When the Bill Comes Due


By Neil Offen 

When all the technology we had was a landline and a transistor radio, our bills were simple, something like a total of $6.99 a month, not including the cost of the occasional AAA battery. Now, with the phone, the internet, Hulu+, Disney+, Paramount+ and Spectrum-, we have seven or so different bills, each — if we care to actually look — seven pages long, with multiple charges, including a charge of $9.99 for not reading all the pages.

To help you get through those pages, let me explain what those charges mean:

Basic internet connection. This includes up to 1 gig (like a quart, two pints or half a gallon) of something you don’t understand or 78 Mbps of something else you can’t even imagine. What you can imagine is $74.95. 

Fancy internet connection. Your internet speed is now so fast you have already finished downloading and reading all my other explanations: $121.73.

Basic streaming plan. This includes channels in which you have absolutely no interest along with channels you’ve never heard of showing series you don’t care about and movies that never got reviewed, even in The Hollywood Reporter: $21.95. If you decide to add the World Wrestling Federation channel, add $150 every two weeks for therapy.

Fancy streaming plan. Not only do you get all the major streaming services, you get three extra remotes and a 34-page guide explaining that you are always using the wrong one.

Basic phone line access. This is only access to another basic phone line, most likely the line owned by your aged great-aunt, who still believes that voicemail is a singing telegram delivered by her postman: $12.79.

Mobile-to-mobile calls. But only on Thursdays to Saturdays, during lunchtime: $7.23

Mobile-to-mobile calls. Sundays to Wednesdays, before breakfast: $3.15.

Mobile calls to Mobile, AL. Shoulder season only: $2.99.

Friends and family calls and text messages. Second Sunday of the month, to family members who swore to you that they didn’t vote the way you think they might have voted: $5.87.

Unlimited text message allowance. Limited to text messages where someone has actually written out “you” instead of “u”: $1.83.

Text messages that include emojis: $.84.

Text messages that include an emoji you can’t decipher and are not sure whether it’s a happy face or the Swiss national flag: $1.11.

Video embedded in texts of something you’re not interested in, sent by someone you don’t know, concerning a previous text you don’t remember: $4.08.

Unlimited plan: This is the one plan that includes all your calls, all your surfing, all your texting and a side order of fries. It is gluten-free: $49.95.

Five hundred megabytes of data. This is what you get if you don’t have an unlimited plan. It is equivalent to half a gigabyte, a tenth of a troglodyte or, roughly, two quarts: $5.96.

Equipment charges. Although you have no equipment other than the Swiss Army knife you haven’t been able to open since you were officially discharged from the Swiss Army: $6.74.

Other surcharges, supercharges, discharges and garages for all the stuff for which you haven’t already been charged: $13.93.

Taxes and fees. Designed to round up the bill to the nearest amount that is higher than the amount you were charged last month: $19.57.

Plus $6.73, just because they can.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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1 Comment on "When the Bill Comes Due"

  1. Sheryl Forbis | March 31, 2023 at 7:59 am | Reply

    We can sooo identify!

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