Verizon Wireless is a textbook example of The Man in action. Here we have a company that provides a seemingly good service to its customers. They help people communicate over long distances bringing family, friends, and loved ones within the reach of their far-reaching wireless network where people that are “in” can make phone calls for free to each other. They boast of their customer support, their “new phone every two years,” and warantees on phones.
Nevertheless, it is a facade. The first clue should be when new customers are asked to sign a two year contract just to get service. If the service is that great, why is this necessary? The reason: it is not that great. I take that back. It works fine if you never go indoors, drive anywhere, or use a microwave.
The phones are designed and built very cheaply so that they will be sure to break before the loyal customer is eligible for a new one under contract. No worries, though, the phone is covered under warantee, right? The warantee is only valid if the problem has nothing to do with the battery (because those tend to malfunction a lot). Also, if you are fortunate to get your phone replaced under warantee, the phone you will get is refurbished meaning that you get to trade your broken phone for somebody else’s broken phone.
This is how The Man works. We have a large, corporate environment where losing a customer or two will not hurt them in the slightest. The customer service is a game to see who is actually determined enough to listen to instrumental soft rock from the 80s for forty-five minutes just to talk to some college student who is getting paid minimum wage to sit in a call center and knows only as much about cell phones as the computer tells him. Really he is just a sacrificial offering to the irate masses—a pawn.
What can we do about this? Since I seriously doubt Cingular or Sprint are any better we should all take up the Native American art of smoke signals. Building a fire in a classroom is only marginally more disruptive than some of the ringtones out there.