Monday, June 25, 2007

Gas Bill

#259 Gas Bill

It says so right on the top and in big letters.

Something must be wrong. It doesn’t say “statement” or have a full page of incomprehensible nonsense before it gets to the punch line, which always is “you owe us money.”

It doesn’t start off by saying “manage your account.” Just Gas Bill.

No fake politeness. No effort to hide. No telling us how convenient it is to have “clean, modern” gas heat. Nothing but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What is the matter with these people? Didn’t they hire enough MBAs? Didn’t they go to “Famous Corporate Flimflamers’ School?”

This could end a century-old trend of distraction-as-introduction.

The only thing that can match “GAS BILL” as a regularly used opener these days is “SUMMONS” in red, on a traffic ticket. And even THAT is a bit of disinformation.

Things used to be guaranteed. Then they were warrantied. Now, they have limited warranties. The tag screams “LIMITED WARRANTY.” And then it goes on to tell you why the headline’s a lie.

The GAS BILL version of “limited warranty” is “WATCH OUT, BUDDY.”

Quiet, everyone, quiet, please. American Express is about to make a STATEMENT:

“Ahem. Thank you for inviting us here tonight. We want you to know we’re different from the other cards, and…. Blah blah blah.

“And in conclusion, let me thank you once again for inviting us here tonight, and you owe us $456.78 which you can pay by the 15th of the month without incurring interest or finance charges.”

“Okay, class, I’m Professor Verizon, and I’m about to teach you how to MANAGE YOUR ACCOUNT….”

Followed by: “And, that, class, is how to manage your account. Now, if you’ll simply write a check for $123.45 and get it to us by, oh, say, the first of the month, you’ll incur no additional interest charges.”

Does anyone at American Express or Verizon really think we think we’re going to hear a “statement” or learn to “manage our account?”

How about something a little more telling. Like “CREDIT CARD BILL” or “PHONE BILL”

But it’s not just bills and warranties. It’s pretty much everything. Have you ever voted for a “reform” candidate? Have you ever wondered what they were going to re-form and in what form it would be when they were finished?

“I’M THE REFORM CANDIDATE. I WILL STEAL YOUR MONEY. BUT AT LEAST I’LL ADMIT IT, UNLIKE THE OTHER GUYS.”

Guess that wouldn’t garner many votes.

When you get that can of Quickie Water-seal home, you realize, on reading the fine print, that there are 30,000 things you have to do before you can seal the wood on your deck, and you have to accurately forecast the weather for the next four days, and that no one can do that?

Quickie, indeed.

So, sometimes you’re being sold a bill of goods. And sometimes – but not always – you even know it.

The MBAs can’t help themselves. You have to help yourself.

But first, pay the GAS BILL. The company deserves it for being more up-front than anyone else.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

1 comment:

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