Trick or Treat: Living in the New Economy
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 just buzz me for personal data for marketing purposes? Were they afraid I was going to mail a bomb? If so, they must have a LOT of disgruntled customers.
For several years now I’ve used Express Oil Change 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 Express Oil, 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. At the second visit, 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. Was this just random happenstance? One vehicle had 150,000 miles on it and the other had 216,000 miles on it. Now I don’t know when or why radiators go out without prior signs or symptoms, but mine just happens to do it when each time I visit this location.
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 the pre-meditated categories selected for me to choose from. What gives? 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. What happened to healthcare? I know that my co-pay probably isn’t paying overhead for the telephone service, but there used to be a certain level of service you could expect for your dime in this country. That got thrown out with safe drinking water.
This week alone I’ve received 4 phone calls on my cell phone. I say "hello" and receive no response. I say "hello" a second time and wallah, I get a recording offering me something I’ve never heard of, much less that I am interested in. I hear the recording out just so I can hear that option to cancel these silly solicitations which will only continue if I don’t. There is no such option. Yet I am on the DO NOT CALL LIST. On this list I am supposed to be able to request that these marketeers not hound me and if they still do, there are legislative penalties to protect me. How can I ask them to stop calling me, however, if their phone menu doesn’t give me that option. I called back once and learned the trick is this: you will get a phone message that allows you to enter "1" and be placed on the DO NOT CALL LIST. Heck, I thought I already was. And why should I have to pay to call them anyway? Faulty logic, but it was worth paying for the call just to get them off my back. Their affiliate company will call instead now.
Remember when the phone book was free. Everyone was in the phone book UNLESS you had a unlisted number. It always seemed to me that you should pay to be INCLUDED in the book, rather than pay to be EXCLUDED from the book. After all, it wasn’t our idea to create the book. But somewhere along the way, phone books got designated as a customer service, and the customer who dared to be different was penalized for it. I am surprised the DO NOT CALL LIST (which obviously doesn’t work), doesn’t require a fee for enlisting. Did I just say that out loud? I’m sure that will be next. I’m already paying $80 a month for unlimited mobile to mobile, but that doesn’t come with any basic rights to privacy. I have to pay $50 a month for my LAN line to get that. Perhaps mobile carriers should offer an upgrade to be free from harassment. It would be popular I think.
I recently downloaded Vipre 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? Ten hours of telephone calls later, I still don't have Vipre reinstalled. Why? My first phone call to Vipre online support actually wasn't Vipre. They were posers. I didn't realize this until GuruTech tried to charge me $100.00 to clean out bad registry data, the alleged reason Vipre wasn't downloading properly. This was an abvious untruth since I had a brand spanking new computer that had never been oline. When I finally did get a hold of a REAL Vipre representative, they told me these 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 Vipre spent hours on my computer erasing hidden traces of the virus protection that came loaded with the computer (McAfee), I still can't download Vipre. It looks like I'll be looking for another way to protect my computer.
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Am I beginning to sound like Andy Rooney? I don’t mean to. I just get frustrated sometimes. I’m a hard working, honest, law abiding taxpayer and citizen. Do I get anything in return for this? I’m searching for answers. I live in a County that’s mis-handled their funds so badly it / THEY face bankruptcy. I am told that Medicare or Medicaid may not be there for me when I need it after putting substantial funds into the system for my peers for 25+ years now. I turn to the private sector which the Republicans claim will cure the ills of the Democrats, and I can’t even get them to answer the phone, much less be honest with me. I write letters to my legislators on both the House and Senate levels and I get canned letters in response, probably drafted by an intern or legal aide, which actually states "I will take your concerns under advisement." I thought I put him in office. Aren’t my opinions supposed to be his opinions?
What’s left? Don't get me started on cable TV packages. I guess as soon as I am ABLE to retire (they’ve already moved my retirement age out once), I shall run for public office. I’ll have to run as an Independent because I cannot honestly support the political philosophies of either party whole-heartedly and I would certainly get called a hypocrite for that. My chances of winning on an independent ticket have a high cost versus risk analysis. Maybe I should just hold onto my pennies and hope for better days. Surely it’s just the economy driving these tricksters and they will retreat as soon as the sun comes up on November 1 of another era.
I saw a guy driving around downtown the other day with a megaphone atop his car. He was not preaching. He was philosophizing. 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 in an age when nothing seems to work. We’re going to have to get really creative to clean up the global mess we’ve made. I am wholly in favor of everyone’s rights, but I really miss the good old days when I didn’t have to turn my lawnmower instruction book upside down and backwards to find my own language in it. I guess we’ll pay extra for that one day as well, if we aren’t already. Until then, there’s three tricks I hate: telemarketing, phone menu systems, and unnecessary & expensive redundancy. Given the option I’d take three treats: Bottle Caps, Sugar Daddys, and candy cigarettes. Throw in a Nehi Peach and I’d pay the extra surcharge !!!