A Year ago this month:
KACKLES TACKLES at&t WITH A VENGEANCE
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
KACKLES THE WITCH is an alter ego of katharineotto.wordpress.com.
at&t’s bick and mortar store on Mall Blvd. in Savannah, where employees spend all their time on wireless phones to Corporate. Do they even have a land line? Yes, two of them, but it’s a big secret. at&t’s website doesn’t even list land lines.
In this installment, Kackles the Witch tackles the artificially human TechnoMonsters of at&t, the FCC, Concast, and Wall Street, challenging their collective monopoly on telephone land lines.
Kackles is a New Age Witch, because she was born yesterday, when the telephone bill came, two months into a new contract. At least corporate sent the bill to the right address, this time, and at least it came before the due date.
Kackles opened the bill and gasped. Her blood started boiling. Lightning bolts flashed from her eyes, almost setting fire to the bill. The radioactive, penetrating power o her vision saw the obvious in a flash of blinding patented wireless technology. The bill was almost twice the price of the official quote.
“How did this happen,” bemoaned the nascent witch. “I did everything according to the rules, and they did everything wrong, but I’m the one paying for it.
“Gotcha again!” screech the at&t TechnoMonsters, backed by Wall Street, the Federal Government, Southern Company, and the Fed.
New at&t telephone, with design so stupid it has to be patented. Alternatively, a second-hand Uniden phone cost $2.50 at Goodwill.
“There, there,” whispers Dr. Kathorkian, another katharineotto.wordpress.com alter ego. Dr. Kathorkian is Chief Medical Executioner under Obamacare. “They call it ‘global warming,’” says Dr. K. “That means we’re all headed straight to hell if we don’t shape up.”
Dr. K is a woman, of course, with the sixth sense, common sense, encoded on the half of X men didn’t get. That makes men “Y”’s, thus lacking in the genetically endowed department. Dr. Kathorkian reminds us that no matter how many ways they splice genes, women will always have more of them than men, but less than some fungi.
“That quarter-chromosome worth of extra gene power exists in every cell, so that’s a popper scoop of extra genes in them jeans, if you know what I mean,” quoth Dr. K, when she’s feeling lyrical.
Kackles was less interested in Dr. K’s scientific research. She wanted collective vengeance on the creators of this excessive overhead, to wit, at&t’s copyrighted and patented services that she pays for without benefiting from. She studied the bill and noted excise taxes, paid to the federal government monthly for access to air rights. These are taxes on domestic goods and services. Tariffs are taxes on imported goods. All raise the price for purchasers, re-spun as “consumers” in 21st century PolCor speech.
“Huh?” anyone with common sense (usually women) might ask. “How does that work for me, the taxpayer, if I’m paying both sides to protect me from people offering better deals? Let Pfizer protect its own market share.”
Another katharineotto.wordpress.com alterego cheers. KO! Economic Hit Woman whistles, calls “Attagirl!” and throws up a High Five and Victory (Peace) salute.
“Bye, bye, Pfizer, and good riddance,” she gloats. “Let Ireland protect your patents, if it can. Let Ireland protect your stocks, too, and your VA contracts. Oh, and while we’re at it, I recommend that US taxpayers confiscate your $270 million global research facility in New London, Connecticut, and donate it to Susette Kelo and her former neighbors.
For once, katharineotto.wordpress.com’s alter agos begin to agree with each other. Even Kaka Big Chicken is helping to plot strategy. She offers to walk into the brick-and-mortar store with chicken poop on her shoes and flies buzzing around her head.
Libby Belle is only thinking about how much her feet hurt, standing on that pedestal, holding that torch all day and night in New Yuck harbor. She wants to escape new Yuck and wiggle her toes in the sand at Tybee.
Finally, nagged into compliance by her amalgamated alters, katharineotto.wordpress.com marches bravely into at&t’s lair with bill and agenda in hand, carrying notebook, sketchpad, camera, and a secret weapon known as primal screaming, a Kaka Big Chicken specialty.
katharineotto.wordpress.com takes a number and sits in front of the Direct TV, which at&t has just acquired, and watches Donald Trump perform. Kackles casually doodles caricatures of all the employees holding cell phones to their ears, because they don’t deal with land line services or that class of customers. The Real Yellow Pages has been contracted out.
But Kackles doesn’t sweat the small stuff. Born out of ashes, to ashes she will return, when she’s good and ready, but not yet. She still has spells to cast on TechnoBabble Nation’s networks and stranglehold by patented, unreliable technology.
Meanwhile, she sweeps up the ashes of frizzle-frazzle with the New Age broom. The broom, Hilda, sweeps as god as she flies, so Kackles is a satisfied tourist from the Cosmic Commune, where everything is free and money doesn’t exist.
“Cackle, cackle,” cackles Kackles. “I have nothing better to do.”
At Left: The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, November 17, 2016
Twelve years ago:
November 29, 2004
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
One AT&T Way
Bedminster, NJ 07921
Chairman, President and
Chief Executive Officer
1155 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
Michael K. Powell
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
I am writing this letter to all three of you because each of your organizations is blaming the others for the problems I am having with basic telephone and internet services.
It really doesn’t have to be this hard. As a “consumer” small business owner (read “customer-voter-taxpayer”) I decided at the end of August to look into internet services by Bell South and AT&T, with the intent of signing up for one or the other. After going through telephone menu maze after telephone menu maze, and listening to raucous music while on hold, I finally got a human being at AT&T who gave me bad information, convincing me to change all telephone service to AT&T and sign up for their internet services, too. But oops, my telephone number has been hijacked by a DSL company, Georgia Business Net, which service I’d ordered and cancelled a month prior, without ever having had the service installed. It took several hours over several days to straighten that one out, with everyone blaming everyone else and no one able to unlock the hold on my telephone number until I made a big stink with Georgia Business Net’s local representative, Brewton Computer Services, who wanted to play games, but who finally pulled some backroom maneuver to release me from their greedy jaws.
Then I call Bell South to find I can’t change telephone services without paying a huge penalty, because I had forgotten I signed a three-year contract for lower rates two years ago. I didn’t know the rates were so low, since AT&T’s cost was supposedly about half what Bell South was charging. So I changed back to Bell South, to avoid paying that penalty, and have July, 2005 on my calendar as the date when I am free of that contract and can reconsider my phone service options.
Meanwhile, I sign up for internet services with Bell South, or so I think, but the software for the service never arrives. I continue to use the local library to get on the net, and I begin to wonder if I need home internet services at all, since the library is so convenient and I don’t use the internet that much (less and less).
Next thing I know, I get a bill from AT&T for forty-seven cents, which I dutifully pay on October 16, 2004 with my Sun Trust check #576. This week, I get a bill from a collection service, GC Services Unlimited Partnership, claiming I owe AT&T $26.68 for long distance services. Excuse me, but I thought I’d changed my long distance service back to Bell South, in accordance with my contract, and I never got a bill for any long distance service from AT&T. Now it’s in collection? How did this happen? At this point I am so confused about who is supplying what to whom that I don’t know whom I owe, how much I owe or why I owe it. Maybe you can figure it out, because frankly, I can’t abide your telephone menus, underinformed and misleading “customer service representatives,” and the maze of regulations, special deals, packages, contracts and other garbage you confuse people with under the guise of progress. I’m including this GC Services Limited Partnership bill with my letter to Mr. Dorman of AT&T, and sending this letter to GC Services Limited Partnership, to let everyone know that I am happy to pay any money I really owe, and I’ll pay it directly to the CEO of AT&T if he can prove I owe it.
Meanwhile, Bell South is no better. My latest bill from Bell South shows I’m being charged $8.44 plus $14.90 per month for internet service, when I was told the service was $10.95. This is for a service I never received software for, have never used, and now no longer want, because it is much more expensive than I bargained for. So, I will pay my Bell South bill, minus the bogus internet service, and will send a copy of this letter with my payment for the telephone service I actually have received. This way, the folks in Bell South’s accounts receivable department will know to contact their CEO if they have a problem with it. The Bell South telephone menu maze includes raucous advertising while its victims are on hold, and I can’t count on getting good information or services if I do get in touch with a so-called human being at the “Reach Out and Touch Someone” hall of fame.
As for Mr. Powell of the Federal Confusion Commission, I contend that governmental policies obstruct rather than assist communication, and communications would be much more efficient if government would get out of the way. The people who suffer most are the small fry customer-voter-taxpayers like me who get caught in these hopeless mires of entangled over-regulation, while the corporate giants slip through the control measures with hefty campaign contributions and a few token fines. All I need is a clean and simple list of services and prices, a la carte, from all the communications players, so I can make wise business decisions based on what I need. Spare me the one-size-fits-nobody packages and the long-term contracts. I am a loyal customer if I get good value for my time and dollar. So, Mr. Powell, if you could get these corporations to simplify their price structures, and publicize them, I can make my decisions accordingly. Then I can get back to doing my job to earn the income to pay the taxes that pay your salary.
By this letter I want everyone to know I will honor my contract with Bell South until it expires. I believe this includes long distance service, as it was before the fated month of August, 2004. Cancel the so-called internet service, which only exists on Bell South’s bill.
I believe I want AT&T for the internet, but let’s see the price in writing first, and I want AT&T to send its bills directly to me instead of to a collection agency. If you don’t want me as a customer, I will understand and will look somewhere else or do without.
Finally, I’d like to remind all of you that the telephone and internet will never surpass the old fashioned letter for clear communication.
Katharine C. Otto
cc: Nick Gillespie, Editor-in Chief, reason magazine; Paul Gigot, Editor of the Editorial Page, The Wall Street Journal; Donald E. Graham, Chairman, The Washington Post; Cynthia Tucker, Editorial Page Editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.