Too many cooks spoil the broth, so they say. I’m sure it was also “they” who uttered “too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” How wonderfully politically incorrect “they” indeed were.

For the fifth year in a row – count them – five in all – I have had to do battle royale with our phone service provider at the office. Yes, Aggravating Telephonic Touters strikes again.

Every year I have to call them up to “renegotiate” our contract. Truth be told, there really isn’t any negotiating. The customer says “I’m not paying that ridiculous amount,” and the customer service person says, “Well, all righty then – why don’t we just keep charging you the same as we did all year?” It’s all a gigantic waste of time and energy while you wallow around in customer-service script reading and all that Press 1, Press 2 jazz.

You are then provided with a very comforting confirmation number, which, one month later you are giving to the next customer service rep as your bill is wrong.

Again, another comforting confirmation number, and the assurance that everything will be positively tickety-boo next month, and that your contract dates have shifted one month.

And oh yes, dear reader, another month goes by and, well, color me silly, the bill is wrong again. This time you’re told that a refund will be put through on the next month, but it’s not the refund you were envisaging, having worked your fingers to nubs on the calculator in preparation for the fight.

“Oh no, madam. We don’t refund the taxes and surcharges.”

Like hell you don’t, lady. No, no, dear – why should we pay the government for your company’s inefficiencies?

And sure enough, another two hours you won’t ever see again waft by, another confirmation number, and another change in the contract date.

I was so livid by the time I got off the phone, I went to the internet to find out who the joker is who is supposed to be captaining this ship.

I would have to say I think three CEOs is just a tad excessive. After all, how many chief executive officers does one company need? I would’ve thought just the one would suffice, ably assisted by the C.F.O., the C.O.O., and the C.I.O. (financial, operating and information technology if clarification was needed).

Oh yes, the company has all of them as well – the executive offices must be fair bulging at the seams in Dallas. I would imagine the broom closet they keep their customer service reps in would be pretty snug too, but not quite as plush.

Here’s a radical idea. Get rid of the majority of the “Cs” upstairs, and add some more “cs” downstairs, and while you’re about it, pay them a bit more. They might actually then take pride in their jobs and be prepared to own them.

Don’t forget what happened to Ma Bell in 1984, dear executives. Living high off the hog might be pretty terrific now, but your stranglehold on the Kansas City market is surely breaking some rules here.

Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at