Friday, May 24, 2013

Company Rip Offs and My Silent Protest

Nothing frustrates me more than the rip-offs that some companies try to wiggle in under your nose, there but just so well hidden that you may or may not see them. I understand that it is my responsibility to be a diligent consumer and go over all my bills. I also understand that in a world where I am pulled in 90 different directions, social media constantly breaks my train of thought and everyone is encouraging me to single-handedly save the planet by getting rid of paper billing that noticing small discrepancies becomes more and more difficult. Then you have to consider the fact that I, personally, find my time more valuable than the 30 minute conversation I have to have that puts me in a bad mood to get a $15 charge removed from my bill. This led me to the "sit-in" type of protest against Suddenlink.

Now cable companies in general have always been some of the worst with mobile phone companies a close second as I paid a city tax for 10 months for a city I didn't live in, but that's another billing nightmare. Add to that Suddenlink was the same company totally kissing my ass after I turned them into the FCC for blatant violations of the new laws regarding third party DVRs (I love TiVo) and it is amazing how quickly they forgot their own ass chewing from the top. Chris and I are traveling for his job and we do not currently have a TV in our bedroom in Mammoth so in October I turned in our stupid DVR/cable box. I call it that because I am TiVo loyal but our TiVo is in the living and the other is with us on our journey. I proceed to be charged $15 per month for a box I don't have. It is being "looked into." I don't pay my bill. I call again, it's still being "looked into," mind you with computer systems shouldn't a simple keystroke show you that I no longer have the freakin box? I pay the past due amount and continue to send an email every month when I pay half my bill in silent protest of the continued overcharge. By silent I mean not raising my blood pressure by screaming into the phone about their incompetence and truly crappy internet service that they charge $50 per month for, but I digress.

Flash-forward to May when my silent protest ends in a simultaneous victory and defeat. Out of town for my brother's graduation I didn't get to my past due payment in time. Though I am not exactly sure how that is possible given that I paid on the exact same day last month and everything was fine. I log on after our friend gets to our house and finds a disconnect notice on the door. Now anyone who knows me knows that in times of excitement or anger it is very, very difficult to keep my voice at a normal, non-offensive decibel. Online chat has been my savior as well as many of a "Tim" in India.

Begin chat with a rather snotty guy after I pay the bill in full just to get it reconnected but it is significantly more than I think it should be. Snotty guy asks me to confirm the last four of my social which I accidentally do wrong but he doesn't even notice and continues to talk to me. Wow, security is top priority there. He proceeds to go through resetting up the account because paying the bill doesn't do that, tells me I overpaid by $60 so that will be a credit because of the "non-returned equipment fee" and that everything is scheduled to be turned back on tomorrow. He tells me the new monthly cost which is obviously wrong. I confirm that internet will be turned back on as well and he swears that it will be. I ask him to break down my bill because I don't understand how I only overpaid by $60 and he can't. He won't go over one penny with me and he won't look into the internet factor, the steam is rolling out of my ears. I ask him to look into the equipment charge and he needs a calculator and yet cannot tell me what the equipment is. I give up, thank him for his time and move onto the phone call.

I open with an apology to Emily who is likely to hear my frustration though I understand it is not her fault whatsoever. I probably sound like an escapee from the looney bin as I am kind of laughing and kind of pissed as I describe the situation in rapid fire language, it is just so utterly ridiculous. She confirms what I thought, the internet has not been slated for reconnect and she begins to take care of that. She goes over the bill to which the snotty guy left only a single note, overpaid by $60. Even Emily is less than pleased. As her screen shows it I overpaid by $240 for the modem that is not returned. Mind you, it is probably one of the worst modems out there and where they have come up with this price for it is beyond me, but as my service is back up and running I won't be paying it. And how snotty guy got $60 from $240 is disturbing especially since it seems to be a line item not something requiring calculation. This is where "I win," as I then address the monthly $15 charge for a box I obviously don't have as it would be on the non-returned equipment list. The pause is brief as she immediately recognizes how ludicrous this is and why I have been staging my prolonged "sit-in."

Of course by the end of the conversation there was still a lag when it comes to when the internet will be back up and running and how long it will take for them to assess the refund for the box I am paying for that I don't have. The big question in all of this remains, when did this become acceptable customer service? Not to mention the fact Suddenlink has had the town by throat for years as the only provider (can we say monopoly?) of internet service but Digital 395 is rolling in very soon with faster cable and Suddenlink still treats their customers this way in the face of certain destruction? I cannot wait to cancel that part of my service, I think I might even send Emily a bottle of bubbly.

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