Regulation Of Phones Was Not Bad

When my Verizon phone bill came to a higher than usual sum this month, I had to question it, since I rarely call anyone. As I examined it, I noticed I was charged extra for going over my 500 minutes. After a couple calls to Verizon, certain overcharges were reversed, but the episode reminded me of how things used to be.

In the old days, each geographic area had just one Telephone Company, which was granted a monopoly, but was regulated by the government. The system worked fairly well, as land line reception was good, monthly bills for local calls were a set sum, and the only added charges were for itemized long distance calls.

We did not pay for each and every local call. Users made as many of them as they wanted, no matter how many minutes were consumed. Now, the meter is constantly running as to local calls.

Back then, we were billed only for the long distance calls we placed to someone else. Now, we are charged every time someone calls us, locally or from a long distance, whether or not we want to talk to the caller. Even if the call is unsolicited, we get billed.

We are also subjected to other charges. This month, my bill once again had “messaging” charges, despite previously notifying Verizon on three separate occasions not to allow any texting. Since the phone company is unregulated, these abuses continue.

In the old days, the phone company would install phones and take them back when service ended. Now, consumers are forced to buy them. As the phone company continually upgrades equipment, they convince consumers to spend hundreds on the latest gadgets (most of which are not needed), while they reap huge profits.

The rate of inflation as to phone service and equipment over the past few decades has galloped in relation to other expenses. Since there are now only a few phone companies, there is little effective competition, and there continues to be a need for regulation.

While cell phones have been a major technological advance in terms of flexibility over the traditional land lines, the decline in federal regulation over phone companies has hurt consumers. It would be refreshing to hear politicians promote regulation again.


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