Our DirectTV went out recently, showing a “775” error on the screen, with some troubleshooting steps. I followed the steps on the screen. No worky. That evening, my husband called “customer service” and “Roy” told him the 775 error is an equipment problem with the connection to the DirectTV console (cord, plug, etc.). My husband told him that we had both tried the steps, but they didn’t work. So, Roy offered to send out a service tech…for $99.
“Wait. We pay (insert offensively large monthly fee for watching TV here, which I’m embarrassed to admit to) and you want another $99 to come fix your equipment?”
“Yes,” Roy, said, “that’s correct! But, if you sign up right now for our $7.99 monthly protection plan, we’ll waive the $99 service fee.” So of course, my husband asked the next logical question, “Well, can we cancel the protection plan after the appointment?” “Yes,” said Roy.
Two days later, at 8:02 a.m., the service tech arrives, spends exactly two minutes and discovers the problem: an extra “extender” cable between our DirectTV console and the “swim box” that plugs into the wall. He removed it. Then this convo ensued:
“You don’t need this extender; your plug is close enough to the box.”
“Why would the DirectTV guy who installed this a year ago have added an unnecessary piece of cable?”
“I don’t know…but it’s been happening a lot.”
“Glad we got that protection plan so your two-minute visit only cost $8 instead of $99. I’m still going to cancel it though.” He agreed that was a good idea, and lamented the fact that he and the other service guys are really feeling the heat from customers, “ever since…” and his voice trailed off. I finished his sentence for him:
“Ever since AT&T bought DirectTV?”
“Yep,” he said.
“Is that when the extortion, I mean, $99 service call and $7.99 monthly protection plan started?”
So I wonder: The service tech said it’s been happening “a lot lately.” Why wouldn’t that customer service person on the phone have asked a simple question about a known problem that DirectTV customers are currently experiencing when they throw a 775 error: Do you have an extender cable between the swim box and your DirectTV console? You do? Can those two boxes reach each other without it? They can? Okay, take out the extender cable. Attach the two boxes directly. Fixed. Thank you for calling DirectTV.
That’s customer service.
I kept wondering: We switch back and forth every two years to save a little money on that embarrassingly large monthly amount we pay to watch TV. So if we switch back to Comcast in a year, will they have the same expensive service call and protection plan switcheroo? You better believe it because they currently have 22 million customers, and without similar policies and programs, they’ll lose market share. Comcast is already at the top of the food chain as both a supplier and creator of content, since merging with NBCUniversal. AT&T is at the top of its food chain as a distributor of data/content.
Spoiler alert: It’s about to get all political up in here, so tune out if you aren’t interested.
The CEOs of corporate behemoths like Comcasts and AT&Ts are getting richer and fatter every day thanks to precisely the sort of “$99 or $7.99, it’s up to you!” shenanigans described above. In 2016, AT&T posted consolidated revenues of $163.8 billion. That just kind of makes me sick. Not because it’s inherently wrong to make a lot of money or be rich, but because those mobsters got that way by finding clever ways to charge $99 for a service call on unnecessary equipment they knowingly installed (with forethought, perhaps?) or grabbing $7.99 a month, from just a fraction of their 26 million U.S. subscribers. And that’s after they were already raking in billions and billions in revenue before the acquisition. In other words, they will never, ever be rich enough. CEO bonuses are based on annual profits, which keeps those CEOs motivated.
And Trump is trying to cut corporate taxes by more than half the current rate.
Sooo…who is paying for CEOs’ yachts and private planes? Yup, all the hard-working folks who voted for Trump, mainly because they are tired of…undocumented workers, and Trump’s going to get rid of all of them. Wait, what? Why aren’t voters tired of being screwed by mega wealthy corporate America, who get richer by the day as they devise ways to pull money out of the pockets of Joe Six-Pack? I guess if they’re tired of undocumented workers, they must also be exhausted by affordable track homes and apartments, childcare, fresh produce, hotel rooms, restaurants, and landscaping. Because it is many of those undocumented workers who save us $$$$ every year by laboring on construction sites in the suburbs and the cities, caring for our children, cleaning our homes, picking our produce, cleaning our hotel rooms, and grooming our yards on the cheap. We don’t want to absorb the cost of their healthcare, but we are happy to provide the CEOs of mega-corporations with vacation homes in Aspen and Spain, and 160-ft flotation devices while we’re all tubing down a river (which I prefer, I admit).
If I had a secret underground hideaway, I’d take every single undocumented worker and put them in it. Then, I’d make some popcorn and wait. I’d watch as fruits and vegetables rotted in the fields (and the prices soared at the grocery store), garbage piled up in the streets, hotels went out of business because they had nobody to cook or clean, people either lost their jobs because they couldn’t find childcare, or quit willingly because now it costs more for families to send the baby to a daycare center than a mom or dad brings home in his or her paycheck. Who is going to go pick the strawberries when all the undocumented workers are gone? Ripe strawberries wait for no one, my friend.
Lest you still think that undocumented workers strictly live secretly in a vacuum, sucking off the teat of the U.S. economy, think again.
A few fast facts about what the estimated 11 million (3.5% of the population of the U.S.) undocumented workers contribute in economic terms:
- According to a study issued by theNational Bureau of Economic Research, loss of that segment of the labor force would cost the U.S. economy $5 trillion over a decade. Illegal immigrants provide $500 billion in output a year, according to study co-author Francesco Ortega.
- The U.S. Gross Domestic Product could decrease by 2.6% or $434 billion a year if all undocumented workers were removed from the economy, according to a report by City University of New York researchers. Some states and industries would be more affected than others. Illinois, California, Florida, Texas, New York and New Jersey would feel the greatest impact under such a scenario.
- According to an actuarial report by the Social Security Administration, undocumented workers using fake Social Security numbers paid $13 billion into the trust fund in 2010, and only received $1 billion in retirement benefits. That’s a net gain of $12 billion. From undocumented workers.
- According to a study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants paid $11.64 billion a year in state and local taxes either through house payments or rent (property taxes), income tax through employer deductions from their paychecks or through the purchase of goods or services (sales taxes). If those same immigrants were given legal status, the amount of state and local taxes collected could increase by $2.1 billion a year, according to the study.
Guess who can still afford homes, nannies, fancy hotels and strawberries when all the undocumented WORK goes away? Hint: It’s not the vast majority of people who voted for Trump.
It’s Trump’s cohorts.