5 New Ways Businesses Are Screwing Their Customers
If I want to, I can go online right now and have Taco Bell, sweatpants, and a python delivered to my house. That's the beauty of the modern age. However, all of this innovation also means there are bold new ways that we can get screwed out of our money. For example ...
Uber Drivers Can Charge You For Vomit (That Isn't Yours)
If you're not the imaginative type, you may not understand a term like "vomit fraud." Are Uber drivers forcing their fingers down people's throats to make them hurl? Probably, but that's not my concern. Vomit fraud is what happens when an Uber driver picks up someone, drives them to their destination, and then later that someone finds a cleaning charge of up to $150 added to their fare because the driver said they puked.
All a driver has to do is send a picture of throw-up in their car to Uber and then blame you for it. They can do this even if that photo is of someone else's vomit, rubber vomit, or a splattered can of creamed corn. Customers have pointed out that it's extremely hard to get Uber to reverse the charges, and if you decide to get your credit card company involved, Uber, being good sports, might be inspired to cancel your account entirely.
Nonexistent vomit isn't the only thing you can get dinged for. While most of us would agree that pissing in a car merits a cleanup bill, some riders have been billed for water that came off their clothes on a rainy day. Generally, it's very hard to avoid that unless you have those newfangled hover shoes. Again, it's photo evidence that a driver will use to back their case. A wet floor mat? The horror!
Wireless Providers Are Jacking Up Their Mysterious, Arbitrary Fees
If you've ever looked at your phone bill for more than the second it takes to sigh at it, you may notice a little thing called an "administrative fee," along with a whole lot of other mysterious fees you've never understood. And if you're an AT&T customer, you probably saw that in June of 2018, AT&T tripled that administrative fee so that every client was paying $1.99 per line per month. It's such a minor amount of money that you probably didn't bother complaining ... and it really does look like that was the whole plan.
I mean, what the fuck is an administrative fee?
Well, it's nearly $800 million a year from the pockets of customers, for one thing. AT&T claims it's the cost of doing business, like cell site rentals and working with other operators. You know, stuff that was already factored into your bill. If that's its own separate fee, then what are you paying for normally on your phone bill? It sounds a lot like this is a "Because we thought we should have that money instead of you" fee.
What can you do about it? Well, you could switch companies. Except Verizon actually has an even higher monthly fee. Essentially, if you want wireless service, you'll pay the fee, because your alternative is a tin can on a string that connects you to everyone you need to talk to. And those things suck for texting.
Some Phones Now Make It Impossible To Delete Facebook
Once upon a time, Facebook was literally the coolest thing anyone on the internet had ever seen. Finally, a way to interact with everyone you've consciously avoided since grade school. Now it's mostly known for killing an entire industry, facilitating fake news, and generally shitting on your privacy. So you'll be happy to know that Samsung has worked out a deal with the site to make sure you can't get rid of it.
Some Samsung phones come with Facebook pre-installed, and while pre-installed software shouldn't be too much of a surprise for users of any new tech these days, the fact that you literally can't delete it does seem to be an issue for some. At best, you can disable Facebook and just let it sit on your phone, taking up space and allegedly doing nothing. We have to say "allegedly" because this is Facebook we're talking about. Which is the whole reason people are annoyed. If it's not doing anything, why are they so desperate to keep you from removing it?
It's like if I showed up at your house and sat on your bed, then when you asked me to leave, I just kept promising over and over not to look while you get changed. "But just to be clear," I say, making unblinking eye contact, "I will never leave."
It's Super Easy To Get Scammed On Any Kind Of Online Rental
While a hotel generally has to exist in order to make money, an Airbnb, well, sometimes doesn't. This is why more than one person has booked accommodations on the site, only to discover the listing they paid for isn't technically real. Or it was real, but it was somewhere else. When you show up, you get a call from the renter saying the address in the ad was wrong, and they give you the new address. You go to that place and maybe it's a rancid shithole, but guess what? You gotta stay there, because you're presumably in a new place and it would be a hassle to find a replacement for the Death Shack.
This is partly due to the hands-off way Airbnb runs its business. For instance, it can only do background checks on people who register with their real names. Otherwise the company's hands are tied. And while they say they put effort into hunting down scam listings, Airbnb claims these incidents aren't "statistically significant." So if you end up in a fridge box, well, most people didn't. Deal with it.
But also, I can say from personal experience that any kind of online rental can pull this same shit. They know you're not going to show up in advance to scout the place if you're from out of town, and probably won't even call. So they get your signature on a lease and your deposit money for an internet listing, then you show up to the address to find you've been whatever the house version of catfished is.
Apple Makes It Ridiculously Hard To Repair Its Phones
If you've ever had a broken iPhone, then you're aware of the Mad Hatter fever dream that follows if you try to get it fixed. Opening an iPhone yourself is like solving the puzzle box from Hellraiser, but taking it to Apple to fix it can be even worse. Many customers have complained that Apple has a tendency to jack up repair bills by charging you for things you never even knew you needed fixed, like a crooked mechanic.
That's one reason the Right to Repair movement is pretty unimpressed with Apple, and they make a good case. Essentially, "right to repair" advocates believe that since they bought the damn phone, they have the right to fix it wherever and however they want. If they want a random cashier at Chipotle to fix their tablet, that's up to them. If they want to find a YouTube video on how to fix it themselves, they should be able to do that too. And you might agree with this position, but Apple sure as shit doesn't.
Apple goes out of its way to make its phones damn near impossible to repair, from sealing them tighter than a duck's ass to actively keeping design plans off the internet. The goal is to make it nearly impossible for your local (and cheap) repair guy to fix what may be an extremely simple issue. Instead, the company wants you to take it to your local Apple store, where you will likely get nailed for an expensive repair, including parts unrelated to the bit that's broken.
Apple employees will point out that this is because your warranty explicitly states things like "Cosmetic damages must be repaired first before a battery can be replaced." It's like telling someone you're going to punch them before you punch them, and then when they get mad, pointing out that you told them ahead of time. Then punching them again.
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