HomeLetters to EditorsMum’s the Word

Mum’s the Word

Mum’s the Word

We live in a rapidly changing world. Technology is turning things upside down. Social media certainly has contributed its share of “shake up.” Newspapers and magazines are no longer “top dog.” Many have either gone out of business, reduced their staff and circulation while others have simply gone to “digital” formats only.

But one thing has not changed. They all, primarily, cover their costs with advertisements. This publication, as well as many more, would be long gone if it weren’t for advertising revenues. And this basic reality has a profound effect, or should I say influence, on editorial.

Allow me to explain. If Lincoln releases a new Continental which is late to the market, under powered and poorly advertised, few critics say “boo.” Let’s be honest, provoking Ford Motor Company is not smart business. Nor is questioning why Cadillac releases a small Cadillac (X4) four years after their dealers screamed for such a product at a price that was greater than its larger “brother.” Everyone is bragging about the mileage capabilities of their new electric cars but rarely mention these cars get about half the quoted distances in cold weather. By the way, some Toyota models score a lowly 1 (one) in reliability tests. A new Volvo scored a lowly 1 (one) and many other new foreign brands have similar scores. Mum’s the word. I could go on with other examples, but I think you get the point. Don’t provoke the big boys.

Airlines should be attacked on a daily basis. They have figured out more ways to screw, excuse me … charge more … passengers than can be found in the Kama Sutra. In the past they offered large seats, leg room and sumptuous meals. No more. Seats are now tiny, leg room has just about disappeared and meals, if available, must be purchased. Bags are no longer free and many now charge more according to weight. Blankets and pillows have disappeared and tickets not purchased online, with some airlines, incur additional fees. Aisle and window seats are more expensive than middle seats and on and on.

But my biggest complaint with the airlines is that you must use YOUR ticket on the day and flight you originally ordered. Theater tickets, sporting events and just about any other ticket you purchase can usually either be swapped, sold or given to someone else. When I can’t use my Eagles tickets I give them to my son. Not so with the airlines. When I couldn’t use a ticket from Philly to Seattle I could not give it to my wife or son. In plain English I was out six hundred bucks per ticket. Why? I purchased a seat and I should decide whose butt sits in it. Southwest Airlines, to be fair, is not nearly as guilty as the other lines. Few members of the 5th estate say boo. Big advertising bucks from airlines can silence many.

Again, the Press should be tearing these robbers apart. But they are not. Revenues generated in advertising dollars are too great to risk provocation. So, as I said, “mum’s” the word. By the way, if you plan on flying I urge you to visit seatguru.com.

Banks are great. They fund beautiful stadiums, have public buildings and institutions named in their honor and give free pens and rubber bands to their patrons. Let’s be honest, they should offer smelling salts and KY Jelly. They also spend big bucks advertising. So when they pay you an average of less than one percent on your savings and charge you up to thirty percent interest on your credit card balances … “mum’s” the word. They offer insane bonuses on gas purchases, food and assorted other purchases. But you need a doctoral degree in finance to figure out which card gives you a tiny three percent, at most, on varied purchases. They have raised mileage requirements for awards and charge fees of up to fifty dollars when you go to cash in the impossible-to-earn awards. But, they do spend on advertising.

This past year, in my opinion after much thought, the award for screwing all of us goes to both Verizon and Comcast. Basically they are the only “games in town” so we all walk around with our pants down and allow them to have their way with us. When we first moved into our condo five years ago many of our neighbors recommended Verizon. They had great service and offered a three hundred dollar rebate. After massive confusion about the deals that were available, I signed up, as the Verizon agent said, for EVERYTHING. I am still trying to figure out what EVERYTHING means.

To be fair, after the technician hooked us up I marveled at the clear picture and little remote control that listened to me more obediently than my kids. I was in television heaven until I wanted to watch the Military station. I quickly learned that it was not part of EVERYTHING. Nor was WE, EPIX and several other stations we wanted to watch. A promised news station, One America News, has yet to be added and several stations including TCM have mysteriously disappeared.

To add insult to injury, when we had trouble watching certain stations in our bedroom, I called to have it corrected. Guess what, although these stations were part of the EVERYTHING package, there was a charge of thirteen bucks a month for the required device that could receive some of the EVERYTHING stations. I was furious. They advertise a price on TV, but neglect to tell you that the price does not include a modem, cable box, etc… Their advertised $79.00 price ends up costing well over one hundred-plus. I wonder, has anybody ever gone into a restaurant, ordered a meal and been charged for a plate, a napkin or silverware?

As we were going to press Verizon announced a series of changes to their billing that allowed their customers to become selective in their choices. The firm claims it will save customers money. I admit that I am somewhat skeptical. But in fairness, we will wait and see.

Before I drop the “TV Cons” subject I must mention a recent article in The Philadelphia Inquirer by Vicky Benedict Farber. Her views on Comcast make mine pale in comparison. I’m only surprised that the paper published it. Keep it up Ms. Farber.

I really have no solutions. I just wanted to get these things off my chest. Instead of raising minimum wages we all would be better off with “Minimum Screwing.” Every time the minimum wage is increased by a dime these guys figure out how, without anyone complaining, to remove a quarter from your pocket. But I guess you already knew that, right?!

Happy New Year to All.

Allen Herman
Your opinions are always welcomed.


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