Friday, June 18, 2010

Why Won't The Economist Take My Money
(Oh, I Think I Know)

I've spent a godawful portion of the last 24 hours trying (a) to configure my S300 ScanSnap for Evernote; and (b) trying to pay The Economist to freshen up my digital subscription.
Economist remains unsolved (update, 24 hrs later--finally solved). I'll spare you the gory details, but I think there is a general takeaway point, namely: contracting-out. Economist outsources the management of it audio downloads to one contractor, its billing to another, i.e., neither stays in house. Suffice it to say that neither is fully integrated, friction free, so (for example) it always takes me longer than it should to get my weekly audio edition all the way from the cloud to my Ipod. And billing: when I ran into a problem with the E's billing site, the best they could do for me was "well, here is their customer service link." Well, yes, but if that would have solved the problem I could have found that on my own.

Reminds me of some problems Mrs. B has been having with our flight plans as she bounces back and forth between United and Lufthansa. Reminds me of some 403b issues I've had as I bounce back and forth between the pension obligor and Fidelity, the fund manager. Reminds me a bit of the gobbledygook we were getting from the bosses at BP a month ago when they were saying, well yes we are responsible, but we're really not responsible because we contracted out. "Contracting out" thus emerges as the best "not my problem" in the new golden age.

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