Howard Kurtz's July 10 op-ed column rightly bemoaned the state of customer service. He cited the frustrating experience of trying to cancel something via a phone menu or Internet connection.

I found only one weakness in his column: He didn't name names. Nothing is going to change until specific companies get unwanted public exposure. Outed, if you will.

Even then, it's going to take a hostile reaction from their stockholders before anything is done.


Wayne, N.J.


Here's a story for Howard Kurtz's consumer service chamber of horrors.

I have watched PBS's "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" every evening for years, but recently, when I turned to PBS, I got a message saying, "This service is not available in your area."

I called my satellite TV provider. After fiddling with the electronic menu for 15 minutes -- which Mr. Kurtz would probably regard as a short time -- I was connected to a real person. This person clearly did not understand the reason for the problem, but after much consulting with colleagues said:

* Congress had just passed, and the president had signed, legislation giving me "access to my local stations."

* My local stations included PBS.

* I could have access to my local stations via the same satellite provider, but it would cost $6.50 more a month.

* However, because I did not have the right kind of dish to receive these local stations, it would cost me $100 for a new dish to be installed.

No notice in the mail. No on-screen notice. No phone call to ask if I wanted this new service. Nothing -- including any concern for a customer who can't take his business elsewhere because there is no elsewhere.


Old Chatham, N.Y.