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Thursday, February 19, 2015

AT&T tries bait and switch

I'm fed up with the telephone industry, especially AT&T. Robocalls are bad enough - I get two or three per day Monday thru Saturday - and now it's an ongoing, inexcusable effort to force me to pay more for U-verse than I was quoted.

It all began the first few days of last December when I called AT&T to discuss cancelling both my Internet and phone (I have a land line) service. Charges had been runnin' 'bout $72 - $80 per month, and given the constant barrage of robocalls - which had prompted me to generally avoid answering my phone - it just didn't seem worth it.

The lady I spoke with was very nice, seemed sincerely interested in helping me, and wound up quoting me a rate of $34.95 per month for a year if I would sign up for U-verse, which I gladly accepted. When AT&T showed up to install the U-verse, I inquired again about the rate. He quickly confirmed what I'd been told, and e-mailed me a copy of the charges (installation and modem fees waived), which ended off with a "Grand Total" of $34.95 per month.

No mention was made verbally or in writing of any addtional charges.

All well and good until charges showed up on my new U-verse account. Initially, I was billed for over $200, but after several online chat conversations with AT&T, that was gradually reduced to a little over $52 per month. AT&T dug their heels in for the $52 per month, and the online chats got somewhat less than cordial. 

ALWAYS - I repeat ALWAYS - get it in writing when AT&T specifies charges that you are in agreement with. Had I not obtained written confirmation, it's anybody's guess as to what I would have wound up being charged.

I refused to pay anything unless I was billed for the amount I had been quoted, and the next thing I knew, I got a nasty notice via snail mail advising me that my service would be "temporarily interrupted" the following day unless I forked over the $52 per month. So I immediately filed an online complaint with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.

Good thing I got to Consumer Affairs' website when I did.

Next morning, my phone had been disconnected for all but emergency calls (of course, the robocalls continued), and my Internet usage was restricted to e-mail, Facebook, and, for a short while, Blogger. Attempts to navigate to other websites prompted a nasty, full-screen pop-up berating me to pay the fifty-two bucks. 

I persevered, and it took about a week before Consumer Affairs e-mailed me confirmation that AT&T had agreed to $34.95 per month, and I needed to pay for two months based on that rate. I paid the amount within hours after receiving notification from Consumer Affairs, full service was restored, and I hoped the matter had been resolved.

But alas.

My next bill (the current one) popped up for about $92, and I've again complained to AT&T (Consumer Affairs had given me contact info for someone in AT&T's president's office), with a copy of this latest complaint to the person I initially communicated with at Consumer Affairs. I e-mailed my complaint Monday, my bill is due on the 27th, and I haven't heard hide nor hair from Consumer Affairs or AT&T.

I can understand errors on the first bill for U-verse. But there's no excuse whatsoever for my service being interrupted for a week. Nor is there any excuse for the same thing starting all over again. This entire matter amounts to nothing more than a bait and switch tactic, with a dose of bullying thrown in for good measure. The 27th will be here soon, and I suppose AT&T plans to once again "temporarily interrupt my service" in an effort to make me accept a higher monthly rate than I was quoted. 

Clean up your act, AT&T. And while you're at it, block those robocalls.

Update 2/19/2015 - AT&T is developing quite a reputation for bait and switch. The FTC is suing AT&T over the company charging customers for "unlimited" data, then throttling the data. "'Unlimited' means 'unlimited," says the FTC. Someone also needs to tell AT&T that "'Grand Total' means 'Grand Total.'"

Update 2/20/2015 - 
> My tweets with a link to this blog post are being blocked from appearing in Twitter's real-time posts. Likewise re the tweets appearing on my Twitter profile page. Corporate CENSORSHIP in the age of the Internet. My pleasure to expose Twitter and AT&T on Facebook. 
> Who woulda thought? My Facebook posts with a link to this blog post are also being blocked from appearing in real-time. AT&T and their crooked, bullying cohorts don't like it when folks dare to expose AT&T's inexcusable behavior.

Update 2/23/2015 - 
> This morning I heard from the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs advising me that they will once again reach out to AT&T. Stay tuned as consumers get a firsthand look at how AT&T bullies its customers.
> AT&T prefers to argue instead of correcting my bill, realizing, of course, that the so-called South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs has no legal jurisdiction in the matter. Here's a copy of the e-mail I just now sent to Consumer Affairs with a copy to AT&T:


"I didn't speak with AT&T the last time you resolved my complaint, and I complained to Consumer Affairs only after repeated conversations with AT&T. I'm not interested in arguing with AT&T - that's why I contacted Consumer Affairs. 

If AT&T wanted to correct my bill, they would have done so by now - the bill continues to reflect over $90 instead of the $34.95 I was promised - so it appears the situation cannot be resolved through Consumer Affairs.

There's no reason whatsoever - other than a lack of good faith on AT&T's part - that AT&T can't respond to Consumer Affairs' inquiry the same way they did last time, taking action to correct my bill."

> I just love it when crooked corporations like AT&T feign ignorance in an attempt to bully customers into complying with unjust demands. Just now heard from Consumer Affairs with the "news" - who woulda thought? - that AT&T sees nothing wrong with my current bill for over $90. Consumer Affairs wants me to have yet another verbal exchange with AT&T, when the facts of my case have been clear to AT&T since the first part of last December. I refuse to be baited in such a manner. Toothless state "Consumer Affairs" departments - looking out for business interests instead of consumers - are part of the problem when it comes to crooked corporations. I never expected much when I contacted the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs to begin with.

> I understand, AT&T: Crooked corporations and their stooges in state government would rather not converse in writing. Sure am glad I lucked out and got a copy of that quote for U-verse at $34.95 per month.

Updates 2/28/2015 - 
> Consumer Affairs says their actions are limited to facilitating a resolution between customers and businesses. They do not render decisions and have no legal jurisdiction over entities such as AT&T. In other words, the SC Dept. of Consumer Affairs is just another toothless, tax-funded agency that wears consumers out with meaningless back and forth chit-chat.
> AT&T reduced my current bill to about $38 and sent me an e-mail (copy to Consumer Affairs) claiming they would never include taxes and surcharges in a "Grand Total" because they "cannot calculate" such charges. Perhaps AT&T expects folks to purchase U-verse without knowing what it costs. My bill was due yesterday, I'll pay it when the amount is corrected to what I was promised, and I have advised AT&T (copy to Consumer Affairs) to review the definition of "Grand Total." 
> AT&T's claim that they "cannot calculate" taxes and surcharges is at odds not only with common sense, but also contradicts what they state on their website. Obviously, they are able to calculate such amounts and should advise potential customers accordingly. Failure to mention such amounts while offering a "Grand Total" price for U-verse, and then billing customers for such amounts epitomizes the marketing ploy known as "bait and switch." 

Update 3/9/2015 - Just for the record, I was referred to Consumer Affairs by the SC Attorney General's Office. Wonder why the SC Attorney General isn't taking a direct interest in what appears to be a bait and switch tactic.

Update 2/12/2015 - AT&T is now billing me for $86.40 - the correct amount (for two months) should be $69.90. I've updated Consumer Affairs (copy to AT&T) and have once again emphasized my willingness to pay the bill as soon as it's corrected to the amount I was promised. Truly a shame that paid-off legislators - Repukes and Demagogues alike - allow crooked corporations like AT&T to kick consumers around. 

Update 4/15/2015 - Effective today, AT&T has once again interrupted my service. I notified AT&T and Consumer Affairs via e-mail that I have no intentions whatsoever of paying AT&T one cent until my bill - now three months worth including April - is corrected to $34.95 per month. Consumer Affairs replied back that there's nothing more they can do. Isn't it wonderful that this paid-off, corporate-controlled government gives consumers such great recourse against crooked corporations?

Update 4/16/2015 - Future payments to AT&T - if any - will reflect a credit for each day my service has been interrupted.

Update 4/29/2015 - AT&T now says they will "permanently" disconnect my service if I don't pay by May 11. Real hoot when corporations are allowed to promise a rate in writing, then not honor it, and tack on about 50% of the rate as an additional charge. Apparently, AT&T expects folks to agree to pay for their product without knowing the cost. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

HOAs empowered by special interests, crooked state legislators

Talk about grand larceny. By what rhym or reason are these mafia-style gangs known as Homeowners Associations (HOAs) given the right to foreclose on homes? Does anyone else except tax authorities or mortgage holders have such a right? Can your doctor take your home because of money he claims you owe him? Your dentist? Your mechanic?

Does anyone in their right mind think HOAs should be allowed to literally strong-arm property owners out of hard earned dollars? Allowed to levy costs as the gangs see fit - often "punishing" homeowners who dare to speak out against the racket - backed by the tyrannical power of being able to foreclose on homes if people don't cooperate?

As the well-orchestrated racket provokes organized opposition all across the country, take at look at the filthy rich, special interest groups who bribe - er I mean lobby - bloodsucking state legislators to throw homeowners under the bus. Here are a few of the main cuprits:

National Home Builders Association
National Association of Realtors
Community Association Institute (CAI)
Property Management Association
Associa HRW, Inc. (America's largest property management firm, ramrodded by Texas legislator John Corona who started this whole thing about giving HOAs legal rights to foreclose on homes.)

I always get a thigh-slappin' HOOT out of folks who think this profoundly corrupt system of "government" can be remedied at the ballot box. I caught on to the "Your Vote Counts" scam years ago when I associated a common sense analysis of this two-headed, one party SHAM of an electoral system with a book I was assigned to read while earning my degree in Government and Public Administration. If you get a chance, read "An Economic Theory of Democracy," by Anthony Downs. Mr. Downs exposes a system fueled by corruption, pure and simple. A devil-take-the-hindmost affair, wherein "rational" political behavior is defined as whatever it takes to maximize votes. Period. Only recently did I realize the sarcasm so cleverly conveyed by the book's title.

Amidst compelling evidence that America is now an oligarchy, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Dr. Paul Craig Roberts has addressed the Washington gang's "selling" of political access, and the topic was given further exposure by this late-breaking article and video from CNN.

Insofar as Homeowners Associations are concerned, factor in a slew of local business interests that stand to take YOUR money via these neighborhood gangs. Everything from attorneys to ditch-diggers, and it's anyone's guess regarding how certain businesses get "chosen" to implement cooked-up projects, not to mention the fertile ground for kickbacks. Check out Associa HRW, Inc.'s 2/11/2015 seminar in Raleigh, North Carolina advising HOAs how to dog it over property owners when it comes to collecting the moolah.

Options to purchase properties free from HOA dictatorships are rapidly disappearing as crooked legislators allow almost all new developments to be subject to the scam. Meanwhile, my neighborhood - Quail Hollow, in West Columbia, South Carolina - is declaring dues mandatory, even though such dues have been voluntary for almost half a century. I wonder how many HOA gangs in similar neighborhoods are doing likewise.

I understood all too well when someone recently e-mailed me expressing their shock and dismay upon discovering that their HOA was part of a racket deeply entrenched in their state legislature. The name of the game, of course, is for corporate-controlled legislators to empower HOAs very quietly, making sure the public isn't aware of what's going on.

Know your enemies, folks. Chances are, the names of your elected representatives will be at the top of the list.

Update 2/13/2015 - Here's a late-breaking story (with video) about yet another homeowner - this one in South Carolina - unduly harassed and fined by an HOA. The very idea of state legislators empowering these gangs to bully homeowners by threatening to foreclose on homes. 

Update 3/13/2015 - Hot-off-the-press article re complaints about HOAs in South Carolina.

Monday, February 2, 2015

WLTX censors criticism of the LGBTQQIAAP gang's demand for unisex public restrooms

WIS News 10 has now joined forces with WLTX - and the LGBTQQIAAP gang - in removing my comments. As I've said, the LGBTQQIAAP  gang's worst enemy is free speech.

Let's get a few things straight: I couldn't care less what consenting adults do to each other in private. I do care about free speech and a free press.

Columbia, South Carolina's WLTX News19 recently published a post on Facebook referencing the day's breaking news of a child sex-ring orchestrated by a former reserve deputy with the Richland County Sheriff's Department. Stories of a similar nature have been popping up with ever-increasing frequency as America rushes to discard traditional sexual norms.

I posted a comment critical of looking to the LGBTQQIAAP gang for leadership, especially the gang's ongoing demand for unisex public restrooms in schools. Quoting as close to verbatim as I can recall, here's what I wrote: "Yes, America obviously needs to look to the LGBTQQIAAP gang for leadership. QUICK: Give in to the gang's demand for unisex public restrooms, especially in schools." WLTX removed the comment and banned me from posting comments on their Facebook page.

I'm appalled by WLTX's attitude toward free speech. To the best of my knowledge, similar comments I've been posting on similar articles published by other local news organizations have never been removed, nor has any local media ever banned me from posting comments.

"Similar comments I've been posting" probably holds the key to understanding WLTX's high-handed response. Most Americans who question the wisdom of discarding traditional sexual norms have been bullied into silence by the onslaught of pro-homosexual propaganda, which adds insult to injury by frequently ridiculing anyone who dares to express a different point of view. Then there's those online attacks - often anonymous - hurling every insult imaginable in an effort to intimidate anyone who speaks out against the LGBTQQIAAP gang's agenda. Underscoring the utter contempt for free speech, a homosexual legislator in Alabama is now openly blackmailing legislators in an effort to prevent them from speaking out against homosexuality. Americans have been both brainwashed and bullied into a cowardly acceptance of sheer absurdity. Obvious even to the most casual observer is the fact that the LGBTQQIAAP gang is at odds with the fundamental human right of free speech.

The issue of unisex public restrooms strikes at the heart of the LGBTQQIAAP gang's absurd agenda. Without unisex public restrooms, the "civil rights" argument falls apart, a fact the gang is acutely aware of. Someone daring to speak out against unisex public restrooms poses a fundamental threat to the gang's overall agenda, not to mention someone exposing that agenda by referring to the gang in its repulsive entirety as opposed to the intentionally misleading abbreviation "LGBT".

I take special pleasure in exposing "news" organizations when they affront free speech. WLTX is a long-time local wannabe whose overall news ratings never made it to the front of the pack, even after hiring weatherman Jim Gandy from the Columbia area's undisputed leader, WIS News 10. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, but WLTX missed the better point. News leaders don't remove comments and ban people from participating in discussions unless there's exceptionally good reason. News stations with integrity are sensitive to free speech issues, and their policies reflect the fact.

Get with it, WLTX. Attempting to bully people into silence is a bad idea.

Update 2/4/2015 - I e-mailed WLTX the link to this blog post, and I've been using Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about the station's unwarranted censorship. WLTX - which touts itself as being "On Your Side" - refuses to even acknowledge receipt of my e-mail.  

Update 2/22/2015 - As the LGBTQQIAAP gang demands unisex public restrooms, especially in schools, there's evidence galore that America's sex-obsessed society is rapidly spinning out of control. Another child sex-ring has been exposed - this time in Minnesota - and two recent cases involving teenagers sexually abusing young children underscore the sorry state of affairs. In South Carolina, a 14-yr-old girl filmed a toddler performing a sex act on her, and in Georgia, a 17-yr-old boy admitted to sexually abusing two children under ten, "forcefully and against their will." This month in Arkansas, a man filmed a woman and her toddler using a public restroom, and it's noteworthy that the citizens of Fayetteville, Arkansas recently voted down the LGBTQQIAAP gang's demand for unisex public restrooms. 

Update 2/23/2015 - 
> My Facebook posts exposing WLTX News19' unwarranted censorship are now being blocked from appearing in real-time, and Twitter is blocking my tweets to WLTX from appearing on my profile page. WLTX and its friends can't stand the truth.
> Easy to see why WLTX and their friends in the LGBTQQIAAP gang are so hypersensitive to criticism. In South Carolina, yet another case of pedofilia made headlines today re a 33-yr-old "basketball coach" and a 15-yr-old victim. Facebook comments include the usual blabber implying that such relationships are harmless. As foolish Americans look to the LGBTQQIAAP gang for "leadership" and give in to the gang's demand for unisex public restrooms, especially in schools, don't be surprised if pedofilia becomes the next "new normal." 
> Beyond demanding unisex public restrooms in schools, this article from today's headlines provides yet another example of how the LGBTQQIAAP gang forces its absurd "lifestyle" on children.

Update 2/25/2015 - 
> As foolish Americans rush to discard traditional sexual norms and look to the LGBTQQIAAP gang for leadership, South Carolina is again in the headlines. Today's news features a 36-yr-old married (father of three) assistant high school principal charged with having a sexual relationship with a 16-yr-old female student.
> Yet ANOTHER case of pedofilia in South Carolina - 34-yr-old woman, 15-yr-old boy - has made today's headlines.

Update 3/5/2015 - Headlines this week feature child porn, once again involving a South Carolina cop who used to be with the Richland County Sheriff's Department. Totally irresponsible of WLTX to ban people who criticize the LGBTQQIAAP gang's demand for unisex public restrooms, especially in schools.

Update 3/9/2015 - Some folks are refusing to cower down as the LGBTQQIAAP gang demands unisex public restrooms and locker rooms. Note the gym's ridiculous policy of determining male or female by the way a person is dressed.