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Rabbit Ears

I cut the cord last night. I told Cox (our cable company) where they could shove their horrific customer service.

I came home from work yesterday to find my cable was out. Not only that, but my DVR was empty which means the cable had been out all day. So I called the cable company to see if I could figure out what was up.

The first woman I talked to went immediately to something I hadn’t thought of and the fact that she would even think (or be prompted) to go there is very telling. When I told her my cable was out, she instantly pointed out to me that my service has 20 analog channels and asked if I was getting those channels. Now, the tuner I usually watch TV through can only receive digital signals, so I had not even looked at the analog channels. So I tried the tuner built in to the TV and sure enough, I had the analog channels, but my digital channels, of which there had been many were all gone. Her response to that was basically to call me a liar. “No sir, your account has never had digital channels”. How then, I queried, did my external digital tuner ever work? For years I have had lots of digital channels. She danced in circles around answering my questions. Even when I flat out asked her if she could confirm that some kind of change, whatever it might be, was made to my account during the last 24 hours she refused to answer.

I escalated the call and was lead in the exact same circle by her superior. The way they phrased things and the way they steered the conversation away from admitting any possibility of my ever having what I know I had made it painfully obvious that they were hiding something.

Finally I told the schmuck I just wanted to turn off all my TV service and not deal with their crap any more. Of course, that got me forwarded to yet another person. Apparently Cox doesn’t trust this goofball to actually make changes to people’s accounts, and rightfully so.

The third person was a bit more pleasant. I told her my problem and she confirmed that the computer said I had never had any digital channels. Not only that, but to get them back would cost me three times what I had been paying and require me to buy some kind of decoder box from them. Can you say “Oh hell no!”? I did my best not to provoke her into starting down the same road of deception I had already been down twice and told her I just wanted to cancel all my TV service effective immediately. She very politely processed my request and told me that the remainder of this billing cycle’s fees would be credited to my account.

I never found out what happened to all my channels. I really don’t think I hallucinated them for all these years, but no one wanted to tell me the truth, so I’ll just try and be content in my ignorance.

With that nightmare dealt with, I tried to focus on the silver lining, the fact that I’ll now have that much more money in my bank account at the end of each month rather than in the cable company’s coffers.

I made some dinner and took some time to calm down a bit before rummaging through boxes to find a set of rabbit ears. After hooking the antenna up to the digital tuner tethered to my Mac mini, I made a few pleasant discoveries.

First of all, HD over the air looks much better than HD over the cable. I assume this is because the cable company compresses the signal to save bandwidth so they can cram more channels down that wire. EyeTV reported bit rates over the antenna that were almost double what the same signal was over the cable.

Another plus, I didn’t lose as many channels as I thought I would. I figured that turning off cable would take away some of my favorite channels. AZ-TV, an independent channel out of Prescott, PBS Create, PBS World, and ION. To my pleasant surprise, I got all of them with the antenna. And if that wasn’t enough, I even gained a channel that I wasn’t getting over the cable. AZ-TV’s secondary channel, the “Retro TV Network“. They show old reruns of things like the A-Team and the Rockford files and Knight Rider and Dragnet. Cool stuff.

The only channel I lost that I really give a damn about is WGN. I will miss the reruns of WKRP they show on the weekends. But that’s a small price to pay for everything I gain. I save all that money and I get better quality TV.

Cable really is a bait and switch. Cut the cord!


 

3 Responses to “Rabbit Ears”


 
  1. Nowhere Man says:

    I have no doubt it was something like this. My problem is that the dumbass support people either didn’t know it or deliberately hid the information from me. Either of which is inexcusable and more than justifies my taking my business away from them.

  2. Jessie says:

    While I do not work for Cox, I am a CSM for a cable company. I suspect what you were getting is the digital versions and HD versions of the basic cable you had. Up till now they either were sending them out “In the Clear” meaning no encryption. Or they were using older equipment that your newer tv would see the QAM Channels. We have a few other digital devices that a newer TV will see. They are either now encrypting the channels ( most likley to force people to a higher tier) as they were trying to “upsale” you. So while you were both right, your account was not noted with a digital service plan, however you were getting some digital channels. Sounds like they were not giving you the whole picture or the “phone bank” was not aware. I have found in the past they read off que cards and they were giving you the line they were told to.

  3. Everyone knows about Hulu and Netflix, but something else I like to throw into the mix is half.com. Right now, they have WKRP for $18:

    http://product.half.ebay.com/WKRP-in-Cincinnati-Season-1_W0QQprZ58331654QQtgZinfo

    I know certain people who make heavy use of the public library too and rave about it.

    From my understanding of digital cable TV (used to have it, moved while I had it, had analog during the switch over and cable completely went out and had to go pick up the digital box and have it activated), you really shouldn’t have been getting cable just with a digital tuner. But my experience was a long time ago. Almost everything was encrypted (hence having to activate the box and re-activate it after you move) so you need their box, not just a digital tuner.

    Cox didn’t stop acting like they were the only game in town when DirecTV came out, and now that there’s iTunes, hulu, thepiratebay, boxee, Netflix, etc, etc, they still haven’t stopped acting like you don’t have any other choice.

    -scott

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