2000s >> 2003 >> no-1186-june-2003

Dial 118 for Murder

BT’s 192 directory enquiries service is closing in August, and we are told to be grateful for new competing services. Instead of an easy-to-remember 3-figure number, there’ll now be dozens of companies offering over 300 different 6-figure numbers beginning with 118.

Have people really got the time or inclination to work out who’s best by comparing all the different charges for land lines and mobiles, standing charges, minimum charges and costs per minute? And what’s the point, they’ll only keep changing in the rivalrous pursuit of profit, just as credit card companies keep trying to take more market share with constantly altering offers.

118??? callers will, doubtless, have even more of their precious time within capitalism used up by time-wasting tactics, resulting in bigger dividends for shareholders from higher per-minute charges for users. Yet more time will be wasted as newspapers fight for our attention with adverts, and TV and radio broadcasts fill our heads with ‘catchy’ images and inane jingles. “One-one-eight — four-three-two — buy from us brain-washing you”, probably won’t be heard.

Capitalism tells us that competition offers us more choice and lower prices, but it’s lies. Sure, companies like BT, having switched call centre jobs from the UK to India, where wages are as little as £5 a day compared to around £5 an hour in Britain, will cut costs. But these savings will be used to increase profits. And after years of this wearisome ridiculousness involving constantly changing prices, 118 business competition will have knocked out the weaker firms leaving just one or two dominating, who will not then be under pressure to sell cheaply.

A competitive society does not benefit the exploited working class majority. Even if capitalism could maintain pressure on businesses to always sell at the lowest possible prices, capitalists would still be the winners, as market forces also apply to employment. With less money needed to buy goods and services, workers’ demands can be supplied by lower pay, and that’s precisely what a competitive work market brings about, leaving most people, as always, constantly struggling through life until they finally get to rest, in their coffins.

There is no so-called “freedom” to “shop around” for competing businesses offering directory inquiries, credit cards, gas, electricity, telephones, insurance, loans, life insurance, car insurance, home insurance etc. All this activity is actually a debilitating cancer that eats away at those parts of your life not already consumed by profit-taking capitalists, or by time spent bill checking, bill paying, bank statement checking, tax form filling, benefit form completing, cash till queuing and all the other money-associated madness.

And while people maintain a junkie-like addiction to moolah, comparing RRP resin, using COD crack, sampling APR angel dust, getting high on HP horse and regularly dropping ATM acid into wallets and purses, they will be easy prey for the profit-taking, parliamentary and advertising pushers forever telling them they’ve got just what they need. And those totally hooked will fail to see or care that money peddlers control them, or how, and so will just go on feeding their habit by selling themselves and their acquiescence for a wage or state handout.

Stop making those attempts at complex monetary calculations which companies deliberately make complicated so customers can’t easily figure things out, and give up, submissively paying out to avoid stress and hassle. Dial 020 7622 3811 for details of real socialism.

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