Friday, February 09, 2007

CELL PHONES, CAPITALISM & CAMPAIGNS


Two years ago, there were quite a few cell phone companies competing for business in our area: Verizon, AT&T, Cingular, Sprint and Nextel come to mind immediately. In the past year, however, several of these companies have merged. AT&T has merged with Cingular, and Sprint has taken over Nextel. When the mergers were announced, consumers were assured that their phone services would be greatly improved. Don’t believe a word of it!

We dealt with Nextel for 3.5 years before the merger. In that period, the only problem we had with our service was the occasional dead spot where we couldn’t get reception. But Nextel was always building new towers, so that problem was disappearing quickly. I did not have any feelings one way or the other when Sprint took over the account. Ask me how I feel now!

In the seven months that we have been dealing with Sprint, we have had to dispute charges on our account every time we've gotten a bill. It’s taken us four (maybe five) months to get it through their heads that yes - we want voice mail, and no – we don’t want text messaging. So stop allowing text messages through and then charging us for them! To top it off, lots of the text messages are spam and junk mail from companies advertising stuff. You’ve got to be kidding! These jerks want us to pay for their advertising? I don’t think so.

Last night was a hoot. Dave opened up the bill and found a charge for $11.98 for a monthly subscription to something called Mqube on Jonathan’s phone. We talked to Jonathan, who knew nothing about it. Dave called the company (it was his turn, I argued with them last month) to find out what Mqube is and why it’s on our account. According to Sprint, when Jonathan bought some ring tones about three months ago, he also unknowingly subscribed to Mqube. (Apparently, they are supposed to send daily jokes and Bible verses to him. He hasn't gotten any jokes or Bible verses, but at least we now know why he keeps getting his daily horoscope - he's been trying to figure that out.) Okay, answer this: he bought the ring tones three months ago, so, why is this just appearing on our bill now? No good answer to that question. So, Dave yelled at them awhile and told them to remove the subscription because it was unauthorized - Jonathan is not the account holder. Dave also told them never to add anything to our account unless they have express written permission from either him or me.

When Dave was done yelling at the phone guy, we talked with the boys about capitalist economics. When Jonathan clicked on the button to buy a ring tone, he thought he was spending $2.00. He didn't know that he was also contracting for some other garbage for $11.98 a month. That ring tone suddenly got really expensive! We reminded them of two rules to always keep in mind when doing business in our society:

1. If an offer looks too good to be true, it’s not true.
2. Caveat emptor: let the buyer beware.

Be very careful before buying into something because, if it turns out not to be what you thought it was, you’re usually stuck with it. We were able to get out of this one because Jonathan is not the account holder. If he had been responsible for the account, he’d be stuck paying an extra $11.98 every month for a service he doesn't want. That must be some ring tone!

Okay, that’s it for cell phones and capitalists. I’ll move on to campaigns. Back in the fall, Jenn asked why American elections are so long. Dave answered that it’s because of the fixed election dates. Everyone knows when the next election will be, so they plan accordingly.


I don’t know if the Canadians among you are aware of it, but several campaigns are well underway for the next US presidential election, which will be held on . . . November 4, 2008! A number of candidates from both the Republican and the Democratic parties have launched campaigns and the dirty media smears have already begun. Several candidates have already made multiple trips to Iowa and New Hampshire to lay the groundwork for the caucus and primary elections that will be held in those states a little less than a year from now.

I’ve been paying more attention to this stuff than Dave has. For example, he didn’t know, until I told him several days ago, that Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy about three weeks ago in a web video. He really got a kick out of the tidbit I gave him last night: Barack Obama has announced that the official announcement of his candidacy will take place tomorrow, February 10, in Springfield, Illinois. What is the point of announcing when he’s going to make the announcement? Since he’s already told us what the content of the announcement will be, hasn’t he already announced it? I think I’m getting a headache! So, let the campaigns begin, and I’ll help myself to some Advil.

5 comments:

Christian Camuti said...

We have Verizon and haven't had any problems in the 18 months or so since signing on with them. We did have Cingular/AT & T, but when we came to Connecticut, there was a huge Cingular dead spot in our entire city. We paid the early termination fee to get out of the deal. Why pay all that money and have bad service???

The politics are getting rather interesting. The democrats are clearly stomping the republicans early on. The only thing that will change that is if Rudy Giuliani formally announces his candidacy.

It is going to be a long year!

Barbara said...

hmmmmm .... did I know about the American elections that are still a year away???? Yeah, I think I may have heard about something like that! LOL!

Stephen said...

Great lesson for the boys! You should try Rogers. Never had any problems. But I'd think that the long distance charges may be a bit much.
Regarding the US elections: It is good to have fixed dates - however, it does play a huge impact on politics and passing legislation. It becomes very partisan.
There is alway partisan politics no matter the system. However, it appears that here in Canada there is more room for working together - four major political parties in a minority parliament keeps the government on it's toes. It forces political parties to work together. I mean, who would have ever thought that that right wing Conservative government works together with the leftist NDP? Suddenly there is a green environmentalist agenda in Ottawa. Interesting days.

Dave said...

This far out I pay little attention to all the hype over the presidential process. Just because someone gets up on a stage and starts pouring forth his/her dribble this far out does not mean I have to pay attention to it. The more I pay attention the more I am enabling a dysfunctional process. Besides most are putting forth images with little content. And when there is content, for the most part their postures are either unrealistic or sematic hair splitting.

Erik said...

Fascinating reading. So recognisable. 20 years ago telephone and dozens of other public services were state-owned and nobody had complaints. Now everything is privatized and we have the same money-collecting trics that you experience. I'm still paying for e-mail provision that I never use, they don't care as long as they get their money. I sent a paper letter with my cancelling the subscription, but they told me that I had to this 3 months before expiring date, otherwise I got stuck to it another full year (with the same cancelling condition of course). Now I am still paying, although I had sent that letter! Sp they expect me to send a new letter I suppose. I cancelled because I couldn't e-mail for 2 months and I found this not according to contract. But they repaired the connection and say it was only an "unavoidable small deficiency" in the service and I had no right to cancel because of it. One has to go to court, but one doesn't do that and that's what they reckon with. They act illegaly but it's you who has to proof it and pay the costs of a lawsuit. Evie, you make me angry not on you but on those crooks.