Staying Power

New ways companies are getting us to stick with lousy service

My cable bill arrived the other day with an unexpected $20-a-month increase for the same package I've been getting for years. A cheery customer-service representative explained that my discount for bundled services had expired and, although she would truly like to, she couldn't restore it. When I mouthed off about hoofing it to another provider, her response fell into the category of "Good luck with that."

If she figured I wasn't going anywhere, she was right. Although I wasn't facing any exit fees, the idea of setting up a new account elsewhere--which involves not only waiting for the cable guy to...

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