Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I’m Really Big and I’m Here To Help You

Banks and Big-Time Internet Service Providers are powerful entities. Thank heavens they’re here to help us.

The New York Times reports that banks are protecting us from ourselves by charging large fees when we inadvertently over-draft our debit cards. One poor guy paid $238 in extra charges -- $34 per transaction -- when he mistakenly charged mini-amounts on seven transactions. The banks and credit unions call their helpful fees overdraft “protection” … you know, because it’s good for us.

Comcast and Verizon have both rolled out DNS redirect “service,” a process that takes us to one of their own search engine pages (with advertising, of course) when we mistype a url into our browser. Presumably, we are all too busy to deal with the standard Internet 404-error message, so the practices are for our own benefit. Comcast modestly calls their program Domain Helper. Verizon has tagged their browser hi-jacking practice DNS Assistance.”

Cell phone companies also are part of the helpful crowd. Need to add a line? They make it super easy by almost giving away expensive devices like the Blackberry or the Google Phone. All you have to do is promise to stay with them for another two years. There’s more! Next year, big phone makers will start selling phones with universal cell phone chargers. Hurray! … Wait… the standardized chargers will be compatible only with data-enabled European phones. But I’m sure there’s a helpful reason why Americans can't have this service yet. Maybe it's to protect our "cell phone charger choice options."

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

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