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National Editorials & Columns

Cable company’s extortion attempts always fail

Every year around this time my cable provider sends me a letter that’s tantamount to fraud. This letter I receive is, for all intents and purposes, an extortion letter wherein a faceless media titan threatens to hornswoggle me out of a few hard-earned bucks. I know a good bamboozling when I see one, but I prefer to be the bamboozler and not the bamboozlee.

Every December, the promotional period with my cable provider comes up and right along with it so does my monthly rates. My cable company always sends me a letter in advance that notifies me, but it’s so intimidating and reads more like a ransom note. The thing that really gets me hot under the collar is how condescending the correspondence is.

Allow me to paraphrase what the letter explains: Your monthly payment is $130. We are raising your rates by $60. Your new rate will be $190. But, the letter continues, “as a thank you for your continued business we’d like to extend you another special offer” of $150.

So what they’re saying is, “Look, we’re spiking your rates, but we’re going to give you this special offer where you’re still paying more for cable, phone and Internet.”

Oh, golly gee, I feel so special. I love the kind of deal where I am actually paying a lot more for something instead of less. That’s not my definition of a deal. That sounds more like a rip off to me. It’s like cutting out a coupon but instead of saving money you’re spending more of it.

Let’s pretend I decided to illegally stream a movie or sports event on the Internet. This is all theoretical of course. I would never illegally stream copyrighted material via the World Wide Web. Never! That’s called stealing, the FBI would come knocking on my door and I would have to pay an outrageous fine. (Thank goodness I don’t partake in such activities, huh?)

However, if a cable provider essentially tries to steal something from me it’s suddenly no longer a crime.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. The last thing any large business with equally as large competitors wants is for a customer to call and complain. They expect a normal person to just roll over, pay the spiked rate and go about their business of watching “Duck Dynasty” on demand until such a time they can spike the rates once more. But I have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to my swindling cable provider attempting to hoodwink my wallet and I.

So I contacted my cable provider and after a half-hour on hold I was finally put in touch with David. David is a real gem of a customer service representative. I very plainly told David the rate increase was asinine and made sure to drop the fact I was considering satellite television instead.

I promise you if you threaten them with that line, your rates won’t increase and they might even lock you into a better price.

Then I asked David for an explanation. How are the services I’m getting this month suddenly going to cost me an additional $60 next month? I mean, was there a tsunami somewhere, or an earthquake that sank the entire West Coast into the Pacific? Was the company’s headquarters tragically struck with an asteroid?

David agreed with every snarky complaint and observation I made, mostly because that’s what customer service representatives are trained to do in such circumstances.

“How do you think that makes me feel, David?” I said. “You guys are running a promotion right now where new customers get a free tablet. A tablet, David, a free tablet!

“Meanwhile, I’m over here on this end of the phone line, a loyal 10-year customer, and I’m absolutely tablet-less. What special gift are you giving me besides stealing money out of my pocket? I don’t even want a tablet. I just don’t want to be blackmailed.”

In the end I convinced David to let me keep my existing rate just like I always do, at least until next December when the cycle repeats itself again.

It just goes to show you, a fool and his money are soon parted — but not always.

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