I found this page the other day on Huffington Post about Seattle banning ride share apps. Basically, there are phone applications used to connect riders with drivers and are allowing people to save a lot of money on rides around town. I have never used one of these but have friends who rave about them. Seattle, apparently is a testing ground for these kind things. It seems to be working out well for Car-2-Go as well as the companies listed in the article as well as my friends who use the systems.
But of course, the taxi cab companies already have a foothold in our local political system and have manipulated and pressured the city council into considering a ban on. They claim it’s for public safety, but if you follow the money, it’s clear they are merely trying to protect their income without being forced to re-evaluate their business model for a changing society. Ultimately, consumers are suffering, as we are still being forced to wait 45 minutes for a cab so we can pay $30 to get across town.
It’s just one example out of a myriad of how our government and lawmakers just cause problems for the general population for the benefit of a small minority. Most of the time they sneak these bans in and no one notices. I can’t imagine just how much innovation has been stifled throughout the years by companies who use legislation to stifle their competition instead of working on a fair playing field.
And people try to use examples of how government helps us, claiming consumer protection is so important, but I believe this protection is largely a myth. The government built all our roads for the car companies instead of forcing them to compete with the railroad and bicycle companies on a fair playing field. Now we live in a society where everyone just blindly accepts that cars are the only way to get around, despite how they have forced us to use tax dollars to pave over our wilderness, are destroying our atmosphere and forcing parents and pet owners to keep their loved ones locked inside for fear they will be run over.
I could go on for example after example I think, but I’ll just do one more: almost ten years ago, I tried switching my internet service to a company called Clearwire. When I signed up they promised their internet service was comparable to Comcast, but I soon found that I was unable to watch even YouTube videos and some things wouldn’t connect at all. When I tried to cancel, they charged me over $300 for an early-termination fee, something that was buried in the fine-print of the contract and which the salesman had specifically told me did not exist. I attempted to fight it by cancelling my credit card, but they harassed me until I finally compromised and gave them about $200 to forgive the “debt.” I was rather poor at the time so this was a lot of money for me. People complain so often about Comcast’s customer service, but I tell you it is a world better than Clearwire was.
Now, the other day, nearly ten years after I went through all this frustration, I got a letter in the mail with a check for a little over $14, after a lawsuit settlement against Clearwire on behalf of all the people they did this to.
So even when there are legal successes on the consumer’s behalf, it doesn’t even begin to make up for the problems these selfish and underhanded companies cause for society.
Compare that to my experiences in the unregulated underground marijuana distribution. I mean, I bought marijuana literally several hundred times from dozens of different dealers in quantities ranging from a gram to a pound. Not once was I ever ripped off. Not once did a dealer ever pad a sack with catnip and not once did they ever “just take the money and run”. Not one single time.
So yeah, consumer protection is a joke. The government does far more to protect morally void companies from consumer backlash.