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
  • 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

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

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