I assume we’ve all had phone calls to/from mobiles where we can’t hear the other person properly. One party says to hold on while they try and find a better location. It doesn’t work. Still can’t hear them. Maybe they sound like broken robots. Eventually we get frustrated and just hang up, or the line goes quiet and disconnects itself.
What do the phone companies do in this situation? They charge us for the call of course. This isn’t right. I believe that everyone, including corporations (and maybe “especially” corporations) can be trustworthy, honest and have the good of the wider community in mind. Then the world would be a better place. That would be life in the right direction. This issue with the phone companies is a small (or not so small) example of the wrong direction.
Overcharging Phone Companies – my recent experience
Because of my 25 year-old daughter’s recent illness, I found myself in Australia with her over Christmas while the rest of my immediate family was in Europe. One morning I woke up early to call my wife and we had one of these calls where we are both saying things like “I can’t hear you”, “you’re breaking up”, “you sound like a robot”, “hang-on, let me try going outside”, and so on. The result was we spent a few minutes trying to communicate without success and we were both becoming frustrated. In the end, the line went dead.
We did not communicate effectively at all. It was a complete waste of time.
But the phone companies still charged us for the call based on the time they measured we were “connected”.
This is outrageous but we all think it’s normal. The phone company did not provide the service they were supposed to, but they charged me anyway. This is not ethical, it’s not treating me with any sort of respect, but it’s the sort of thing we accept as just the way it is.
It shouldn’t be that way!
How could it be different?
I think it would be a very safe bet that technology exists that measures the quality of a phone connection as well as the duration of the technical connection. I’d bet that the phone companies could tell whether the phone connection was effective for normal communication or not.
If they used technology like this, then they could charge us only for calls where we really had the chance to communicate. That would be the fair thing to do.
But, if you think of it from the phone companies’ point of view, they’d have to add extra technology which would cost them more and the result for them would be not charging for some calls, leading to less revenue. So, if the phone companies are primarily driven by profits, they won’t do this unless forced. This is where it feels very wrong to me. All considerations of ethics and fairness are overridden by profits. That’s 100% wrong.
We can demand to be treated fairly and corporations can keep the good of the wider community as one of their fundamental concerns. I believe this is natural and the world would actually work better this way.
How does this situation affect me?
Whenever I see situations of unfairness like this one of overcharging phone companies, I find my thoughts come around full circle and focus on myself. I can see how the phone companies just take the easy way out and charge us for everything even though it’s unethical and unfair.
I have to ask myself, “are there any situations in life where I’m unethical and unfair?”. The answer has to be “sure!”.
There are many small situations in life where I just hope nobody notices and I can take the easy way out. Situations like accidentally breaking something at a friends house but nobody saw me do it. Do I admit what I’ve done or just pretend nothing happened and hope they don’t find the broken item until after I leave? The second option is the easiest one and it could be what a lot of us would do.
Another example is when a cashier gives me too much change. How often do I correct them and return the excess money? It’s easier to just keep it and walk out. It’s easy to justify this to myself by saying “well, it wasn’t my mistake”.
These issues might sound minor, but they really are unethical and unfair practices, similar to what the phone companies are getting away with every day.
I feel like it’s our obligation to demand fairer treatment from the phone companies and, at the same time, it’s my obligation to ensure that I completely eliminate unethical and unfair behaviours of my own.
This is a step (and not just a small one) towards life in the right direction.
Do you think we can demand fair treatment from the phone companies?
Related Links – Overcharging Phone Companies
- Of course, phone companies are also accused of making charges so complicated that their customers can’t unravel what’s really going on, and having complicated terms and conditions to trap unwary customers. Here are one links to a pages along these lines;