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Chat with Pat - Consumer Gripes
Cable and Toasters and Phones - Oh My!

No more Ms. Nice Guy (not that I ever was). I am getting tired of big companies taking advantage of us the consumer because we have no place else to go.

Is it me or do you have these same problems? Let us know. They say the web is very powerful. Maybe we can get some changes made. Well, let's hope so.

Let me start with AT&T. I have been a customer for as long as I've had a phone which is more decades than I care to count. Never once have I been late with a payment. I really resent that I have to pay about five dollars a month for long distance that I don't need. I have a cell phone for that stuff. Need it or not I have to pay for it. But that is not my main gripe.

I have always called in certain bills to pay and even though that service is technically available, it really isn't. I pay many other bills, cable for instance, that way with no problems.

When I call ATT and try to pay my bill the automated voice asks questions for identification and you can say somehting in response or hit the keys.

ATT used to do the same. Now it has a very bad recording (I sincerely believe it is bad on purpose to discourage people using it). After many tries and the entire office laughing at me it will say, "Do you want to be transferred to an operator?"

Yes! Yes! Yes! Please Yes! This has gone on for many months. I have absolutely no trouble being understood or hitting the proper keys at the office each day where I deal with many calls, or with the other places that I pay over the phone.

This month was the last straw. I was transferred to an operator who said she would accept my payment but it now costs five dollar plus change (I forget the amount of change) that would be added to next month's bill for the service (for the privilege of paying my bill?). NO THANKS!

Smiley face on telephone

I guess I will look for another carrier but until then I decided to mail in this month's bill. Surprise, Surprise! No envelope or instructions. What about all the people who are not on-line or do not want automatic payments taken from their checking account?

I personally have my gas and electric deducted every month. It is always the same amount. Since several times there have been mistakes on my phone bill (which I don't want to pay while I prove to them it was not my calls) I don't want an automatic payment. So I have to pay almost six dollars for the privilege of paying my bill.

SHAME ON YOU ATT and as soon as I can it will be GOODBYE ATT.

Now on to the Cable company - Time Warner. We have a 42 inch television, no excuse me, it is a monitor. We have to pay cable every month to get a picture. But that's a story for another time, I don't even know if you can buy a regular television anymore.

Late last fall we had trouble with what was determined, by them, to be a bad cable box. It needed to be replaced, but they were out of boxes. We went through the holidays and into the New Year before we got a new box. Their explanation "the demand for boxes was great. Many people were getting new monitors for Christmas and they could not get enough in".

So much for service for the established customer. They are hooked already -let's go after the new guy. They did give us a reduction on the bill. Big deal, we wanted a working TV. The repair men tell me there is still a shortage about eight months later.

Then came one problem after another. Bad picture, no picture, tiles, no sound you name it. We have to change the setting every time we go from digital or regular (analog) or High Definition programs. So much for scanning back and forth with your remote.

They have sent men out probably by now about six or more times. Each time there is a several day or week wait and someone has to take off work to be home and wait for them.

Each repair person seemed very knowledgeable and polite. They seemed to know the problem that the man before them didn't. Each would say, "I don't know why he did this or that or I think he missed this."

For example, one said we had a weak signal so he put another hole in the wall. Another says don't need the hole, another said we need still another hole. One went up on the pole and worked for about an hour because he said it was outside stuff.

One blamed it on the city ofCleveland Heights. They want all the new technology and it has lots of bugs. He suggested we move to Akron - "they love us there".

"Oh you can't use your VCR and while taping watch another program like I have done for many years, unless - you guessed it - another line (hole) or share it with existing line. Splice it and get a foggy picture.

But didn't that other guy tell us "HD doesn't like to share. Splicing is not the way to go."? Of course, ditch your VCR and use their taping system, DVR. If you lose power, you lose the programs that you have saved. And, of course, there is a regular fee for the system.

Lose power? Tough luck. That's happened a few times this spring already. But that too is a story for another time.

Ok one more complaint (for now but I have many more - I'm on a roll!)

Toasters. I love my toast. I like it medium brown. No big deal. Or is it?

Unless you buy a toaster that is four slices with two slots, you can't toast a lot of breads like store bought Italian. The slots are too short. This to get 2 slices.

I have checked them out on the web and see from the reviews that many people are not happy with the toasters they bought. I have returned 4 this spring.

Burnt toast coming out of toaster

My family says it's me. They ask. "What is so hard about making toast? It's not rocket science". I tell them to try it and then they have to agree the toast is burned, or heats but does not brown, or it doesn't pop up, or the bread doesn't fit or it does not brown evenly and so on.

I have tried toasters of various prices and have the same problems. They have added settings for defrosting, pastry, dials that light up and cancel buttons. My old toaster did these things without the do-dads. The bagel width is not new I had that on my old one too. Is it too much to ask for a decent piece of toast in the morning?

When I returned one of the toasters, the woman "felt my pain." When her toaster died after thirty some years, she had such a problem replacing it she now makes her toast like her grandmother did - in the oven! She showed me several others stacked up that had been returned that day.

Let's see, ATT, Time Warner and the small appliance industry. Pretty good for this early in the morning. But I have a lot more waiting.

Have you anything to add? I just bet you do.

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