Scammed in Plain English


Robert B. Jordan, Resident Grump

Have you ever been scammed, tricked, swindled, conned?  No you say?  Yes you were!

I’m not talking about those telephone and internet scammers that try to get into your bank account, or your SSN, or get you to say “yes.”  I’m talking about our beloved American corporations (corporations are people now).  Corporations, I mean people, we all deal with every day.

“Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” Albert Einstein

Here are scamming examples from utility people, cable TV people, and the ever loving insurance people.  

 >>>UTILITY people

Each and every one of us is scammed every time we pay a utility bill.  Have you ever really looked closely at any of the individual items in these billings?  Do you know exactly what each and every charge is for?  No you say – Why not I say. Most all of us just pay without question.  But we are being scammed in plain English each and every month.

As an example my recent billing for Gas Service includes these additional items:

    *Service and Facilit

     *Usage Charge

    *Interstate Pipeline

    *Pipe Sys Int Adj

    *Franchise Fee

    *Sales Tax.

These funny little items total to $43.11 for that month X 12 = $517.32 per year.


For the Electric Service there are:



* Trans Cost Adj

    *Demand Side Mgmt Cost

    *Purch Cap Cost Adj

    *Service & Facility

    *Renew Energy Std Adj

    *Franchise Fee.

These funny little items totaled $45.82 for that month X 12 = $549.84 per year

For gas and electric the monthly is $88.93 X 12 = $1,067.16 per year.  How much of that yearly amount is pure thievery?

Let’s say that only 2% is not legitimate, that equals only $1.78.  So $1.78 X 12 = $21.36 per year. The recent population of Metro Denver is a bit over 3 million.  $21.36 X 3 million = $64 million per year – Not bad.

I recently read “The Fine Print: How Big Companies use ‘Plain English’ to Rob you Blind” by David Cay Johnston.  What an eye opener.  Here is just one example of what you would find in this book:

“There are over 300,000 miles of pipelines running underground throughout the United States. These pipelines transport such things as natural gas and jet fuel, among other things.  The pipeline industry over the years has managed to obtain some very favorable conditions from the Government through lobbying and special interests.  As one example they are exempt from paying income tax.  However they charge their users (your utility company) a fee for income tax, which they never pay.  That is passed on to the consumer – you.”

Hello, I’ve just been scammed. Notice the words pipeline and pipe in my billing above.


>>> CABLE TV people 

I have a package deal with my carrier for TV/Internet/telephone.  These additional items appear on every month’s bill;

    *Universal Connectivity Charge

    *Regulatory Recovery Fees

    *Broadcast TV Fees

    *Regional Sports Fee


    *Franchise Fee

    *Capital Recovery PEG Fee

    *Municipal Fee

    *FCC Fee

    *911 Fee(s)

The dollars involved are not earth shattering, but when a carrier quotes you a price for one of their many packages they never include any of these funny little charges, nor do they add taxes in to their quote.

In a recent month these little funny charges amounted to $20.61 X 12 = $241.92 per year.  It’s not a large amount, but is it a scam?  Most are probably as a result of some heavy duty activities by some beloved Lobbyists of the people working hard to get into your wallet on behalf of the shareholders.

How much of the monthly charges I described is legitimate? How much is not?


 >>> INSURANCE people 

I am going to detail for you two instances where my wife and I have been scammed by insurance companies, and I fear many thousands of others around the country have also been scammed in the same way.



A couple years ago we moved.  We notified all concerned of our change in address.  Shortly thereafter we received a letter from my wife’s supplemental medical insurance company that our monthly premium would increase by 17% because of the move.

We live in Colorado and moved from Jefferson County to Adams County, a distance of about 20 miles.  We did not change doctors, who were located about half way between our old location, and our new one..

My protests to the insurance folks were a matter of exchanging letters, with me not getting any satisfaction; the problem ended up being ZIP codes. Our new ZIP was actually a Denver ZIP code, hence the higher premium.

The Postal Department assigned Denver ZIP codes to several locations within bordering counties, because the Denver Post office was given the responsibility of delivering mail to those areas.  It had nothing to do with residency. The Colorado Insurance Commissioner approves rates based on ZIP codes, not by county.

I am convinced that the clever insurance companies, yes all of them, know exactly what they are doing when they play this ZIP code game – it is no coincidence my friends. Charging people higher rates, but paying out lower claims.  Pure profit – it must be huge – scammed in plain English.




I was in line at a Burger King and I bumped into the car ahead of me.  The damage to the other car was a small, very small, dent in the bumper. No damage to my car.

The repair bill for the other car was a little over $2600.00.  Outrageous – they must have replaced the entire back end.  When I protested to my insurance company I was told it was easier and less expensive for them just to pay rather than protest, or challenge.  My premium went sky high – they’d get their $2600.00 back through my much higher premium – scammed again in plain English.

I can’t even imagine the total amount of money that is scammed from us by insurance companies in one calendar year.  You add the dollars hidden away in utility bills and cable TV bills and it would most likely blow you away.

Do you still believe you’ve never been scammed?  Well the above examples prove I’m being scammed – so surely you are also.  What should we do about it?

This is one grump’s take on life.  Did I forget to rant on prescription prices?  A future Blog.

“Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.” Anonymous


Author: aviewolf

An old retiree struggling to deal with life in today's world.

4 thoughts on “Scammed in Plain English”

  1. I have one to add to that. During the recent hail storm one of my cars had 2800.00 in damage. The insurance company totaled it and gave me 3800.00 to keep the car. And now I cannot get comp and collision on it so my insurance on that car will drop over 150.00 per year. I know it sounds like I am making out on this but somehow the insurance company knows better, I am sure.

  2. Scammed, Scammed, Scammed; yes, me too!
    And those nasty corporations have a way of making it all but impossible to protest, they wear you down where you get the point of saying, to hell with it!
    I don’t have time to sit on the phone for hours waiting for a real person to speak with.

    Love the Einstein quote!

Comments are closed.