For a while, I had a Verizon wireless broadband device. A few months ago, I decided I didn’t need it any more and called them up to cancel. I was expecting some phone company hell for my trouble, but it actually went fine. Until, that is, I got my next bill from them. What’s especially odd about it is that it’s a bill for zero dollars and zero cents. In other words, they know I don’t owe them money, but they’re billing me anyway. And now it happens every month. And it’s hard to know how to get out of this situation, because I don’t have a Verizon Wireless phone number or account number anymore thanks to the fact that I don’t have an account with them and don’t owe them any money.
This is the same company that sticks a flier in my mailbox about once a week urging me to sign up for their FIOS package deals. These actually sound like really good deals to me and I would gladly sign up except FIOS isn’t available in my building. Or in my neighborhood. Or, indeed, anywhere in the District of Columbia.
I bring this up because this kind of petty waste in a public sector context would become grist for some sweeping political conclusions. Really sweeping. Not like “this agency should improve its management processes” or even the more general “in large bureaucratic organizations, lots of minor stuff goes wrong all the time.” Instead, it’d be like “this is why we have to privatize everything” or “obviously we can cut taxes and balance the budget by eliminating waste.”