Stupidity Is Costly

Guess who has to pay out over $700 this month for being a complete and total moron. ME! That is right folks I F’d up in a hard way yet again in my life.0 It just goes to show you that letting your guard down when a salesman comes to your door is bad news.  The other half is just me being a complete and total idiot. I couldn’t have picked a better time of year to mess up either, it is Christmas time and I am tacking on extra costs. I provide this story as evidence that no matter how cautious you think you are, you can always mess up and cost yourself some money.

It Sounds too Good to Be True

I haven’t had a chance to explain my hatred of cable companies yet but lets suffice it to say my only option has been Satellite television do to some very large problems between me and our local cable provider. I will say that DirecTV was an awesome service to have and their customer service people were the best I have dealt with. Unfortunately I live in the south where thunderstorms are common and the mere presence of a thunderhead would cause the HD to go out and the heaviest rains would knock out the regular channels. I was willing to accept these inconveniences due to my storied past with cable, then there was a knock on my door.

The fateful knock came at around 8pm, that should have been my first clue. It was a guy from AT&T who had recently, using magic, installed fiber to my house and they were offering TV service, phone, and blazing fast internet. To me this was the ultimate jackpot because it wasn’t the local cable company and it wasn’t satellite. To be perfectly honest that was all it would have taken for me to agree to a switch, this guy however was offering me the first month free. To quote him “Our service is so new we want you to run both your existing service and our service for one month and let us know what you think. We will give you one month for free just to compare the two.” Holy crap I thought I hit the jackpot. This is where spideysense should have gone off but it seemed to make sense to me for some reason.

The internet they were offering was 18mb down, compared to my current 3 it was heaven on earth. We chatted about prices and if I wanted HBO et al. I didn’t need HBO or any movie channels I just wanted HD, a DVR, and super fast internet. The guy then explained how the AT&T DVR is a whole house DVR so if I had multiple boxes in the house I could watch my recordings from the DVR on any TV. It just kept getting better. The deal itself, he said, just required that I get the home phone (voip), internet, and TV bundle and they would give it for free for 30 days. After the 30 days if I wasn’t happy I could cancel at no cost to me. I thought damn this is a good day. I hastily agreed to the whole shabang, I mean it was 8pm and this guy was eating into my wifey time. We were locked and loaded for the next month.

They came out and hooked me up, I tried it out for a week and was happy with it so being frugal, thank god, I canceled my old service. They said I was under contract but it was almost up so I only had to pay an $80 fee which was the equivalent of one months service. I didn’t have a problem with it since I was getting a month free from AT&T so I ponied up the cash and went on about my business. Fast Forward to Wednesday of last week. I got my first new bill notification via e-mail. I wasn’t worried, I knew it would be expensive because I had bundled things that were previously separate. What I wasn’t prepared for was a $395 bill. Further examination showed I was being billed for the first and second months of my service. WTF! The sales guy said my first month was free.

It is never good to start your relationship with a  necessary call to the customer service department. I called them up and explained my situation, the first person I talked to said I would have to talk to the rewards department and quickly transferred me to them. I hate being transferred by the way. After going through my diatribe again the rewards lady concluded I was referring to the $200 reward they are offering. She said you only get the reward AFTER you have had the service for 30 days and then it takes 4-6 weeks to process. Holy crap my wife is going to kill me at this point. Add to that the fact my “reward” had never been input into the system and I am not a happy camper. She entered the reward and said it could take up to 4-6 weeks, meanwhile I am saddled with a $400 bill. I tried to explain my frustrations but the rewards lady said I would have to talk to Customer Service and she didn’t have the ability to transfer, WHAT!

So I called back, to make a long story short the customer service rep, who was very nice, couldn’t do anything for me and she politely offered to let me speak with her supervisor. I spoke with him for a bit and he concluded there was nothing they could do for me as I signed the agreement, he said he was very sorry and that he would make sure the salesperson was identified and dealt with accordingly. I then decided to reduce my services to cut my costs he not only obliged but offered discounts to cover my current cable service at the reduced cost. I appreciated that and I parted ways, still owing $400 but with the understanding of where I failed.

I should have known better than to accept the deal at face value. There were warning signs all over the place that this guy didn’t really know what he was doing. For the techie types he event tried to convince me that the upload and download speeds were equal. It if fiber he says, they can’t keep you from having 18mb up if you have 18mb down. Honestly I laughed in his face when he said that, but it should have been a clue that things may be fishy. I would say get the story on the deal and call the company directly to confirm, don’t buy from the door knocker because he is just trying to make a commission and will tell you anything.

For Those who do Math Well

For those of you who do math well you are probably wondering about the other $300. That is actually just my own utter stupidity. I was traveling for work last month and forgot to pay the utility bill. So added to my $400 SNAFU I now have a power bill double it’s normal size with a late fee added in. Sad thing is all they had to do was call me and say hey buddy you didn’t pay and it would have been paid in a heartbeat. I feel worse about the fact it went unpaid than I do about the cost.


1 B Simple December 21, 2009 at 9:46 am

Great story. We always learn from our mistakes. Its nice that you share yours so we can also learn from your mistakes.

2 Paul @ FiscalGeek December 21, 2009 at 11:57 am

Telco’s are a necessary evil I’m afraid. Be it through my personal life or professional life where I have the misfortune to work with them on a daily basis it always seems to be find the lesser of the evils. I would offer some pithy advice if my entire adult life wasn’t riddled with these same mistakes. My only saving grace has been automating every payment although that’s not fool proof either. Don’t be too hard on your self, and Merry Christmas!

3 Adam Hagerman December 21, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Luckily, you still had the opportunity to switch companies. I am stuck in an apartment complex where the only thing available is Comcast and I utterly HATE them. Things never work, people can never give me a straight answer, their salesmen are pushy, etc. etc. etc.

At least you will still get some money back. It would have really sucked if customer service never even heard of that kind of deal and you couldn’t find the guy who sold you the stuff.

4 Kyle December 22, 2009 at 8:24 am

The worst experience I have ever had dealing with a company was with Comcast, the way I was treated by them was appalling and unbelievable. But that is a story for another day.

5 LeanLifeCoach December 26, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Seems like you are building a great case for getting rid of the TV and Telephone!

My wife hates it but I have a standard disbelief in any sales person. It could be an honestly good deal but if they knock at my door they get an automatic NO!

6 Evan December 29, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I don’t know what it is, but everyone has a horror story regarding TV/Cable/Sat Companies! I literally hate Cablevision, but since I live in a Condo I don’t even get a choice to be pissed at another company.

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