Thursday, March 22, 2007

Confession time

I have phone issues. More specifically, phone company issues. I've just finished writing out the monthly bills, and among them was a $16.52 check to AT&T, who is our long-distance provider. I don't need long-distance service; in fact I haven't placed a long-distance call in the last three months, at least. So why am I getting a bill from AT&T for $16.52?

Non-usage.

AT&T makes me pay them $5.00 a month plus taxes and surcharges because I don't use their service. Isn't that un-American? Unpatriotic even? Sneaky and underhanded? Like bad business?

The last time AT&T decided to charge a monthly non-usage fee I called them and signed myself up for a plan that avoided the non-usage fee by paying 25 cents a minute on any long-distance calls. 25 cents a minute is a lot to pay to call my brother who lives in the next county (somehow considered long-distance), but I went along with the plan to avoid paying for something specifically because I was not making use of it.

Now AT&T has decided to charge me 25 cents a minute on any calls I do make, or the monthly $5.00 non-usage fee - whichever will put more money in their bloated pockets. Is At&T that desperate for money?

Dissing AT&T feels sort of like sacrilege to me. My father worked for them for his whole career. My brother worked for them for his whole career until they layed him off as my father lay dying (nice - thanks AT&T!)

Part of me feels silly for fussing over it at all. I pay three times that amount for a cell phone I hardly use - mostly for calling my brother (to avoid that 25 cents a minute charge) and for emergencies - but it's the point of the thing, you know?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My other brother, Brian, the real writer (and poet) in the family has finally decided to stop lurking and left a comment (and a poem) on this post the other day. Have a look!

14 comments:

Mary said...

Laura, how wonderful your brother Brian is... A great poet (I loved it) but being a little biased, he's a close second to you :o)

Phone companies...in the money-making mode, that's all. Funny you posted about phones tonight as DH and I discussed disconnecting our land line. I don' even answer it anymore. We aren't telephone talkers much and our cell phone numbers are given to close friends and family, only.

KGMom said...

Grrrr--phone companies. We have local phone service, and have ditched long distance. With cell phones, and the cell phone plan we have, long distance calling is much cheaper that way. So, bye bye long distance company.
It really does suck that they charge a per minute rate and a non-usage rate. Whatever happened to customer service?

John said...

Either switch long-distance companies or dump the landline. There have got to be better phone companies than that. AT&T is probably looking to find money any place it can get, since the local companies like Verizon are now offering long-distance plans as well.

mon@rch said...

I use my cell for long distance! When I signed up for my phone at home, they asked about my long distance! I said, I don't want it! They tried to get me this deal, I said, I don't want it! So, I only have local access only! To be honest, it is only used by telemarketers and I use it for my dial up! You ready for this, my total phone bill every month is a few cents over $20 dollars. Trust me, I had to fight not getting long distance on my bill!

pablo said...

Many people I know simply don't have long-distance service on their home phones. Instead, they buy one of those calling cards and use it whenever they want to make a long-distance call. It's much, much cheaper, and if you don't make a lot of ld calls, it's not a big hassle to whip out the card every time. (Take it from someone who calls Africa regularly!)

Of course, more and more people are doing without a home phone altogether and just relying on the cell phone.

pablo
www.roundrockjournal.com

Jayne said...

A wonderful poem! :c) Yes, the bigger the company, the more insane all their fees/rules seem to be. It's the principle of the thing! Grrrr....

LauraO said...

Phone-company logic is beyond me.

Brian is a talented poet - very nice.

Liza Lee Miller said...

Love your brother's poem. Very nice! The phone company thing makes me want to implode. I guess you need to make 1 1-minute call for 25 cents each month to avoid paying $5 for something you didn't use? Can you just say no thank you to a long-distance service? You have it on your cell already, right? I think my parents did that on their phone (probably because of something similar).

Lynne said...

We said good-bye to AT&T a long time ago. Using either your cell or a calling card seem the best bets. It amazes me that those big companies can change policies to their advantage like that. GRRR!

ReluctantChickenFarmer said...

Well. What can I say about good old AT&T. Or should I say at&t. They keep changing their damned logo to try and give the public the idea that something has changed. Nothing has changed. They sell off huge portions of the company, lay off thousands of dedicated employees and then two or three years later, buy the company back and pay a premium price. Then they lay off again, because they have "duplicate functions". Sounds like a good business plan to me. No wonder they have to charge you for "non usage". Do I sound a little bitter ? Well maybe. Just drop Ma Bell like a hot potato (or is it potatoe ?) and go to wireless. Oh, wait, they own that too ! Poop. Go back to two cans and a piece of string. Sounds about the same as a wireless call anyway. Friggin a-holes.

Laurie said...

I understand your disgust and can relate to it. I don't even have a home phone (probably not a home either, when I get back from this trip...). I use my cell(s) for everything. Now I'm off to read your brother's poem.

Susan Gets Native said...

I wonder if I could charge the phone company a "non-usage" fee when they keep me on hold for 10 minutes. I mean, THEY aren't using their pickup button!



To use the phrase from that Blue Collar comedian dude: AT&T...Here's your sign!

Kelly said...

I love it when a reader delurks himself! So special that it was your brother and that he graced us with one of his poems, to boot. K

Dave said...

If it will save you money, you can call me. :) AT&T moved out of Alaska almost 5 years ago. Then they sold off their cell phone business up here to CellularOne. I just dropped my email address through them that I had which was my very first email address ever. There's nothing left for them here.