Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All Power to the People

I received an email yesterday notifying me that my cable bill was past due, and that if I didn't pay by phone immediately my service would be shut off. That struck me as odd; I'm a good American and I always pay my bills. I looked through my receipts and noticed that I didn't in fact receive a cable bill last month, which explains why I didn't pay it.

So I called the cable company and worked my way through the voice menu until 15 minutes later I had a real human being on the other end of the line. I explained that I'd never received a bill last month, and wondered what was up. "Just a minute, let me make an adjustment," she said. I said, "OK," and waited. "There!" she exclaimed. "I changed your account so that you'll automatically receive a bill every month."

"Why wouldn't I receive a bill every month?" I asked. "I've received a bill every month but last month."

"Well," she explained, "if your bill is the same every month sometimes the system just doesn't send it out once in a while. I don't know why. I can remove the late fee for you, though."

"Are you intentionally not sending out bills so you can collect late fees? Is that what you're telling me? Even if that's legal, it's not very polite," I stated politely.

She replied that she honestly didn't know, and of course I believe her. Customer Service reps don't make policy decisions for major utilities. Here's another crap thing about this cable company: if you decide your bill is too high and have the time and patience to wait for a human voice on the other end of the phone, you can say, "My bill's so high! Do you have any promotions right now?" and they will take at least $20 off your bill for six months or a year. In other words, they overcharge anyone willing to pay a bill without asking questions, which means they are overcharging 90% of their customers.

Do I have choice? Could I get my cable and internet from another company? Yes. Would that be a huge pain in the butt? Yes. Would a different utility treat me any better, any differently? Nah. The days of public utilities are over, and utility companies are not our friends. No conglomerate is a friend. The only way for services such as electric, gas, phone and cable to be delivered to my house in a warm and friendly manner would be for me to hook a treadmill up to a battery and a generator and let my dog power everything by running in place.

I don't even think there's a lesson here, or a larger point, except this: sometimes "the man" really is out to get you, and you best stick it to him first.


tunsie said...

my phone was shut off because they said I didn't pay my bill.I had 2 pay with a credit card and had 2 pay a hookup fee.2 days later they called me and told me that they had made a mistake,they had my check TWO weeks ago,and they had made an error and they were sorry.I kept my cool through this idiotic mistake and they made up 4 the credit card charges.when u r dealing with thousands of customers,mistakes r bound 2 happen.I luv u el.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie

SPIKE ROGAN From Easton,PA said...

Sounds like RCN. To be honest I have had both RCN and Service Electric in Easton. And while RCN had the better High Speed internet deal.

SE treated me fair even prorating a bill for my last 10 days living dowtown.

RCN on the other hand dosn't roll like that.