Today, I’m leaving my job. Monday, a new one begins.

paul-city-bwWhen this is post goes live, I will probably be sitting in my near-empty cubicle at work, furiously trying to finish up the last bits of paperwork that has so consumed the past year and half of my conscious thoughts. Today is my last day of this job.

Back in 2011, I wrote about me getting this new job as a case manager (a.k.a. “social worker”–in Pennsylvania, you can’t call yourself a social worker unless you have a degree in it). It’s been an amazing experience, with some of the most knowledgeable and supportive supervisors and co-workers I’ve ever had the privilege of being around.
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Pogue vs. Cell Industry, pt. 2: “Take Back the Beep” Campaign (and some thoughts on Capitalism)

photo by user Kyle !!!11!!one!! on Flickr

photo by user Kyle !!!11!!one!! on Flickr

On Tuesday I wrote up an article on an exchange between New York Time’s Tech columnist David Pogue and Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon.  An article which Pogue himself commented on, by the way (I’m still waiting for McAdam to take notice of little ol’ me, even though I am a Verizon customer.  Hmm…)

Well, as is mentioned in Pogue’s comment on that article, he has started a new campaign on his blog to make our cell phone lives slightly easier (at least for three hours out of the year).

What is the object upon which he has called his followers to descend?  Those annoying 15-second long instructions at the beginning of either leaving or checking a voicemail on your phone.  Apparently, Pogue has been told point-blank by various phone company reps that these instructions really are to make us use our minutes.  And it works.  According to Pogue’s calculations, we spend three hours a year listening to those messages and the cell companies rake in about $670 million a year (and that’s just Verizon! By the way, those calculations are based on leaving and checking voicemails twice a day, every weekday, for a year).

To accomplish this, Pogue has contacted the cell companies and has received from them info on where we, their customers, can complain about this.  Pogue writes:

“Let’s push back, and hard. We want those time-wasting, money-leaking messages eliminated, or at least made optional. . . We’re going to descend, en masse, on our carriers. Send them a complaint, politely but firmly. Together, we’ll send them a LOT of complaints.  If enough of us make our unhappiness known, I’ll bet they’ll change.”

Of course, the companies just gave their general web complaint areas (though the AT&T guy gave his own email address.  Impressive.), and of course they’re probably a pain to navigate.  For example, I tried to do it on the Verizon site, but being on a family plan with my parents, I don’t have all the very specific information they demand of you from your monthly statement before you can even leave a comment.

I don’t know about the other sites, but I hope this actually works.  Honestly, not so much because this specific complaint ruins my life so much.  Rather (if I may wax philosophical for a moment), I think Western Capitalism is coming of an age where power players have emerged such that they have become disconnected from the consumers that strengthen them.  I have just recently become hyper-aware of the fact that we as Americans have lost control of the very institutions we are supposedly responsible for.  CEO’s are supposed to rely on the customers.  Food companies are supposed to be dependent upon their consumers.  Politicians are technically our employees and should be terrified of not producing the results we want.

But no, we sheep of the “American dream” have relinquished the control of these institutions preferring ignorance, entertainment, and comfort as our opiates.  I would love this campaign to work so I might still have hope that people, policies, and institutions can really change- that the status quo is not fixed.  I pray that the steep terrain of the proverbial slippery slope might tip.

So won’t you help us show CEO’s that they are finite- dependent upon us, the customers, for all that they enjoy in their posts of power and influence?  Might we find some bright light still left in a somewhat Capitalistic managed economy?

Or maybe we should all just become Distributists and all our problems will be solved.

Here’s the contact info provided by Pogue in his blog post today:

I’ve told each of the four major carriers that they’ll be hearing from us. They’ve told us where to send the messages:

* Verizon: Post a complaint here:

* AT&T: Send e-mail to Mark Siegel, executive director of media relations:

* Sprint: Post a complaint here:

* T-Mobile: Post a complaint here:

P.S. – as is mentioned in Pogue’s post, apparently Apple made AT&T take these messages off of the iPhone.  One more reason why Apple is what it is and has accomplished what it has.  I feel like they (and Starbucks.  Yeah, I said it.  What?) are the only large companies out there that get it.  They care and put people before profit.  And that’s profitable.  If only cell companies felt the same way.