Do You Phone It In?

July 5, 2011
It's Fair to Say Some Companies Have No Interest in Providing You With an Over-the-Phone Contact
By Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief

We commit several pages of the magazine to products each month and we continuously post products to, so we receive a lot of product press releases from suppliers. We boil them down to a short, market-speak-free description, and include contact information if you want to learn more. The press releases contain an email address, company website, and sometimes a phone number as the contact information.

For some time now, a rapidly growing number of companies no longer provide a phone number. So we spend time tracking down a number to include. Sometimes that's about as easy as finding a rotary dial phone. It's fair to say some companies have no interest in providing you with an over-the-phone contact.

So who has this right? Do the companies that don't think your phone call is important to them know your needs better than we do, since we scurry around trying to find a proper phone contact to make it easier for you?

I get mixed responses from the machine builders I ask about this, but it's hardly a scientific sample. So I posted a one-question quick poll on the home page ( that should help us get a better read. Tell us yes, you do want a phone number. Tell us no, it's not important because you do product research only on the web. Or, maybe when you see a product that interests you, you just call the local rep. Whatever your position might be, just tell us. Don't like polls? Then let me know by email or...wait for it...use the phone number rather easily found at the bottom of this page.

Next, I have to let off some steam about a different press release I received.

A statement from Franklin Electric reads "Franklin Electric Co., Inc. (Nasdaq:FELE) has approved a plan to close its Tulsa Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma manufacturing facility. As part of this action, the company will transfer approximately 260,000 annual man hours of manufacturing activity primarily to the Linares, Mexico facility, with a small portion of the transfer going to another Oklahoma City-based facility."

Are you kidding me?  Hey, we're not moving about 130 jobs out of the country. No, no, goodness, no. We're just transferring 260,000 man hours out of the country.

Now, for all I know, Franklin Electric, a $700 million manufacturer of products for water systems and fueling systems, might be a socially responsible company. But could they have found a worse way to say this?

There's no excuse for anyone in the company's management structure who would draft or approve a statement that so completely dehumanizes a decision that causes the loss of jobs in a community, and presents it only in the sterile terms of disembodied manufacturing hours.

They should know better.