Monday, May 30, 2011

Surely Cablevision is the Spawn of Darkness

Dear Nameless Minion,

I am going to tell you a tale of wrongdoing and injustice. It is my own tale, which several of your fellow wraiths may know in part. Now one of you will bear the full weight of the evil deeds done to me by your employer.

My wife and I “moved on up,” as it were, from Sunset Park in Brooklyn to the west side of Manhattan. This is not a Cablevision service area (remind me again how neither you nor Time Warner are monopolies?), so I had to cancel my account. No longer would I have the privilege of your willfully ignorant DVRs and spotty connections, your hideous user interface. So, I set up an appointment for a technician to come out and turn off my connection, leaving with my equipment--two cable boxes and a modem. This appointment was for Wednesday, May 25th, between 11-2 PM.

On that fateful morning, I dragged myself from my lovely new railroad-style apartment in Hell’s Kitchen to the blighted waste-hole of Brooklyn I used to call home. I sat in my empty old apartment with two cable boxes, a modem, a good book (have you read Game of Thrones? oh you must), and waited. A technician arrived around 1 PM, took a look at my wiring, and said he’d have to try the hospitality of one of my backyard neighbors to get to the “tap” (I’ve spent a few days learning your lingo) and sever me from the sweet umbilicus of your datastream. When they of course rejected his offer to enter their house and play with the wiring in their backyard, he came back and said he’d have to try again some other day. OK, no problem I thought in my naive, shiny-eyed optimism. “You can take my equipment though, right?”

Oh, so very wrong. Since the job was technically incomplete, his dispatch told him they couldn’t be responsible for my gear, and I’d have to drop it off at one of your stores or give it to the next technician to come out. One panicked call to a befuddled customer service rep later, this tech left me alone once again in an empty apartment with my two cable boxes, modem, and excellent book. I collected myself and called your company again. The incredibly nice representative to whom I was eventually connected tried a few different angles to solve my problem, going so far as to try giving me directions to your stores (remember, I had no access to Google Maps, since I had no computer to hook up to my lonely modem). Since those locations are convenient to approximately no one, that wasn’t going to work. She spoke with a supervisor and came back very quickly, stating that the technician had indeed had specific directions to take my equipment from me regardless of access to the tap. She escalated my appointment as an incomplete job and said I’d be hearing from someone soon. Excellent!

While we’re waiting for that call, let’s have a word about the locations of your stores. East Flatbush and Canarsie? The last stops on the 3, 5, and L? Really? There are 2.5 million people in Brooklyn. Every one of them goes through the Atlantic Center area or downtown at least once a week. You can’t get a single store within a 20-minute walk of this area? You pick East Flatbush and CANARSIE? Oh, look, I can drop my modem off on the way to JOHN F. KENNEDY AIRPORT. And the East Flatbush location is easily 20 blocks from that last stop. You guys are doing OK, right? Do you need to borrow a little money from someone for another location? I could probably recommend a good broker if you need one. Seriously, just let me know.

Thus did another hour pass in my old apartment while I waited for that call. The battery on my cell phone was getting low, and I hadn’t packed my charger since, you know, I was supposed to be back in my lovely railroad-style apartment in Hell’s Kitchen by now. I was getting worried. I called again, and spoke to a wonderful representative named Andre. He too tried to make some things happen, conferring with his supervisor Rashad who then contacted “dispatch” (I’ve learned that this is code for one of the many telecommunications contractors you guys hire for work like this) and tried to get a status on my situation. Andre waited while Rashad waited, and eventually told me Rashad or dispatch would contact me within an hour to let me know when they could come get this equipment. He then went so far as to tell me he’d be there until 6:30, and he’d keep checking on my account to see what was happening. Lovely Andre. He should get a plaque.

Another hour passed in my empty, hot apartment. My book was good, but how long can you sit and read? Not the entire six hours I’d been there, that’s for sure. I gave it another 20-30 minute cushion before I tried calling once again, my battery gauge down to one desperate bar. “Hello, I was speaking with Andre in customer service. Is there any way I can be connected to him?”

“I have no way of doing that.” You mean you don’t want to figure out how to do that, but OK. This was at least the fourth person I’d tried to tell my story to this day. She was much less concerned with my well-being than either Andre or the representative who tried giving me bus directions in the afternoon. She said she couldn’t check the status of my appointment until 7:45, since it was open until 8. I’d certainly not intended to wait that long, but since I was already there I thought I could at least ride it out. Silly, silly boy.

7:45 sharp, when of course no technician had reached across the ether to let me know he was coming, I called again. I was informed no one would be coming, though apparently at some point “dispatch” had tried calling me but said it was a wrong number. I’ve only ever given your company one phone number. I wasn’t there when they dialed, of course, but I have to imagine they only gave it one shot and perhaps hit a wrong key with one of their fat, lazy fingers. I have to. I abruptly set up another appointment for Friday, 11-2. I went home and abused my body with food.

Friday morning, 10:30, empty apartment, the next excellent installment of George R. R. Martin’s series. I called around 10:55 to confirm that someone would in fact be coming by to at least pick up my equipment, if not kiss my feet and apologize profusely. The rep this time was surprised, because you guys had me down for an appointment in the same time frame, but on Tuesday 5/31. Oh no no, I said, the last thing that happened in the chain of unfortunate events two days prior was me saying “So I’ll be there Friday at 11? Great.” Naturally, if you have no record of this, it’s a little hard for me to prove, but I can provide witnesses to the quality of my character should you need it. I made it clear that I would need someone to come get this gear before 2 PM today, and the rep set up an escalated appointment for me. I got off the phone, called my wife, and left a message detailing the many things your company had inserted into my anus at this point. Speaking of my wife, you should probably issue her an apology too, for having to put up with me during this ordeal.

An actual, real person called me back shortly, the technician who would be coming by to finish this mess later that afternoon. He said he’d be there before 3. I was encouraged, since we’d finally managed to cut out the middle man (Cablevision) and got down to the nitty gritty. He came at 2:30, was very nice, and I met him on the sidewalk and got those horrendous pieces of electronics out of my sight for good. I then went home and abused my body with food.

I believe there are some lessons we can all learn here. Please follow along:

1. The communication chain between me, Cablevision, and “dispatch” is more complicated than Navajo smoke signals. If a technician drops the ball at an appointment, your customers can’t call you to complain or get things set straight while he’s still there. Your customer service is about as nimble as a 15th-century Spanish war galley.

2. I had to explain my whole case every single time I called you, because I had no way of reaching anyone I’d spoken to previously and no one ever takes the time to actually read the notes I assume you all have to leave. I don’t mind holding for an extra minute or two if it means the customer service rep I’m eventually going to speak to is taking that time to learn about my situation.

3. Your priority at disconnect appointments should be taking the equipment from the customer. None of us care one way or another if you can access the main line to turn us off. That’s your problem. Why the first technician and his dispatch were at all concerned that they’d have to be responsible for the equipment of the COMPANY THEY’RE WORKING FOR is far beyond my powers of reason and logic.

4. Your store locations are absurd. I know I touched on this already, but it really does bear repeating. Why Canarsie? Why East Flatbush Nowhere? Were you cursed by a real estate gypsy in the 80s so you can never find a vacancy in a location to which people have actually been before? You’re one step away from setting up shop in international waters. Seriously, go to Atlantic Center. Do it.

There you have it. I’ll be calling you eventually about this. My goal is to get a good chunk knocked off my final bill. I’m sure that won’t happen, but I expect your explanations to be hilarious.

TL;DR: You wasted hours of my time for no good reason with seemingly no repercussions and I think Satan has a special cadre of Cablevision employees to give him ideas for how to torture people.

Sincerely, and thank you, and yours forever, &c &c,

Colin Fisher
Acct. 07836-343725-02