I have this neighbor that is never satisfied with his cable company. For the last two months he’s had trucks from AT&T and Comcast alternately parked out front of his house. He literally calls the other company as soon as the first one finishes the hookup. The repairmen thinks he’s both nuts and hilarious. But he keeps on doing it.
He tells me his goal is to exasperate them enough to give them a lower price on his cable and Internet bill. So far, he’s got what appears to be the lowest available price with both companies. Yet he’s convinced they can go lower. “I’m gonna bug them and keep switching until they come by begging me to stop. I want cable for $50 a month. That’s what I think it’s worth. And that includes HBO. Starz. All that stuff.”
Of course, this is all a lie. I made all that up. But it would be fun to do, wouldn’t it? I mean, really? How many times has the cable company jacked your rates, yet when you call to disconnect, they offer some cheap deal to get you back on board. You scream into the phone, “Why couldn’t I get that rate when I called you two months ago?” And the rep says, “It’s only available if you drop your service.”
It’s pretty clear the cable companies only care any about their highest paying customers. Those are the folks who subscribe to every channel including the porn on-demand offerings that are literally so steamy and intense they clog the fiber optic and DSL cables attached to your house. And when they come across Direct TV, the dish shudders and shakes on the roof in a digitally orgasmic fit. That type of content is so cheesy and repetitive, yet it rakes in dough for the cable companies. And that’s the measuring stick by which they measure you in terms of customer value. Makes you feel special, doesn’t it?
Yes, it’s the stupid habits of other consumers habits are that make things so damn difficult for the rest of us. When cable companies see how much they could really make if more people were stupid enough to sign up for every service they offer, they can’t help but get greedy.
This is the exact same process we’re seeing with politicians today. We’ve spoiled them with multiple terms and corporatized elections for so long they could give a rat’s ass what the everyday person thinks about their voting record. We pay their salaries, but the big lobbyists pay their bills. And that’s the literal truth of how government now works.
I’ve seen the nickel and dime effect at work as well. Because it’s not enough for big companies to gobble up big profits from monopolized industries. They’re after every nickel you’ve got. I’ve worked on direct marketing programs for telecommunications companies. There are entire departments of people dedicated to somehow getting five more cents per household on a monthly basis out of a consumer base of 2,000,000 customers. Do that 12 times a year and you’re another couple million dollars ahead.
So you can imagine how the dollar signs are ringing in the world of cable TV. But the real battles over money are fights we never see. These are all conducted behind the scenes, with content providers choking the necks of cable distributors and vice versa. It’s like a UFC match where both competitors have each other in a choke hold and both have one arm extended and are about to snap it off.
That’s why it would be so funny for consumers like us to actually begin pecking at the big cable companies and call them every other day to switch service. Drive them nuts. It would be like tickling the arm pit of a UFC fighter caught in a chokehold and ready to tap out.
It would be cosmic justice if millions of consumers did this. Played them for the consuming fools they think we are. God would be on our side on this one. Let the meek inherit the earth and let the middle class have reasonably priced cable TV.
That would be heaven on earth, would it not?