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Friday, August 9, 2013

Your Time--What's It Worth?

Lawyers bill their time at hundreds of dollars an hour. Plumbers and auto mechanics get about $85 an hour in Louisville.

McDonald’s employees and many similar workers who earn federal minimum wage get $7.25 an hour. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/business/six-faces-of-the-minimum-wage.html

CEO’s of top companies, considering their annual pay with stock options and perks, can get more for an hour of their time than you or I earn in a year.

If you as a consumer are paying your bills and trying to find answers for why that top company has charged you for services or items you don’t want-- your time is worth what you can save by catching their mistakes—or “add-ons”. But then that was your money to start with. So I suppose you could say your time is worth less than zero to those large companies.

This morning so far I've been on the phone for 56 minutes and 56 seconds with Direct TV. I'm trying to get an explanation for why my bill jumped up $11 even though the only change I had made was to add a free three-month trial for an additional channel. I guess it’s good thing my time isn't worth anything.

An explanation is necessary to understand this Direct TV free offer. A few months ago I signed up for a free trial offer that included a $50 cash back in the form of a debit card. When my $50 gift card did not come in the mail I called Direct TV.

On that occasion I spent more than an hour trying to figure out how to get the free gift card I'd been promised. The Direct TV service rep at that time helped me find the obscure web site necessary to print the mail-in rebate form.

As the form directed, I made copies of three months of my bills to prove I had taken the offer. Of course, Direct TV can look at its own billing records and see I had complied with all the terms of the offer. So I’m not sure why this rebate form and copies of bills were necessary--unless Direct TV just wanted to add obstacles to its customers getting the free gift card.

Nevertheless, I mailed all of that info: the rebate form and the three months of receipts.  However, instead of a $50 gift card I received a post card saying no $50 card would be sent to me because I had not sent the right receipts.

You have to ask yourself: is someone sitting in a sweat shop somewhere who has the job of mailing out post cards saying “forget about the free gift card”? Or do you think they have a computerized system to automatically send out these denial post cards? I’m guessing it’s an automated operation.


Note to my readers: this call went on so long that I broke what I wrote during the call into two posts. I’ll post the second half soon.

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