An expensive television Christmas Story

An expensive television Christmas Story
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An expensive television Christmas Story

A new generation’s “Christmas Story,” not about Santa Claus or the spirit of kindness, but about the way our utilities control our lives with no accountability and definitely no really good service. This one is about Comcast/Xfinity but it could be about them all

Published in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News and the Reporter Newspapers, Dec. 29, 2017

By Ray Hanania

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 B.B 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 banker’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.

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Cover of "A Christmas Story (Full Screen ...

Cover of A Christmas Story (Full Screen Edition) Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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 isn’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 … 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 or by email at

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Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and for, and

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is

Email him at:

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
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