Tuesday, April 01, 2014

this and that

* I have an appointment at 2 pm today for the dude to come out and set up my new computer.

* The tax-preparer also finished my taxes; I have an appointment Thursday afternoon to sign off on them and pay. (She didn't say whether the "pay" was just "pay for the preparation" or "make arrangements to pay more to Uncle Sam than you've already had withheld." It wasn't a good year for my stock account, and I surprised myself at my generosity (this will be the first year I ever attempted a Schedule A), so I'm hoping I either break even there or perhaps get a small refund)

* I guess those are the two big things getting done I should be most concerned about. The third, though - well, our cable company was recently bought out by another cable company (Not one of the big boys; a smaller company that seems to be new). As a result, we are having to get new digital set-top receivers. We got a letter. I called the day I received the letter (March 7) to request mine. And I waited. I called again the end of Spring Break week to see when to expect them, and I was told "Call back the end of next week." Well, I gave it an extra two days and called yesterday.

Okay, so this is not a good time - my cable company is one of the ones that (depending on whom you listen to) Viacom was holding up for more money, or that was refusing to negotiate with Viacom, and so, apparently, we are or were in danger of losing MTV, Nickelodeon, et al. (Gee, I didn't even think to check this morning - they were supposed to go dark at midnight last night. The only one of the affected channels that I ever watch is Nickelodeon, and then only for one or two of its cartoons)

I called the "old" (Mediastream) number and got a busy signal. A BUSY SIGNAL. I haven't heard one of those in years; most businesses have either an automatic hold system, or enough phone-answerers. And even individual humans, most of us have voice-mail boxes (I do; if someone calls me an I'm on the phone - which is not likely - they get sent over to my voice-mail).

I found the paper with the new number (After fretting for several minutes that I had tossed it in the Giant Office Purge of Sunday). Called them. Negotiated a phone tree, finally hit 0 in frustration and got a person. Explained to her. Was told, "You actually called the wrong number." I explained to her that the "old" number was either no longer in service or was constantly busy. She took my phone number and said she'd e-mail someone.

Got a call back (Just as I was eating dinner). Was told: "This is a known issue [the new boxes not arriving]. In fact, some of our EMPLOYEES haven't even got their boxes yet!" Okay, I guess that last part was meant to console me but to me it just sounded like, "Look, honey, even the people who actually matter to us are out of luck." She said she'd "put a note in my file" which sounds suspiciously like "The check is in the mail"

What should she have said, in my opinion? First, an "I'm sorry." I have had to call them three times and that is on record that I did. Second of all, some clear suggestion as how they'd clear it up: "We will express one out to you tomorrow." Or, failing that: "We're sorry, we're probably not going to get everyone hooked up by the original date, so we're pushing the changeover date back" or, least good but still better than nothing: "Yeah, you might not have cable access for a few days, but we'll not charge you for those days."

This changeover - after which my old box won't work - is supposed to happen Friday. I'm wondering, if I don't have the new one in time, will they pro-rate my next bill so I don't pay for however many days I'm without cable? I think they should, seeing as I FULFILLED MY RESPONSIBILITY in this matter and they did not.

I don't know. I had high hopes for this company but it seems to me like they're kind of incompetent. The old company - Communicomm - was really good, had good customer service. Mediastream was really variable - lots of times you got someone who couldn't or wouldn't help if you called to get help. I was really hopeful these guys would be an improvement but it seems like at least some balls have been dropped in this matter.

(Yes, there is a local office, and yes, I suppose I could make time to drive out there. No, there is no published local phone number I can find or I'd be calling the local office).

What this may suggest to me is that it's time to drop cable altogether and just watch stuff streaming on my computer. There are precious few things I LIKE on television any more - some of the cartoons, mainly, and old movies on TCM. The only other reason I have cable any more is for local weather coverage, which is kind of crucial, especially in the spring when severe weather is likely, but I'm really beginning to question paying what I pay for alllllllll those channels that are effectively reality-show clones of each other, and for dealing with a company (well, they also provide my Internet service) that seems so unable to manage this changeover.

Or, I don't know, maybe get DISH. My parents use DISH and they seem pretty happy with it. No idea if it offers "local" channels in my area like their service does, that would be the one sticking point because I really do feel like I need minute-by-minute local weather (with radar) when there's severe weather on the way.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

What is WRONG with cable companies? Ours got bought out four or five times and the last one just completely went out of business but before that we had had enough and switched to Direct TV. We have never had any problems with it. It's expensive and we only watch fewer than a quarter of the channels we get but it's reliable and all things considered we love it.