Not a cruise gripe but I found the need to vent nonetheless.
A brief history so that you may fully appreciate the scope of absurdity. In my home is an in-law apartment where the previous owner had a seperate cable connection installed for his daughter when she was home from college. On occasion I have guests who visit for an extended period and put them up in this cozy little private apartment. I have previously asked the cable company to activate that seperate system when friends are in town in order for them to enjoy their own television. About six months ago after a guest departed I phoned the cable company and requested that they shut off service to that particular box. In the process of accomplishing this simple task they disconnected me as well. (Now, let me point out lest someone suggest that two lines at the same address could be confusing to the cable company, that they have always been lucid enough to mail two seperate bills when payment is due.) It proved to be a headache because unable to wait the two weeks for a weekend appointment to have it fixed, (at the time I did not know the nature of the problem) I was forced to take the day off from work and discovered to my chagrin that they indeed had shut me off at the pole. I am a reasonable man and was not overly upset as mistakes do happen and I let it go without request for compensation, even though I never recieved even an apology for the inconvienence.
Fast forward to late June just past. My sister has left after a stay and I ask the cable company to shut off that line with the gentle reminder that there are two lines at that address. A few days later I am off to Alaska for a two week vacation, (read my review in the chit-chat section of Cruisemates if you are so inclined) where upon my return find that my cable service has been cut off. I notify the cable folks and citing the previous instance politely suggest that they send someone to the pole and turn my service back on. I am told that this current problem is unrelated to that previous snafu.
"Would you check again?" I ask. "The timing is perfect for a replay of what occured before and I am quite positive that this is the same problem."
Thirty seconds later I am told again that it is an active account and a technician is required to investigate.
"Alright." and with dark foreboding I ask, "When can you come?"
Of course, I cannot take a day off because I have just returned from vacation so I am restricted to a weekend appointment which they cannot accomodate for two long weeks. Resigned to my fate I say fine while actually fuming. A couple days pass and I cannot shake the notion that they shut me off at that dang pole and called again requesting that although I won't be home, can they send someone just to take a quick peek from the road the next time they are in the area. They tell me that they can send someone Thursday, two days hence to look into it. Hurrah! I think. I will be up and running this Thursday because I just know, right down to my bones that this is the problem. The following day, Wednesday not Thursday, I recieve a call on my cell phone.
"Mr. Brewster, this is the cable company. We are at your home but there is nobody there and the technician must now leave for another job."
I'm confused. "Why are you at the house." I ask. "They're only supposed to look at the pole on the street."
"Oh no Sir." She said with great seriousness, "We are not allowed to look at the pole when you are'nt home."
I was incredulous. "But the pole is on the road. It's not even on my property." Plus, I was told just yesterday that this could be done."
"No Sir." She repeated with grave conviction. "You were misinformed. The homeowner must be present when we're at the pole."
"Yeah but," I continued in protest. "If I was not paying my bill would'nt you send someone to that pole to disconnect my service whether I was home or not."
"Okay." I said, beaten and deflated. "I guess I will see you a week from this Saturday."
"No Sir. That appointment has been cancelled."
"What are you talking about?"
"Sir, today was your appointment and you were'nt home."
"No! Today was not my appointment. Tomorrow was and it was not even an appointment, just a drive-by to take a quick look."
"Sir, we cannot go to the pole..."
"Yes, yes. I am painfully aware of your pole policy."
"Would you like to reschedule Sir?"
"I don't think I should have to but yes put me back in for a week from this Saturday."
"I'm sorry Sir. That day is booked. Would the following Saturday work for you?"
"Are you telling me that because you came by when you knew I was not going to be home, to look at a pole that you are not allowed to go near, I now find myself having to wait yet another week?"
"God help me. This is just ridiculous. You must be able to do something. I'm looking at three weeks without service now!
"I'm sorry Sir but I can narrow the time frame for next week from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM."
"This is ludicrous but what can I do? You people are like a monopoly."
The Friday before the technician is to finally arrive I recieve two phone calls from the cable company. The first an automated message and the second an actual human, both reminding me of my long awaited appointment.
I said to the human, "I have'nt had any service in three weeks. I would'nt miss this appointment if my hair was on fire!"
Saturday morning arrives and at a little past 9:00 AM the phone rings. I'm sure it's the cable company but I am uhh.....well, I'm in the bathroom. As quickly as possible I assemble myself and dashing for the phone make a desperate lunge just as the answering machine picks-up.
"Hello! Hello! I cry frantically into the reciever. "I'm home! I'm here! I'm right here! Hello! Hello! Here I am! I am sure I sounded like some wretched castaway babbling to the response of my long ago sent SOS.
The line on the other end was dead. Ominously my machine was flashing its red light message indicator. With almost trembling hands I press the play button. It was from the cable company.
"Mr. Brewster. We were unable to reach you for today's appointment. If you would like to reschedule please call this number."
As if my very life hung in the balance I dialed the number.
"Hello. My name is Brewster. Someone from your company just called and I'm just phoning back to tell you I am in fact home."
"Lets see. Oh I'm sorry Sir, we could not reach you and that call has been cancelled. The technician is already at his next account."
"What! It was only 30 seconds ago. If he did'nt drive right next door I don't see how thats possible."
"Sorry Sir. Would you like to reschedule."
"NO NO! I am not going to reschedule. Listen, if I was just on the slate that means that the guy your tech is supposedly in front of now was second after me. Why can't we just reverse the order and when he's done there he can take care of me. It's all still in the same time window, we're just flip flopping."
"It does'nt work that way Sir. If you are not at home we must continue to the next customer right away because of cost factors."
"But I am at home!! I missed your call by seconds. Please send him here. I have not had service in three weeks."
"Let me talk to dispatch Sir...... Well I can fit you in sometime today."
"Fit me in? What does that mean exactly?"
"The technician will be there between now and 7:00 PM this evening."
"But its only 9AM and I was scheduled. Now you want me to wait until this evening?"
"If you want Sir I could schedule you for first thing next Saturday."
"No don't do that! This is insane. Send him here as soon as possible."
"As soon as we can Sir. Have a nice day."
At this point I did not even dare to stroll to the end of the driveway and retrieve my mail lest the cable company called. I found myself for hours cradling the phone in my arms as if it was a newborn.
A little after 1PM the tech arrives. He places some sort of power cord in my cable box and after a moment says he'll be right back. Three minutes later he returns and says,
"You're all set."
"What was the problem?" I asked, bracing myself for his answer.
"They shut you off at the pole."
The following Monday, still livid from all I was forced to endure I called the cable company to demand satisfaction. Greg was his name and he was to see us through this problem. After calling up my account he noted that I indeed had suffered through some issues.
"I have been a loyal and lucrative customer Greg and I think I deserve some compensation for everything your your company has put me through. Especially since this is now the second time it has happened?"
"Hold on Sir....Mr. Brewster?"
"We will credit you for 14 days."
"Greg, I have been without service for 20 days not 14 and you're the guys who shut me off!"
"Yes Sir, but you're getting 14 days free cable."
"Greg, it's not FREE cable. All you're doing is not making me pay for a service that you were'nt providing in the first place. Plus, only 14 days. That's analagous to being without power for 20 days only to have the electric company credit me for 14 and then send me a bill for sitting in the dark for the other six. That is unacceptable. If you want to retain me as a customer you will have to do a lot better than that."
"Hold on Sir... Sir, we will credit you for all 20 days."
"Greg, I'm back to my original arguement. This is not restitution. You are just not making me pay for a service I never recieved! Let me ask you a question? If the supermarket called you tonight and said, Greg since you did not consume any of our apples this week, we are not going to send you a bill. Would you be thrilled with that offer Greg?"
"Sir, if you choose not to use our services we cannot be held responsible for that."
"What are you talking about?! I've wanted to use your services but you cut me off at the pole remember!!" This is outrageous! I would like to speak to your boss."
"Hello. Mr. Brewster my name is Meredith. What seems to be the problem?"
I went over again everything I had said.
"Mr. Brewster we have offered you 14 and now 20 days of free cable. What more do you want?"
"Meredith. IT'S NOT FREE CABLE!! Have either of you listened to one word I have said? I am ready to just get Direct TV. You guys have put me through the wringer for three weeks and you just don't get it."
"Well, we would hate to lose you as a customer."
"Yeah Meredith, I can tell."
We haggled for five more minutes before she stubbornly gave me three days of actual free cable but I would still be on the hook for the balance of July. I said goodbye but knew it could'nt end there.
To wrap it up I decided to contact the VP of the northeast region of the company and eventually spoke with his assistant, unburdening my tale of woe. She in turn e-mailed the customer service manager for southeasten Mass., promising to follow up. Within an hour, the customer service mgr. called with profuse apologies and I eventually was compensated not just the entire balance of July but the month of August as well. It was an ardorous process indeed. This story is longer than I had anticipated but a tale worth telling I think. The moral: Go over as many heads as you can to get things right. Thanks for letting me vent.
I can SO relate to your story! I spent a year one week trying to convince our cable company that something was wrong with our Internet connection.
I talked to many "customer service" (what, exactly does that mean?) representatives. All but one was named "John" and they said they were in Illinois (I'm thinking India !). I could actually hear them turning the pages of their stocked speeches: "what to say to an irate customer"!
It turned out (supposedly-I'm not sure I believe it yet) that there were outside "connections" that were not on THE MAP.
I just wish I could have reported it as concisely as you did.
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I feel your pain man. After your free time is up, cancel them and get DirecTV. I have had satellite for 2 years and I don't have to put up with the crap the cable companies dish out. Plus it is a hell of alot cheaper... I have 4 TVs connected with receivers and my bill is about $70 a month. I paid the same charge when I had cable... but that was for only one receiver!! Add an additional $5.00 per each additional receiver, $2.50 for the remote.... taxes and all the extra fees and my bill would have been close to $100 back then.
Get satellite... you will be much happier in the long run!!
I also feel your pain here. A couple years ago, our cable company decided to do cable upgrades in our area which took almost a month. During their upgrades, we lost our cable services for 4-5 hours everyday during the week. I called to complain, and the customer service people had the gall to tell me that they were doing the upgrades during the day during the week so we wouldn't be inconvienienced by the outages. Well, in my job I'm home 2 out of every 3 days, so it was a big matter to me. Not only wouldn't they credit my account for the outage time, they upped my rates to over $100 a month to pay for the upgrades!
I cancelled my cable and ordered Dish Network. One of the best decisions I ever made! Not only do I get TONS more channels at $65 a month (4 TVs in the house with a DVR receiver), but I've had great customer service from them. I've only had one technical problem with my equipment, and they had a workman at my house in 2 hours!
The only drawback to satellite TV is when a thunderstorm moves through. I have lost signal during heavy thunderstorms, but I never lost it for too long, it comes back really soon. I consider that a small price to pay for the huge money I save and the great service I receive.
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Its a bit of a bugger Brewster, but you really cannot do anything except claim conpensation everytime this happens or change providers.
I work for a cable co. contractor in NZ and I have been disconnected sooooooooooooooooooooooo many times because of IDIOTIC processes within the cable company it is not funny.
Try and find out who is in the customer retention team and contact them everytime it happens.
Spit tacks, yell and scream. It may not get your service back faster but then it might??
you have more patience than I.
I think this will always be a problem until there is more competition for services out there. Cable from your local cable co. or DirecTV.
These are the choices. (or antenna) EEEK
If there were more than one cable co. in town this wouldn't happen.
Your patriotism would be appreciated.
Look at what happened when Ma Bell was forced to break
Like I said you are far more patient than I
Kudo's to you
Is it horrible that I was laughing??? You write very well...I felt your pain. we recently had problems with our cable. We wrote the FCC only to find out they had no regulatory authority. We wrote the BBB. That actually worked quite well. Just something to think about.
as to competition ...well I work for verizon and we are slowly working our way into the cable market. switching one burecracy for another
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Bloody BRILLIANT, Brewster! This should be performed as a comic monologue by someone who can put the necessary venom into it, like Lewis Black. Which reminds me...
The bureaucratic-idiotic mentality you were dealing with bears a striking resemblance to one of the classic sketches-- now about 45 years old, but still as fresh and relevent as ever-- of the great comic duo of Mike Nichols and Elaine May. It's called simply "Telephone". It runs more than eight minutes, and concerns the drawn-out agony of a man trying to put through a terribly important pay-phone call after his last dime has been incorrectly swallowed by the phone for dialing information-- a call which is supposed to be free. He becomes more and more desperate as he works his way up through the ranks on the other end of the line, just trying to find someone, anyone, who is not a robot and/or total moron.
It's the first cut on their "Mike Nichols & Elaine May: In Retrospect" compilation CD-- definitely worth looking for.
Too funny - but I too can sympathize. I had the same sort of "problem" with our medical coverage here in British Columbia. I paid the bill when it arrived, the company mailed me a rebate stating I overpaid. I cashed it. Two weeks later I was asked for payment as it was overdue - again I paid, again the rebate. This went on for six months - my bank thought it was hilarious. Trouble is getting to talk to a human - I don't think they exist anymore. HAL - I will touch that switch lol.
Oh my!!! This cable company must be related to the one operating here in NH's Lakes Region. Last year when I was gone on vacation they took MY account and gave it to the owner of the house. I had been paying the bill for the account from the beginning. Since I was moving out in another month I let it go. I only asked that my long time email address be released from that address. I then got told that that can only be done with the account owners permission!!! I told them they gave MY account to him without MY permission. Well he was not going to give permission for that so I left without my email address. He is not using that address, he cannot because he has not got the pass word. I have been accessing the account daily from Mail2web. rather inconvenient but at least I get my mail. Now as to Verizon that is another story.........give me the phone company that operates with VOIP.