BEHIND YOUR BACK: Personal security, convenience and child safety as the bases for corporate fraud

You don’t need to be a roving, khaki­-clad action correspondent these days to dig out malfeasance; you just have to wonder why things are as they are, do some internet research, and then sound innocent when calling the more naively accepting employees of multinational concerns. Yes it’s sneaky, but after a while one gets to realise that the purpose of the exercise is to put something back into the society that helped you.

That may sound terribly grand, but the truth is that for a Northern English lad comme moi, society did poo on me an awful lot early on, but on the whole I benefited far more from the free healthcare and education I got.

Plant a tree after 65, and you realise the likelihood of you ever sitting on a
circular bench around the trunk of the resultant mature walnut are close to zero. I’ve no idea whether it’s any form of human instinct (frankly, I doubt it) but the idea of ‘putting something back’ is in the wiring of many of us. For myself, I think of what I do as putting something back where it belongs ­ ie, without any privileged power whatsoever. Forty years ago it was the TUC and its disgracefully fascist block vote: today it’s the huge banking, military, surveillance, marketing and media corporations and their global heist of government and politics.

Putting something back is made all the more difficult by the number of wide-eyed greed buckets doing things behind your back. Of course, the place I choose to designate ‘behind your back’ is a port of literary convenience: ‘under a stone’ is just as good a descriptor. And every stone you lift from the beach of Mammon these days has something of the slimey, neolithic night underneath. Three such examples follow.

Passwords on monetised websites. This one’s a beaut. You stumble
upon a great service and start to use it regularly. Then they (aka the
company accountant) suggest you have ‘an account’ from which you can
withdraw each time you buy ‘for that faster, totally convenient purchase’. It’s not a credit account, I hasten to add: you give them money, ­ albeit in fairly small amounts. Every now and then a smiley happy email arrives to say you need a top­up and you say sure, dig your spade into my bank account. The service, after all, is first class and the people are nice.

But then they sell out to Maxwell Swingingdick. And that’s when the trouble starts, because the values of Wall Street are not those of Walsall or small-town Wisconsin. One day you go in to make a cheap call or top up your phone or send that important greetings card, and Computer Says No. It says absolutely no, ­ that password does not match the user name/email address we have in our records.

The ‘help’ section and the ‘user forum’ don’t get you anywhere, the email­-us-because­-we­-wanna-­hear­-from­-you wends its way in orbit around an irrelevant planet, and eventually most users (by now informed that only complex realignments and an upgrade will get them back on board) go with the flow and create a new ID.

What they don’t get is their own ‘float’ back.

The three biggest perpetrators of this fraud have, at the last count, just over 40 million users between them. All they have to do is mine 1% of the user base with this scam per annum, and lo ­ at an average float of $20 ­ that’s eight million bucks straight to the bottom line.

What’s more, they don’t even have to wait several years (like financial
institutions) before sending these sums to profit as ‘dead accounts’: they
know they’re dead…..they killed them.

They will simply wind up in the Annual Report of the holding company under an arcane heading such as ‘extraordinary churn items’ ­ or, my particular favourite, ‘inadvertant user dysfunction’.

It’s for yoo­hoo. Pretty well everyone these days with a landline phone has
an infoscreen on the receiver. The screens say all kinds of impenetrable things, but the most common thing they announce is ‘new messages’.
I wonder if, like me, your screen has told you there are new messages when, um, there aren’t?

In a busy day, you just swear under your breath and move on. But every time the screen is ‘wrong’, the phoneco makes a nice little earner…for doing nothing but telling you a lie.

That is fraud.

And before anyone says it’s just me, I didn’t start from my own experiences on this one: they just chimed with an email I got from somebody – ­ and then asking an admittedly small sample of chums what they felt about it.

Now for this to have any validity given the way things work in 2015, there
would have to be collusion between the phone hardware manufacturers, and the telcos.

I have two phone connections here at Slogger’s Roost. The receivers are made by two different manufacturers and attached to access supplied by two unrelated ISPs. They both tell me, on occasions, that I have calls waiting when I don’t.

This isn’t incontrovertible truth. It is food for thought.

But the standard excuse for the password and message scams is ‘USER
ERROR’. It’s not dissimilar to the self­-whitewashing bollocks given out by
airlines and plane manufacturers after a fatal crash: PILOT ERROR.

Domestic cleaning sprays and child safety. In the interests of ensuring
our children don’t suddenly decide to take that garden axe lying around and smash plastic spray­ bottles of things called ‘Bang’, ‘Extreme’ and ‘Boom’ into toxically leaking bits, manufacturers of the new generation of merciless germ­killers have decided to make it absolutely impossible to get the spray module open and thus use the full contents of the pack.

I did some measuring of the amount left unused in such spray bottles last
week; the length of the suction tube is such that, in the three packs I tested, around 15% of the liquid would be wasted by the 99% of users who aren’t obsessed sad old gits like me.

A product with a margin into the trade of around 27% is thus ­ in terms of
accelerated repurchase rate ­ transformed into one giving shareholders the
best part of 30%. That might not seem like much: but a 10% increase in
margin equates to huge amounts of money given the context of global
volumes.

It is fraud hiding behind Health & Safety, and it isn’t unusual. One of the
many things completely alien to the HSE mindset is the sad reality of
exploitation in the Age of deregulated illegality.

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

I can absolutely guarantee that, in every State on the planet today and in
every market sector, the dead hands of the amoral cost accountants are
about their Zombie work….destroying the trust between brands and
consumers, while deceiving shareholders and the media about their real (ie, legal) level of profitability.

Once they have finished their work, the corporate accountants and tame
auditors will begin their task of making a loss look like an investment and a profit look like r&d. Columns, rows and extrapolations will bamboozle the analysts and satisfy the authorities. Panic­-driven Rights issues will seem like sound diligence, and restoring the permatan Chairman’s summer retreat in Nice will be hidden somewhere under the cost of sales to key clients.

By the time an offer or issue document of some kind gets out there, the
reportage therein will bear about as much relation to reality as COP21 did
last weekend.

The only thing we can be certain about is that We the People will have been royally screwed, and the operation will have been carried out with the collusion and enthusiastic support of the political élites.

Yesterday at The Slog: Tim Peake, Weapon of Mass Distraction

18 thoughts on “BEHIND YOUR BACK: Personal security, convenience and child safety as the bases for corporate fraud

  1. Totally agree with you John. I have bought a same brand dishwashing liquid in Australia and NZ. Australia one small squirt, and lots of suds. NZ same brand needs about 2 tablespoons for the same result.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Unfortunately we individually think we are so wealthy that we don’t need to care.
    If were all as poor as we probably should be (or more ‘important’ unable to borrow what we want) I suspect we would be much less tolerant of being ripped off.
    The great adjustment now well under way, to remove the middle classes from society, will eventually mean the scales fall from our eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Is it not the case that EF Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” actually holds? Lean and mean – and small to go with it – also works as a business model. Big and lumpy does not. Only big and lumpy has the power to tell people what to think, and in a world where people like to be told what to think, big and lumpy works.

    There are a few other dimensions underlying the corporate state of affairs that we see today, but control is the primary reason. Because control implies no risk, and most people – directors, managers, CNC lathe operators, and toilet cleaners alike – do not like risk.

    The downside of this is that a corporation, dedicated to non-risk-strategies, is effectively dead in the water. The only way to improve matters is by sacking rafts of workers – that is to say, a corporate merger where one head office is closed. It makes profits look better, keeps the stock price buoyant, and the directors’ salaries high.

    The workers who do not like risk – the CNC lathe operator for example, must pay for this by doing more work for less money (this is the German/Japanese model, by the way): once upon a time he was a non-risk-taking lathe turner, along with a dozen mates. Now he operates a hall filled with automatic CNC machines, and he works alone save for a manager (who doesn’t like taking risks) and three co-ordinators (none of whom like taking risks). The American variant of this non-risk strategy was to heap the risks onto the workforce, where labour regulations were all but non-existent and so workers could be hired and fired at the whim of a manager (he doesn’t take the risk – read responsibility – for his actions). The state of affairs in the US has come to such a point that the risks have been piled onto China instead, which looks great just as long as the Americans believe that the Chinese think like Americans.

    I could go on…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Totally agree about corporate accountants. I used to work for blue chips, and I have seen these dark arts at close quarter. I had a lively, but of course fruitless, discussion on corporate accounting & profits declared on another forum with some saddo (or CCHQ intern maybe) who was absolutely SURE that these upstanding members of the tax-paying World Community posted profits after a simple double-entry book keeping exercise. Which today was reinforced by the results for CoffeeDomination Inc. results and their corporate tax paid in the UK. The breathless BBC correspondent, who had had also eschewed fatigues and stab vest, told us excitedly that this was MORE than they had paid in total for the last 14 years together. I was a little bemused by the enthusiasm of the presenter, who failed to highlight the really core of the story; most of those 14 years no tax had been paid at all on their billions of turnover through aggressive tax avoidance, and indeed there is no sight yet of the figures that would allow us to see if any of the avoidance schemes were still in use. Or of the £20 million they had paid in “voluntary tax” after discussions with HMRC. So, erm, they had actually paid more in “voluntary tax” than all the corporate tax paid for the last 15 years combined, counting this one. It’s a salutary lesson in behavioural science and news management.

    Your item on scamming took me back many years when I was in charge of a massive re-engineer of a company loyalty card, where there were many accounts with residual points, which of course are outstanding company liabilities because they can be converted to cash benefits, and we spent much time on trying to link moribund cards with new ones, many without any contact details at all, (thanks to a “marketing led” business model at the time of launch!). Eventually were were able to release several £million back into company coffers. I see that now that is so “old school”, but I hadn’t actually appreciated how much of a scam until today. Thank you for reminding me to WAKE UP and get with the programme. On the other hand, with my insight, I very rarely create accounts on any site, and certainly won’t be fooled into signing up for “convenience, offers and updates”. Thank you for the reminder, JW.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a jungle out there. Every inconvenience or contrived scam is a challenge to be thought out and overcome. We have to do that for ourselves, or join the herd.

    Like

  6. It would be nice to have somewhere to go online to share our triumphs and tribulations in modern life for the benefit of US THE PEOPLE – but mention it and usually one meets a hail of flack – from the devils advocates, the pc creeps, the jokers and the airheads.

    Like

  7. Reblogged this on and commented:
    When I came to London with the vision of a ‘peace network’ of people and computers protecting our planet, I could hardly foresee the battles between good and evil unfolding soo clearly before our eyes…

    Like

  8. Agree on scams . Latest and only personal FooCall (holding co is Ghost Telecom very apt!)a
    low cost online telco .
    App redesigned December resulting in my losing £16 credit. Taking legal action . No reply. Went to Apple as the pay conduit , they kindly recredited my card £9.99 though not their responsibility…. . So is it worth my while pursuing remaining £6 through legals. ? No of course not . So another £6 to Foo(k off) Call aka the Unholy Ghost multiplied by many millions of other mug punters.

    Like

  9. Pingback: BEHIND YOUR BACK: Personal security, convenience and child safety as the bases for corporate fraud | Sheva's Cross of Change Blog

  10. Florence, when you say “I had a lively, but of course fruitless, discussion on corporate accounting & profits” – has it ever occurred to you that a corporation would improve those profits if it looked to its clients and their needs?

    This is, after all, the key to any business turnaround. Well, a genuine one, at least.

    Like

  11. In the 1980s I used to rent top of the range video recorders from Radio Rentals. Suddenly the old mechanical counter on the VCRs was replaced by an LCD screen that could show the “time remaining” on a VHS tape. Imagine my surprise when I put in tapes I had bought to find that some were only 2 hours 50 minutes long. BASF was one of the worst offenders.

    As you suggest, before that it would be assumed to be “user error” and a miscalculation when the tape ran out before the end of a film.

    Like

  12. Of course Gemma, any company can grow its business and/ of profits and increase it’s customer satisfaction. What I was debating fruitlessly is exactly what JW discusses above. That is that all businesses use tax avoidance accounting methods, and the bigger they are the further they push the boundary, by moving profit away through highly creative (is border line between avoidance and evasion) accounting methods. More is spent doing this because the reward. The avoidance of corporation tax is the game

    Like

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