Don’t call us, we’ll call you

Once upon a time, you had to be nice to Ma Bell, because she was the only game in town. The national phone company had a coast-to-coast monopoly, and you paid the going rate for basic service (which was all there was). If you had a falling out with the Bell behemoth, you were screwed – Bell didn’t care if they “lost” your business, because there were several million other people who obediently paid their bills on time, every time. (Aside: this monopoly was the incentive for several of my friends to live under one or more assumed names when we were living our salad days in university.)
But lo, there was a revolution, and Ma Bell had no choice to become competitive, and actually work to keep you. Gone were the days of taking customers for granted; these days, the old girl has to seduce you with sexy lingerie and phone/cel/video/internet packages. So, good, the customer wins, obviously. All these companies are working the bottom line to keep us coming back for more, lest we hook up with some one else, some one younger and cheaper. Right?
So why, in the fine print under the big Bell ad for home service for $14.95 a month, does it turn out we’re getting screwed to the tune of $2.80 for touch tone service? Touch tone!
I’m sorry, but given that my kids – and probably my college students – have never used a rotary dial, why are we paying over $33 a year for touch tone service? Does non-touch tone service even exist anymore?
Oh, and we’re paying 19 cents a month for 911 service, but I’m going to give that one the benefit of the doubt and assume that this money covers actual service, i.e., people answering emergency calls, updated equipment, and the like.

6 Replies to “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”

  1. My Mother-in-law still has rotary service, so there’s at least one person out there using it.
    I left Bell for Videotron a year ago and, other than the concern over what I will do if I need the phone during a blackout, I’m pretty happy to be quit of Bell. Of course, now that I’ve left, the company will not leave me alone. Flyers, free gifts (e.g., pads of paper pads with my name printed at the top), letters and cards expressing how much they miss me are arriving constantly. I feel hounded and have considered telling Bell I’ll get a restraining order if they don’t stop. Sad, sad, sad. They need to learn to move on when they’ve been dumped. Even if I had wanted to go back, the creepiness of their incessant begging has turned me right off.

  2. Does Bernard have to pay extra for having rotary? Maia, does your MIL?
    I’ve gone from a rotary party-line as a kid to wireless Skype phones. Progress! (or it would be if the Skype phones weren’t utterly useless, but that’s another rant)

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