We Are Not Men, We Are TiVo
Over the past few weeks, I’ve gone on a bit of a tech binge. In addition to setting up a wireless broadband network for all three of my machines in my place, and installing PCI cards in my tower Mac because I could never have too many USB 2.0 and Firewire plugs (which means I’ll probably stop at 30), I decided to heave ho the ol’ Comcast DVR service and join the TiVo Nation. (It’s like a tribe, but without all of the whiskey and roadside jewelry.) This means I’ve had to deal with Comcast’s tech support. Yes, the same people who couldn’t figure out how to give me their newsgroup access address (and stand in awe as I did when I was met with the words, “What is USENET?” from the way-over-her-head gal). Given that, you can imagine that the move from their terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad DVR service to one that actually works was fraught with ineptitude and delays. So, come with me now as we cross the rainbow bridge over the sea of dreams… no, not to find the sacred heart (because that’s Dio’s job) but to get to the end of this not very “Comcastic” tale…
My move to TiVo began with a faulty Comcast DVR (or maybe they all end up this way after awhile). Over time, it decided that certain times were verbotten for recording… randomly and with no rhyme or reason, which defeats the entire purpose of time shifting content just a smidge. So, I was at one of those lovely box stores and exclaimed to my friends, “I want a TiVo, damnit!” And they knew right where I could find one: three aisles down on the right.
It was shiny and black and beautiful. Like my cat if she had LEDs for eyes and could store video in both SD and HD. (Sadly, she cannot, but I still keep her around.) Anyhoo… I was entranced and agreed with the sales staff — who would’ve been there had they been doing their job — that I should have only the best TiVo box in the store. So, hundreds of dollars later, I’m home and this strange ebony gadget is now hooked to my router, ready to propel me into the 21st century. Forget that old, dusty VHS. The future is NOW! Right here in my living room! Just call me Magister Jetson! (Actually, don’t.)
But, alas, I knew I had to call up Das Komkast and schedule an appointment so that they could take hours of work time away from me, all for them to walk through the door, slip a CableCard into the new box, take the old box away, and leave. (You can read up on CableCards, if needed. Just know that they are what tells my TiVo that I have an extra fancy special cable package full of channels.) I schedule an appointment for Friday.
Friday rolls around and at the latest possible second of the time frame Comcast gave me (which already makes me resent the hours of sleep I could have gotten, had I known…), a guy shows up — and he has “bad news” for me. Seems that — get this — Comcast RAN OUT OF CABLECARDS! He also quickly informed me that he was only a contractor and not an official employee of Comcast, and in the way someone who’s expecting a punch in the face might inform you. Have customers belted this guy in the past? Given the rather unpleasant thoughts I had in half-woken delirium, I’d put my money on “yes.”
So, I call Comcast and schedule an appointment for the next Friday, right after I demand that they take the amount off my coming bill equal to the amount of pay at my job I missed from their idiocy. The quick and nervous response to the affirmative was plenty of evidence to them being, how shall we say, familiar with customer dissatisfaction. Oh, I’m sure every Comcast employee has definitely been down this road before.
So, next Friday is here and, at the latest possible second of the time frame Comcast gave me (have I typed that before? Oh, look… I HAD!), two (yes, TWO) guys arrive at my doorstep. Did they think I’d be “trouble” that an extra set of muscles might be needed? No, the second guy was a trainee. Come of think of it, I wasn’t too convinced that the first guy wasn’t also a trainee.
They spent about a hour in my apartment just to fail at something that should have taken 3-5 minutes to do but requires that I do nothing in my life than to stay home for over a four-hour period in anticipation for those minutes.
While the two of them were waiting for someone from tech support (oh, yes, you read that correctly) to get back to them on their shared cell phone, they were just bored enough with the 30-minute wait to actually get a glance at the apartment they were in. Both of their faces dramatically recomposed as their eyes scan the rows of books and other tucked away tidbits. Let’s just say that they weren’t expecting… me. You could cut the anxiety they felt to leave with a knife, that’s for sure.
Tech support (her name was, “like, Jenna”) told them that their troubleshooting system was down (I swear that everything is either down or missing over there) and they would finish the status change on their end. So, Scared and Scareder went exit stage left and it took Comcast an additional 5 hours to complete the “installation.” (Seems that my meager Internet research on these cards was miles beyond what these two knew. “What’s a Multi-Stream card?” actually came out of one of their mouths… and it wasn’t the trainee. Please appreciate the restraint it took to say “it’s in your hand” without exploding in laughter.)
There were also numerous discussions I had over the phone with various Comcast employees during all of this that were equally absurd. Some truly mind-blowing morsels from them include…
“I don’t think TiVo works with Comcast!”
“What’s a CableCard?”
There were more but I’ve forgotten them while basking in the radiant glory of this completely superior (and cheaper!) technology. Now, time to make some WishLists.
And, of course, go buy my book.