My life in television purgatory came to an end recently when Kassia and I moved back into our home, after an extensive remodel, and re-activated our DirectTV service.
[ad#AdSense1] My brief stint with Charter Cable reminded me of what truly bad customer service is like. Never mind the torture device that Charter calls a DVR. The day Charter Cable is the only option in my life is the day I stop watching television. Which is pretty much what I did for most of the spring and early summer.
Given the amount of time I’ve spent ranting about Charter Cable over the past four months I should be happier about my return DirectTV.
While I am still happy with DirectTV’s service, I have to say that the company’s equipment leasing scheme has me feeling like I’ve been fleeced.
Last week, the news was filled with news that companies like AT&T and Time Warner are looking to cap (or cap and charge) customer use of the Internet. This week, the Los Angeles Times is talking about Hollywood studios and their online plans for success. Note: if the first thing happens, the second thing won’t.
As part of our failed cable experiment, we were lucky enough to receive a single bill for service. While we didn’t get credit for the lousy service or a little cash back for dealing with the incessant dinner-time marketing calls, we did get to see that we, the customer, were being billed back for the “franchise fee” the cable company pays the City of Pasadena.
How cool is that? We don’t have a choice when it comes to cable service (meaning only one cable company serves this jurisdiction; DirecTV, we’re comin’ home to you soon!), and we get to pay extra on our bill for that dubious privilege? Talk about your racket. Even the oil companies aren’t that brazen about passing taxes back to the customer.
It is of course, no surprise to anybody how totally our local Cable Company, Charter Communications, sucks ass. In the past couple of years, we’ve discussed the absolute lameness of their HD-DVR, how their regular DVR drove Kirk & Kassia away from TV completely, as well as the amazing difficulty their customers have getting their technicians to show up for scheduled appointments
So here’s the deal: since last Thursday, nearly all of my digital cable channels are out. No HBO, no BBC America or Sundance, no ESPN HD. For whatever reason, the HD versions of our six local channels, as well as all of the analog channels like Sci-Fi, are still coming in.
Last night, right before sitting down to dinner, I did something I rarely ever do. I answered the phone even though the caller ID clearly identified the caller as “Marketing Firm” (602-889-3656). I’ve been dodging calls from this particular marketing firm for over a week and I was anxious to give them a piece of my mind. I was curious to find out what part of the “do not call list” they didn’t understand?
To my surprise, the marketing firm was calling on behalf of Charter Communications. I’ve been a happy DirectTV subscriber for years, but recently signed up for Charter cable after moving into an apartment for a few months while my home is being renovated.
“We understand that you’ve recently cancelled your Charter cable, we’d like to know what the reason is. Was it too expensive?”
That’s when my head nearly exploded. My life with Charter cable was brief and torturous. It lasted all of seven days before I returned the box and cancelled all but my internet access. And now they’re calling me right before dinner to ask why I cancelled my service?! If they’d only listened to my complaints while I was still a subscriber they’d already have that information.
The headlines, of course, are breathless: HBO Goes Online,
It’s not TV, it’s HBO — on your computer, It’s Not the Web, It’s HBO, so when I first saw them, I thought, cool.
Actually, here is what I thought: finally, I’m going to be able to re-watch the full run of The Larry Sanders Show! On my own schedule!
But then I read what HBO on Broadband is actually going to be . . .