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Switching from Credo

October 6, 2011

Living in America - Progressive phone company condundrum

Ever notice how the System can bite you on the ass even when you think you’ve found a way to beat it…at least temporarily? Recently I thought I had found one sure way and I’ve got the bite marks to prove it. What follows is the sad – and pricey – saga of a cell phone company switch gone wrong.

When I saw an ad the progressive magazine Mother Jones inviting me to switch to Credo, “America’s only progressive phone company,” I leapt at the chance. Finally, I could hit back at a corner of the Moloch-worshipping, profit-gouging money monster. By switching I could thumb my nose at AT&T and Verizon and stop my money from going to the Tea Party. With Credo, I could see my monthly phone payments invested in progressive causes that I often support.

Was it too good to be true? Yes and no. It’s true that Credo doesn’t give a penny to Tea Partiers like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and other nut bars on the far right. It’s also true that Credo gives money to all sorts of political, social and environmental groups that are trying to make a better world. As well, it invites customers to participate online in public debates and protests.

It my latest email message from http://act.credoaction.com, I could sign a petition supporting the Wall Street protesters. “Not a single banker has gone to jail for crimes that led to the financial meltdown,” the message said, “But now over 1,000 protesters have been arrested in the inspiring Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City.” I can tell the mayor and police commissioner to “Respect the Occupy Wall Street protesters’ constitutional right to peaceful assembly.” Not your usual phone company approach to civil disobedience.

It’s also true, and I liked this part a lot, that Credo asks its customers where they want to see the profits go. When was the last time your phone company asked you how it should spend your money? Finally, it’s true that Credo supports workers’ right to organize trade unions although its own staff has not yet organized one.

All good things, in my view; progressive all the way. Maybe other phone companies could take a lesson from this one if they weren’t so busy devising new ways to suck greenbacks from our wallets and purses. Alas, things did not work out quite as I had hoped. Sometimes, the practical side of life wins out over the idealistic side.  So it was with me and Credo.

First, I learned that Credo uses the Sprint network to provide service. Sprint is at least as bad as AT&T and Verizon when it comes to its corporate investments and anti-union behaviour. I also learned that it has a reputation as one of the worst employers. When I asked Credo about it, they said they had approached AT&T to allow them to piggyback on their network and were refused. I assume the same refusal came from Verizon.

Second, when I signed on with Credo, the agent said I could purchase a calling package that would minimize my charges for calls to Canada where many of my friends and relatives live. As it turned out, there was no such package. The cost of a call to Canada from the United States using Credo’s cellular network is 42 cents a minute and within Canada its 55 cents.

I wanted to continue supporting Credo but they couldn’t find a way to provide the services I need. I was hooped and the whole sad affair cost me a bundle. Worst still, I’m back to supporting a big phone company that has lots of fat defence contracts and probably treats most of its workers like crap.

If Credo got itself organized as a unionized company and if it could give me the calling plan that the other companies offer, I would have been golden. Sticking it to corporate Capitalism through your cell phone, how cool is that?

Alas, I’m phoneless in Oregon and wishing I hadn’t paid the $300 it cost me to end my contract early with one of the big phone profiteers. It will also cost me plenty to send my phones back to Credo. I’ve lost my old phone number, so will have to invest hours of my time informing my contacts of the new number. All in all, I’m out of pocket several hundred dollars. But hey, that’s the price you pay for trying to exercise your principles in an unprincipled world, right? At least I tried.

If anyone hears of another progressive cell phone company, one that offers free calls to Canada, please let me know? I’ll switch again in a long-distance heartbeat.

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