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An expensive television Christmas Story

On Christmas Eve, I sat down with my family after dinner intent to enjoy a Christmas movie on TV.

We decided to watch the 1983 classic, “A Christmas Story,” starring Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, a young boy who prayed that he would find a Red Ryder BB rifle under his Christmas tree.

We could have picked a classic like Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), which stars Jimmy Stewart as a loan company president’s son who gets a second chance to appreciate all that he has in life.

Or, we could have picked another like the movie version of Charles Dickens’ novel and classic, “A Christmas Carol.” There have been many remakes but my favorite is the one that came out in 1938 and stars Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge.

So, I turned on my Xfinity/Comcast TV and started to search through the channels. I slowly typed in the name into the search field only to find that the movie wasn’t available “on demand,” unless I wanted to rent it for $3.99 or buy it for $8.99.

Now, $3.99 doesn’t go as far as it went in the 1960s when I was young child sitting with my parents to watch some of the many Christmas classics from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s we enjoyed back then. And, I make more than enough where I could loss $5 and not be upset.

But I already pay Xfinity $230 every month for cable TV, Internet and a home telephone that I rarely use to call anyone because I rely more on my cell phone, and that bill just seems too damn high, too!

Why am I paying $230 every month so that I can have the “honor” to pay another $3.99 to watch a movie that is nearly 34 years old?

My two largest utility bills are cable TV and my cell phone, which costs an outrageous $270 each month from Sprint – every time I see the Sprint commercial claiming that if customers at other services would switch, they would get huge discounts, I scream at the TV, “What about your 14-year-long loyal customer, Sprint?”

All I wanted to do was watch a stupid Christmas movie, but Xfinity stole the spirit of Christmas right out of the moment.

Are they that greedy?

Worse, why isn’t government taking control of all this? Why aren’t cable TV and cell phones regulated as a utility?

Nearly $35 of that monthly Sprint bill goes to pay a City of Chicago Tax – I don’t live in Chicago!

Have you tried to deal with Sprint to get your services to run the way they promise? It’s impossible.

The Caller ID doesn’t work right. Worse is that I keep get this heavily accented Nigerian calling me telling me I owe the IRS $2,493 in taxes and if I don’t pay now – NOW! – they’re going to send a collector to kick down my door and haul me off to the hoosegow!

I imagine some character like Christopher Walken threatening me with his creepy stutter, and famous quote, “I have this theory about words É there’s a thousand ways to say ‘pass the salt’.”

For $270 a month, can’t the telephone companies crack down on these companies that use phony telephone numbers to make it look like their calling from someplace in America, when they are not?

You can hack Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails but you can’t prevent hackers from faking a phone number?

Oh sure, the people that these scrooge companies throw at you through customer service to deal with all these complaints are all lovable and nice people. I can’t blame them for what their monster corporations do.

But don’t we deserve some options to deal with these problems other than to be “sorried” to death in sympathy?

The next day on Christmas, “A Christmas Story” was playing on TV on the TNT channel all day long for free. It just wasn’t playing when I wanted to see it “on demand.”

Hey. “On Demand.” Doesn’t that mean when I demand it?

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. Reach him on his website TheDailyHookah.com or by email at [email protected]

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