Customer Disservice

Last night, actually early (VERY early) this morning, I was watching a blank TV screen in bed. It was the best thing I could get. When the screen wasn’t blank I had a message from the cable company that read “Something has gone wrong. Please unplug your box for ten seconds then plug it back in. When the signal returns, you can begin watching your show again.” Now that’s a polite message for a cable company. It was also a big fat lie.

About a month ago I had a semi-similar problem. I had to upgrade the type of set top box I had been using so I had them ship me a replacement for a self-install. Even after carefully following the directions I couldn’t get the thing to work. A call to the support center revealed that they couldn‘t get the thing to work either. But not for trying. I was on the phone with them for about 35 minutes while the technician sent a variety of reset signals, check error codes and ping-backs, and generally did what she could to correct my problem from a distance. It didn’t happen. After apologizing for her inability to get the box working and for making me wait so long, she arranged for a technician to come out the next day and replace the box with a new one. I was also issued a credit for being inconvenienced by the lack of service for a day.

Last night’s technician could have used some guidance from the previous encounter. After confirming my name, phone, address, social security number, mother’s maiden name, length of great toe on my left foot, and the winner of the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay of 1962 (To Kill a Mockingbird) she began her diagnostic check. First she told me to unplug my set top box for 10 seconds then plug it back in. As we waited for it to reset she told me that when the signal returns I could continue to watch my show. (Yes, I thought it sounded familiar also.)  Eventually the screen replayed the same message. “Well,” she said, “I’m stumped. Let’s set up a service appointment for you. Our next opening is next January 6 at 4:30.” Yes, that January 6. Sheesh. “Thank you for calling.”

Within minutes I received an e-mail confirming the appointment and noting that I will be charged a $50 service fee my next bill. I will be calling customer service later this morning.

Sheesh. Again.

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?


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