Sunday, September 10, 2006

Essay: The Cable Guy

We got a new, high-definition TV using our credit-card flyer miles. My DH (dear husband), who has in the past resisted anything advanced in channel-selection, wanted a cable box that would allow us to get HD broadcasts (why have an HD TV is you can't get HD?). So, he went over to the local cable office and got a box.

Not surprisingly, we couldn't get it to work. (We had to go back the office once because they forgot to give us a power cord.) I called the cable people for help, but their systems were too slow and I hung up. DH called them, and they "pinged" our box, but it didn't help. We tried different configurations (we have at least 4 sets of directions, none of which match our equipment exactly). We decided to have a service call set up. DH tried but was disgusted he'd have to wait all day for them to show up. When I called, they gave me a two-hour window, but a week-and-a-half away. Fine.

The bill came in the mail, and they were charging a lot more than we thought. I called them again, waited again for their slow systems, was swapped around because the person who answered the phone was having a problem with her computer. I finally figured out what the charges meant, and they promised they'd credit our account for the weeks we've been without the service.

The day arrived for the service call. I was told it would be between 1 and 3 p.m., so I made sure I was home by 12:45. I found a message on my answering machine left by the cable company an hour before; they were calling to see if I still needed service. If I got the message, I should call the toll-free number.

Hunh, I thought to myself. I almost ignored the call, because I couldn't understand the whole phone number in the message. But I was a good doobee, and looked it up on the Internet. Calling it dropped me into the automated system, press-one-for-this, two-for-that. I finally got to the point where I could request a person, and was put on hold.

I was on hold for probably ten minutes. When the call was finally answered, I told them my info and why I had called (because they had asked me to). They girl didn't have the right system, she'd have to transfer me to someone else. Back on hold. Next girl picks up, "What can I do for you?" I had to tell my story all over again. Grr. She says, "Let me look that up for you," and puts me on hold again. "I don't see a call scheduled for today," she says. "It's been rescheduled."

WHAT?! I hit the roof. The pitch of my voice rose. "This is ridiculous!" I said. "I'm going to quit cable if this isn't resolved today." "Ok, let me put you back on hold." She comes back with the answer they will try to call again, if I'm not home, then they'll reschedule. "I'm on the phone, I might be missing the call," I say. She tries to get me off the phone, and I try to tell her to let someone know how mad I am. She finally snapped, "I'm in Kansas, and I can't control what your dispatcher does!" She says she'll make a note of my irateness. I hang up, feeling like I've been through a fist fight.

A few minutes later, the phone rings, and the nice local guy calls. "We're going through a transition," he says. The Kansas call center is new. I say they ought not tell people to call Kansas to talk about local service calls, a suggestion I'm sure fell on deaf ears.

About 15 minutes after all the hubbub, the technician showed up. He was very nice and polite. He kept coming in and out, bringing in new cables and equipment. He went in the basement, he went outside. It took him an hour, but he finally got it going. The cable was a mess, he said, but the company had also neglected to remove the block.

Thirty minutes before the technician arrived, I was ready to kick out cable and get DirecTV. Now, since it works, I don't dare change a thing.

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