Monday, March 8, 2010

Manifesto Against AT&T

The history of all hitherto existing cell phone companies is the history of class struggle. Corporation and customer, greedy owner and desperate consumer, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stand in constant opposition to one another, carrying on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ends, either in total ruin and demoralization of the contending classes, or, as can only be hoped, in a revolutionary reconstitution of cell phone companies at large.

How do these companies do it? They amass huge customer bases because no one can do without their product. They offer an overwhelming assortment of service plans that seduce you with words like "unlimited" and "roll-over." They outsource their customer service jobs to places like India and Pakistan, where their workers learn to mask their accents, adopt American names, and live like hamsters, toiling on the Western treadmill all night, sleeping when the sun shines. When you talk to these people, because eventually you will, they sound like tired foreigners who just want to get some sleep. They will tell you what you want to hear, just to get you off the phone. Can you blame them?

You will talk to them for so many reasons: you will break up with your boyfriend and need to scratch his account from your joint plan; you will move to a new house and want your internet service transferred; you will reduce your cell phone plan, given that you've accrued all these roll-over minutes; you will realize, with profound aggravation, that you are still paying for your ex-boyfriend's cell phone; you will realize, with horror, that you are still paying for internet at your old house; you will realize, with stunning bewilderment, that your bill is still sixty-something dollars, even after you've reduced your plan.

As you wait on hold, your ear sore and sweaty, your heart pounding, your feet frantically apace, you wonder how this nightmare began. You vaguely remember the golden old days of your cell phone inception, when that shiny new gadget gleamed with possibility and convenience, when the company, known as Cingular, seemed almost quaint with their jolly salesman and simple paper bills. You trace the problem to the buy-out, when Cingular, a mere trout in the corporate world, was eaten by AT$T, a veritable shark. How many times have you been bitten? How many times has an AT$T representative made you feel better, induced that warm feeling of accomplishment, time well spent, crooked places straight? How many times has that feeling been shattered by the next bill, a cruel slap of systematic fraudulence?

You know you are not alone. You tire of the constant battle. You badly want an alternative, but in this bleak corporate-dominated world you are weary and tired, afraid of wasting anymore precious time. You understand why AT$T survives: because people get demoralized, stop fighting, pay the extra money, acquiesce to the erroneous bill, anything to get off that damned phone.

You've heard whispers about this newer company, called Credo Mobile, but they sound too good to be true. Admittedly "progressive," they contribute a percentage of their profits to good causes; their coverage is the same as AT$T; you get a thousand minutes and a thousand texts for fifty bucks a month; they will cancel your existing account for you, saving you yet another call to AT$T; they pride themselves on, are you ready for this, no hidden fees!

The phone call was so easy you've practically forgotten about it. In a few days you can expect a new phone; in a few weeks, a bill that has already been explained. Even better, something that you cannot put a price on, you will never, ever have to call AT$T again, you will never have to ponder a tear-stained bill with that sinking feeling of dread and hopelessness.

Or will you?

You actually aren't certain that Credo Mobile will be any better; after all, they're a corporation out to make money too. What you are certain of is that AT$T has one less prisoner. What might happen if everyone who has ever been f**ked by this company decided to stop giving them money?

Cell phone users of the world unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains!

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