Monday, August 29, 2016

This is not Board Walk or St. James Place

There is an old saying, "Nothing is certain but death and taxes". I think this is credited to Benjamin Franklin who was known for his witty (and true) statements. He is also on my list of "Guests I would Invite to My Ideal Dinner Party". But I digress.

I can name other certainties to that list of certanties. The one that comes to mind today is - the cable company will try your patience, raise your blood pressure, and make you Google "anti trust and monopolies".

My Story- When I moved down to Charleston I contacted the cable company to get my service connected. I selected the cable package that contained the basic cable channels without paying for all the sports channels, HBO, Starz, etc. And although my building has its own WIFI network, the package also contained internet.

Two nice techs arrived on time on the correct day, installed the cable box and set everything up for me. I explained that I was going to buy my own internet router/modem. They said that was no problem and showed me what I needed to do to install it.

That afternoon I purchased a highly recommended router/modem. While I was installing it I had to call the cable company to get the IP address and finalize the set-up. I gave my WIFI network a unique name "Norwhat" and a password that was secure but one I could remember. This gave me my own personal secure network that I knew was safe to use for banking, ordering online etc. 

For five months I used this WIFI network. Every time I logged into my laptop, my mobile phone, my iPad, even my TV, a list of available WIFI networks would be listed. Among these "Norwhat" was always included, along with its signal strength, which was always strong given it was in my apartment and no one else was using it.

Stay with me, there is a story here.

My mobile phone has never worked very well in the apartment. Maybe the brick walls have something to do with it, I'm not sure. T-Mobile, my provider, offers a special modem type device that one sets up in addition to their internet modem. This gives one their own personal cell spot that greatly strengthens the cell service in their home. I called T-Mobile, ordered one, and in two days it arrived.

Set-up was easy - just connect the T-mobile box to your internet modem with an Ethernet cable. When I tried to do this - it did not work. I attempted several configurations to no avail. After a call to T- Mobile I was assured that the issue was my internet connection. So I turned to my cable company.

I reached out to the technical department, after ten minutes of trouble shooting, being put on hold, then "escalated" to a manager, I was informed the issue was that my account did not have internet. I was only on a cable TV package. I protested to no avail. The manager happily offered a "discounted" package that would include internet for only 35% more than what I was currently paying. I said no thanks and hung up in total frustration.

The next day I called back, convinced if I got someone else they would see my situation as it truly was, and offer whatever technical support I needed. But no, after talking with a tech and again being escalated I was told once again I was mistaken that I did not have internet but for 40% more I could get it added to my account. In total frustration I told them that this was customer dis-service and why cable companies had the reputation they had. 

Did they realize I was calling them from my mobile phone that was on the WIFI network they said did not exist. And that this customer support "call" had started on a "Chat" that had been initiated online on the WIFI network that did not exist. They explained I must be mistaken and have the WIFI networks confused. Sure. How many other  "Norwhat" networks would one find in my neighborhood? Uhm . . . . NONE!

After I hung up in total frustration, I went online (using the "Norwhat" WIFI network) and logged into the cable company website to see if I was losing my mind.  I went to the "My Account" page, then to "My Services". This is a screen shot of what I saw.

I'm not sure if this company is dealing in smoke and mirrors or monkey dust but to call itself a "Service Company" is insane. Thinking back on my calls, I can only surmise that, in best case, they are offering a "deal" to pay 35% (or 40% in the second case) more to get what I already have.

As far as I am concerned they can "Go Straight to Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do not Collect $200". This is truly a Monopoly if there ever was one. It's not like I can role the dice and take my little "Norwhat" Ellie a few spaces and sign up with another cable company.

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