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Grow up big companies, stop blaming subcontractors

Kids fighting in field

When will big companies stop blaming all their problems on subcontractors? Whether its useless ID theft insurance, or bad wall insulation advice, shouldn’t most of the onus be on the big companies?

I come to work to escape sometimes. Often from squabbling children who are pointing the finger at each other whinging, ‘it wasn’t me it was him!’, or ‘it wasn’t me it was her!’ But lately I’ve found that there’s not much escape at work either…

There seems to be more and more occasions where big companies try to pass the buck onto subcontractors. This month it’s the banks blaming a company called CPP, something Lucy Widenka wrote about recently.

It’s not us, it’s them

In this case, when you rang up your bank to activate a new credit card, it’s likely you were put through to one of CPP’s sales people who then tried to sell you ID theft insurance.

It’s one thing redirecting you to another company when you just want to activate your card, but it’s even worse when what they’re selling is basically a waste of money.

And this is exactly what we told the banks when we asked them what they were going to do about it. However, some of the messages we got from the banks made us think that they were trying to dodge the blame with an ‘It’s not us, it’s them!’ attitude.

Passing the wall insulation buck

It’s happening in the energy market as well. Last month we published research showing that companies selling cavity wall insulation weren’t giving the best advice.

But when we put our test results to the companies who were selling this insulation, such as Tesco, Marks & Spencer and npower, we got a similar message. Each of them had subcontracted the work to the same company, leading them to tell us ‘It wasn’t us, it was them!’

Big companies on the naughty step

At home I’m testing out a new chart to try and stop the squabbling amongst my kids. I’m giving lots of lectures on how it’s important to accept criticism and not to pass on the blame. I feel like getting the same chart for these big companies, I really do.

So you big companies, are you going to make the right choice? It’s your brand and your customers. It doesn’t matter who actually did the work, it’s your responsibility to make sure you offer the best advice, products and services.

I have my smiley face stickers ready and waiting for you. Please don’t make me get my black dots out!

Brian Trevaskiss says:
14 April 2011

I’m all for being transparent and telling customers when a service is subcontracted. It’s also OK to be truthful and say who messed up.

But at the end of the day if you make the decision to use another company to fulfil part of your obligation to a customer, you need to take responsibility for that decision. Ultimately you take the blame.

Your customer didn’t choose your subcontractor they chose you.

Hear Hear, Jenny

For me it’s all about plausible deny-ability. If something goes wrong then there is always a scapegoat. Network Rail/Railtrack have been doing this for years. Look at the Jarvis/Potters bar incident/blamethrowing

What’s even worse is that when they sub-contract and then the sub-contractors sub-contract themselves!

And we wonder why contracts are so expensive? It’s because companies cannot be bothered to take on, train and motivate a group of skilled workers. What happens is that the construction/IT/insulation companies end up only having highly paid managers. This then bumps up the price for everyone as they are all taking a cut off the top. The only way then to get the work done is to employ the highly skilled sub-contractors because these companies have hoovered up all the talent that has been made redundant from the management heavy companies.

Oh the joys of english management 🙂

An interesting development … media reports earlier this week suggest Barclaycard has suspended their relationship with CPP running their ‘call to confirm’ service http://www.cityam.com/news-and-analysis/cpp-rocked-barclaycard-suspends-deal