Bruce (kor27) wrote,

Monopolies Must Die!

So far today has run Bruce:0 Large Faceless Monopolies:2. The simple one is trying to deal with a small payment to the California Board of Equalization. This has been going since last April, not that I've put a lot of energy into it.

I paid a quarterly sales tax amount on April 18th last year, using the BOE's online setup. They allow for a direct bank withdrawal.

It never went through. I suspect it's because I'd updated my bank info to the new address, but the same process hadn't completed over in Sacramento, so it just... didn't work. Certainly a later payment processed just fine.

But I didn't hear from them, and they aren't hugely forthcoming with contact info.

So I waited.

In mid-December, I got a lurid notice saying "Pay us NOW NOW NOW" with maybe $4 in fees added on - the kicker being that they must have payment by December 31st, and it must be a money order or cashier's check. Being the flake I am, I didn't mail them that until the 28th, but I got a postal money order, and mailed it at the same post office.

It should have been able to make it by the 31st - it's normally only 2 days to Sac. If not, it would have been there by the 1st at the latest.

I now have an even more lurid notice from January 18th. My bad for forgetting about it for this long, but whatever. No indication that they'd received the money order. They may file a lien (against what?). But I can ignore the notice if I've already paid.

They just don't provide a way to find that out. And I don't trust them too much on the issue. And I can't get a return phone call from the individual I'm supposed to contact on the subject.

Then there's good old AT&T wireless. Which is effectively a monopoly for me, because I'm tied to a GSM phone. The only other GSM carrier of note is T-Mobile, and by their own admission, they have shit for coverage.

I've been paying $12-$18 extra every month, because my media bundle plan only allows for 1000 text messages. And I use a lot of text messages. I was paying my bill yesterday, and decided to check if I could upgrade that. And according to their website, I can, because there's a plan for only $5 more with unlimited messaging as well as unlimited data.

Except the website wouldn't let me add the feature - it told me to call or chat with a representative to find out why.

I didn't have time to do that until today, when I tried the chat. The response was "That add-on isn't compatible with your PDA device. Call a representative to find out what plans are available for you."

First of all, why have chat if it just dumps you into a voice conversation? But the whole "incompatibility" thing made me look more closely at the "data plans" page. There's an unlimited plan for PDAs for a mere $20 more. They want more money if you have a device that can actually use their unlimited data plan.

So for $20 more, I could save an average of $15 a month. Joy.

I suspect their "unlimited" data isn't all that unlimited, anyway. I've had several cases where attempts to read email suddenly wouldn't work - until midnight. Oddly, frequently on days when I wasn't using all that much data...

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