Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How About Some Politics???

Come on, now, you know it's good for you.

Just because it tastes like liver-flavored broccoli...

Let's see if we can make it relatively painless. Saw this on Facebook:



Oh I know, it's silly.

But consider this. If corporations were truly "people," just like you and me or any other citizen, then any other citizen could, all people being equal, ask a court to weigh their personal interests against a corporation's personal interests, right?

Wrong.
If it seems easier lately for companies to add small fees on your bills and harder for you to get your money back, that's because it is.

A Supreme Court decision that was denounced as a “crushing blow to consumers” when it was announced in April has become exactly that, according to lawyers who argue on behalf of alleged victims of corporate cheating. The decision, which upheld corporations’ right to enforce fine-print contact language that compels consumers to waive their right to file lawsuits, is being used to squelch legal cases across the country, they say.

“Defendants are trying to steamroll us out of court with this. We're getting completely shut down,” said David DiSabato, who specializes in consumer law in New Jersey. “… The ruling opens the door for companies to pickpocket $10 at a time from millions of consumers.

As an example, DiSabato told the story of client John Considine of Rutherford, N.J., who found several phantom $10 charges on his Verizon cell phone bill from firms offering ring tones, horoscopes and other services he didn't want. In one case, he couldn't even find out the identity of the company levying the charge. Working with DiSabato, Considine learned that cramming is a common problem, and decided to file a class action lawsuit to get his money back and help others -- many who might not even realize they'd been victims.

But Considine ran right into a brick wall. Only days after the Supreme Court arbitration ruling, Verizon filed a motion to dismiss his case and to compel arbitration. If Verizon prevails, as expected, Considine will never have a day in court, will never be able to discover how many other consumers were hit by the same charges and may never even find out the name of the phantom company. He certainly won't be able to find legal representation for a fight to recover $10 fees, DiSabato said.

"(The Supreme Court decision) gave the telecom companies a license to commit petty theft without ever having to face the consequences," said DiSabato. "The telecom companies get rich by committing theft against consumers on a massive scale, and (the decision) deprives consumers of any meaningful ability to fight back."
When considering how these corporation people have rigged the game and eliminated the one legal recourse disgruntled citizens have in a democracy (the chance to air one's dismay in court), it begins to become a bit clearer why citizens here might, as happened recently in London, one day take matters into their own hands and commit petty theft in return.

I mean clearly, even in the most capitalistic, consumerist society, you shouldn't be be able to be charged $10 for things you never wanted. This practice, as noted above, called "cramming," is clearly against FCC rules:
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Truth-in-Billing rules require telephone companies to provide clear, non-misleading, plain language in describing services for which you are being billed. Because one telephone company, usually your local telephone company, may include charges you incurred for another company’s service on your bill, the company sending you the bill must identify the service provider associated with each charge.
Unfortunately, at this point, the FCC is all but a joke. Even on their website they explain how your only recourse if the phone company refuses to take a cramming charge off your bill is to file an FCC complaint. The instructions for filing a complaint seem doubly designed to encourage you not to, especially when you're talking about a charge of $10 or less.

The phone companies are obviously counting on all this working in their favor. All of which would, in any other context, encourage a class action suit to teach them not to rob their customers. Which brings us right back to the Supreme Court's decision from April, which eliminated that option.

If corporations were truly people, they'd be afraid to ride the bus in New York City, knowing how many other citizens would very likely walk up and punch them in the nose.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll add that the Supreme Court ruling was 5-4 and it is exactly the same 5 assholes as usual. They need to be impeached.

-----ondine nyc

9/21/2011 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Julie Takacs said...

This happened to me. My husband noticed the bogus charge and immediately called Verizon. I had to go into a special menu in my phone in order to stop this from happening on my phone and they did remove the charge. But how many other people just pay the bill and don't look? They are probably making millions off this scam and thank YOU Uncle Sam for taking care of us.
It reminds me of Facebook's privacy policy. You are just a pawn on their chessboard.

9/21/2011 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger markcreegan said...

Even corporations can get married!

9/21/2011 02:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a cell phone in 1997. I dont remember the provider .I was drunk and forgot to hang up the phone once the phone stayed on overnight. The bill was $900 that day I put the phone in a 10 ton press and smashed it. I have not owned a cell phone since.

9/21/2011 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a semi-interesting documentary/book a few years back that suggested that if corporations were people, they fit all the characteristics of a sociopath.

9/21/2011 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger findingfabulous said...

that is a very scary $10! the implications are enormous....

9/23/2011 04:39:00 PM  

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