Monday, December 10, 2007

Cable TV Is The Anti-Christ

What do I want to watch? Anything aside from a blank screen, and thanks for asking.

Don't worry. I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to sit here and rant about cable. You've sat through that before and you don't need to hear it again.

Well... maybe just a little. Sorry!

Last week, our cable stopped delivering programming. It didn't go out totally; we still had the on-screen viewguide. It's just that we couldn't see any of the wonderful programs that the viewguide told us we should be able to see. We'd flip to a channel, expecting to see said channel and be entertained by it, but instead we saw...


... which wasn't very entertaining at all after the first five minutes or so.

It was the same for every channel to which we had subscribed. Just an otherwise blank screen with that baldfaced lie on it. I called Comcast.

To be truthful, MY WIFE called Comcast, and God bless her for that. I have had surgeries less painful than calling Comcast. The last time I called Comcast concerning a service outage... well, here's the obscenity-laced rant that followed. You'll want to open it only if you have an asbestos-infused screen. Otherwise, your computer may melt.

Having learned precious little from my last encounter with Comcast customer service personnel, I assumed that a short jolt of electricity, sent from them to my TV, might solve the current problem.

(Hah! Current! Electricity! It's almost something like a joke!)

No go. MY WIFE handed me the phone when the guy asked her to do something involving the connections on the TV, as I know a bit more about such things. It turned out that the dope on the other end wanted us to unplug the TV, then plug it back in. That was as much as he knew to do. I may as well have walked up to the TV, waggled my fingers, and said, "Booga, booga, booga!" It would have had just as much of an effect. As soon as he suggested it, I knew that it wouldn't work. I did it anyway. What the hell. I'm a Christian, so I believe in miracles.

After it didn't work, he suggested we have a service tech visit our home. I had a suggestion for him, but I tried to keep my cool. It wasn't his fault he was a dumb bastard unable to do anything helpful whatsoever. Comcast bore that responsibility. They hired him and then failed to train him in any way that would actually provide help to the customers who called.

I told him that I wanted to cancel our service. He said he couldn't do that. He said I'd have to call back during regular business hours and speak to someone else. I told him that was bullshit. I told him to leave a message for the sales office or whatever cabal there was there who had to be informed. He said...

Screw it. You don't need to hear the whole conversation. Suffice to say it involved repeated obscenities, until I couldn't take any more of it, at which point I handed the phone back to MY WIFE, whose cooler head was beginning to become as hot as mine was. She demanded a service appointment during the evening, as I had already taken a day off from work the last time Comcast didn't deliver the services it was supposed to deliver.

Mr. Helpful Customer Service Rep said that the earliest appointment in the evening was on next Tuesday. It was Wednesday evening when we were calling. He wanted us to wait seven days before service was restored. MY WIFE said that this was unacceptable. He said that it was the earliest he could offer. She said that it was unacceptable. He said that it was the earliest he could offer. Repeat, ad nauseum.

Finally, she told him to set up the appointment for Tuesday evening, but if we could get RCN to come in and install their service prior to then, tough luck, Comcast. He asked if there was anything else he could do to help us this evening. We couldn't think of anything aside from disemboweling himself, so no.

The next day, I went on-line to the RCN website. There was a handy form wherein I could set up an installation. And they had appointments on the coming Sunday morning. Excellent! I could get new service, from what almost had to be a more responsive company, two full days before I had been promised service from the company I was already doing business with. I signed us up for RCN, with a service tech scheduled to come to our home between 8am and 11am Sunday.

Skip past the next four days. You certainly don't need to hear about me watching old wrestling tapes, which is what I did whenever my TV jones became too much and I needed a visual fix.

It is now 11:05am on Sunday. The RCN tech has not shown up during the scheduled three hour time period. I call RCN customer service. After going through the same basic "press this" menu as Comcast had, I'm on-hold waiting for a service rep, same as with Comcast.

The RCN rep finally comes on the line. He asks me for my account number. I explain that we don't yet have an account, as I've been waiting for the installer to arrive. I tell him that the installer was supposed to be here sometime within the past three hours, but he never showed up. The rep puts me on-hold.

I sit on my couch for five minutes, listening to advertisements for pay-per-view events. I am fuming once again. It appears that there is no such thing as a cable company that provides good service. I am now seriously considering going to any random cable office and slaying the first ten people with whom I come into contact. It would appear to be a boon to mankind if I did so.

A totally different rep comes back on the line and asks me for my account number. I again explain that I do not yet have an account. He asks me for my phone number. I give it to him. He asks for my name, and my address, and my zip code. I give him those. It sounds as though he is punching these things into his system. He says that he would like to set up a security question for me, so that no one else may access my account. I again explain that I do not yet have an account, but if he wants to set up some sort of security question for this non-existent account, he should feel free to knock himself out. I hope he doesn't take me literally, as then I would have to go through this rigmarole with yet another service rep.

He doesn't set up the security question. Instead, he asks me to wait just a minute, and he puts me on-hold.

If the installer had showed up at that very moment, I would have carved him up into bite-size pieces and fed him to the fishes in the Charles River. Luckily, there was still no sign of him. I listened to another five minutes of ads for pay-per-view events.

The rep came back on the line and told me that he had been in contact with the Boston-area supervisor. He said it appeared that the installer had not yet been by my place.

Really? Gee! Thanks! Now, what was it I was calling about? Oh, yeah! That very thing!

(Insert unintelligible sounds of mental anguish.)

He then said that he had a confirmation number, from the Boston-area supervisor, which I could have. God only knows why I would have a reason for wanting that number. He read it to me anyway. I didn't write it down, nor did I commit any of my remaining brain cells to even the slightest bit of memorization of said number. Instead, I asked him what was going to happen, now that he had done these wondrous feats on my behalf.

He informed me that the supervisor would probably call me.

I said that if he didn't call me within ten minutes, RCN could go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut. We'd stay with the devil (read: shitty provider of service) we already knew.

Approximately thirty minutes later, when I expected nobody from RCN to ever darken my doorway, and I had decided to wait for the Comcast visit on Tuesday, and I was ready to take a nap - having awoken way early that morning in anticipation of the imminent arrival of RCN, which hadn't happened - the RCN service tech finally shows up.

OK. I decided that, as long as he was here, I'd see if he could actually give us some service. He seemed like a nice enough fellow.

As it turned out, he did give us service. He installed the RCN converter box; made the connections and disconnections outside of the house; was polite and helpful concerning my questions; and he even made an extra-special effort to wipe his feet extremely clean every time he had to come in from the snow-covered outside world. As a result, we are now RCN customers. When the Comcast tech shows up on Tuesday, I'll hand him the Comcast converter box and ask him to relay to his superiors where they can put it.

Notice to The Dish Network: If RCN doesn't work out, you're next.


lime said...

i believe there is a special place in hell reseved for the folks who design automated switchboard systems and who train and direct customer service reps. i really do.

David Sullivan said...

I had DISH and went back to cable if that tells ya anything!

Melinda said...

It's true: all cable companies are evil (said with sinister accent). Actually most customer service places are just cubicle farms with poorly trained people reciting from scripts and saying things like "we apologize for the inconvenience" and "no, my manager is not available". The general rule Jeremy and I follow is to simply demand a supervisor and keep on going up the chain until you get a person who CAN (and probably will) help you.
Maybe their version of hell will last as long as all of the minutes they've put people on hold...

Anonymous said...

Your right, Comcast represents everything that is wrong in this world! Trying to get ny HDMI service fixed. Its horrible, they never ever solve the problem!

Joe said...

Go Direct TV.

They're better, and you can get NFL Sunday ticket through them.

Of course, I live in an apartment right now, so I have cable... but it's a small local cable company and the service is always top notch.

- Joe

Dusty Lens said...

Hey, that's Customer Service for ya in theis new millenium. But think about this for a moment.

If cable is the Anti-Christ, what does that make network TV? True, there are no customer service issued with network broadcast TV; but their programming and format is utterly unwatchable. Everything is "reality" based Joe sonmething survivor house millionaire you're fired star dancing shows.

Don't know what to say, but Good luck to you. This is our future?