Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why do we put up with it?

A recent blogger ranted about her relationship with cable and satellite television service providers. In essence she accepted their terms, purchased a more expensive package of stations so that she could watch one in particular.

Only a short time into her contract the provider informed her in a form letter that the station she wanted no longer was offered because it was too demanding.

So now she's paying a higher rate for a bunch of stations she really doesn't want and cannot have access to the one station that drove her to make the larger investment. Can she write to company and say, "Without that station, I no longer want this contract?"

Probably not. After all, she has signed a contract. Funny how the consumer has no rights to change a contract, but a company/business can do whatever it pleases?

Her dilemma brought up one that my husband and I battle. I admit that we are passive aggressive. We get all angry and then do nothing. It is a reaction that companies bank on. Change is not easy, fighting for change even more difficult, and most people will just allow themselves to be victimized. That's us.

We have been customers of the same telephone service for most of our married lives. You would think that as 'valued customers' who pay on time and through the nose without protest, the company might offer us their best cost savings plans.

I can hear you laughing.

Unless we figure out what we are being billed for -- fat chance of that ever happening. These phone bills are better encrypted than the secret missives at the pentagon. Unless we decipher the bill, know what the best offers are that are made to OTHER customers but not to us. Unless we know what to ask for, how to demand better service, etc. etc. etc. We'll continue to pay more than our fair share.

All I want is a phone I can use to call my family now and then. A cell phone is perfect. But what about my Internet service provider? What if I just got a blackberry? Would that take care of my needs? Who do I ask? How do I find out?

I bet if we stop being a customer. End our service. Do without -- we might get someone's attention. But, getting attention is far from being the same as getting the truth. And in this age of spin and misdirection does anyone really know the truth about anything?
I really wish there was a Consumer's Union that I could join where I could get fair representation; a representative who speaks my language and can explain my rights and the best possible purchase to me, AND without sending me an undecipherable bill with hidden charges.
Let's start a Consumer's Union! Workers Unite!!!

We received a survey in the mail to fill out for consumer products. The standard invasive questions, but on the last page they made a last ditch attempt to get our information by providing glowing endorsements from people who have either received their tantalizing monetary prizes or appreciated the promised coupons. Almost to a person the respondents said something about not expecting to get what was promised, not trusting that they were truthful or would keep their word, or some allusion to 'others' who rip off, swindle, lie, cheat...."

Obviously there is a large population that feels paranoid whenever called upon for information or to sign a contract. Is this the American way? Double talk? Take with one hand and slap us with the other? Lie, cheat, steal, and encourage others to do the same?

Is this the only way to enter into a contract for services in the United States?

What is my recourse? Consumers Unite!

More likely we will simply do without.

You know -- I really like that idea. I can do without just about anything except Internet service. Anyone care to tell me how I can have Internet service without paying a nasty evil telephone bill or cable bill? I do so hate supporting these bad business practices.
Point me to the Consumers' Union Hall.