Trains, Planes, and Suckers

by Bob Poole on November 23, 2009

Why hasn't Amtrak taken better advantage of this economy. You'd think that the combination of people watching what they spend and the airlines pissing more and more people off daily that trains would be a great (and welcome) travel solution.

It hasn't happened. Same old service and too high of fares on their money making eastern seaboard routes. And, taking a page from the airlines, Amtrak charges business travelers who don't have time to stop every 15 minutes the highest fares. Doesn't it make sense that a train that stops every 15 minutes probably costs more to operate than an express? Then why charge more for the express?

Because the suckers (customers) will pay it.

Then there are the companies like Verizon and Comcast who now offer phone, Internet and television all in one tidy package. Any one out there enjoy having to deal with either of these two companies? When I first signed up for Verizon FIOS I made sure my contract included all the HD channels. Oops! I forgot to make sure that when let say AMC or Animal Planet (all included in my package) have a HD channel that I'll automatically get it since I get the non-HD version. Nope. Doesn't work that way.

You have to subscribe sucker!

Actually, I can do away with pretty much all those services and spend more time reading and writing. I can watch movies and things I really want to watch using other technologies. The thing that really ticks me off is having to deal directly with any of these companies. They really don't have a customer service clue and they can waste hours of my time trying to do anything as simple as ask a single question.

I saw where the airlines are not only going to charge you more now per ticket for peak travel but they will also charge more for your bags. Don't like that? Too bad. Try driving across country or taking the train sucker.

Then there are the mobile phone companies that offer so many different plans that they all begin to look like some kind of Ponzi Scheme. Between their claims about their different technologies, their plans and their contracts it kind of makes you yearn for go old Ma Bell. 

And, if you think all this confusion and obfuscation is the by-product of bad management you'd be wrong.

It is intentional.

The New York Times Haggler's column yesterday had a bit about how he wasn't getting his credit card bill from Bank of America for months. BofA assured him they were sending it. It turns out that the bank decided to change envelopes and started using one that had no mention of the bank's name on it. Since it was a bulk mail piece in a blank envelope the Haggler (and probably thousands of others) threw it out thinking it was junk mail.

How much do you think that little move cost consumers in late fees?

Got you again sucker!

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