Frustrations of Living in the New Economy
Technology is sometimes a blessing. It is also sometimes a curse. But we can't blame technology for corporate decisions, greed or mismanagement. There are stakeholders sitting in a board room somewhere. I hope they read this blog while they're lining their pockets.
Remember the yellow pages? Well, now they're online. Sometimes in the form of a website that you can't find because it takes 15 Google scroll bars to get past the ads. Sometimes there is no website, just a Facebook page. But the real point here is that SOMETIMES, there's not even a phone number or address. My word of advice is don't use these companies. Here is an example of why:
Recently I tried to obtain the physical address of Comcast Cable. My goal was simple — to mail them something. I called a local phone number and was told that I could NOT get their address until I gave them my address. This was following an approximate 5 minute hold because my request apparently confused them. Did they LOSE their address? I asked the gentleman if there was a Comcast representative that could give me the corporation’s address and I was promptly transferred. When the new representative answered, she contended that she could not hear me and I had to give her my phone number so that she could call me back in order to give me the information. Was this a legitimate failure to communicate or did Comcast employees not know their own address? Was I getting buzzed for personal data? I finally decided that each of these employees were probably located overseas, and indeed, they did not know WHICH address they should give out — certainly not their own. I doubt they knew WHERE in America their actual employer was located.
For several years now I’ve used the same oil change company to change the oil in my car. Twice at differing locations they placed a new decal on my car that had the incorrect mileage. I noticed that the new mileage for the next oil change was 1000 miles less than it should have been each time (3000 thousand miles is the recommended threshold). Both times I called this to their attention and they referred to it as a typographical error and quickly changed my decal to reflect the correct mileage. Did I just prevent a fraud against me or is this a common practice to trick customers into coming back in sooner rather than later for their next oil change?
Not to pick on this company, but twice when I visited for an oil change, I was told that my radiator was leaking. There was an approximate 3 year lapse between two visits at one particular location where I was told this. I had presented with two very different automobiles each time, years apart. Indeed the first car developed a leaky radiator following no prior signs or symptoms. I ultimately had to replace the radiator. Hey, and guess what? It just so happens they could replace my radiator in both instances. The second time, I told them every time I brought my vehicle in for an oil change at this location, I wound up with a leaky radiator so I wasn’t coming back again. What a clever way to keep your employees busy and impact your bottom line!
Have you called your doctor’s office lately? I can’t get anyone to answer the phone at mine. I get caught in an infinite loop of selections, none of which is to talk to someone that will actually answer the phone. This includes the nurse, the appointment secretary, or anyone else who would be willing to answer a question that doesn’t fall into their pre-meditated healthcare choices. And dare I call between 12 and 1 pm – the office recording clearly states they are closed for lunch and to call back later. And dare I call when they are busy – the office recording clearly states they are too busy to talk to me and that I should call back later. They even give me the option of leaving my name and number, stating they will call me back within 48 hours. FORTY-EIGHT HOURS.
So if you think you finally got past all that with a prescription for what ails you, think again. Try calling your pharmacy. You are golden if you happen to have that 15 digit prescription number and an accurate date of birth. Then anyone you know can actually pick up and pay for the drug. But trying to reach a pharmacist on the telephone is like trying to reach your legislator. There are layers of employees that have been hired (and which you are paying for) designed just to keep you from getting to the man or woman that put the pills in the bottle. Recently, I counted 28 pills in a bottle of purportedly 30 pills. Well, I know mistakes happen but it got me thinking how much that might add up to over a one year period and multiple patients.
What happened to healthcare? Telephone service and calculators used to be considered part of overhead. These are both notions that got thrown out with safe drinking water.
Corporate Oxy-Morons, Or, Maybe Just Morons!
This week alone I’ve received 14 phone calls on my cell phone. I say "hello" and receive no response. I say "hello" a second time and presto — I get a recording. Apparently, the recall issued on my car (NOT!) has them gravely concerned about my safety. Meanwhile, they want to also help me pay off a student loan that was paid off 40 years ago. Sometimes I listen to these recordings just so I can opt-out only to find there is no such option.
Sadly, I am on the DO NOT CALL LIST. On this list I am supposed to be able to request that these telemarketers not hound me and if they still do, there are legislative penalties to protect me. Here's the oxy-moron. Why should I have to use my data minutes to call them to tell them to stop calling me? They called me first. And if I do so successfully, their affiliate company will call instead now. I am surprised the DO NOT CALL LIST doesn't require a fee. Did I just say that out loud? I’m sure that will be next.
Remember when the phone book was free. If you had a phone, you were in the phone book — UNLESS, you had a unlisted number. It always seemed odd to me that being listed in the book was free, but then you had to pay to be EXCLUDED from the book. It wasn't my idea to create the phonebook — I just wanted a phone number.
So today, I’m paying $80 a month for a mobile phone that works in about 50% of my geographic area and doesn't come with any basic rights to privacy. I have to pay another $80 a month for my LAN line to get that. And I have to pay to exclude my number from a list I didn't ask to be put on in the first place.
I recently downloaded some software to my computer for internet security. Then my hard drive crashed and I had to re-install it. Luckily, I had paid the extra $10 to obtain a CD version as well so I attempted to upload it from there. Sounds simple enough, right? Think again. Ten hours of telephone calls later (did you hear that - TEN HOURS?), I still don't have it reinstalled. Why? My first phone call to the company's online support wasn't the actual company — they were posers. It took me a minute to catch on but when guru technician tried to charge me $100.00 to clean out bad registry data, the light bulb went off.
When I finally did get a hold of a REAL company representative, they told me these company posers/scammers are common and there's nothing either of us can do about it because these scammers are located overseas and authorities will not prosecute them. These scammers were on my computer via remote access sifting through my personal files. After they spent an hour on my computer erasing hidden traces of the virus protection that came loaded with the computer, I still can't download the software. I had to find another way to protect my computer. Webroot to the rescue!
When Frustration Becomes Action, Sort Of!
If I am beginning to sound like Andy Rooney (may he rest in peace), I don’t mean to. I just get frustrated sometimes. I’m a hard working, honest, law abiding taxpayer and citizen. I’m searching for answers as to what that entitles me to? I live in a County that’s mishandled their funds so poorly, it filed bankruptcy. I am told that Medicare or Medicaid may not be there for me when "I" need it after putting substantial funds into this subsidy system for 40 years. One political party blames the other yet I can’t get either side to answer the phone. They took lessons from my doctor's office. So I write letters to my legislators instead and I get canned responses that almost always say the same thing, "I will take your concerns under advisement." I thought I put this joker in office to represent his constituents, not himself.
What’s left? Don't get me started on cable TV packages. I saw a guy driving around downtown the other day with a megaphone atop his car. He was not preaching. He was just philosophizing about how we've lost our way. A part of me thought he had lost his marbles, but another part of me had to give him props. At least he’s trying something new in an age when nothing else seems to work.
We’re going to have to get really creative to clean up the mess we’ve made. I really miss the good old days when I didn’t have to turn my lawnmower instruction book upside down and backwards three times to find my own language. I guess we’ll pay extra for that one day as well, if we aren’t already.
I long for simplicity again. Give me some Bottle Caps, a Nehi Peach and a candy cigarette. They might give me a bad tooth, but at least they don't cause cancer!