If you’re a consumer, in which category I include ordinary members of organizations, citizens, enlisted men in the service etc., there is no point in telling the organization about a problem.
Try telling the call center at your telephone company about a problem with the phone’s software. Try telling the sad vest-wearing people at the megastore that the paint cans are all leaking. Experiment by pointing out a hugely embarrassing typo in the ads for your bank. It’s almost always pointless. Some combination of corporate hostility, personal resentment from the underling you encounter, “policies,” and the complete inability of “first line customer service” to communicate with functional parts of the organization occurs.
There are exceptions. 911, for example; they’re always glad to hear about an oil slick on the freeway or the smell of natural gas, or even the leaky paint can. Individuals who run small stores or one-person open source software projects are generally grateful and responsive to help. Journalists, when you contact them directly, like to fix errors and typos.
My example today is LJ. Once, there was a community of some kind for reporting problems, followed by a bugzilla installation, followed now by an RT installation. RT is a great piece of software. I reported on Sept. 22 that a good chunk of my comment emails were blank. No one took the bug and there were no replies; the problem continued. On november 30 someone categorized the bug but did not take it or assign it. Today I added some helpful information. It’s dead. A useful and necessary feature is totally broken, but submitting this information as an ordinary user is totally pointless.
I wonder what the minimum size is for an organization so that consumers are sealed off from any attempt to provide useful feedback from the bottom up? With big companies it appears to be a point of pride now that the call center droids and email answerers are forbidden to communicate with anyone. And even with a well-intentioned application of bug tracking software, it’s just ennui reporting anything.