To Err Is Human

How about this for a revered retailer’s rollout of its holiday bargains:

Walmart Website Error Allowed Customers to Buy $600 Electronics for $8.85

What? I thought only the government could screw up websites and rollouts and marketplaces. That’s what every living and breathing right-wing politician and pundit has been telling us since October 1, right? Private sector good, government bad.

Anyway, I have had my own troubles with the private sector, when it comes to websites. My cell phone company, U.S. Cellular, has had its brand spanking new online payment system malfunctioning for more than two months now. Yes, more than two months. Last month they took out two payments from my checking account and then assured me things were being fixed and that I simply wouldn’t have to pay anything this month. Except they charged me again! Dammit!

Of course I went on the website and encountered a series of problems:

us celluar site problems

Obviously U.S. Cellular will have all this messed fixed eventually, just as Walmart fixed the mess it created. And just as obvious is the fact that those working on the ObamaCare website,, will get it up and running, too. The point here is that, yes, they—meaning the human beings working on and managing the rollout of the health insurance exchanges—should have been better prepared for the big day on October 1. It was a major screw-up that keeps on giving to the Obama haters among us. But when it comes to opening up the ACA’s marketplaces, we are talking about issues and systems much more complicated than selling cell phone service or electronic equipment. And, again, we are talking about error-prone human beings.

But ultimately we are talking about the well-being of a lot of Americans. I won’t abandon U.S. Cellular because they have one or two knuckleheads managing their website and online payment system, just as people won’t stop shopping at Walmart because they couldn’t get a computer monitor for $8.85, even though it said they could on the company’s website. Hopefully people, especially young people, won’t give up on ObamaCare just because it is taking longer than expected to get things right.

And if they do sign up, it will be in spite of what right-wingers, like the IQ snatchers on Fox “News,” have been doing shamelessly.

Fox News Obama Scare


1 Comment

  1. ansonburlingame

     /  November 8, 2013

    When private companies fail to perform they are “regulated” by a market. Get AT&T if you think U.S. Cellular is AFU. I would for sure. I changed from Dish to Cable One and then I lost some channels when Cable One lost a contract fight. So what was my conclusion as I found Cable One at least responsive to my concerns and not just some non-English speaking customer service rep for Dish.

    But when the government screws up what are my alternatives? As well when the government screws up the amounts involved are in the $Billions, not some much smaller amount, percentage of GDP if you like.

    But Duane, I do agree that all the rancor over a government web site roll out that failed on day one is not that big a deal. It will get fixed, no doubt, but at what expense, well who knows as well. And ultimately a government failure is MY money, not the war chest of a private business.

    My concern all along has been all of the unintended consequences of Obamacare. I don’t believe we have scratched the surface, yet, on understanding all of those problems, the web site itself being a trivial one, in the whole scheme of things.



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