Monday, August 19th, 2013
Our cable television service provider sent us a letter headlined: “Name of Company is going All Digital” followed by the subhead “Order any Digital Adapters you may need today.”
The letter noted: “This will affect you only if your cable line is plugged directly from the wall into your TV, VCR or DVD.” Our TV is. The letter warned, “Please order before August 6 to avoid losing your picture on August 13.”
To get the box, which should have taken two minutes online, I spent over 2 hours in some eight to 10 follow up phone calls for reasons ranging from “your payment is past due,” which it wasn’t to my asking “where is the box you said would arrive on Saturday?”
Another call was to cancel a visit by an installer that we learned about through a message left on our home phone. We never requested this. From the start I’d opted for the do-it-yourself setup to save 1) $40+ and 2) the aggravation and stress of waiting for a service person to come on time–if ever.
The box arrived last week and after work one night my husband and I laid out all the elements on the bed in the order described in the brochure and methodically removed the existing cable from the original installation and attached the coaxial cable here and there, where it belonged. We were elated when the new digital box blinked at us with green flashes as it should.
We had no TV picture so I called the toll free number to activate the system as instructed and a recorded message said to wait an hour and call back if the system wasn’t up by then. I set a timer, ate dinner and called because the green flashes had turned to red ones and I couldn’t turn on the TV.
The nicest, kindest, most patient customer service person told me that I wasn’t going to believe what he was going to say. I thought, “Fiddlesticks: That I need a new TV.” That wasn’t it: “You don’t need a digital adapter, Ma’am. I will help you restore the setup you had.”
The coup de grace: Lucky I confirmed the next step: that I should return the digital adapter, cables, remote and instruction booklets in the box using the Fed Ex label supplied. “No,” he said, “Please return it to the Name Of Company‘s store.” Translation: More time wasted. I’m planning to hand them the open box–photo at the top of the post–so as not to spend another second on this project.
I have a while to return it before I’m charged for the device. The store isn’t convenient to my office or home. I hope there isn’t a line as the customer service man implied that I’m far from the only person in this situation. “Did you find out you needed the adapter via letter?” he’d asked me. We decided that I and all the others in my boat received the letter due to a database error.
I feel so insecure about my TV signal that I’m waiting for a blackout when I try to turn on the TV one night. If this happens, I’ll know how to avoid the phone and online technology and where to go to get another box and thanks to the dry run, just how to install it.
Have you experienced or heard of a similar mix-up? Think it is too much to ask that the database that caused the wrong people to get the misguided letter send out a second one telling those customers to ignore the first? Do corporations so hate admitting a mistake that they’d rather cause their customers to waste countless hours in fruitless pursuits while smugly charging them a tidy sum every month?