Monthly Archives: August 2009

Bureaucracy By Any Other Name

Postings on this blog have been spotty lately due to the fact that my home internet connection was out of commission for a good three weeks. I spent a good majority of that time hassling with my DSL provider which is a large, national, well-known telecommunications company (who shall remain nameless out of the goodness of my heart) while simultaneously trying to finish two major freelance projects. This was one of the worst customer services I ever experienced.

Some highlights:

  • Come home Friday to discover internet not working. DSL technician suggests modem is the problem before being disconnected and not returning my call.
  • Spend $90 on new modem. Internet still not working.
  • Deadlines looming. Spend several nights schlepping my laptop (which is not my main computer) to a friend’s house to piggyback on their internet and finish projects.
  • Attempt to set-up new internet service from different provider that promises easy, fast, same-day set-up. Service does not work. Still no internet.
  • Determined to fix internet situation, I call DSL provider not once, not twice, but three times. Spend over 90 minutes (I timed it) on phone without talking to a single human being. Internet still not working.
  • 90-minute phone call put me over my monthly cell-phone limit. Spend $25 on overage costs.
  • Consider switching to the one other national, well-known Cable internet provider that would cost  me $15 more per month.
  • Call DSL provider at work (because of course no one is there after 6pm) to cancel. Finally reach a human being who is repeatedly “dismayed” that I am not at home to troubleshoot problem.
  • Placated by offer to send live human technician to house to investigate for free (insisted this be noted on my account) I agree not to cancel service.
  • Customer service rep then attempts to ‘upsell’ me on other services. I tell her I’d rather they work on providing my current service before we talk about future services.
  • Week later technician appears at my house (had to take time off of work to let him in). Very nice man spends 2 hours fixing the issue (Internet works!). Confirm with him that I would not be charged for visit.
  • Two weeks later, receive monthly bill. Notice that bill is $112 more than usual. Check line-item breakdown and see that I have been charged for technician visit as well as phone service (which I don’t have).
  • Call customer service. Speak to someone two states over. Have charges removed from bill.

All told, I am out $115 dollars, 4.5 hours of my life and endured 3.5 weeks of undue stress and aggravation from having to deal with an uncaring, bloated bureaucracy whose sole purpose is to provide me a service and make me happy (epic FAIL).

Why share this story? Because many critics of healthcare reform claim that they do not want a government bureaucracy clogging up their access to their doctors and denying them treatment services. What I’ve tried to illustrate here is that bureaucracy is bureaucracy no matter who (government entity or private corporation) is paying the person on the phone whether it be a civil servant or a private insurer.

If free-market capitalism is supposed to promote better service through competition, why was my experience so horrible? And why doesn’t the competition provide better/cheaper/faster service?