So for the past two months, Celeste and I have incurred massive phone bills with At&t. After the first big one, I accepted that oops, yup, we talk more than our rate plan will allow. I called At&t up, and the nice man there happily sold me a larger rate plan for more money. I asked him, "So, when does this go into effect? this month? (it was january 19th) Like, we'll have more minutes now?" He said "Yes sir."
So, it's February 6th, and I've got another bill from At&t for $360 bucks. I called them up hoping this was a billing mistake, but of course... Corporations never make billing mistakes. When the computer's all you've got, what the computer says is the word of god.
I tried to explain my conversation with At&t call center Monkey1 to At&t Monkey2 and then Monkey2's supervisor. Both of them checked with 'the word of god', and there was no record of Monkey1's words.
(in their defense, they were willing to halve the overage charges.)
Here's the thing.. (sorry it took me so long to get here) Throughout this entire conversation, I felt completely powerless. At&t holds all the cards. I signed their contract, so I can't take my business elsewhere, if they wrong me, I've got more or less no recourse. This power imbalance translated all the way down to Monkey2, who acted like I should feel lucky that she was willing to work with me as much as they have, and that she CAN transfer me to her manager, but then the huge favor she's doing for me could be taken away because I'm making waves.
Yes, it's my own damned fault. I sold my soul to Apple and by extension to At&t. I sold what little power I would have had over their actions for a cheaper iPhone. Really though, how much power are we talking about here? Enough to change the motivations of Monkey2? Probably not.
(batty will hate this but:)
I'm wishing for Whuffie... There needs to be a universally accepted reputation system... So if you act like a dick, it has consequences. If your corporation acts in a way that angers the people who give it money, bad things will happen to it. If your customers like you, good things will happen to you.
I want a contract with At&t where every one of their subscribers rates their feelings about the company at any given moment. That rating is averaged, and my bill is a function of that number. They anger us enough, it hurts their bottom line. Indentured servitude or no.
Corporations are swiftly becoming larger and more influential than most small governments around the globe. They're not democratic entities... we don't see a problem with that?