Why Corporations make the Post Office look great.

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????

22 thoughts on “Why Corporations make the Post Office look great.

  1. Great post. I love the post office and am mailing my bills. No online payments for me. Get an antenna from radio shack for TV. free movies and DVDs from library.

  2. Our TV was stolen in 1990 and we never replaced it. One of my best decisions ever. I do watch a few programs online now. See if yours are available online and international soccer. If they are, you can say “Up yours!” to Comcast and I guarantee you will like your life better.

    • I’m in awe of you, Chris (for so many reasons)… but unfortunately I do like TV too much to completely go cold turkey. But my computer guy now watches everything on Apple TV — so I’m looking into that! “Up Yours!” is my new mantra!!

  3. EXCELLENT post, Betty! I can relate.

    Here in Cuenca, I watch tv online for free. Granted I do little more than stream CNN, but that’s enough for me. We have a cable package here for about $12 a month and get TONS of channels–only a handful of which are in English. But it’s enough to keep Sara happy. We have a tv in the kitchen, as she like to watch when she cooks.

    About corporate America and my experience. I need only say that I once wrote a piece called “Verizon Wireless is the Devil.” That should tell you all you need to know.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • Oooh, I wish I had seen that column … Verizon isn’t at the top of my list, either. I just think that the cost of cable here has gone up astronomically … and there’s no reason for that, other than corporate greed. There’s still little worth watching, except on the premium channels, and it’s entirely clogged with advertising, to the point where I literally can’t watch it. Happy holiday wrapping, Miss K!!!

  4. I don’t watch T.V. Too busy with internet research (travel, recipes, blogs, etc.), reading, exercising, cooking, socializing, etc. Of course hubby has to have it, but we only pay for basic cable.

    • I admire you — but I like to watch the news, and a few shows. Even basic cable is $40 a month — plus the boxes are $10/each. It’s just too much. But my husband, too, would die if he couldn’t watch international soccer…. so I hear a routine chorus of screaming “Gol !!!!! “

      • That’s funny he likes international soccer. I read somewhere that people like to watch sports because of our need for drama. I love to play sports, but don’t like to watch them.

  5. I think the DISH is cheaper, and I know their service is the best. In every case when I have had a question about how something works I have talked with someone who answers promptly, is unfailingly polite and has infinite patience with my lack of technical knowledge. I know you will understand when I say they keep to a Nordstrom standard of service. I would give up TV if I had to depend on Comcast, having never met a satisfied Comcast customer. BTW, thanks for the plug for the P.O. Sounds like that was just the way you needed to end an otherwise frustrating day.

    • I actually really like the post office — and their rates are SO much less than FedX it’s not funny. I just paid FedEx $35 to send a letter overnight (not early morning delivery) to the visa office. And UPS is more expensive. USPS and their one-rate shipping is pretty reasonable, I think — and the whole myth about them losing billions a year is horsepoop. They’re being forced to fund their entire pension in advance … which no company does … and that’s entirely why their balance sheet looks so horrendous. (My sister and her husband work for the PO — so I know.) Happy Holidays, Pat – I will totally check out Dish .. and DirecTV, who offered me a great deal.

  6. Oh and yes I HATE COMCAST. I arrived to my condo in Florida and there was no cable tv or internet. After two 3 hr sessions of being on hold [thank God for speaker phones] I learned someone pushed the button saying I had moved!!

  7. I understand ever word you said. Just a few days ago with another frustrating corporate situation with US Airways. My daughter said we need to get on twitter [which I can not get my head around tweeting] because if you tweet corporate headquarters, they know that info is out faster then Facebook and don’t want negative so always try and make amends with in 48hrs. Whitney was in Austin and observed her friend deal with another major airline through tweeting and got comped very well. Ahhh technology exhausts my learning capabilities these days I just can’t keep up!! Ha!!

  8. LOL! I agree with Larry! You must have been having a bad day. I’m in total agreement, and so glad I have a friend who not only knows how to use the word ‘rapacious’ but spell it properly as well. And oh, yeah…I HATE COMCAST!!!!!

    • Who doesn’t hate Comcast??! They actually got the Golden Turd Award for worst company in 2010 … and I feel badly for their employees. Everybody knows they are getting totally ripped off (rapaciously!!) and Comcast is so freaking rich, it’s BOUGHT NBC … but like I said, all I can hope for is our cheapo kids devising a way to drive a stake right thru their greedy hearts and get their TV from their computers!

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