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Sunday, November 7, 1999

HOW MUCH ARE YOU GOING AFTER?

Recently a man in a major American city was trapped in an high-rise elevator for over 40 hours. He then decided to sue the owners of the building. Now, I'm all for compensation for moronic behavior - if I was in the situation, I'd sue, also. But this guy sued for $25 million!!

Isn't that a little insane?

It's not like he missed work or anything - he was trapped in there over a weekend. Again - I can TOTALLY see suing them, but that much seems a bit insane. Why take that much advantage of the situation? Why even TRY to get that much from the company?

Sure, you were severely inconvenienced, but give me a BREAK - you're still in one piece, right? Is the inside of an elevator THAT traumatic? If it had dropped a few floors - I could see it then - but NOTHING bad happened to the guy, physically, and if he can't handle being stuck in a small room for a couple of days he really needs to get a life. But I digress.

It seems like these days people are always out for more. At my dayjob, I book screenings for all kinds of movies - big movies, little movies, medium size movies. And almost EVERYONE I speak with wants a price break. GOD FORBID you should pay what something is WORTH. If we were a union house, we'd have to charge even more. So, DEAL.

It seems like some one is always out to get money from another person. Lately, it seems like it's been ME. Recently, I bought a laptop computer. I thought I had found a very good price - 366mhz, 32mbs RAM, 4gbs hard disk all for $800. A great deal, right? Not quite - the price is actually $1200, but if I agree to sign up for THREE YEARS of Prodigy Internet Service, I get $400 off. So, what do I do? I'm desperate for a laptop. I'm never home enough to do all the writing I like to do and the website was falling behind, so I did it.

Prodigy is an okay service, but I do get busy signals too often as well as corrupt connections. Even though I am very happy with my laptop I wonder why they couldn't have just charged me $800 flat. Then there's my cell phone. For $20 a month I get a phone, 20 minutes of free air and unlimited weekend calls, AND a requirement that I sign on for a year. What if I decide I don't like it? What if I just don't use the phone enough? TOUGH - I am stuck for a year's worth of $20 payments.

Why can't they just be reasonable and let me cancel when and if I want? What's worse is that my credit is so bad they need a $1000 deposit just to allow me to sign up. What's THAT about? I wouldn't run up that much over the span of two years let alone one.

Then we have one of the myriad mini-dish television systems. I heard an ad on the radio recently that said the mini-dish itself was FREE (with qualified programming). This means that I probably have to spend more than my regular cable bill on many channels that I don't even want. The radio then went on to advise me that after getting the system I shouldn't ingest more than 200 channels at a time and that I should program only my favorites.

While the selling technique is cute (but amazingly trite), I can't help but think if there was only a way I could pay for only the channels I watch things would be much easier for me. Of course, you know that if they did offer a pay-per-channel system, they couldn't charge as much over all.

We all seem to be out to get more money from each other than maybe we should. Where does the line fall between greed and intelligence? Is Bill Gates worthy of praise because he is the richest man on the planet? Or should we curse him for charging $80 for an operating system when it costs less than $2 to produce a single CD-ROM? Is it okay to compromise your morals if it means you get to have lots of money? I like to think not, but our society has other ideas.

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