Trust is a funny word. We live our lives trusting other people, trusting ourselves, trusting society. Sometimes trust is just us being lazy. For example, I trust that no one is going to break into my home if I leave my front door unlocked and sodomize me with a broom handle, but really I’m just too fucking sluggish to get out of my comfortable bed and lock a door that I think may be unlocked. I trust that the yellow light that appears when I get low on gas will have enough to last me a couple of days, but really I’m just too lazy to find the nearest gas station. Oh, I just thought of another one. I trust that my cable company won’t go out of their way to make sure I’m chained to them as customer, like some runaway that knocks on the wrong door, and quickly finds a cold, cramped, locked basement as her new digs.
Recently there has been a grassroots push to demonize corporations as greedy and opportunistic entities. To that I say, “No shit. Did you also know that the Patriots are a better team with Tom Brady than without?” Many politicians have glommed on to this evil corporation sentiment, which is fine too; as long as they plan to do something about it. The problem is, camping out in public with no clear message, other than dropping out of high school was a bad idea, isn’t going to get anything accomplished. Nor apparently is relying on public servants. People like to complain that they’re getting screwed by corporations; politicians like to claim they’ll save us from fraudulent business practices, but at the end of the day, everyone just goes “Ah, fuck it, American Idol is on. Pass me the potato chips”
I get emailed a receipt each month for my DirecTV cable bill, which is automatically debited thanks to bill pay (oh, you mean you’ll automatically charge my card each month solely for my convenience? Bless you, DirecTV; your altruism will serve you well in the corporate heaven in the sky). More often than not I delete the email without looking, but feeling in the mood to be raped, I decided to open up my cheeks and my bill this month. What I saw was a staggering collection of items I wasn’t even using; including premium cable channels (HBO, Showtime, etc) and sports packages (ESPN GamePlan and ESPN GameDay).
I’m aware I signed up for these, but I’m also aware that this is the best damn country on earth and I’m going to take charge of my life, beat off real quick, and then cancel these superfluous items. Funny thing is, much like my New Year’s resolution of abstaining from booze for two days a week, I couldn’t do it.
You see, DirecTV (and other cable companies I suspect), make it conducive to spending more money with them, but make it very difficult to say “Eh, I don’t want to pay for this or that anymore, I think I’d rather have my money back”. Upon closer inspection, I found cancelling or downgrading my options online is apparently too complicated, rendering the option unfeasible:
From DirecTV’s helpful FAQ page:
Can I cancel my DIRECTV service online?
No, we don’t have that option available right now.
I hope that someday DirecTV can master the intricate complexities of allowing its customers to downgrade, or God forbid cancel their account online. Until then we’re forced to wait on the phone for an extended period of time, only to be met with a reluctant service rep who is clearly incentivized to get you to stay on board, and will no doubt give you as much shit about downgrading/cancelling as your Mom gave you when she found weed in your sock drawer.
We trust the corporations that provide the services we use in our daily life. The question is, do we trust them because we believe they will do the right thing, or because we’re too lazy to ensure that they’re doing the right thing? If it’s the latter, then the onus is on our politicians to represent the people who elected them by fighting for consumer rights. Of course, as soon people demand action, the companies that deceivingly profit off us will ironically use our money to influence the politicians we elected. The only thing I trust these days is our own laziness. Anyway, I’m getting tired. I think I’ll turn on American Idol.
Couple of notes about your friendly cable company:
1) They will lower your monthly bill if you threaten to cancel. If you can stand listening to Kenny G(ish) music for up to an hour that sounds like it’s being broadcasted from Saddam’s bunker, you will be successful in putting some cash back in your wallet.
2) If they weren’t overcharging you so much they wouldn’t be able to fund their venture division. Cable companies are making so much money off their customers they all have their own venture funding group that invest millions in companies for the purpose of making even more millions.
Enjoy your next bill!