Here is a statement I just don't get: "We haven't raised our prices in 4 years". So what??? All things being constant, there would be no really good reason to raise prices, right?? I have never heard a company spout the words, "We haven't lowered our prices in 4 years". Yet the reason would be the same. Just an observation upon receipt of an e-mail from Cox about raising the price for On Demand movies.

The big companies/corporations in the U.S. seem to operate on the "I can do anything" system. They assume they can make changes in their pricing without notice to the consumer, hoping that it will go unnoticed. This happened recently with Cox Communications. In a package which includes high speed internet, cable TV & DVR, there is also On Demand movies. The price for a movie has been $3.99 since the onset of my service. Recently two movies were priced at $4.99 each. A price of $3.99 was slightly high, but could be justified by ease of use. At $4.99, it will make more sense to go back to Blockbuster or Netflix.

Most companies with a website have their own e-mail form, which often includes a statement about their response time. For instance, Microsoft Live Office actually states they will respond in 4 hours. They don't. Other sites promise 24 hours or more. Most include a built-in excuse such as; it may take longer if we are experiencing a high volume of e-mail. When their own time limit expires, they simply send an e-mail. Then there are the automated acknowledgements, which can be quite redundant. Send an e-mail question; get an acknowledgement, update the information; get an acknowledgement, respond to company request; get an acknowledgement. This is what replaces customer service. And there are the FAQ's. If you do not go there first, you get a prompt to do so. What happened to REAL customer service where you could get an actual response to your question? Pogo games (EA) often takes 3 or more "additional information" responses before getting to the problem at hand. At HSN they state you will receive a response within 24 hours.

If you are seeking computer assistance, the responses are in computer-speak. Then you write again asking for English, even though you included that request in your first e-mail. For instance, I received this from Dell: "generic volume shadow copy means the hard drive is trying to install generic drivers for the device so it can interact with the operating system and if the device doesn't get recognized". I haven't got a clue what that means. I do want to state that Dell is usually great in customer service.

Then there are the newfangled telephone automated systems. I HATE them. They initially give a list of about 5-7 options, none of which actually pertain to the problem you are having. I have been known to yell at this voice, "I want to talk to a person". The voice then says, "I'm sorry I didn't get that, let's try again"!!!! I hang up, call back and try a different option. Frustration is bubbling up, anger is just a step away, then when you get a real person, they are subjected to a very unhappy person who has already been on the phone for 8 minutes. The first thing they want is your account information which you have input at least 3 times. WHY??

So long

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