Consumer Alert: Your Phone Company Wants Into Your Bank Account!

Consumer alert: Pretty much all phone companies have all adopted the exact same thieving “give-us-your-bank-account” scheme.

Last week, T-Mobile (my cellular provider) pinged me with a rude message: Henceforth we will screw you out of an extra $5 a month.

WHAT?! Had I done something wrong? No. Would I be getting some added benefit for my five bucks? No. It seems that T-Mobile bean counters have just arbitrarily decided that we customers who use credit cards to pay our phone bills online must pay an extra fiver each month as a payment processing fee. Yes, we’re to pay them to take our money. Bonnie and Clyde were not that brazen!

You can avoid the add-on IF you give your bank account number to T-Mobile, allowing it (and who knows who else?) to have direct access to your personal stash of cash. Uh… NO! Tut-tut, say the T-Mobilers, your private info is perfectly secure with us. Do they think we have sucker wrappers around our heads? Just eight months ago, their “security system” let thieves swipe the personal data of 37 million customers, including names, account numbers, addresses, phone numbers and birthdates.

Well, sniff “free-market” ideologues, just switch to a competitor. But AT&T, Verizon, etc. have all adopted the exact same thieving “give-us-your-bank-account” scheme. Phone service today is a shared monopoly, not a free market, and it’s now copycatting airlines, banks and other monopolistic profiteers that constantly fabricate add-ons and pricing gimmicks to gouge consumers.

T-Mobile rose to telecom prominence a decade ago by running its own “consumer alert,” attacking its rivals for overcharging and abusing consumers. It ran ads publicly demanding that AT&T and others stop their greedy practices “because it’s the right thing to do.” But now that it’s a monopolistic giant, T-Mobile’s new line is that might makes right, so it has joined the industry’s consumer-abuse greed game.

Jesse James Now Wears Guccis

Today’s train robbers don’t need masks or guns, for they are railroad executives wearing $3,000 suits and robbing us by railroading the political system.

With their gangs of lobbyists and hopper cars of campaign cash, they get Congress to do their dirty work, gutting public safety protections and muting railway unions. Thus, rich investors get richer, while regular people are hit by an astonishing level of derailments, injuries, destruction… and death. Witness the horrific wreck of Norfolk Southern’s nearly two-mile long toxic freight train this year in East Palestine, Ohio.

This was a product of the industry’s prevailing ethic of profit over public safety, and the American people were outraged by the greed, demanding fundamental reform. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg weighed in, correctly noting that calls to protect the public have too often “given way to industry pushback and inaction. That must not happen this time,” he emphatically declared.
You go, Pete! But it is happening.

A key reform he pushed was to allow rail employees to report safety dangers without fear of retribution from the corporate hierarchy. Such a “close call” reporting program has existed for years — but participation was voluntary. Hello! Out of some 800 American railroad corporations, just 27 chose to volunteer, and all of the Big Eight freight giants (including Norfolk Southern) refused to join.

In the media glare of the East Palestine catastrophe, however, nearly all pledged to support the employee reporting reform. But that was then. Today, the media focus on East Palestine is gone, and the railroad lobbyists and their hopper cars of corporate cash have rolled back into Washington, watering down Buttigieg’s safety agreement to nothing.

And that’s why America’s train system won’t run right until we fix the crooked political money system that derails progress.

Jim Hightower
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