There is nothing I detest more than being ripped off, unless it is being ripped off and feeling powerless to do anything to stop it.

This is a rant about Foxtel, that monopolistic supplier of satellite TV in Australia without which I would not be able to watch my beloved Dog Whisperer, and The Husband would probably die from underexposure to international Rugby games.

They claim to give you this wonderful ability to record your favourite TV programs so you can watch them at your leisure, which is great for someone like me. I work nights, so I miss all the good stuff like Grey’s Anatomy, Hawaii Five-0 and Glee. I set them up on “Series Link” so they automatically record every week, and I have these marathon TV-Catch-Up sessions on weekends.

Well, I catch up on most of them. More often than not, either the beginning or end of the program is cut off. The automatic record function starts too late, or ends too soon and I miss those vital first and last few minutes (a little annoying on the Grande Finale of Dancing with the Stars… Who won?!)

NOTE TO FOXTEL: Send someone to the UK to see how SKY does it – their recordings start at the beginning and run to the end, even if the programs start earlier or later than scheduled! Surely it can’t be that hard to deliver the service effectively?

But that’s not even my main beef today. Oh no. I noticed a few months ago a $2 charge on my monthly bill. A-ha! I said. Get rid of the paper bills and set up a direct debit.
The Direct Debit was no problem, but nowhere in my online Accounts section did it give the option of opting out of paper bills. Believe me, I looked long and hard. So I figured the $2 must only relate to the way I pay the bill.

I was wrong. It halved the charge, so now the “Other Charges” on the bill were only $1. Still, this irks me. How many customers do Foxtel have? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions..?
So they advertise their monthly fees and then randomly tack on an extra $1 and call it “Other Charges” … times that by the amount of customers they have and realistically they could be gathering a couple of MILLION dollars every month all told, for unspecified “Other Charges”.


I phoned them this morning. Waited through the ten-minute automated answering system until I finally got to speak to someone in India or Pakistan who would ‘answer my question so that I can have a deeper understanding of what the answer is‘…. yeah, at that point my patience wore somewhat thin.

I was right. The $1 was because I get a paper bill in the mail. I explained calmly (?) that I don’t wish to receive the thing in the mail but that nowhere on the website does it give you the option to change this, and didn’t she think this was a bit of a scam? Kudos to the lady on the other end of the line; she kept incredibly cool, as if oblivious to the sarcasm dripping from my voice and landing in a big, acid puddle on the floor. She simply cancelled my paper bill and sent a link to my email that would allow me to view my statement online (although it took a few attempts at re-wording for her to carry this information across to me, bless her soul).
She needn’t have bothered with the link. It’s the same place I was looking before. Still no option to amend how you receive your bill though.

Which brings me to my point. How many people could be bothered to phone up, talk to a computer for ten minutes and then try to communicate with an operator for whom English is a challenge, all to save $1 a month? I don’t know of any. And so the corporate giant sits and rubs its hands in glee and rakes in the dollars and we mere mortals slump in our couches and smile while we’re getting reamed.

WAKE UP PEOPLE! Phone the number and cancel those paper bills! It’s time we stood up to the monster and said ENOUGH!

I, for one, refuse to be ripped off any longer.

Next in my sights is Telstra. I have a $1.63 Credit due to me on my bill and I’m damn well going to claim it!