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Transparency Versus Deception

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Why Charge Extra For Hi Def?

Why Charge Extra For Hi Def?

I recently changed from Satellite TV to a Cable TV provider and this is my story. I had been getting mail from a Cable TV provider for some time and finally decided to make the effort to switch from Satellite.  I could have done this a year ago but the laws of inertia were working in the favor of the incumbent provider.  See my blog about inertia by clicking here.

I called and asked about the $89 per month offering for a TV and internet bundle. This was the lowest tier offered but it was comparable to what we had with the satellite.  After dealing with these larger companies for cell phone, TV and internet in the past I suspected I would not be paying $89 per month but a larger number after taxes and hidden fees were applied.

Little did I know how much these hidden fees and taxes would amount to. Here are the details of my actual monthly bill with my comments to follow after the total is enumerated:

Deception? You Decide.

Deception? You Decide.

Incidentally, with my very first bill that arrived they announced price increases of $1.75 for the broadcast TV fee, $2.00 for the regional sports fee so my new monthly bill will be $43.04 higher than the teaser rate of $89.99 which is almost 50% of the original rate. The taxes and governmental fees of $11.10 are out of their control so I can give them a pass but the rest is deceptive if I can’t get the package without paying the additional fees.  It is like restaurant offering an entrée for a stated price and then charging for the tablecloth, napkins, dinnerware, and a chair to sit on.

Let me go further into the absurdity of some of these charges. They are charging $13.94 for high definition receivers!  Even I, Mr. Late adopter of technology, no longer own a low def tube TV.  I don’t think you can buy a TV that is not high definition and that probably has been the case for three to five years.  Why charge extra for something that is essential?!

I also take exception to the broadcast TV fee and the regional sports fees. They are part of the package and if these are simply charges that are passed on to the customer please include them in the base price.  They don’t sell cars with an up-charge if you want tires.

Despite the additional charges I am still saving about $25 per month and have internet speeds that are double what I had previously so I am satisfied with the switch but am already disappointed that they rolled out another $3.75 in charges on my first bill. That really says thanks for being a customer, now that we have you locked in for two years let the gouging begin.  It is a shame that I am resigned to expect this from a company.  Have a great week, if you can, after reading this.

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Written by pacelinebiz

July 24, 2016 at 8:01 am

Trust But Verify

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Just checking

Just checking

This topic is related to one from October 2014 called Crime Does Pay. In this story I am not certain a large business was playing tricks but this is a cautionary tale that needs told. In early October we decided to replace our 17-year-old refrigerator with a new one. We actually got lucky that we started our search during Georgia’s tax free weekend for certain energy-saving appliances. Our new refrigerator qualified so we saved about $70 on sales tax – woo hoo! That was one of the good things that happened. Another money savings opportunity was a promotion to get an additional 4% in cash back from our credit card company if we purchased products on-line from various retailers. We were able to do all of this while still getting the best deal and the refrigerator we wanted.

Now it is time for the cautionary tale. A few weeks later our credit card statement was ready for download and I did so and began to check off receipts in hand with charges on our credit card. (If you do not do this you should begin immediately.) As I finished this I looked at the cash back amount and noticed something was wrong, terribly wrong. It appeared, quite obviously, that our extra 4% was not credited to us.

“Here comes the ugly conversation”; I thought to myself as I reached for the phone. I made my call and talked with a customer service representative and after she could not help, she transferred me to her supervisor. She understood my problem and was cooperative but did not have the authority to adjust my account. As I began with the supervisor she quickly saw the problem and agreed to credit my account without a fuss. The story was over with a happy ending and some fodder for a blog topic as a bonus.

The takeaway is to trust but verify. You need to pay attention to all aspects of your bill before you pay it and maintain the records to do so. I don’t know if their “mistake” was intentional or not but if I wasn’t paying attention they would have made an extra $50 from a retailer at my expense.

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

December 29, 2014 at 8:01 am

Crime Does Pay

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Crime does pay

Crime does pay

This is a true story and has a good ending – the good guy wins. I am the good guy.  It is a story about standing up for what is right and not being intimidated by a big company with a team of lawyers.  The story also has a bad ending in that the moral of the story is: crime DOES pay.  This is my story.

Several months ago I signed a contract with a large national company for internet and phone service for my business. I have a digitally signed copy of the contract in pdf format.  It is only a 4 page contract.  My most recent bill arrived and I noticed that there was an increase in the amount so I scanned the bill to see what had gone up.  I quickly discovered it was a $3 increase for the modem lease plus various taxes which amounted to an additional $3.18 – for the next 20 months I supposed.

Step one was to review the contract which I did and did not see any language that allowed for an increase. Step two was to email the local rep who handled the agreement.    I emailed him and got a quick reply that stated; “That is an increase that has happened across the board. It is the only price that can change.  Charges for service will not change.  I believe there is a line in the agreement stating such.  Let me know if you have any questions.”

Step three was to ask the rep where that line in the agreement was since I could not find it. That email was met with no reply and after about a week I moved to Step four.  Call the customer service 800 number.  I was not looking forward to that one bit.

When I called the 800 number I got the run around and was transferred to the contract department when I would not accept his vague assurances that the language was indeed in the contract. So step five was transferring me to the contract department.

At step five I was nearing the end of the line, and was greeted by a person in the contract department. She asked me my account number which is ridiculous since I already entered it on the key pad of my phone before I spoke to any human being and again when I talked to the customer service rep. After I gave her my account number and she pulled up my account, she tried to stiff arm me by telling me it was on page four and I called her on that because the line she referred to did not mention anything about an allowable increase.  She then put me on hold and after about a minute came back and said I was right and that she would credit my account.

After eighteen minutes on the phone (which is not really as bad as I thought it would be) I moved to step six – celebration. I just hope that I don’t have to make the call again when I see the charge magically re-appear on the next bill.  The moral of the story is; crime does pay because I don’t think that many people would notice an increase and if they did would they press on each time after getting the stiff arm from the company?  If they have a million customers how many would take the time to cross the finish line?  I doubt many would so that is roughly an extra $3 million of revenue each month.

I hope you enjoyed my story and have learned something. Have a great week standing up for your principles.

Written by pacelinebiz

October 27, 2014 at 8:01 am