Andrew Schwarzer: “To counter your rant on Verizon: They are every year listed as the best carrier by Consumer Reports. They have the best coverage throughout the nation. They are the most knowledgeable salespeople in the business. Just because you have had a bad experience does not mean many others have. On the other hand, the complaints against AT&T and the iPhone are so pervasive as to be newsworthy. Yet, everybody loves Apple, except for those who can see the Emperor is no better, in fact less reliable, and a whole lot more expensive (have you seen their profit margins!) than the competition. Apple is an okay product with a mastery of marketing cool; they make you need their products like drug dealers make you need cocaine. The illusion Apple creates is amazing. Do you know that if you plug a non-Apple mp3 player into a computer not yours it will say, sure, hi, what do you want to download or upload. If you try that with an iPod, it will wipe all your music clean – and then you have to buy it (from Apple — those profits again), all over again. Try it. Okay, I have matched rant for rant. Do we both feel better now?”

☞ Yes!

Peter Kaczowka: “I had a similar experience in Lenox MA. Verizon came and hooked up a land line in my new place, my Internet connection before I had broadband. I used it for a week, then one day I got a call from a woman. I told her she had the wrong number, she called again and assured me she was calling her home phone to check messages from her cell, and this was definitely her number. The phone had company connected her number to my phone, working on the pole right outside my place, a real mess of wires. Verizon told me it would be two months before they could give me a line. I got a cable modem, canceled my land line, now just use cell phone. A Verizon rep called back to ask about the delayed installation, I told her I had canceled it and now did not want a line. To my surprise she was happy, and thanked me for not giving them business! Turns out Verizon and other phone companies only want to sell fiber connections (FIOS), not ’POTS’ or ’Plain Old Telephone Service’ as they call it. They want to get out of that business. That’s the problem Charles is having. If he had fiber in the area he could get a land line from it, not to mention the best Internet and cable available. Those who have it swear by FIOS, but it’s not available everywhere, certainly not here in the Berkshires.”

Name withheld on request: “I am a retired Verizon employee. I can think of three avenues of recourse for Charles, which are not mutually exclusive. First, there’s something called the President’s helpline. I did a quick Google and found 800-483-7988. Second, should you reach a human, the words that they absolutely hate to hear are, ‘I’ll be in touch with the New York State Public Service Commission.’ The company is rated on the number of PSC complaints and they have an impact on organizational performance measures. It is quite likely to bump up the priority of your service. The final option is to contact shareholder services. They do like to keep their shareholders happy.”

☞ I’d feel uncomfortable “cutting the line” unless it were an emergency. I just think their standard should be next-day service.

Chris Brown: “I can assure you that AT&T sucks as well. is a nice link for you and your readers with local phone (or other state-regulated utility) issues. I used it this morning to complain about AT&T. Competence is extremely hard to come by in America these days. Maybe that’s why we’ve dropped from #1 to #7 in average wealth per adult. Of course, we are number one in obesity. But I’m sure electing Republicans who will eliminate the Department of Education will solve all of our problems. . . . Incidentally, if you ever want to start a third-party, please count me in. Here where I live, my choices for Congress are a guy who dresses up like a Nazi soldier (no problem, it’s a father-son bonding thing) or a woman who boasts “I fully support maintaining traditional Social Security and finding ways to effectively extend it without cutting benefits to our nation’s seniors.” [emphasis mine] Nobody’s perfect, but, really? I mean, really? These are the people making the important choices for our future. Yikes.”

☞ It won’t surprise you to know I’m partial to the Democrat in the race. She did her graduate work in urban planning at MIT, which shows a certain seriousness of purpose, and, while the Social Security position on her website does seem to pander a bit, as Chris notes, she actually did a pretty good job of putting the Social Security situation in context – there’s room in what she said for her to accept Bipartisan Commission recommendations to tweak Social Security in the out years. But politics sucks, for sure. Much to be said for benevolent dictators, just so long as you and I get to pick – and depose – them.


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