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The Razor's Edge
by p.l. frank

Pretzel Logic

What is happening with us? It seems the more sophisticated we have evolved as a society, the wackier our logic has become. How often do you shake your head and roll your eyes up to the heavens at some twisted, skewed, new policy that has oozed its way into your life? How many times have you uttered the words, "Now this defies all logic" in the past year? If your answer is "I lost track", welcome to the club.

Now, contrary to what some people have argued, I am not convinced it’s a conspiracy. In fact, I suspect this trend is far too sophisticated and complex for the Captains of Industry to even receive credit for it. Far more likely, it was a random chain of events. An inevitable course, if you will, resulting from the fragmentation and breakdown of human impact in a society overburdened with too many people with not enough time. In short, we are too busy and the powers that be are simply reaping the benefits by default.

If you are like most of us you are too overwhelmed to start a campaign, sit down and write a complaint letter, or even set on hold waiting to release your pent-up hostility into the customer service cosmos. Here then, you can at least share in the knowledge that you are not alone. We are with one another in spirit, even if none of us have the power, time or inclination to do anything about it.

Pretzel Logic and the Utility Companies: The telephone companies appear to be leading the pack in Pretzel Logic as anyone with an unlisted telephone number knows. My telephone company charges me two bucks every month NOT to be listed. That’s NOT to use up ink, space, paper, and manpower to print my number in the telephone directory. Interesting.

And, for those of you who do not know, most phone companies now charge their customers for NOT having a long-distance carrier. That’s correct. You choose NOT to have a service and you now must pay a monthly fee not to get it.

The water company in one Northeast region has put a new spin on Pretzel Logic. They send their customers notices stating that if you have decided to go to work on the day the water company meter-reader comes out (unannounced) to read your meter and s/he is unable to gain access, you will need to pay $250.00 (that’s two hundred and fifty bucks!) in addition to your quarterly water bill.

Given that their customers are sent written instructions on when and how to call their own meter reading in to a computerized telephone system, this utility company must defy all reason to justify their charges. Their logic? A company representative stated, "If we didn’t charge our customers the fee, there’d not be any point in even HAVING our meter-readers."

Of course many electric companies have also fallen victim to Pretzel Logic. One such company in the Northwest charges their customers for being on what is called a "rotating power outage block". One day I decided to find out just what sort of services I was paying for so I called and asked about the various charges and inquired about what this feature was. The call went something like this:

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P.L. Frank enjoys writing both nonfiction social satire and funny, thought-provoking novels.  Dr. Frank has been a researcher in the field of Behavioral and Social Sciences since 1983, and has worked as a university professor and therapist. 

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