March 4, 2005

Getting Groped By The Invisible Hand

Filed under: analog — mhoye @ 2:58 pm

This week in consumer-screwing news:

Dear Mr. Hoye,

We would like to thank you for visiting our Fido Web site.

The cost of Fido’s Call Display and Voice Messaging is increasing from $4
per month to $5 for each service–an increase that reflects current market
pricing in both wireless and wireline services. Fido continues to provide
excellent value to customers: Fido’s Voice Messaging service, for example,
continues to allow users to receive and store up to an industry-leading 50
messages. Fido also offers a $2 savings if Voice Messaging and Call Display
are bundled together.

Your comments are always welcome, and we thank you for sharing your

Best regards,

Your Fido Internet Consultant

That’s just fucking beautiful. I have both these services, for which Fido now charges me $8 instead of $6, a 33% price increase. I do not receive 33% more of anything in this transaction, and the justification is that other people have decided to charge more, too. My careful analysis of this situation has revealed that this is the precise opposite of the way the a competitive market is supposed to work. I’m being given the finger by the invisible hand.

Well, I don’t know what good it will do, but off to the Competition Bureau we go.

Apropos of competition, I’ve cut out all my long-distance service from Bell, in favor of their wildly cheaper competition, though I’m going to have to start carrying around a meathook and a taser so that if I meet their apology-droid automated attendant in the road I can kill it in a manner I deem just. Still, once I got through to their actual human staff, I had a fun conversation:

“We can offer you seven cents a minute…”

“Oh, that sounds Ok…”

“…plus a $2.95 monthly network service fee.”

“Ah. Can you offer me four cents a minute, with no network service fee?”

“Er, no.”

“Very well then.”

I’d like to add here, in case it isn’t as obvious as stepping in elephant shit, that “Service Fees”, like “Mail-in Rebates”, are disingenuous assholery of the first order, designed by marketing departments for the exclusive purpose of advertising one thing and charging another. If you are in marketing, I promise you that the only way you are getting into Heaven is a well-armed office rampage.

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