I got the cable bill (actually, it’s the cable, internet, and phone bill) a couple days ago – it’s gone up $20 a month. When I complained, I was told that the package discounts I got when I added the phone service had expired. This is the new rate – pay it or drop the service.
I’m furious. I feel like I’m being screwed. I want to scream and throw things.
I hate that there’s no competition. If Market Street charges too much for apples, I can go to Kroger, or Target, or (Goddess forbid) Wal-Mart. But if Time Warner raises prices, I can either pay it or not get the service. I do have other options for phone, but satellite is inferior to cable for TV (and costs virtually the same), and I have no alternative for broadband.
I hate that there’s no regulation. Contrary to the beliefs of Republicans and Libertarians (with whom I’m usually sympathetic), the free market doesn’t work in every situation. It doesn’t work in health care, it doesn’t work in education, and it doesn’t work in utilities. These need to be closely regulated to compensate for the fact that the average consumer has no leverage with their providers.
I hate that they’re allowed to hide their pricing. Go to any cable or phone company’s web site and try to find what stuff costs. You can’t – it’s not there. Call them up and ask how much something is – you’ll get the introductory price, but not the permanent price. Whether establishing new service or adding or deleting, I have never been able to get a cable or phone company to tell me how much my bill is going to be. Never.
But more than anything else, I hate how much I hate this. I hate that it bothers me as much as it does.
I genuinely don’t know how I should respond to this. $20 a month isn’t going to break my budget. Should I just pay it and forget about it? But every time I pay it, I’ll feel like I’m getting screwed.
Should I drop the service, save the money and the potential aggravation? I suppose a truly spiritual person doesn’t need cable, but it’s hard to argue that anybody doesn’t need broadband. And the first time I couldn’t see something on History or Science or even ESPN, I’d be annoyed all over again.
Should I campaign to change this? Let’s face it – in the grand scheme of injustices, this one is pretty minor. I’ve only got so much time and energy – reining in the cable company isn’t too high on my list of worthy causes.
This is one of the many distractions of life – those things that get in the way of doing what I want to do and living like I want to live. And I can’t figure out how to get past them.