Friday, December 13, 2013

But Maybe I'm Crazy....Probably

My disdain for Time Warner is fairly well known.  There's a planet in my mind where all of Time Warner is housed.  It's wrapped tight with dynamite and I hold the detonator.  It's a beautiful image. I see me standing at the detonator box waiting for the perfect time to push it down and blow that planet straight to Hell.  It all started with a mistaken disconnection that took an entire week to resolve.  Somewhere, in Time Warner's digital recorders, there are telephone conversations evidencing the rage that will keep me from ever running for public office.  When the a-holes tried to raise my rate this year, I called and demanded my old rate. When the CSR lied to me about the best possible rate, I demanded a lower rate.  With each, "I'm sorry ma'am, I can't do that," I requested to speak with someone who could.  This went on for nearly two hours.  But at the end of the marathon, I'm now paying the introductory price offered to new customers. I was THAT persistent.  Crazy?  Possibly.

I wish I could say my anger stops at Time Warner.  It doesn't.  In fact, I harbor feelings of negativity toward all utilities. I'll put it out there.  I'm not ashamed.  I'M CHEAP.  I hate to pay outrageous fees for things that should, in my opinion, cost far less than they do.  I am not loyal to any one company or brand.  If you offer me the same or similar service at a lesser price, I will drag my happy ass up and contract with another company. I have even (unsuccessfully) tried to negotiate gas and electric prices.

Usually, it is worth it.  We recently dropped Verizon and switched to Straight Talk.  Our Verizon bill was $130/month for 2 lines...shared 700 minutes, unlimited texting and NO DATA.  Rip off?  You bet it was.  With Straight Talk, we have smart phones and pay $90 per month for unlimited everything.  John and I love our new phones.  Who knew having Pandora on your phone would be so awesome? (All of you with smart phones knew, right?)

I dropped cable and purchased Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.  We were paying $130/month to Time Warner for Digital Cable and internet.  We now pay less than $40/month for internet and   $236.42 per YEAR for television.  Amazon gave me a 50% discount on Prime.  Yay!  Our total savings is over $80/month.

Our most recent switch is car and homeowner insurance.  The switch from State Farm to Farmers is saving us more than $500 per year.  After a 14 year relationship with State Farm, wherein we had few claims, we grew tired of being gouged monthly for little service in return. (This is the part where I tell you how disgusted I am with our old agent.)

What does it take to sell insurance?  Sure, it requires a test and a licensure and all the responsibility that comes with it.  But it doesn't really require hard work.  So, what do agents do with YOUR hard earned money?  Our previous agent doesn't do anything that I am aware of.  He isn't available early morning or evening.  Forget weekends.  His office completely closes from Noon until 1pm for lunch, even though he has an employee and they could easily alternate lunches to remain open.  If the weather is nice, you'll find him on the golf course.  Hell, he literally lives on the golf course.  His secretary fields all phone calls, and, based on my observations, runs the business. Every change we've ever made happened through her.  Fourteen years of service and I'm sure the "agent" hasn't put in 1 total hour of work for us.  I LOOOOAAAATHHHHE his secretary.  It makes me grumpy to even think of calling their office because I know I will have to talk to her.  However, she deserves some credit because, in my opinion, she's the only one working for his State Farm customers.

I recently spoke with the State Farm agent about life insurance.  We reevaluated our needs and John cancelled a small whole-life policy.  I'm educated and aware of a cash value for the policy. When the policy was cancelled, our State Farm agent did not have the decency to make John aware of the cash value, counsel him regarding it, or send him a check.  Months after it cancelled, I called asking where the money was.  He put me off, told me I was making a mistake, and made every attempt to persuade me to reinstate the policy. Why?  I told him repeatedly that we wanted the money.  I specifically said that I wasn't calling for advice, I just wanted to know where the money was.  He evaded my questions until he could stall no longer and then, with irritation, said, "Yeah.  There's about a thousand there."  Why did he give me the runaround?  Because he earns a commission off our money.  State Farm is not only an insurance company, it's a bank.  As our agent, he was a fiduciary for our money and he purposefully neglected that duty.  After that conversation, I knew it was time to move to another company.

So, I called Farmers.  We were offered more discounts than I expected.  The agents provided us with multiple packages and rates.  They really tried to help us decide our needs. Their advice was excellent and the best part:  THEY MET WITH ME ON SUNDAYS.  Sunday!!! Our old State Farm agent probably hasn't worked on Sunday in 30 years. But my husband, the man who paid the bill the last 14 years, works twice as many Sundays per year than he gets off.

Perhaps I am a little difficult to please.  A bit demanding at times.  Ok, I'm a pain in the ass. I know it.  But there is something incredibly wrong with our class structure.  I point out our insurance agent because he's local and easy to bitch about. I can make presumptions of what he does with his time based on what I've personally witnessed. And, compared to large corporations, the insurance man is small change. The bigger problem happens everywhere.  The guy who physically works the hardest enjoys the least time off and the least pay.  Meanwhile, his check is sliced thin to pay for service from someone else who does very little in comparison.  It's not right.

I'm not saying John doesn't earn enough.  I cannot complain about his pay.  His wage is decent and the benefits are incredibly generous. However, he sacrifices so much time with us just to keep us out of the poor house.  You won't find him on the golf course.  He doesn't get to close up shop halfway through the day for an hour.  He doesn't have 9am to Noon and 1pm to 4pm hours.  He works 8-16 hours per day, alternating afternoon shift with midnight shift, 6 days a week. Every week.  Every holiday.  Every birthday.  Every anniversary.  I can't tell you the last time I kissed him on New Year's Eve.  The only hobby he has is reading, because he can do that on his down time at work.  He no longer hunts, shoots pool, or spends time with his friends. He works harder than anyone I know.  Yet he doesn't live the life our old insurance agent does.  He has never experienced the luxury the CEOs of Time Warner or AEP or Columbia Gas consider normal.  And he never will.

Don't think I feel company heads don't deserve high pay.  I know they handle a lot of pressure and responsibility.  But every single employee beneath them works harder.  For less pay.  All the time.  As I write this, I'm sure you are confused about what I'm feeling.  This isn't an argument for greater pay for John and other workers.  It's a call for fairness.  Dear Cable, Internet, Phone, Electric, Gas, and Insurance provider: CHARGE LESS. Lower your rates.  Don't lower pay for your average employees.  Don't squeeze their benefits.  Cut the salaries of those earning the top 10% of your payroll (including you, CEO) and allow your customers to receive the benefit.  Rates always go up.  How about, for once in our lives, you lower your rates? Try it.

Life is expensive.  Children are expensive.  I've cut out almost every unnecessary thing that I can.  I'm doing all the right things, yet it feels like I'm on a treadmill. Cutting, cutting, cutting. Saving, saving, saving. Not getting anywhere.

Do you understand?  Do you feel a pinch that hurts just a bit too much? How do you stay afloat?


  1. lol April I'm with ya. I purchased a new computer in September an in 2 months the wireless keyboard quite working, and the first tech I was talking to tried to sell me an extended warranty, I blew up at her telling I didn't want extended warranty on something I'm still paying for, and still has 10 months worth of warranty left on it( ok I cleaned it up a bit) Then the poor guy that I got transferred to got an ear full because I was still pissed that I been on the phone a half an hour and it still wasn't taken care of. an hour half later they sent me a new keyboard and mouse, which was told would take 3 days to get here, ended up showing up on my dorr the next day.
    I've also went to Netflix, Hulu plus, and play on to get way from paying TW. Still have phone and net through them, but spent 20 minutes in the office when I turned in my boxes to get a decent rate. They was trying to charge me almost the same price since it wasn't bundled.
    I also cut coupons and use them almost every time I shop. Family of 5 and I spend around 500 a month on groceries.( that's including Thanksgiving dinner last month, and Christmas Dinner this month)