AN INSIDE LOOK - Commentary and opinions on local politics and life in general in Southeastern Massachusetts! Featuring the writings of Bill Gouveia, newspaper columnist for the Sun Chronicle and local cable TV talk show host. Feel free to read, comment and enjoy!
Friday, September 12, 2014
The Worst Part of Having Cable
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Friday, September 12, 2014
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
I heard the beep from my iPhone, I was terrified.Beads of perspiration began to break out on
my ever-expanding forehead.The fear and
apprehension joined together to form a ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach.
was the reminder I had reluctantly set just a year ago.It was time again for my annual journey into
frustration and repetition.I didn’t
want to do it, I would have avoided it if I could have, but like the passing of
the seasons it was absolutely inevitable.
I picked up the phone to call Comcast and negotiate the renewal of my cable,
telephone and internet package.
September the ritual begins.My
“promotion” with Comcast comes to an end and must be renewed or changed.If this doesn’t happen, then my bill suddenly
soars to unbelievable heights.And while
it might eventually get fixed, we then enter the “partial bill adjustments”
period.I get the shivers just thinking
about trying to understand that.
the number was easy. But then the
was told what a valued customer I am.I
was asked to enter my telephone number so they can pull my records.I dutifully supplied it, took a deep breath,
and waited for the seemingly endless choices offered by their “main menu”.
listened carefully for the droning voice to tell me which button to push.I heard virtually every option except the one
I wanted.I let it run through twice,
then chose the one I believed most closely matched my intent.My reward was to be immediately transferred
to another menu.
was repeated several times until I figured out a way to be transferred to a
real person.Before I was switched over,
I was again asked to enter my number.Again I complied.
I was told there would be a wait, and I get treated to the hypnotic “on hold”
music.It is periodically interrupted by
that voice telling me how important my call is to the entire Comcast
an actual human being began talking to me.
and thank you for calling Comcast.My
name is Robert.How may I help
you?”I was almost overcome with
emotion.In a rush of words I explained
my situation in relative detail, describing exactly what I wanted to
accomplish.I completed it and sighed in
relief, thinking I had gotten past the most difficult part of the task.
was a pause, and then Robert said “Hello and thank you for calling
Comcast.My name is Robert.How may I help you?”I was confused, and the relief I felt begins
to fade.I nervously repeat my
well-rehearsed spiel, expecting a different response.
you there?It seems we are having a
problem with our connection.I don’t
know if you can hear me, but I can’t hear you”, Robert says pleasantly but
mechanically.I began talking louder,
like that might actually be the problem.
you are still there, please call back so we can help you.Thank you.”And just like that, Robert left my life.
back?And repeat the entire long and
painful process?Surely I had misheard
him.But the dial-tone in my ear brought
me crashing back to reality.
it, I said to myself.I’m done.I’ll go back to my old satellite dish.I am not going through this again.
I hear you all you younger folks out there right now, telling me to “cut the
cord” and use the alternative technology available to me for watching TV.If I used Hulu, Netflix, or merely streamed
programming from the web I would be able to duplicate much of my service at a
fraction of the cost.
me, if that were even close to an acceptable alternative I would take it rather than once again brave the world of the corporate
cable giant.But I am a product of the
television age.I need the variety and
instant gratification of cable.
I rested a second, then picked up the phone and made the call.And while on hold, I entered the reminder in
my iPhone to do it all again next year.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and
longtime local official.He can be
emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at