Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Confession and a Crusade

I have a confession to make, actually two admissions:

  • In dealing with many people I find it almost impossible to say NO.
  • I am very easily exploited.

I am aware of both of these psychological issues, but usually do not recognize that I that I have been exploited until after the fact. This has become increasing a problems since I became “totally and permanently disabled” in 2003. Since then I have given away tens of thousands of dollars to people I perceived as being “in need” but I now realize were exploiting me. These included:

  • $13,000 loan to a person to keep their failing business afloat
  • $1,000 payment to my lawyer to process a bankruptcy so a family wouldn’t lose their house.
  • $3,000 supporting a teenager who should have been supported by her parents.
  • $2,500 loan to a man so keep his failing business afloat and to repair his business delivery truck.
  • $300 loan to a man to purchase supplies for his business so that he and his family could have food.
  • $10,000+ supporting  a drug addict who kept showing at home  “in dire need.”

 Only $45.00 of the above has ever been paid back to me. I have accepted that via my philosophy of sharing; even so, now, at 66 years old and dependent upon a small pension and Social Security, I so wish I had been repaid some of that almost $30,000! However, that's another story. 

The problem now is, even with my paucity of resources, I am still allowing myself to be exploited, no so much by people as by businesses. 

For example, a few months ago I discovered that my Internet access cost had risen from $28/month to $55/month, which I felt I could not afford. So I telephoned my provider, AT&T, and was told that my $28 charge was a "special' that had ended and that $55 was the new monthly charge.

When I explained that I had not known that the $28 charge was temporary, the AT&T person told me that I could reduce the costs by bundling Internet, a landline telephone, and cell phone for only $72/month. I didn't need the landline phone because I have already MagicJack at a cost of less than $20.00 a year. I did not need the cell phone because I already had one for emergencies at a cost of $22.00 a month.

Somehow, that $72/month sounded good, so I agreed to the bundle. (See my confession, above).

My next AT&T bills were a whopping $200 that I was able to pay only by pawning my guitar. (It remains in pawn and I must pay the pawn shop $50.00 monthly as a fee to prevent them from selling it.

I miss my guitar

Then, in July, when received 2 statements totaling in excess of $200, I telephoned for an explanation and was told that these bills included "other charges" which I had not been told would be due. I attempted to terminate all services but was told that I cannot.

I feel as if I was exploited due to my age, my lack of understanding what the bundle was, and my disabilities, of which clinical depression is one. AT&T has since discontinued all of their services and I am isolated in my apartment with no way to even contact an ambulance (the only reason I had a cell phone) should a fall or become seriously ill.

I believe that the marketing procedures used by AT&T, including not informing a customer of the complete charges for a service, are unjust and unethical. Therefore, I have begun a crusade for legal protections for folks from such practices:

If you are willing to participate in thus crusade, please go HERE to petition for the protection of the elderly and the disabled.


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