A Tale of Corporations


Herb Dempsey

So the flashlight didn't work. It's a Duracell carefully machines with several new batteries in it and it flashed on and it turned itself off. I played with it for a while and decided that this wonderful $20 piece of light-up-the-night was suffering from switch failure.

I hopped on the Internet to find out if I could buy a new switch, since replacing the flashlight was obviously going to cost more than replacing the switch. Of course, I could've gone back to Costco, if I could’ve found the slip and gotten another flashlight, where the switch would have been made in the same factory and probably failed. The trip to Costco is about 30 miles and at current rate of gasoline consumption by my car and price at the pump it would probably have cost me more to go to Costco than the flashlight cost in the first place. Besides, if I get around Costco, I buy large quantity of things I don't need and enjoy roughly the same rush that a diabetic has in the candy store.

I entered the information for the "Duracell Durabeam Ultra 1000 Lumens" flashlight into my Mozilla Firefox search engine and learned that Amazon methodically describes the machine through its customer reviews, where 52% rate the flashlight with five stars and 27% give it one star. So I read the reviews: Many people have posted very specific analyses saying that after they turned the flashlight on, it worked for a brief period and eventually did exactly what mine did. They all agreed it died. So, I decided to keep looking.

I discovered, when I went to the Duracell website on the Internet, there is a large list of things that the company sells under Products, but that does not include flashlights. So I went to the Contact page and searched for "Flashlight." I discovered the Duracell website I was on led to another website, which assured me that the information I leave would not be shared outside of Duracell. I followed the links on that website to yet another website and found they do have some flashlights and I was assured, "that Durabeam range of Duracell flashlights are[sic] high quality, affordable lights suitable for home, car, toolbox, camping, and weather emergencies." At the bottom of that page, I learned that website was copyrighted in 2015 by Duracell as a division of the Gillette Company of Bethel, Connecticut. I learned that Duracell is a registered trademark of the Gillette Company.

So, I hit the Contact link and learned that the Gillette Company, which on this website owns the Duracell Company, claims, "*NOTE: We can only provide support for our [emphasis supplied] products. Some Duracell Flashlights and Portable Lighting Products are distributed by other Duracell licensees. If you have questions or concerns regarding these products, please contact them for support."  My Duracell flashlight apparently belongs to the Ultra Series which enjoys a unique status within the Duracell line, "Please do NOT contact us for support of these flashlights from the DURACELL® Durabeam™ Ultra Series." My 1000 lumen flashlight was in this list. The box also told me I could call a phone number during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time.

I called the toll free number listed in the box for TechnoMate and the nice lady assured me that in three weeks I would have a new switch. This new company is found at 200 Smith Way, Canton, CT 06019. So, I searched for that address and learned that the 7,700 square feet office is for sale.  I did not call Thomas York, the rental agent, but it was tempting. I did fill in the contact information at the bottom of the page and one day later I received an email reply, "Sorry that is not a Technomate product."

Then I moved over to Pangiva where I learned that Innovative Concepts Corporation (apparently AKA TechnoMate) has a convoluted distribution network for at least 25 different suppliers from around the world. I was now awake and dealing with Innovative Concepts Corp Durapro and a shipping invoice from Ningpo, China through the Port of Los Angeles on American Eagle, Inc.’s, Santa Ines (the freighter), containing a bunch of flashlights on Purchase Order No. 100387 from Duracell Durabeam. Megadata is fun and I found more than I wanted to know and now I am waiting for perhaps a month to find out if I can have light at the end of this tunnel.

I also learned that Duracell, which became a subsidiary of Gillette, is being acquired by Berkshire Hathaway. And there is the troubling detour, when Duracell was owned by Procter and Gamble on its way to Berkshire Hathaway: "in which it will exchange a recapitalized Duracell Company for Berkshire Hathaway’s shares of P&G stock."

Warren Buffet will, presumably, be sending me the flashlight switch. Corporations beget corporations beget corporations, just like in the Holy Bible, because they are now people, you know. See Citizens United.