A DAD'S POINT OF VIEW: Social Media Social Good: Bills, Bills, Bills

By Bruce Sallan
Bruce Sallan
Bruce Sallan

I just did my bill paying. Well, I sort of did my bill paying. Over the years, I’ve hated doing bills more and more. NOT because of the expense, though that is certainly an unpleasant part of it, but because of the process. Back in the day, we wrote checks, put them in envelopes, licked a stamp, stuck it on an envelope, and mailed it. How quaint. How efficient.

Now, we (mostly) pay bills online. If we have a question about the bill, we attempt to reach the company by phone, go through a voice menu of options that is impossible to understand, constantly pressing zero to try and get a REAL person, and end up wasting hours ultimately getting nowhere, such as dealing with Verizon and other such “utilities” (see my column on Customer Service and Verizon).

 If you really have an objection to a charge, you are GUILTY until proven innocent. Getting someone with ANY authority to reverse a charge or make a decision independent of some prescribed script is a serious challenge, if not impossible.

 Back in the day, I could actually reach a decision maker and get help and service if there was a question about my bill. In fact, I got sympathy and concern that I might have been mischarged. Now, as with the guilty-until-proven-innocent phrase earlier, proving YOUR innocence and a mischarge is nearly impossible.

Verizon has lied to me for over a nearly one-year period about false charges on my bill. Reaching them – EVERY SINGLE TIME – has been a chore. I’ve explained in intimate detail the fraud they’ve perpetuated, and most of the time the recipient of my articulate words can’t follow me and asks me to repeat everything repeatedly!

 I’ve explained to Verizon that I don’t even care anymore about the excess and fraudulent charges; I just want to be DONE WITH THEM. I explain that the time I’ve wasted with them, attempting to get my bill explained and corrected has cost me more aggravation and time (time IS money) than the amount of the excess charges are worth (fighting over).

All I’ve asked for in the past couple of months was assurance, in writing, that if I paid their extortion fees that I would be DONE WITH THEM. They will not give me any written assurance that paying off these final bills – which I’d been assured were “final” repeatedly – would actually close my account.

 It’s worth noting that the reason I closed my account (or tried to close it) with Verizon was my family could not get cell service in our home. I tried repeatedly to get technical service to no avail and switched to another provider. By all reason and so-called best (business) practices, I should have been allowed to cancel my service with no fees, let alone the ongoing charges that bear no relation to service, even their incoherent contract!

As of this writing, I’m still waiting on a promised call from Verizon to resolve my bill. They are late by weeks. What else is new?

Most companies make reaching them today hard – ON PURPOSE. They have voice recordings that URGE you to visit them online. As most of us know, most of the time we do “visit” them online we can’t navigate the site or find anything of value about OUR question.

We then again attempt to reach a human being. What a thought! Talk to someone at the company that WE employ and ask for help. Boy, this is really a demanding desire, isn’t it?

So, bills to me sort of represent all this 1984/dystopian view of the times. I let them pile up simply because I can’t stand opening them and going through trying to decipher the charges and then, gulp, try and get any help if I do have a question.

Naturally, the ONLY solution to my ongoing frustration with the state of affairs today is to LET GO. Sadly, that is not in my nature and, while I know it’s destructive, I still strive for clarity and I still don’t want to pay for things I didn’t buy or subscribe to/for!

How do YOU handle the stack of bills on your desk? How do you deal with questions or problems with a bill? Do you try to “fight it” or, if the excess charges are small enough, let it go simply because you’re unwilling to go through the hassle to get it fixed?

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 Bruce is the author of “The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues: An Interactive Journal from A Dad’s Point-of-View” and “A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation.” He gave up a long-term showbiz career to become a stay-at-home-dad. He has dedicated his new career to becoming THE Dad advocate, as well as explaining Social Media to the world in layman terms. He carries out his mission with his books and his column “A Dad’s Point-of-View”, his “I’m NOT That Dad” vlogs, the “Because I Said So” comic strip, and his dedication to his community on Facebook and Twitter. Join Bruce and his extensive community each Thursday for #DadChat, from 6-7pm PST, the Tweet Chat that Bruce hosts.

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