Thursday, June 30, 2011

Question All Bills

This is not a story in which I come off as being especially brilliant, but perhaps by writing it down I'll save myself or someone else a little money in the future."They" say you should always check your bills, and I have further proof that "they" are right. Today I looked over my Discover bill and noticed a charge from Clearwire. That's an internet access service I used last year and cancelled when we moved - or so I thought. It turns out they'd continued to charge me a monthly fee.
I called them immediately to dispute the charge, and was instantly reminded of one reason I dumped them. I'm on the Pacific Coast, so when at 7:50 am my time I phone their tech support center on the East Coast, I know they're open from a physical-reality standpoint. However, they have a clever systems by which they figure out what time zone you're in, and refuse to answer your call until 8am my time - even though they are open for business to people on the East Coast. It's a completely unnecessary bit of annoyance and bad service.
Clearwire's records said that I'd extended my service last year, back when I'd moved. It took 50 minutes of conversation, waiting on hold and asking to speak with a manager before Clearwire came up with a counteroffer, to refund the last 6 months of charges. I took the offer, in part because I didn't think further argument would get me any better, and partly because I felt partly responsible for not checking my bill on a monthly basis. Had I done so, I would have noticed the problem earlier and minimized the damage. On the other hand, Clearwire should have had a more helpful system for customers trying to end their service.
I don't blame Clearwire for taking my money when I left it around for them to take. It's like blaming a dog for eating a steak left within their reach. Corporations are hungry and have no conscience, so we have to keep an eye on them and slap them down when they reach for our money.
Checking every bill every time is a bother, and I let it slide. I paid the price. Don't let it happen to you; question every bill! The good news is that questioning this bill paid off for me this time.

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