Don't Let Them Get You Down

Every once in awhile I think about how vulnerable we get as we age. I try not to make this the focus of my life but there are certain times of year that trigger a response from my inner self. Usually in February, that response is rage.

Yes, I believe you might think I've got this emotion under control. I kind of do but not to the level you may expect. There are days when I want to reach out to the world and yell, "I'm mad as hell and I can't take it anymore." If you remember the movie Broadcast, you'll understand this line. I think of it at times like this when I'm in a billing period and can't get out without an increase and my dignity.

This is my month to tangle with my telephone and internet provider. I suppose this happens to all of us on the month we established service or made a change or complained and got a discount. I don't know about you, but at our house we pretty much NEED a land line. Many of you already have ditched this ancient form of communication but here at the beach we like it. In fact, we like it for a lot of reasons. Our messages from medical providers find a home here and there are a lot of those puppies around here.

In addition to this comforting feature, we always know that if we let the phone ring its requisite five times, all creepy callers will be history because they won't leave a message. Yes, our method sometimes causes real humans with real messages to give up but this rarely happens. Most of our friends and family are on board with this.

Damn. Now I've given away our family phone secret to the world. I wonder how many creepy callers have made note of this. I am not afraid.

I am going to ask you to join me in not being afraid. If your phone, internet or television bill increases, I want you to call and ask why. If the amount is something less than $1 it's OK. If not, you need to make the call and ask why your bill has gone up. There are some things you'll need to have in hand and some mental resolve you'll need to learn to manage. No offense to my male counterparts, but you guys should not be making these calls. Why? You erupt like volcanoes and then call. Not good. Women are much better at this because they understand diplomacy and have far more patience than their hairy, bearded counterparts.

Now, to the grit of this message. First, know how many years you have been a customer of this company. Make note of that because loyalty is a diminishing trait in this world and it is valued more than you can know. Next, have your billing statement (which should also have some history). Most of us have a month where our accounts come up for review and any discounts we may have earned or in my case, begged for, the prior year will be shown. Please know that you will also need your account number, last four of the Social Security number of the account holder and the account password.

Before I go further, if you are a woman whose accounts are all in her husbands name, please have his Social Security number at hand. You'll need it, not just for this, but for a whole lot more until you can get those accounts in your name. This process is not easy but also not impossible. If these companies want to be paid... they'll have to let YOU pay them. In other words, you have more power than you may think. You are not a victim. This also applies to men who have lost their wives.

Back to the beginning... don't let them talk you out of what you think is fair. All rates go up. We know this because it is the American way. However, you should not have to have increases over the above mentioned $1 if your services have not changed. AND, if those services include things you don't use like high-speed internet, 8 person speed call, auto voice messaging and other things I am always amazed by, you should use these goofy things as negotiating points in reducing your rates.

We don't all need high speed internet or international calling. If you need these things I am happy for you because your life is far more exciting than mine. In the meantime, don't let those companies get you down. You are just as important as they are because you are and always will be an owner so long as you pay that bill every month. Oh, and during the call remember speaker phone; it will allow you to go on with your daily chores while negotiating. This is my favorite part.

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