The Fruits of Corporate Consolidation by James Jaeger
Are you fed up with corporate monopolies and oligopolies such as PECO, VERIZON and COMCAST? Here is an excerpt from my dealings with such congressional-facilitated corporate fascists.
Being a founding customer of FIOS I am now changing to COMCAST. The new COMCAST service I ordered is an upgraded cable with 15 Meg Internet for $56.97 per month. The special on the upgraded cable goes for 6 months and the special on the Internet goes for 12 months. At the end of 6 months Joe, the customer rep, said we can call him and he can "get us in on another 'special.'" Note all these specials and limited offers do little more than confuse the customer and make it almost impossible for long-term financial planning. In this case, COMCAST is offering a composite service with "special" rates expiring at different times. This is like buying a car where your monthly payment for the car's body is on special at a certain rate for 12 months but the engine is on special rate for only 6 months. All this may be easy for a mega-, anti-human-corporation to handle with its multi-million dollar mainframe computers, but it's confusing and defeating to us mere humans.
Allow me to continue with a typical COMCAST service order with Joe. Joe, a typical COMCAST rep as implied, spoke so fast, and with so much jargon, I could barely understand what he said (and I have been working with computers and electronics for over 30 years). He said the $56.97 price includes the cost of a MODEM but if we want a wireless ROUTER, we have to either install our own ROUTER or have their technician install it/one at a cost of $150.00. Router, modem? Joe never mentioned this in the first call with me, when I asked him if there were any other "hidden" costs. But Joe said "our own router" could possibly include using FIOS's old router (however we would have to buy or rent this from FIOS, I would think, were we to be honest). So I asked Joe: "Why can't we just have COMCAST send a technician over with all the proper equipment and just hook up the service we want?" He said that that could not be done because it would be too simple, too service-friendly and too ANTI-big corporation, for big corporations don't give a rat's ass about the customer. To do so would put them in treason against their creed, a creed that dictates that, so long as they can rape money out of the customer, all is well and the executives will get their bonuses.
Of course maybe this wasn't what Joe said at all. Maybe it was just my thoughts screaming out loud. Thoughts like the idea that once a big corporation gets its victim-customer signed and their credit card wired up it's almost impossible to escape. It's also almost impossible to call in and complain as one never gets a live human, just a series of robot "receptionists" with 5-word vocabularies that ask those brazen enough to call (rather than get help on-line) to speak into a phone where no one is listening.
So Joe is sending a technician out this Friday between 11am and 1pm to install the above nightmare (with a modem and or a router) as I had no other choice, did I. In fact, was Joe actually human? I'll never know.
But after getting off the phone with Joe, I am still unclear what COMCAST's technician will provide. Will he provide a modem and/or a router and will it cost any additional money, such as a $150 installation charge? I am also confused as to whether I should:
1) use COMCAST'S modem;
2) use the old FIOS's modem;
3) buy our own modem;
4) use COMCAST'S router;
5) use the old FIOS's router;
6) buy our own router;
Hell, what's the difference between a MODEM and a ROUTER anyway?! I actually know -- because I have been in the business for 30 years -- but how many citizens are in Norristown State Mental Hospital that still can't answer this question.
Given the above snippet from a Tuesday on the phone with a friendly, corporate consolidate, I can say honestly say that COMCAST is actually a little LESS insane (although possibly more oily) than VERIZON (and their alter-ego, rape-as-you-go corporation, FIOS). VERIZON is SO insane, psychiatrists won't even ADMIT anyone to Norristown State that has ever come in contact with them. Thus, my only remedy is to axe my FIOS service and swim the crock-channel over to the HALF-insanity offered by COMCAST.
It would take me more hours to tell you what I have experienced with VERIZON FIOS but I'll give you a preview.
VERIZON FIOS is no different than a rabid dog choking over its own saliva. This mega corp. has become so insane over the years, they can no longer even BILL their victim-customers in an orderly fashion. In other words, if you sign up with VERIZON FIOS and simply ask them to "automatically bill my credit card every month" -- a standard function in today's computerized world -- here's what happens. You set up the order and then they don't bill. Suddenly, three months later, they shut off your service for "non payment." Even though the payment order and the money is sitting there all the time, they can't get it together to debit it. Then when you log into their "website" to pay, they tell you you have to log into their OTHER website. Then when you log into their OTHER website and hit, PAY MY BILL, the screen says: "This function not working at this time." This same error message has been present for over a year. So you call in for the 5th time and, after waiting for 20 minutes, have the same conversation with a different "service" rep. See notes below. Then one "savvy" customer "service" rep tells you that the VERIZON bills go out on the 7th of every month but it take 20 days for them to be actually debited from credit cards. This policy is pure VERIZON and could only have been dreamt up by an $800,000 a year junior executive working his way up the corporate ladder at the company.
But on the other hand, maybe this is pure executive genius. Since no one ever knows exactly what billing period they are referencing when attempting to get customer "service" or pay their bill, it's almost impossible to have a civilized conversation with the "service" rep and the customer-victims go away so confused and exhausted they just let VERIZON bill them anything it wants to any time it wants to. You laugh, but hey, this is exactly what I have done, for at least three years. (1)
So what's the solution to all this, other than nuking every mega-corporation on the planet?
These anecdotes are a result of CORPORATE CONSOLIDATION and the thwarting of free-enterprise, laissez faire capitalism. Right now the number of companies in the market place has shrunk to only a handful, thus they do whatever they please with their customers. It was little different than when the Stalin's Soviet Union ran all the companies in the Soviet Empire. Right now in the USSR Philadelphia area you have only about two choices for packaged communication services (CATV-Internet-Phone) and those choices are COMCAST and VERIZON.
Eventually COMCAST will eat VERIZON or VERIZON will eat COMCAST and then the survivor will eat YOU. Any you DESERVE to get eaten unless YOU do something, or at least write letters like this one far and wide.
In short, the insane consolidation of America MUST end. Citizens must stop patronizing and condoning the endless destruction of free enterprise competition through government-facilitated corporate consolidation (i.e., corporate fascism). All congressmen that had anything to do with granting or facilitating corporate mergers and the too-big-to-fail monopolies strewn through out the land must ruthlessly be thrown out of office.(2) Citizens must continue to vote out all these congressional corporate sycophants until they are all gone. It makes NO difference who is placed back into office (even if they are a little slow) just so long as they are a true representative of the American People and they REFUSE to allow laws to be configured that permit insane and destructive corporations like COMCAST and VERISON to rape and pillage the market.
Also, monopolies such as PECO (the Philadelphia Electric Company) should, as Ralph Nader suggests, be required to send out surveys along with their bills. These surveys should ask the public if they are satisfied with PECO's services. The results should then be aired on public access TV and made available to independent observers and officials so the value of such public utilities can be ascertained.
Have you ever tried to complain to PECO, or your public utility corporation, about your electric bill? In most cases, you get about as much respect as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.
(1) Sample of session notes with VERIZON: Notes: 1) Inception was on 2007 by Ramon L, with acct 00739146XXXXX; Acct was then modified by Carl on 8 Apr 08 when she added herself to Ramon's acct; JRJ then called on 5 Nov 08 and agent said old acct was terminated and new acct no of 008392363XXX is issued. 2) Verizon suspended acct on or ab 15 oct08, carol reinstated, acct in "Carol ____ & Ramone _____" name (267/258-XXXX) and gave XXX@mecfilms.com as contact and paid $95.98 + $3.50 to be billed out of PayPal acct. Need to get USERID and PASS to access FIOS server to manage acct. Reason for terminating: "we were rejected by PayPal." 3) Called 888/338-9333 for Billing Dept and 800/688-2880 for FIOS Cells & Cust Service 4) 2 Jan 09 Called Verizon re service and re-set up acct ID and pass. Then transferred to bill dept to review billing which = 85.75 due when original guy said 65.75 due so we compromised and made 75.75 due now with a monthly due of 47.99 payable from masterchage acct on 25th of each mo. Paid past due of 27.75 on 2 Jan 09, making total due on 25 Jan 09 of $95.99 unless JRJ pays the additional $48 (48 + 27.75 = 75.75) before next bill on 25 Jan of regular 47.99. 02 Mar 2009: Changed payment method to bill PayPal acct. 5) Spoke to FIOS Billing at 888/338-9333 and said actual bill date will probably be 7th of each mo, next being 7 Apr. Said issue of bill date is different than actual debit date. "This should be set up so you don't have to concern yourself with it any longer." 6) 9 Apr 09 called billing for PA = 877/431-7023. Asked about charge for 59.00 on paypal and why paper bill was sent. Said the paper bill was an anomaly. 7) Called again on 13 Apr 09 and said auto billing not yet set up to pay online or by mail. Resolve to pay by mail. VERIZON is the worst managed company in the US possibly the world. Then went to paypal and find they have debited my acct twice for 47.99 x 2. Refuted payment and sent in signed form to paypal in Omaha. 8) 22 April09 Made one-time payment of 47.99 from Master card. 9) FIOS failed to debit paypal in auto-debit program AGAIN. Called 877/431-7023 on 6 Jul2009 and asked about pmt date. Said is 18th. Gave address to mail in pmts as VERION, PO Box 12045, Trenton NJ 08650. Said do a one-time debit. DONE. 10) 10 sep 09 - called to find they had suspended service for non payment. Auto bill not work again. 11) Called cust serv and tech supp on 20 Oct 2009: Cust serv says we have 10Mbps plan for $44.99 per mo. Can up grade to 15Mbps ($80) or 25Mbps ($70) or get phone+15Mbps ($80) or phone+25Mbps ($89) or TV+phone+15Mbps ($110) . Steve at Tech Support said to 1) "power cycle" modem 2) hold red reset button down for 12 sec and c) if doesn't work, call tech support from home with laptop hooked up to the Ethernet cable. As last resort can upgrade modem to more powerful modem but would have to get service changed from coax cable to either net. Lastly, bits per sec are used for data transmission and bytes per second are used for storage and copying files around a computer. 12) 04 Jun 2010: spoke Michael at tech supp and had w turn off router and disconnect coax, also hit red button to "power cycle" unit, Michael said this is best router but could replace with commercial one but must specify COAX connection. Also can use new wireless N router but have to replace card to N. Currently may have bg wireless. Router = ACTION TECH.
(2) See "Overthrowing the Corporate Government" at http://www.jaegerresearchinstitute.org/articles/overthrow.htm
03 August 2010
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