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  • Richard Deaver

The one about the rotten TV signal.



Yeah, the headline is a made-up Friends episode title, but the truth is; it doesn’t seem to matter who the provider is, no one can deliver a solid television signal for some unknown reason. Apollo 11 used technology far less sophisticated than today’s smartphones, yet even fifty years later, we can’t seem to get consistent, quality TV service.


After dealing with poor service from a provider who promised much, and delivered little, I recently changed back to a cable company who I had dumped a few years ago thinking they had improved their service. At least that’s what they claim in their commercials, and what the fast-talking salespeople tell you.


When we made the switchover a few weeks ago, none of the premium channels worked. That figures. We spent about an hour going through all of the packages with the guy, and he swore on the life of his Pet Rock that everything would be perfect. Just sign here. In blood.


So no premium channels, as promised. Strike One.


Frustrated, I called customer support to have them make the channels active, and sat on hold for about an hour before I decided to take the option to have them call me back.


Waited another hour.


The customer support guy finally called, and apologized profusely. Promised he’d get it taken care of right away.

Two more hours passed.


I called again, got another guy, and read him the riot act.


More apologies. More empty promises.


Strike Two.


We finally got the premium channels we requested…the following day.


We have all of the channels we subscribed to, but now the HD signal looks like it’s having a bad Acid trip. Picture freezes. Blurs. Pixelates. Finally, we lose signal.


Another call to customer support.


This time, I decided to request the call back much earlier.


Another long wait for the call back from customer support.


After another mea culpa and empty promises to be better, I said I wanted someone to come out because the installer didn’t program the remote properly. My universal remote won’t even work now. I have to use my original remotes to turn on each piece of equipment for my home theater system to work.


The next available appointment is a week out. Perfect. I’m beginning to rethink my decision to switch providers. It’s a good thing I haven’t cancelled that service yet.


Strike Three.


Finally the new technician arrives.


As I anticipated, the picture looks perfectly fine when he shows up, but this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m prepared.

I had taken video with my phone when everything was going haywire to show them what the signal looked like, and the tech guy agreed it was a problem. He didn’t seem to get the Acid trip reference, though.


Then he goes on to tell me the equipment the original guy installed was not only an older version, it was also remanufactured. So new customers get outdated AND remanufactured equipment? Are you kidding me?


Of course, he tells me the installer was with a contractor they use to do installations, so he wouldn’t have had the newest equipment. Seriously?!


Is there such a thing as Strike Four?


I described all the problems we’d had in the past before we switched to another crappy service provider, and the numerous visits by field technicians. Each one blamed the previous guy and usually pulled out whatever they had done, to do it the ‘right way.’ I’m thinking this is akin to a shell game.


So we get the new equipment, but then he tells me the ‘new’ equipment doesn’t have the ability to work with an Optical Cable, whatever that means. Then he says the equipment he installed is also an older version (it’s the only one he had on his truck), but will work with my home theater system, and it’s sooo much better than what was originally installed.

Frustrated and fed up, I finally decide to give it a try with the ‘new’ equipment.


Everything seems to be working better, but every once in a while, the HD signal still does a dance. The worst part is that it usually happens when we’re watching something, and the actors are right in the middle of a key part of the story. We can’t rewind, because all we’ll get is the same dropped signal right in the midst of a critical scene. Now that football season is starting, I can imagine my blood pressure spiking if we lose the signal right when my team is making a touchdown. Anyone know CPR?


The most recent issue required another call to customer support. The picture froze, and the remote was unresponsive. I tried several things before picking up the phone, but nothing helped.


Of course, their system always require you go through numerous steps to verify it’s a real problem (reboot, unplug, stand on your head and recite the Gettysburg Address – backwards). So I unplugged the equipment as requested, waited the required 10 seconds, plugged it back in, but it still didn’t fix the problem.


I asked for a call back.


An hour later, I get a recorded message asking if the picture was restored, and I confirmed it had been. I was hoping to lodge a complaint about having to deal with this crappy service, but the recorded, disembodied voice just said “thank you” and hung up.


Oscar Wilde once said; “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” but in the case of today’s comic strip, art definitely imitates life. Real life.


And in case you’re wondering, the remote still isn’t programmed correctly.

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