UNITED STATES—I know I am not the only person who is tired of the skyrocketing costs each month when it comes to utilities (water, heat/gas, electricity, insurance, telephone, cable, and internet) that seem to be constantly rising all the time, while the service from your providers is constantly on the decline. I can understand a slight rate increase every so often, but every single year or multiple times a year? Really, give the consumer a break already.

My electric/gas provider has to be the worse. I mean the rates I pay each month are beyond ridiculous and now they’re asking for another rate hike for consumers, without actually explaining what the increase is for. I constantly hear it’s for improvements to infrastructure, but I’ve heard that argument for years and I have yet to see improvements. I can make that assertion because when the power goes out because of bad weather and I’m without electricity or heat for days, not a day, but days, then what?

Are you properly crediting my account? Of course you’re not and this attempt to give this pathetic credit that barely covers all the groceries that were tossed because of the loss of power, being in a home without heat during cold weather is nothing. You’re insulting the consumer with that stupid credit and there needs to be more oversight where utility companies have to be held to the fire for taking advantage of consumers and we’re forced to pay the buck for it. I am sick and tired of it.

I had a similar issue with my cable provider who once again raised rates and I have been involved in tense negotiations with them for months about an issue caused by one of their representatives. We had had a contract we were locked into because of our bundled services, landline, cable and internet for 2 years. I wanted to remove some premium channels that were not being watched. Instead of the rep just removing those channels (they are ala carte), this idiot, terminated our services, which we were without for 2 days. I had countless calls trying to get assistance to fix the problem to no avail.

The biggest frustration is that these companies rely on automated systems that make it near impossible to speak to a live person that I cannot stand. A computerized system or automated chat bot cannot fix every got damn problem. I have gotten so fed up with my cable, internet and landline provider that I seriously might not just be cutting the cable cord, but I’m looking at other providers at this point. They don’t appreciate me as a customer of 15 plus years and the thousands of dollars paid for services and not receiving top tier service in return.

You know it’s bad when a rep tells you if you have an outage and you’re supposed to get a credit, but you don’t call back to inform them they won’t credit your account. I had to repeat that back because it left me utterly speechless. You’re telling your consumers if they don’t call to inform them about a credit you’re supposed to receive you’re not going to credit my account. Wow, just wow people. The problem is you have so many utility companies that are monopolies. There are not options out there for the consumer to leave and go elsewhere, which means you have to determine if you want to continue paying ridiculous fees and costs and what can be done to change your rates.

There are ways people, you argue, you ask to speak to the retention department. Especially if you’re long-term customers, that provider does not want to lose you and they will find a way to navigate to get you a lower rate the best way they can and they will attempt to do their best to provide a credit to you if at all possible. If a company is unwilling to work with you, then you have to issue the threat: “I’m going to go elsewhere or terminate my services.”

They might think you’re bluffing, but sometimes the bluff has to be called out to get the results that you want and you deserve, don’t let the companies treat you like a pushover. You pay good money for these services and guess what you should be receiving affordable rates and you should not be treated as if you don’t matter. The level of professionalism and treatment by some of these companies to their customers is just horrendous. Nasty, rude, impatient those are just a list of a few words that come to mind. When it comes to all these subscriptions that people enter their credit cards for, but then forget to terminate the service, find those charges and services and get rid of it.

You don’t need every single streaming service that is out there. You don’t need every radio or satellite radio station available. You don’t need all these other senseless subscriptions that charge unbelievable rates that deliver you nothing but less money in your wallet or bank account. If you want to save money it is all about being ready to negotiate and get rid of things that you don’t need. You might be surprised just how much you can save and where that money can be used for other expenses that are vital to your survival. Cut the waste, keep the important things and don’t be afraid to put up a fight for the things you deserve as a paying customer: good customer service, a reliable service/product and an affordable rate.