Public Service vs. Private Enterprise

Many years ago, I ran the  Complaint Department for the City of Honolulu. The very same day I was sworn in and began learning the ropes at my new job, I received my first complaint call at home. It was from a lady who had moments earlier found a dead dog in her front yard. Since my name and photo had appeared in the afternoon newspaper, she was able to get my phone number through Information. And she called. In fact, she called every few minutes to complain that no one had arrived to remove the dead dog.

I suggested to the mayor the next day that perhaps I should get an unlisted phone number. He reacted instantly, saying if HE had a listed phone number, I would damn well have one, too. The only exception, he said, was the Chief of Police.

He was right, of course. 

A few weeks ago, I was on deadline and had reason to talk to the head of the “Corporate Communications” department of a major Hawaii company.  I’ve known this guy for years, going back to when we were both in the advertising business in Honolulu. 

To get his phone number, I went on line to his company’s web site, typed in “Corporate Officers”, and hit the return key. 

Sure enough, up popped a page with photos, job titles and brief job descriptions for the company’s management team. Two thirds of the way down the page was my friend—a photo above  his name, his job title, and one or two sentences for a brief job description.   

But no phone number. 

In fact, there were no phone numbers given for any of the individuals being presented as the company’s “Management Team”. In fact, there was not a single phone number on the entire page.

I clicked back to the company’s home page and there, at the very bottom was one phone number.

I made the call and, after several rings, a female voice answered. It was a recording. In a business-like monotone, she ran down a list of the various departments. Finally the voice said “For Corporate Communications, press one-eight.”

I did.

There was a pause, two ring tones, and another recorded female voice speaking rapidly and in a monotone: “Leave your name and number. I’ll call you back.” 

That was more than three months ago and I’ve never had a return phone call . . . not-so-good communication from Corporate Communications.