time was redirected to 1-800-XXX-XXXL. Let’s try here. No answer. Dead line.

Tried the 800-XXX-XXX again- hung up on twice in transferring after being redirected many times

Tried again- spoke to J—told to call corporate affairs 281-XXX-XXXX

 

410pm

First call to corporate office

20 minutes on hold

 

 430pm

Spoke to B, told to call 1-888-XXX-XXXX for info on ethical purchasing policy

Called- spoke to S—“no idea who you would speak to”, being put through to senior case manager who could help me better.

Senior case manager- L directed me to email corporate office- told her I had already emailed corporate and received no response—would like to speak to someone directly if at all possible. Expressed my frustrations that no one can tell me about their corporate social responsibility policy and what this means. Was told she would try to find out and get back to me by phone.

 

445pm

Phoned back to me—asked to give my information to contact back in email. Told they will get back to me with fuller details.

 

Day 3

No word back yet.

Called back and left message with P at last contact point.

 

455pm

Message received from C at the request of someone from corporate.

Told there is no direct extension to reach him at, but try calling 888-XXX-XXXP.

Called and was told it is “not available in my calling area” by an automated service machine message and followed the message to try calling 877-XXX-XXXQ.

Called and reached an automated service:

ONLY menu options- mail in rebates, to order or order status, tech support, shop and purchase new product, shopping, status update, that’s it! Tried to get through to an operator, cannot.

 

Picked shop and purchase new product (what choice is there)—here’s what I get:

J assures me the company uses ethical products, urges me to call 905-XXX-XXXX. It is now past 5pm, and the office is closed. I will call tomorrow.

Also said I could speak to his manger J. He forwarded me to his manager’s

mailbox. Left message. Don’t ever get a reply.

 

 

 

Repeat this process almost daily for six months at 10 different computer companies. No wonder people don’t bother! I should have at least one straight answer by now.

 

 

I feel like saying: How many people (and machines!) do I have to talk to just to get some more information about your products? I keep getting the exact same responses. I have read your websites. I have read your corporate social responsibility or ethics blurb quite thoroughly. It did not answer my questions. It did not tell me I can feel safe about your product. You need to know what happens in every aspect of your product line, not just the certain manufacturing or sales processes that you are a part of. You may not be able to control every aspect– but you can at the very least investigate or request them to change or change to another supplier who meets your standards. I am concerned with more than just whether you use sweatshops in your manufacturing. I want more answers about your product line. You create this product. You control this product. I don’t. You also advertise corporate social responsibility and ethical purchasing. If I can’t go to you for answers about your product line– who should I speak to? Where do I get these details– or is it all just for show? An image to project to make more money? If I do not start getting answers soon, I will take my complaints to the Competition Act, because all I see at this point is misleading advertising.

 

Our systems are failing us. We are forced to put our trust in others to some degree to live a socially inclusive lifestyle. Our systems complicate this trust because we are so disconnected from the world that even the companies that make our products don’t know where the products actually come from and how they were made. Why can’t they tell me more details? I understand the concept of competition, but I also understand the concept of ethics. It is unethical to me to claim corporate social responsibility or ethical purchasing policies and not even know for certain this is true. I feel like they don’t even see the issue exists, and so therefore may be participating in it without even knowing. This is not corporate responsibility.  

 

I want this to stop.


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A bit of shining light.

So after 3 hours on the phone today talking to several different computer companies, I had a breath of shining light.  A glimmer of hope that someone on the other end understood what I was saying and was actually concerned about it enough to strike a dialogue with me.

This is rare. The most frustrating part of this whole struggle is that the most common response to my inquiry line is “I’ve never been asked this before”. To me, this means either that consumers don’t care enough to ask about the product line, or they don’t know that this is happening to even ask, or the people at the company are lying to me trying to avoid the question. I’m hoping for the second option. At least this I can try to do something about.

Today, on my 6th set of calls to Dell Computers in the past 6 months (that’s really gotten me nowhere so far) I finally spoke to someone who seemed like they would try and find an answer (or some sort of solution) for me. After 10 minutes of an automated service, being switched to 3 different departments and having to decide which product I wanted information on exactly, and whether it was for home or business use (in fact, it would be for both, so I had to choose); I was redirected to someone who seemed to actually be interested in what I was trying to do.

I was put on hold while he searched for my answers about their product line. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find the specifics for me in the short period on the phone, but assured me he would find some more useful details on the product line and forward them to my email address. He also asked if he could have more information on the issue so that he could research it on his time off because he was interested. Definitely! R, I hope you are reading this now!

Maybe these companies haven’t heard or been asked these questions– but they should be. Phone the company and inquire about their product line. Ask about their ethical purchasing policies. Ask where they source their raw materials. Ask about whether they support any human rights violations to make their product. The more inquiries they get– the more likely they will be to find a real answer to them.

It takes people caring enough about the issues to say- “I will not support this!”. It takes people looking deeper into each step of a product line. It takes a lot of work, most certainly, but it is worth it if we can stop human rights violations.

If you are a company, you should know what steps have gone into making your product. You should know whether your product has supported human rights violations along the way and you should care enough to say stop if they are! We are soo disconnected from everything we use, we are not even aware of the damage it may cause. This is not right. Many companies are making profits, making HUGE profits. It is time they took these profits and made a real change in their own structures to prevent human rights abuses.

It is not enough for them to give to charity. Especially, if they are the ones who are helping to fuel the atrocities in the first place. If this is the case, charity only equates to guilt money.

So I’m nowhere close to finding the answers I desire– but I am hopeful that I have at least reached one person…. and that’s a start.


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