Website allows consumers to share problems, solutions
May 12, 2005 1:00 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON – In an effort to arm consumers with the best possible information in their battles with telecommunication companies, Consumers Union today launched a new Web feature that allows consumers to share common complaints about their cable, phone and Internet providers, and learn from each others’ successes.
The Share Your Stories feature, located at www.hearusnow.org/share, allows consumers to search a database of stories to find one that most closely matches their situation. The stories range from “successes,” in which an effective solution was found, to “buyer beware” tales of products and services to avoid.
“Sometimes, the best way to find a solution to a problem is to learn from others who have been through it before,” said Morgan Jindrich, director of Consumers Union’s Strategic Resource Center. “The Share Your Stories feature does not have all the answers to every problem consumers may face. But it does provide some solutions and, at the very least, lets people know they are not alone.”
The new Share Your Stories feature is part of Consumers Union’s HearUsNow.com campaign educating consumers about the communication issues affecting their everyday lives. From cell phones to Internet connections to cable and satellite services, American consumers are finding fewer choices for providers due to mergers in the industry, and are increasingly disgusted with the services they receive.
“In a world where most people have a traditional home phone, a cell phone, Internet service and cable or satellite television, it is important consumers have access to the latest information on how to effectively deal with these companies,” said Jindrich. “By sharing their stories, consumers can help others find solutions to their problems or prevent someone from experiencing a problem in the first place.”
The following are two examples of the stories CU has received. The complete database of stories can be found at www.hearusnow.org/share.
A $5,000 Cable Hook Up For Free
“I wanted cable TV and was told it wasn’t available where I live. I then asked what the delta would be if I paid it myself. I received in writing a quote for $5,000 to install service. I then checked with my local municipality and, on page 5 of the agreement found that Time Warner was bound to provide hookup for free ‘regardless of distance, topography, etc.’ I threatened to file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer protection and got my cable hookup for free”. – Perry, Nashotah, WI
Merger Forced to Buy New Phone
“My cell coverage is awful. I was told twice over the phone that I could switch my phone over to Cingular (I am what they call a ‘former AT&T Wireless customer,’ who now belongs to Cingular) for better coverage for free. When I went to do this at the Cingular store, I was told that I would have to buy another phone because my phone was ‘locked’ and there wasn’t anything they could do about it.” – Glenn, Chicago, IL
Morgan Jindrich or Matt Hartwig 202-462-6262