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Gotcha Capitalism

2008-05-25 12:39:49.071201+00 by andylyke 4 comments

I recently got a phone call from Verizon thanking me for my business, and offering a "free" additional 500 minutes as a sign of their "appreciation". I asked whether it were really free, and the caller assured me that it was. My inner skeptic wouldn't relent, so I called back later and pressed the issue, whereupon I learned that in accepting the "free" "gift" I obligated myself to an additional 2 year contract. Needles to say, I instructed them to back out my acceptance.

I heard an author interview with Bob Sullivan ("Gotcha Capitalism" ISBN-13: 9780345496133) a while ago, and am going to get it and read it. there was a sick joke in the time of my youth that ended with "that'll teach you not to trust nobody". Sadly, this has come to pass as a literal truth.

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-05-25 14:17:18.477237+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've run into this sort of thing a couple of times, and am about to switch banks because of it. I want to do business with entities that are interested in building long-term relationships with me, but it seems like everyone wants the immediate profit over business in the long run.

And cell phone companies are the absolute worst for watching your wallet.

I wonder if it's worst with the cell phone companies because their primary customers are ignorant teenagers?

#Comment Re: made: 2008-05-25 14:32:16.798193+00 by: Diane Reese

Re: banks -- I recommend credit unions. The one we've been with for 11 years has definitely built a long-term personal relationship with us, and there are precious few bank-like things they cannot offer us.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-05-25 16:02:51.892138+00 by: meuon

Nancy and I saw a neat sign yesterday at an art show: "Think Crooked, Walk Straight"

Sums up how to survive in the real world very well.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-05-27 16:49:49.033509+00 by: ebradway

their primary customers are ignorant teenagers

That's quite an exagerration. It seems that way at times, but cell phones have markets way beyond the teenager. In fact, cell phone market growth is not in developed nations. It's places where per-capita annual income is around $100.

I hadn't thought about it though... But I wonder how much of the shady dealings of the cell phone companies and their screwy billing systems impact opinion of cell phone based payment systems?

As for banks vs. credit unions, I used to love DuPont Credit Union until I moved from Chattanooga. First, a month before moving to Colorado, I called to ask for ask for a new Visa card because mine had expired. They said they cancelled my card because they changed their credit score requirements - but they failed to let me know they cancelled the account. That kind of sucked because I only kept one credit card account open and needed it for the move.

Next, they managed to mis-post a $400 debit transaction so that it hit my account about three months after the transaction occured. I had assumed that I defaulted to using my Visa card for the transaction because their debit network failed authorization about 25% of the time. So, when I didn't see the transaction posted online in few days after the transaction, I assumed I used the other card and failed to double check at the end of the month. Partly my fault but partly theirs as well. But that $400 hit my account while I was on the road during my move! I found this out at a gas station when I was trying to fill my tank and my card kept getting declined. And since I had no Visa card due to their prior gaffe, I could have been royally screwed. Fortunately it was at one of the stops when my wife, who was driving separately in our car while I drove the moving truck, was filling up at the same time.

Finally, one of the fallouts of the $400 debit gaffe was that my car payment was late. This was the first time I was late on a payment on the car and I was greated with a nasty phone call threatening reposession!

I first joined DCCU actually on Dan's recommendation when they had a branch in North Chattanooga. It used to be a great little community credit union and the people got to know me very well. But in my last few months with them, their service went way, way downhill.

My wife currently banks with Bank of the West at the branch in our small town. The people there know her well now. I'm using Chase - but only because they keep sending me checks in the mail (just got $100 for openning a new account - which I'll close as soon as I can).