60 Comments
Jan 23Liked by Joshua P. Hill

I thought I was the only one who had these types of problems. I never aired my frustration though, so thank you! I truly believe it’s deliberate.

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Oooooh, I feel this rage all the time still as I try to 100% disentangle myself from the tentacles of the far-reaching U.S. If I went into all the nightmarish, time-wasting instances of trying to escape the traps corporations laid, I'd still be talking about it on my death bed, and it's been getting so much worse over the years. I've had to cancel debit and credit cards so many times just to get the damn bills to stop, and I've had to pay hundreds of dollars in other people's utilities when an electric or other utility company either failed to process a cancellation or made it too difficult to do so that I gave up and the landlord or new owner didn't get the bill switched over to themselves in a timely manner.

As an immigrant in Europe for 10 months now, I can look back and see that literally everything about the U.S. is geared to our enslavement. It takes getting away from the enslaver to really see your life for what it was: the life of a rat in a cage. It is not normal! People in other countries do not live like this and would never accept things Americans have taken as just the way it is.

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Jan 23Liked by Joshua P. Hill

I agree that things are hard to cancel but also the point about monopolies is spot on. The cost of making eyeglasses is far less than the price charged. I was looking this up recently. Someone said they charge high on prices because they can. 😣

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I can't believe I'm reading this. Because it's impossible for me to log in or reach a representative, I've been paying for Verizon service at an apartment I don't live in for six months. Can you imagine being one of the executives who actually devises such a plan for increasing revenue?

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I’m almost embarrassed by how long I’ve continued to pay my old gym that’s two hours away from where I live now. Remembering that this is a systemic issue and not just my own executive function problem may actually help me get it done.

Not your overall point, I know, but I thank you anyway. It’s funny how I’ll put up with feeling like an individual chump, but show me how it’s a systems problem and I’m so much more motivated to advocate for myself.

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Jan 23·edited Jan 24

The key is if you have a cancellation fee you just have to lie and tell them you are moving to an area where they don’t provide service. For example, I live in New Hampshire and I recently spent about a half hour on the phone canceling my Xfinity Internet. I didn’t have a cancellation fee but if I did I was going to tell them I was moving and I was going to give them my old address in California because I know they don’t service California. And if they can’t provide you service at your new address and you are unable to transfer the service they can’t charge a cancellation fee.

I had a similar problem with Verizon when my brother died and I was trying to cancel his cell phone that was destroyed in the car in the accident. The first time I tried I had not opened Probate yet, so I understand why they wouldn’t shut it off even though I had a death certificate. Then I opened Probate and I went back to the store (because you can’t talk to customer service if you can’t log into an account) and because we were fully in Covid at the time they were trying to tell people entering the store that they had to go online and log into their account and make an appointment to get service. Because I could not do that they helped me. But it took me two months after his death to get the phone shut off, and when I did finally get it shut off I explained to them that I would not be paying any bill between the day I reported his death to them and the day they finally shut it off for me.

(Edited because I I referenced “they” when I meant Verizon. It now says Verizon.)

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Capitalist advocates routinely defend the system under the guise it is "a free market." But as this article — and the realities of our everyday lives — show, it is not.

Capitalism is the private ownership of the means of production for the purpose of profit. When profit can be maximized through a market, capitalist will use them. When profit can be maximized through monopolistic and restricted business (as happened to Joshua with Verizon), capitalists will do so.

It's not free commerce that defines capitalism — it's profit, by any means necessary.

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This hit hard: “It should not be too much to ask for autonomy, for respect, for real freedom from being lorded over and controlled. But under this current system that is apparently much too much to ask.”

Now imagine being a woman in need of an abortion in the U.S. 🙃

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Unfortunately this story is similar to the health insurance debacle I dealt with while pregnant. Basically my coverage kept going away and I kept calling around to like 10 different numbers cause everyone kept wanting to tell me the problem was elsewhere but no one wanted to solve the problem. Seemed very intentional. Basically by the time I gave birth, after dealing with this for 3-4 months calling every week, I still didn’t know if I had coverage. It seemed like retribution because I was paying out of pocket at a birth center rather than going the hospital route.

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Great article! Also check out Matt Stoller’s Substack BIG, yall. It is great rundown on new antitrust efforts.

Scary it’s everywhere. This kind of monopoly is also happening in medical care, like an open secret, behind the scenes. They call it vertical consolidation and it’s very intentional. Aetna/CVS,United/Optum,Blue Cross/Walgreens (and couple more key players) are doing our insurance, our pharmacy benefits and now they are hiring docs/NPs to give us care. Other practices, or your old doc, most likely “out of network”.

United employs 10% of US physicians- and that should scare you. How do you like the idea of your doctor working for your insurance company? As often as I have to advocate for my patients against their insurer, I would be powerless to advocate for what they need (meds or procedures, I mean) if their insurer was my employer

Anyway, my little economic niche is largely hidden from patients (or “subscribers” as they call us) and needs to be illuminated by writers like Joshua.

Thank you.

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And it zaps all your energy for days at a time! This reminds me of a pleasant experience I had today, which was such a breath of fresh air from my countless similar experiences to yours. I am trying to cut down on subscriptions, and while I love this matcha I’ve been drinking, it is superfluous. I cancelled via chat and it was so easy because I talked with a real representative at a smaller company. I was shocked I didn’t have to explain myself, whereas every purchase you make now either asks you to create an account for their website or explain your decision for no longer using their product.

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I was thrilled to see the topic of this piece, because I’m currently attempting to write a novel centered around this type of experience - which is challenging, as it doesn’t lend itself to narrative very easily. As I read on, I became frustrated by how effortless you’ve made it look to say so much of what I’m trying to say. I’m kicking myself for my choice of style/medium. In other words, I liked related to this so much I got jealous. Welp... back to writing my thing! 😅

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not just companies we purchase goods/services from. try cancelling charitable donations to some large organizations! A year ago my husband was temporarily laid off, and we had to eliminate all the "extras" like streaming services and charitable giving, it took me two days and three different people to cancel my monthly donation to OxFam, except, it wasn't actually cancelled. To this day I'm still paying $20 a month to them. It was such a hassel and they do good work, that I never tried to go back and fix it. And ultimately my husband got his job back.

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We had a similar problem with Verizon a few years ago when we bought an iPad and tried to set up cellular service. They were billing us monthly, but also said ‘we were not customers, and had no account.’ We couldn’t access customer service. They also told us simultaneously that ‘our SIM card was sent in the mail, and their records indicate that we received it’ and also that ‘that iPad uses a digital SIM card.’ We eventually were able to message Verizon on Twitter and they fixed our account and told us to get a SIM at a local store. I fear using Verizon for something really important like home internet.

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I also want to thank you for mentioning this about Verizon. My husband and I have been fed up with our internet provider (Astound) since we have to call every 6 months about the bill since they will boost our rate to some really high rate and we have to call to complain and somehow get it down every 6 months. It’s gotten worse in recent years so we’ve though of going to Verizon but now we know to avoid it. Unfortunately hearing this along with my family’s experiences with American corporations in recent years is what is leading us to hopefully move our little family to Europe this year. We’re too exhausted and fed up with it all.

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Verizon has acquired TracFone.

Verizon has started to no longer service and support TracFone accounts and customers.

1st this, then something else, hours on the phone afterchat bots, as Verizon runs out their 1 year clock.

Verizon told Congress, 'We'll continue to service the TracFone accounts...'

'wink, wink, ubetcha'(Sarah Palin)

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