"How Big is Big?"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, April 16, 2011

Utilities and other companies that require use of a telephone to reach them should be required to pay customers for their time spent waiting only to be DISCONNECTED! The worst is when you have waited a long time to be connected.

I have called one of my utility providers that I use both in Michigan and Florida and had the same bad experience. Their automatic answering machine announces they are so busy you may have a 10-minute wait. On more than one occasion, I waited longer than 10 minutes, listening to messages explaining what information they will need when they finally answer the phone. The message was repeated so often I had time to memorize the required information as well as the additional message they repeated about all the great services they offer. To bad they don’t offer quick phone response service.

I wonder if big companies think filling our heads with information regarding additional services they offer, then hanging up on us will encourage us to order more of them.

They make it apparent they have an inferior product because their automatic phone answering machine cannot keep up and is overwhelmed with calls. They refuse to hire additional call center personal or put in more phone lines, so how can we trust their service is any good?

As we watch big utility companies swallow up all their competition the question occurs to us — aren’t they creating monopolies? I thought the government created a bureau or watchdog committee to prevent this from happening. Remember Ma Bell and the baby bells that sprang up when she was busted up?

The break up of large companies into smaller companies not only reduced monopolies, but it allowed competition, which in turn brought prices down for the consumers. Just a few weeks ago the largest telephone company in business today, (they claim) announced if they were not allowed to buy up their competitors they may be forced out of business. How is it these companies can gain control of governmental decisions by threatening to go out of business?

As I see it, if they can’t make it as the biggest company in the world, letting them get bigger would only enlarge the size of their problems and encourage them to request rate increases. Some large utilities are buying up smaller companies without even being questioned. When these major companies swallow smaller ones, they pass the cost of updating equipment on to the consumers.

An example I can relate is; if I purchase an old house that needs new plumbing, I should expect the person who sold me the house to foot the cost of the upgrade. Perhaps I could get the original builder or his heirs to pay for it. Another way to put it is; the company who made the purchase of existing equipment will be charging the consumer who pays to use the equipment replacement without giving them a reduction in cost. They will charge you to replace an item and after you purchase it they will continue to charge you to use it. If the replacement improves service, the provider will likely increase the cost of using it.

Bottom line appears to be they want to buy an existing business, charge the customer to improve it, then charge that same customer more to use it and let there be no competitive option for that customer. Sure sounds like a monopoly to me.


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