too many words by laura lemay

Cable television, a rant

I spent the day on the phone today with the entire household services division of northern california, turning off services, turning on services, transferring services and other such fun things you have to do when you move.

It used to be you just called these people and got put on hold for and interminable amount of time, maybe with some nice music, and then you got a customer representative who was surly and hard of hearing, but with some work you could actually get your phone turned off.

Not so today. Most of these companies now have voice mail systems, which are not unlike the crowd control procedures at large amusement parks; they keep you wandering about in the ropes to make you think that you’re doing something when actually you’re going nowhere fast.

By far the best company at this so far has been the cable co-op, in which you navigate no less than *ten* different voice mail menus, then you’re plopped into obnoxious music mode, where you sit, and once in a while there’s an ominous clicking, and a nice voice tells you that they *really* value your call at Cable Co-Op, and if you’ll just stay on the line…

And then finally you get a real human, who tells you that they’re actually an answering service, and they’ll relay your message to cable co-op in the next hour.

Somehow I got led around in the dark and ended up out the back exit, dazed, trying to figure out how I ended up here.

This happened to me *four* times. But at least during the four times, each time I got a different obnoxious music channel. The wide variety of obnoxious music at the cable company includes:

  • Improvisational jazz. From India. I’m not sure its legal in this state to improvise with a sitar.
  • Muzack versions of atrocious 70’s music. I hung up immediately on that one.
  • Loud audacious mexican music. Too cheerful.
  • Music I don’t know the genre of, but I expect it would be favored by large men in Germany wearing leiderhosen and indulging in large greasy sausages and thick beer.

I finally got through to cable co-op, and I was so surprised that I nearly hung up on the nice woman in suspicion (“You’re really the answering service again, aren’t you…”) Only to find out that they can’t just transfer the service, they have to send a cable technician out to take the nice box away from me and connect it to my TV, then tell me how nicely everything is working and charge me $25 for the priviledge.

What a scam!

They didn’t believe me when I said I could connect the box myself. Obviously I’m just an ordinary customer who can’t even navigate thier voice mail system without getting spat out the back door, how can I possibly understand how to connect a nice little black wire to the nice little bit on the box that says “attach wire here.”

I guess one needs cable attachment training in order to do this difficult task. Training which includes convincing the ordinary customer that they have to stay home *half* a *day* waiting for the extremely qualified cable technician to show up and do 2 minutes worth of work.

For 25 bucks and having to sit around for four hours I want the highly qualified cable technician to perform an interpretive dance with the cable box and the cable.

And I want them to do it while I blast improvisational indian sitar music into his ear, telling them every couple of minutes that I really value the work they’re doing, but if he could stand on one foot for just a couple more minutes….

heh. That would *almost* make it worth it.