The Comcast Capitalist Conundrum or How Comcast is Screwing you with your pants on.

Let’s get some things out in the open.  Just so my agenda for this piece will be clear.

1. I believe the President is an American, born in the great state of Hawaii.  (Tea party guys – I know it’s a funny name but Hawaii is a real place, I’ve been there.)

That's gotta hurt.

That’s gotta hurt.

2. I am one of the few who does not believe he is a socialist.  If you think the comment “spreading the wealth around” is the remark of a socialist then you wouldn’t know a socialist if one ran up and kicked you in your nether regions.

3. While I favor the socialist socio/economic system, I have no problem with capitalism.  As soon as the U.S. actually practices capitalism I’m sure it will be great.

Ok, now we have a base line, lets get to the deserved bashing of Xfinity nee Comcast.

So an AT&T salesmen with a megaphone surgically implanted in his voice-box appears at our door.  I’m putting little unfiltered and little unfettered down for their naps.  My wife has the misfortune of dealing with Yeller McYellerton.  I tell him to cut the volume by 2/3rds.  Tracy then sends him and his traniee on their way.

Tracy comes in and says, “how much do we pay for cable, that guy says he can get us the same package for 139.00 a month.”  I peruse our Xfinity bill and say to her, “get him back here.”

Loud talker AT&T guy plus trainee are now sitting at our kitchen table laughing uncontrollably as we tell them we pay 269.00 American dollars a month for the cable/internet/home phone set up we have.  His response, after he realized I was not laughing or smiling in the slightest was, “I can get you the same package with a more consistent internet connection for 159 a month.”  Note the use of the word consistent and not faster when it came to the internet speed.  All companies lie, he says.  We can all deliver the highest speed internet, but none of us do.  The difference with us, (AT&T) is our signal will remain the same morning, noon, or night, no matter how many devices are using the connection.

All sales people lie.  If they tell you they don’t lie, they are lying.  But he dropped a tried and true ploy on me.  Give them a kernel of truth the company would never admit publicly.  That way you earn prospective customer’s trust and increase chances of a sale. Worked like a champ too.  And guess what, we got the same package we had with Comcast, just for 100 dollars less a month, and an internet connection that is as fast, but does not fade as the night wears on.

It's your money they're eating.

It’s your money they’re eating.

Now this is where Comcast comes in.  I had to call to cancel our service.  AT&T smartly says wait until they hook up to cancel, you know, “just in case there are difficulties.” Wrong.  If you call to cancel Comcast prior to switching, they might talk you out of it and AT&T knows that.  So I waited…in the tall weeds I waited, and I prepared.  Like a sniper, I waited motionless, waiting for the Comcast girl to take the bait, then, in the words of a famous actor who was on TV when we only had 3 channels, “To the moon, Alice!”

Indeed the Comcast girl was slightly miffed I had not called her prior to switching our service.  Snap.  The trap was sprung, the game afoot.

Me: “Why would it matter when I called?”  I ask sheepishly.

CG (Comcast Girl): “Well we might have tried to work something out.”

Me: “Oh.  Really.  Well what could y’all have done”  I might as well have added “For little old me.”

CG: “We could have made a better arrangement that would have worked for you.”

Me:  “Well AT&T is charging me 159 a month for the same service you charge me 269 for. Are you saying you could have charged me 159?”

CG: “No I’m not saying that I just wish you would have told us you couldn’t afford it and we would have set up a payment plan that would have been suitable for you.”

Yeah, that sound you hear are the zippers of my gloves as they come off.

Me: “Whoa sister, who said I couldn’t afford it.  Are you actually implying that not wanting to pay 110 dollars more for something indicates I can’t afford it?”

CG: Heart rate quickening “No, no, no.  I just mean we could have made a payment plan that fit your budget.”

Me: “I can afford it, I just don’t want to pay 110 more for the exact same product if I don’t have to.  Do you want me to pay 110 dollars for the exact same product if I don’t have too?”

CG: “No, but we could have done something about it had you called us first.  We have no way of knowing there is a problem unless you tell us.”

Notice how she shifts the conversation by trying to put me on the defensive by blaming me for this whole deal.

She then gets a lesson Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War, taught centuries ago. Take the enemies’ strength and use it as a weapon against them.

Me: “So you could have dropped my bill some, maybe not 110, but you could have lowered it had I called you first.”

CG: “Yes, yes.”

Me: “Then why didn’t you?”

CG: “Why didn’t we what?”

Me: “Charge me less.”

CG: ……………………”You didn’t call us, we didn’t know you…”

Me: “You didn’t know I wanted to pay less?”

CG: “No we didn’t, unless you call us we have no way of knowing.”

Little surprised she copped to that last question.  But there is a very good chance her script is a continual loop and it was just coincidence that my question landed on that answer.

Me: “So you knowingly charged me more for something you could have been charging me less for this whole time?”  “I have relatives doing time for that same thing back in Jersey, except they call it racketeering.”

I did not expect a response and I didn’t get one.  No script answer for that.

Me: “The bottom line is you have been charging me more than you should have been and did nothing about it.  I imagine that’s just they way the system works.”

CG: “Well, of course it does.  If you don’t call us to let us know there is a problem we can’t do anything about it.”

Me: “Well, then why would I want to do business with you anyway?”

Try and find it, I dare you.

Try and find it, I dare you.

Amazing.  Her last statement is all you need to know about how large corporations view the people at the end of the line, the customer.  They will keep moving the shells until we figure out which shell the pea is under.  And when we do figure it out, they blame us for not telling them sooner.

I’m not completely faultless.  I should have been more informed.  It’s my money, I should be protecting it.  But even with all the technology and outlets for info, corporations still have the edge in the info department, plus they show the willingness to fleece customers in favor of the financial bottom line because the repercussions are slight if not nonexistent.

But should I have to be on guard that everyone is trying to rob me blind?  Is this the way every company does business?  Should I walk into every agreement or business arrangement thinking this guy will be lying and stealing from me?  This is where government is falling down.  They shouldn’t be worried about who I marry.  They should be worried about who’s stealing my money.  Money that I pay tax on to the government. Government actually has a vested interest in my money being safe.  So I can give more to them.

But were down a socialist rabbit hole, back to those Comcast SOB’s.

Much like the shell game, it’s all a big gamble.  As Tony said to me, they are banking, literally, on a majority of people just blindly paying and not asking questions.  The people who speak up get some redress.  Those that don’t, like me for so many years, pay over $100 more for the exact same product.

In other words, getting screwed with your pants on.

Look I’m all for companies, business’, etc… making a profit, you know free market and all.  Everyone should be allowed to turn a profit.  But for the longest time Comcast was the only option in this part of Knoxville. So the market was not really free.  Free of competition is what it was.  Comcast reaped the benefit of that.  Knology finally moved in, but they are still not offering services on this side of town.  Now, thankfully AT&T is offering internet capable of what Tracy needs for her job.  That’s why the satellite companies like Direct TV and Dish network were a no go.  Needed serious internet.  So for a while, like the water, sewer, and electric companies, Comcast had us as captive customers and could charge whatever they wanted.

At some point this will all be moot.  Technology will blow by the competiton-less system Comcast enjoys in a lot of places around the country.  They really were unchecked in parts of Knoxville if you needed reliable internet until a few years ago.  But then the next big thing will surface and the next big company will get the jump and bleed us until competition arrives.

Ultimately the free market is saving me 110 dollars a month as I am free to go to a competitor when I don’t like the deal I’m currently getting.

So I think maybe unregulated capitalism isn’t so bad after all.

Then I look at my last years worth of Comcast bills, and think, yeah, yeah it is.