If the Water Company Acted Like Comcast

I tried to come up with an understandable analogy of why Comcast, and the other ISP’s think it’s okay to put data caps on everyone. (You do know they are trying to do that, right?)

This is how I understand it…

Say a water company puts in a two inch line running down a specific street. It’s okay because there are only a couple of small houses, no pools, and no businesses down that street. Everyone can use as much water as they like. Not a problem.

Time moves on and a few apartment buildings spring up on that street. And a business with a huge water fountain. A few people put in pools, which takes away from the business of the water companies indoor swimming pool, too.

Same small two inch pipe serving all those houses, but now there are days when the water runs at a trickle. Other days when some of the houses at the end of the street can’t even take a shower.

The water company knows it could just come in and put in bigger lines. More water available, everyone is happy, and their water bill doesn’t change much because it’s still the same water.

Or, they can ration it. Rare items are worth more, right? Plus putting in bigger lines would cost money and drop their profit for the year. Bigger lines would also open up opportunities for bottling companies to come in and put out bottles of water, taking some of their profit. It would encourage more houses to add pools taking away from their indoor pool revenue. What if an ice factory moved in down there?

“I know,” says an exec at the water company, “lets just give our customers a choice. They can pay for the lines to their house to be upgraded, giving them extra water if they like, or they can deal with what they already have. Lets also put a cap on how much they can use so we can try and limit the growth of fountains and swimming pools in that part of town. We’ll also get a revenue boost from those going over the limit. Win win.”

So the company with the big fountain, and lots of money, pays for construction workers, plumbers, and contractors to get an upgrade on their building, but the little houses at the end of the road can’t afford it. All of that work costs too much. So they deal with the low pressure water, and days without showers even though they really want the upgrade. They give up their plans of getting that pool because the overage on water would just be too much. Besides, they can just go swimming at the club down the street, right? It costs $20 a day, but it’s the only swimming in town.

The exec’s at the water company look at their spread sheets, see very few customers upgrading, and reason that it really isn’t as desirable as the people keep wining about. Some of them are still going over the cap, which means more profit for them, but that’s all for the better.

So… it’s a combination of greed, unwillingness to update lines, and customers inability to force the companies to do it. It results in a scarcity (or false scarcity) of product, high prices, caps, and little to no competition. And since they also own the cable companies… well why the heck would they want you to watch netflix if you can just turn on cable TV?

I know this example doesn’t translate exactly, but it does show it’s not just one thing causing caps. It’s a bunch of things. Specifically an engineer told me bandwidth behaves less like water (which is pressurized) and more like traffic. The more traffic on the road the harder it is to get cars (packets) through.

However you look at it, the fact remains: ISPs could choose to upgrade their infrastructure. They were even given money from the federal government, or tax money, to upgrade and they didn’t.

Draw your own conclusions.

Tales from the Used Car Lot

image

Let me just preface this with… I knew better. I did it anyway. In a way, I deserved it. But it is still irritating as F%*!

A couple of days ago my boyfriend and I started out on our day off. We were going to Tandy for some leather, and on the way out of the driveway we stopped at the mailbox. I wish I hadn’t.

In the mail was a large flyer for a used car dealership saying “Come in and claim your prise!” I scratched off the box, and of course it said “$750”. Not the $5 gift certificate to Walmart that most people got.

I read the entire terms of the contest, and the only thing I could find that said it might not be $750 was a little part that said “we will check your code against the billboard in the office, and if it matches you’ve won.”

$750 was a lot of money. It’s an entire paycheck for me. It would have bought all the presents I’d been dreaming of getting my kids, and a the tablet I’ve been so desperately desiring. I could already imagine it. And all I had to do was go check some code, and maybe… unlikely, but maybe… I won it.

So we went to a used car lot.

Now, let me just say that I avoid used car dealerships like the plague most of the time. The last time I stepped on a lot it was only because my car died, and it would have been thousands to fix it, so I decided to get a newer model, one that would last a while. And I didn’t do too bad. My car was only $5000, and it’s been three years since I got it. Most of the issues wrong with it are just regular wear and tear that you’d expect when a car hits 130K miles.

So when the dealer sat us down, and gave us his pitch to buy a car I was only half listening. My car was “okay”, but I wouldn’t have minded a newer, model if they had one in my price range.

He got my info, took it to the banker, brought it back with good news… I could qualify for a loan if I found a car I liked.

Here is where things started to turn south. I was, at this point, ready to get the $5 gift certificate and leave. But, of course, they want to sell me a car if they can. So he asked what my price range was. I told him $150 a month, fully expecting he would say “that’s not possible” and send me on my way.

He comes back with a set of keys, ready for a test drive. I asked him “How much” and he said “the banker handles that, he’ll tell you when we get back.” Red flag one.

The car drove pretty nice. I really liked it, but I knew as I was driving it that I could never afford something that nice. Too bad, I’ve always wanted something that nice.

We get back to the dealership and the guy asks for my keys so they can check it for a trade in, and walks off. Red flag #2!

The manager comes out and tells me the car is $20,000, only $400 a month. Red flag #3, and I’m done. After scraping my jaw up off the floor I say “That’s WAY more then I said I was willing to pay. I think we’re wasting each others time, I’ll just take my keys and go.”

“No, no, no,” he said, running his hands through his oily hair, and smiling so big I could see every tooth, “just tell me what you think you can do, and we’ll work on getting closer.” Asks me how much I would be willing to spend per month, again, and I tell him at the very most… $200. Not a penny more.

He comes back 20 min later with another offer. With my trade in, he’ll give me the newer car for something like $18000, and only $280 a month.

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

My boyfriend shows him the Kelly Blue book of $12,000 and we both tell him he wouldn’t be able to get a dime more then that with or without the trade in.

He goes through the numbers again, with and without trade ins. With extra down payments. Etc. Etc. He tries to convince me to try one more time, and I put my foot down and tell him I don’t care about trade ins or anything, if the price of the car isn’t less then $8k then it isn’t happening. Can I please have my keys back I’d like to go.

Then the car dealership financer comes out. She explains “what a great deal this is”, and how lucky I am to get this 5% interest rate. No one ever gets this interest rate. and “YOU QUALIFY, it’s already been approved. The bank said you can afford it.”

I very politely tell her she is a fucking idiot. No, not with those words, but that was my sentiment.

I did tell her that I didn’t care what the bank said I could afford. I knew my finances. I was the one paying my rent, utilities, and for three kids, not the bank. I would be the one getting expensive full coverage insurance because I had a financed vehicle, not the bank. And I CAN’T AFFORD IT! And I didn’t know why they were showing me that car in the first place since I told them at the beginning I couldn’t afford more then $150 a month. Now, can I have the keys to my car. (For those keeping track, that’s the third time I asked for keys.)

She tried to explain that getting a loan for $150 isn’t possible. That’s not how banks work. I called her on it and said she was straight up lying. I know it’s possible, I did it before.

She finally…. FINALLY…. gave up. Almost.

They brought me my keys, but tried to show me another car that was more in my price range.

The car was ugly, beat up, the paint scuffed and oxidized. My cute little red ford focus looked beautiful compared to that car.

“No dice,” I told him. “Your sales crew is slimy, and underhanded. They flat out lied, and tried talking me into something I couldn’t afford. I wouldn’t buy a car from them if they were the last dealership on earth. I’m going to Craigslist from now on.”

Bait and switch. Any car dealership that does bait and switch isn’t worth a second thought.

Tales from the Used Car Lot

image

Let me just preface this with… I knew better. I did it anyway. In a way, I deserved it. But it is still irritating as F%*!

A couple of days ago my boyfriend and I started out on our day off. We were going to Tandy for some leather, and on the way out of the driveway we stopped at the mailbox. I wish I hadn’t.

In the mail was a large flyer for a used car dealership saying “Come in and claim your prise!” I scratched off the box, and of course it said “$750”. Not the $5 gift certificate to Walmart that most people got.

I read the entire terms of the contest, and the only thing I could find that said it might not be $750 was a little part that said “we will check your code against the billboard in the office, and if it matches you’ve won.”

$750 was a lot of money. It’s an entire paycheck for me. It would have bought all the presents I’d been dreaming of getting my kids, and a the tablet I’ve been so desperately desiring. I could already imagine it. And all I had to do was go check some code, and maybe… unlikely, but maybe… I won it.

So we went to a used car lot.

Now, let me just say that I avoid used car dealerships like the plague most of the time. The last time I stepped on a lot it was only because my car died, and it would have been thousands to fix it, so I decided to get a newer model, one that would last a while. And I didn’t do too bad. My car was only $5000, and it’s been three years since I got it. Most of the issues wrong with it are just regular wear and tear that you’d expect when a car hits 130K miles.

So when the dealer sat us down, and gave us his pitch to buy a car I was only half listening. My car was “okay”, but I wouldn’t have minded a newer, model if they had one in my price range.

He got my info, took it to the banker, brought it back with good news… I could qualify for a loan if I found a car I liked.

Here is where things started to turn south. I was, at this point, ready to get the $5 gift certificate and leave. But, of course, they want to sell me a car if they can. So he asked what my price range was. I told him $150 a month, fully expecting he would say “that’s not possible” and send me on my way.

He comes back with a set of keys, ready for a test drive. I asked him “How much” and he said “the banker handles that, he’ll tell you when we get back.” Red flag one.

The car drove pretty nice. I really liked it, but I knew as I was driving it that I could never afford something that nice. Too bad, I’ve always wanted something that nice.

We get back to the dealership and the guy asks for my keys so they can check it for a trade in, and walks off. Red flag #2!

The manager comes out and tells me the car is $20,000, only $400 a month. Red flag #3, and I’m done. After scraping my jaw up off the floor I say “That’s WAY more then I said I was willing to pay. I think we’re wasting each others time, I’ll just take my keys and go.”

“No, no, no,” he said, running his hands through his oily hair, and smiling so big I could see every tooth, “just tell me what you think you can do, and we’ll work on getting closer.” Asks me how much I would be willing to spend per month, again, and I tell him at the very most… $200. Not a penny more.

He comes back 20 min later with another offer. With my trade in, he’ll give me the newer car for something like $18000, and only $280 a month.

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

My boyfriend shows him the Kelly Blue book of $12,000 and we both tell him he wouldn’t be able to get a dime more then that with or without the trade in.

He goes through the numbers again, with and without trade ins. With extra down payments. Etc. Etc. He tries to convince me to try one more time, and I put my foot down and tell him I don’t care about trade ins or anything, if the price of the car isn’t less then $8k then it isn’t happening. Can I please have my keys back I’d like to go.

Then the car dealership financer comes out. She explains “what a great deal this is”, and how lucky I am to get this 5% interest rate. No one ever gets this interest rate. and “YOU QUALIFY, it’s already been approved. The bank said you can afford it.”

I very politely tell her she is a fucking idiot. No, not with those words, but that was my sentiment.

I did tell her that I didn’t care what the bank said I could afford. I knew my finances. I was the one paying my rent, utilities, and for three kids, not the bank. I would be the one getting expensive full coverage insurance because I had a financed vehicle, not the bank. And I CAN’T AFFORD IT! And I didn’t know why they were showing me that car in the first place since I told them at the beginning I couldn’t afford more then $150 a month. Now, can I have the keys to my car. (For those keeping track, that’s the third time I asked for keys.)

She tried to explain that getting a loan for $150 isn’t possible. That’s not how banks work. I called her on it and said she was straight up lying. I know it’s possible, I did it before.

She finally…. FINALLY…. gave up. Almost.

They brought me my keys, but tried to show me another car that was more in my price range.

The car was ugly, beat up, the paint scuffed and oxidized. My cute little red ford focus looked beautiful compared to that car.

“No dice,” I told him. “Your sales crew is slimy, and underhanded. They flat out lied, and tried talking me into something I couldn’t afford. I wouldn’t buy a car from them if they were the last dealership on earth. I’m going to Craigslist from now on.”

Bait and switch. Any car dealership that does bait and switch isn’t worth a second thought.