Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Unmuddling The Metaphysical

Some people go insane and some are driven to insanity.

The picture that accompanied the story showed a man with wild eyes, a frightening expression of anger and defiance. The 41 year-old Daniel Taugher had ridden his bicycle to a Comcast service center to complain about his bill. Once inside he began yelling and threatening to blow up the place. The police later said he was probably drunk. He’s now being held on $200 thousand bail and could face 20 years in prison.

And that might be the best thing to have happened to Daniel Taugher, at least in prison he won’t have to pay the cable bill.

When I told my normally mild-mannered husband this story, he began laughing. It’s not really an occasion for humor, but maybe deep down inside we all understand what drove the already shaky Mr. Taugher over the “cliff” as they say.

Report after report catalogues the rapid increase in cable rates over the last few years. Some say as much as six percent a year. My own cable bill was $45 one month and mysteriously became $50 the next. Just like that, a 9% increase. Then you look at the 1205 report Dick Treich and Garth Ashpaugh did on Comcast (posted on my website at www.riedelcommunications.com) and you find out that Comcast charges way too much for installations and equipment. Next is the passing on to customers what it costs them to upgrade their systems, which in my opinion should be absorbed by the companies themselves, and you could easily arrive at the conclusion that we all should be paying $20 to $30 dollars less per month.

Stuff like that used to be called “gouging.”

Comes then the familiar refrain from the cable operators singing the blues that their programming costs are going up and that’s why they have to jack up the bill. I’ve even heard several say it’s ESPN’s fault.

The push toward insanity is probably at its nadir right now in Arizona. You actually have a cable operator claiming they give a hoot about how much the customers are paying. Cox Communications has become the Nurse Ratched of the cable industry. It’s really wacky because you know she’s not telling you the truth, you know she’s the one who is crazy and yet she’s the one holding the syringe and any minute now she’s going to stick it to ya.

What can be done?

You already know the answer to that. Rip off that straight jacket and start chanting like Chief Bromden, “Telecom Act, Telecom Act, Telecom Act!” Feel yourself empowered! You are big, you are strong, you have a voice!

I’ve seen people exhibit some pretty zany behavior when they felt weak and victimized, I’ve even done a few eccentric things myself under those circumstances, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Take a split second to pick up the phone and call your Congressional office and tell them you want rate regulation in the new Act. Then follow it up with a letter. It’s too bad what Daniel Taugher did, maybe if he hadn’t wigged out at the Comcast service center he would have wigged out someplace else, like the gas station. Or maybe it all could have been avoided if the cable operators weren’t so fanatically driven by greed.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: