Today was pretty much my errand day from hell.
Over the past few months, my Sony Wega TV developed a permanent bright pink splotch in the lower left hand corner of the 50″ screen, so I called a repair shop for help. The clever repairman informed me that this model was recalled in 2009 and people whose “optical bands” had exploded (causing the screen smear) had been given 65% off a new TV — but … (drumroll) that “extended warranty” program had ended. So apparently, the rest of us who got infected later are SOL. Really? Of course I, believing in my infinite power to plead/harangue/badger a company into doing the right thing, called Sony anyhow. And one long, infuriating hour later was stonewalled into submission.
This was Sony’s line: “Of course, we stand behind our products. We just don’t stand behind your TV because it’s too old. And out of warranty. And you didn’t happen to bring it in when we were offering the extended warranty (only silently, through our authorized dealers). And no, we’re not going to do anything for you – except offer you 15% off our online prices.” As if I couldn’t get a 25% better deal at Costco.
Wow, what complete tools.
So, stomach still churning from the Sony brush-off, I headed to Comcast to turn in my stupid DVR for which they are now charging me $17.99/month (they gave it to me free because they didn’t have a normal HD when I went back for the fourth time to try to get a piece of equipment that actually worked.) When I turned it in, they gave me a new HD box (for $9.99 a month) and informed me my bill would still be $90 a month — for basic cable and three boxes, plus my $10 husband’s absolutely essential sports’ package.
Maybe I’m insane, but this seems like a lot of money to me. $90 a month? For TV? That you watch and are hence subjected to an onslaught of commercials for 30% of your viewing time? Let’s not forget that cable started with the PROMISE that you would pay for cable to get better reception …. and commercial-free TV. That’s right. Bravo, home of the Skank Housewives, was commercial free. ALL the cable channels were commercial free. That’s what you were paying for. But then, Comcast figured out that people would still watch –no, PAY to watch– no matter how many commercials they jam in. So — they’re now making $16 BILLION dollars a year, and we’re paying more and more every month to watch the most revolting crap programming … AND commercials.
An American success story!
I ended my day of corporate purgatory by going to the United States Post Office. I wanted to buy some postcard stamps, and was ready to stomp into the office, but an African-American family was heading in front of me. The polite dad held the door for his son and wife, and then for me. I told the cute young boy to go ahead of me in line, since he had clearly been first, but his mom said to me– no, you go first. I demurred, and thought to myself, this would never happen at Comcast, where everybody’s as mad as a wet hen. When I got to the counter, the postal worker had a big smile for me, and was so helpful and so quick to get me my stamps I told him that I was happy to be there and not at Comcast.
“Don’t I believe that! ” he said. “I used to pay $89 a month last year, and now my bill is $160. I have to do something else.”
“The only solution is this next generation,” I said. “Not one of them will be signing on for cable — they’ll get their TV free on their computers, and we’ll follow. And then we can all celebrate the day Comcast is driven out of business!”
He gave me another big smile and wished me happy holidays.
But it made me think. Almost every one of my interactions with big corporations these days is fraught with suspicion, distrust, anger and resentment — because they are making money hand over fist, screwing their own workers, and doing everything they can to increase profits, regardless of the shoddy products they create or the bad service they offer. (Don’t even get me STARTED on how few taxes they pay, or the rapacious disregard they show as corporate citizens.) It seems to me that the only line of defense we have against getting completely screwed as consumers is with a strong central government that can regulate, oversee, monitor and protect against the abuses of these huge corporate bullies. Who else is going to make them do anything??
What’s your experience with American/global corporations these days? Are you feeling the love????