Adventures In Cableland, Part II

Readers may recall a recent rant regarding my cable provider, good old TWC. Seems I have been paying for a service for several years that I have not actually been receiving. I have a box in the living room that records shows. It is supposed to share them with the TV in my bedroom and the one in my daughter’s room. But the service in her room never worked.

After substantial wrangling over this non-service and an unannounced price hike for it and some other services we were actually receiving, the cable folks promised a man would come round to fix me up. In three days. Between ten and eleven.

Lo and behold, he actually appeared and set to work. It took him about a half hour on site to actually complete the work, but he was compelled to contact headquarters more than once in order to reboot or reprogram or something technical in order to finish the job. This proved amazingly time consuming.

His calls to the back office were apparently as byzantine as those the public has to endure when calling customer service. He was put on hold repeatedly, forced to get the secret codes he needed to input and was required to use a digital tablet device to do various transactions. But it was defective, so wouldn’t hold a charge. This required him to go out to his truck where it was plugged in to be able to do business while talking at the same time on a cell phone to his masters.

They continually nagged him to speed it up since he had other appointments waiting. He repeatedly advised them that he’d finished long ago but couldn’t complete the bureaucratic process if they kept putting him on hold.

Amusingly, these long waits gave him plenty of time to tell me TWC uses a Rube Goldberg system with dozens of incompatible devices such as cable boxes. Many of them are also obsolete and others are cheap rebuilt products and unreliable. He claimed that Comcast, by contrast, uses only a couple different boxes and has a far more streamlined system. We will all be in TV paradise after the merger. Maybe.

All I know is that after two and a half hours for a thirty minute job, he moved on and I breathed a sigh of relief. My relief was short-lived. At dinner time, I went into the kitchen and switched on a small set that is only occasionally used and that played no part in the repair drama aimed at providing the whole house sharing I was supposed to be receiving all along.

You can see this coming, can’t you? All the rest of the TVs in the house were now working as intended. But now the kitchen TV was dead, except for a mocking message: “No Signal.”

Two days later, after more phone wrangling (during which my wife had been asked if she’d go down to the crawl space and try to trace a cable to which she had answered a furious “No!”), a new guy showed up to restore the signal to my kitchen. This was short work and off he went. The kitchen TV was working. My daughter could now play shows recorded in the living room on her TV, all was right with the world. Until I decided that evening to watch the end of a recorded show in bed. Now the whole house feature that didn’t work in my daughter’s room doesn’t work in my bedroom.

Time Warner giveth, and Time Warner taketh away. It also moves in mysterious ways. Will I call and ask yet another guy to give it a try? Will I cancel my service and get a dish? Will I quit watching TV altogether and retire to a zen monastery to chant? Will I die of old age before I have the service I pay for? I really don’t know.

I do know being a cable customer resembles nothing so much as being a lab rat in a maze, subjected to intricate, diabolical experiments aimed at enraging it by some Dr. Mengele type sadist. Well, mission accomplished TWC. I am enraged.

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