Monday, December 10, 2012

Come Monday...Not So Simple

“Come Monday…” is a weekly series that will involve a review of, or commentary about,  websites, movies, documentaries, television shows, sports, music, and whatever else may tickle my fancy at the time.  Be assured that these reviews will be generally positive, as in accordance to the Jimmy Buffett song “Come Monday.”  This is subject to change, however.  In fact, I would be most derelict in my duties to neglect going on a rant every once in a while.  For rants promote change, and change can be good—right?  Therefore, since good is generally considered as being a positive force in 99.3% of the parallel universes that I am aware of, even a rant could be considered as being something positive, and a genuine hissy-fit would be even better (so I’m told).

For the benefit of those who have not been keeping score at home, Arlynda (my wife) had been working from home processing claims for [UHC] for the last several years.  This came to an end on November 12, 2012.

Losing that job left us in limbo in a number of ways—not the least of these being that UHC had taken over our internet connection not very long after she came to work at home.  I can understand their reasoning.  For the way it worked when she first started working from home was that they reimbursed us for how much our cable internet access was costing, which required us to send a copy of the bill to them each month, which gave some soulless minion in a dungeon cubicle ample opportunities to misfile the information.  Moreover, with UHC dealing with [Mediacom] directly, they could probably negotiate for a much lower price for the service.

Oh, but it made for a lot of fun whenever our internet connection went out—especially in the middle of the night, which is when I am often trying to accomplish something online.  For according to the account information on the computer screen in front of whoever I would try to talk to at Mediacom, we didn’t have internet service.  So, they were usually loathed to try to do anything to help us get back online when we weren’t supposed to be online at all according to what was on their screen.

Now, it was different during the daytime (except on weekends).  For the helpdesk at UHC was open for business then, and they could deal with Mediacom.

Alas, dealing with Mediacom through a third party would be highly entertaining when one is not directly involved in the process.  For it often involved someone with UHC, who was working from a call center in Illinois or Florida, dealing with someone with Mediacom, who was working from a call center around New York City or Mumbai, about a problem here in Springfield, Missouri (in our case).  In all fairness, we were often able to receive confirmation that our internet connection was indeed down, but the details about what was going on with it were typically sketchy at best—not to mention any details on just when it might be back up.

Needless to say, I was really looking forward to our internet connection being put back in our name again in the hope of avoiding such nightmarish situations in the future, but it seemed foolish to rush into the process when we were still receiving the service for free.  Oh, but then a thought (or two) came through about how much money we could be saving by going ahead and changing things as soon as possible.

You see, nothing about our situation with Mediacom has been all that simple for quite some time.  For when we went to transfer our account from our previous address to here around six years ago, some soulless minion working in a dungeon cubicle messed up the information.  So, when the cableman was here to hook everything up, he informed us that it would have to wait until everything was straightened out in a day or so, but that he could hook everything up in Arlynda’s mother’s name that evening.  Since she had to be online for work bright and early the next morning, we had the account put in her mother’s name, which is the way it has stayed ever since because of this reason, and sometimes for that reason.

Ah, but the new plan involved putting the account in our name again, which would surely result in us not having to pay $120.11 a month for a lot less channels than one might think (no NFL package, no HBO, no Showtime—not even the Fox Business Channel!).  Furthermore, I had finally came to the conclusion that having our phone service (landline) with Mediacom at only $4.95 a month (including unlimited domestic long-distance calling) made a lot more financial sense than to keep paying AT&T over $40.00 every month (without any discount long-distance calling plan).  So, having to pay $9.95 a month for a year (as advertised) for an always faster internet connection (also as advertised) before we absolutely had to didn’t seem so foolish.

Yeah, I waited too long.  For at around 4:30 p.m. CST on November 29, 2012, our internet connection was severed.

I immediately sprang into action several hours later, and this is when I found out that my plan had some serious flaws.  For in order to place the Mediacom account back in our name, my mother-in-law’s account would have to be completely cancelled, which would involve us having to turn in all of our DVRs and digital converter boxes to the local Madiacom office.  Since we were planning on turning in one of our DVRs anyway, along with anticipating maybe having to change out the other equipment, that didn’t come as a shock, but wait—there’s more!  For we would have to pay the first and last month’s bills (on top of deposits for whatever new equipment we may require) before an appointment to reconnect our service could even be scheduled.  Furthermore, we would be still paying close to $100.00 a month for the same channels as before since the same phone number would be associated with the new account, with our bill only going down because of now paying JUST $12.95 a month (plus another $12.95 a month for maintenance fees) for one DVR instead of two.

The Mediacom lady I was dealing with over the phone appeared to be a genuine child of God.  For she kept her cool as I didn’t do as good of a job as I should have at controlling the rage that was steadily building within me.  Although, I should receive a lot of extra credit for apologizing to her for my lack of decorum before I finally conceded defeat and left our Mediacom account in my mother-in-law’s name.

Now, the reason why I said that she appeared to be a genuine child of God was that I found out that she was screwing us out of $20.00 a month in order to receive a bigger bonus.  For she told me that there were not any package deals available to us.  A couple of days later, a Mediacom salesman “just happened” to be in the neighborhood and informed me that he could save us $20.00 month by repackaging our account while letting it slip that the people in the sales call centers receive bonuses on how much they can get from customers.  Um, and this was after I made a valiant effort to nicely ask him to please leave our property before the cops would have to be called to investigate the details of his horrible demise.

Oh no, our new deal was not without its own issues.  For we would have to wait one more day before a cableman could be dispatched to our location (which would be over a week after signing up for it, by the way).

What I was told over the phone in the first-place didn’t make sense to me.  For the “godly” lady at the call center told me that AT&T would not release our phone number to them before the sixth of December, and now that had been evidently changed to the seventh.  Yeah, one should only engage in battles that can be won.

I had a brilliant battle plan in place for the seventh of December.  For the cableman was supposed to call an hour before arriving at 10 a.m., which would be my cue to start herding all of our puppies into our bedroom long before he might ring the doorbell and they would lose their minds.  I also had everything ready for him to just connect all of the various cables to the modem and check to see if everything was working.

Okay, there was one slight potential flaw to my brilliant battle plan.  For I had it in my head that the Mediacom phone service would also be through the new modem, which might require a double-female inline connector to accommodate the male plugs that are on both ends of a phone line that normally plugs into a wall jack and a phone.  For the splitter (don’t ask) that we had to plug all of our phone lines into had a male plug to go into a wall jack.

Anyway, the cableman rang our doorbell at exactly 9:28 a.m., and our pups all lost their minds.  When I asked him about calling an hour ahead of time, he said that he was just down the street and didn’t see a need to since he was going to be early for our appointment.

I then told him (almost politely) to wait in our breezeway until I could herd our pups into the bedroom, which was going to be a lot of fun since they had just lost their minds.  I had almost made it two feet inside of our front door when he rang the doorbell again, which caused our puppies (who are all actually fully gown, but you know how it is) to lose their minds again.  I would rather not give any details on how that conversation went, but he decided to just go ahead and get us connected while he was there.

The next step was to herd our mind-blown pups into the bedroom, which would surely be a viral video of epic proportions on YouTube by now if there was one.  Oh, I was able to scoop up Trixie and Grayson and get the bedroom door shut on them fairly quickly, but when I went to incarcerate Stuart, Trixie and Grayson staged a jailbreak.  Since it doesn’t take going around in circles very much to get me real dizzy anymore, I cannot remember just how many rounds were made before Trixie, Grayson and Stuart were all secured in the bedroom and Obie was locked in the bathroom, but that part of my brilliant battle plan was finally successfully executed.

The cableman then entered our house and hooked up the modem.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention that when I asked Arlynda to pick up that double-female connector at [Radio Shack] while she conveniently had to be out of the house at the time, she said that it would surely not be needed.  It was, which left us with only the phone in what we call our office hooked up until she could go back out and get one later that evening.

In all fairness to her opinion about not needing the double-female connector, one would not have been needed if we were willing to pay at least an extra $75.00 to connect a line from the modem directly to our existing phone lines inside of the house.  Think about this when you are tempted to sign up for the fantastic deals that the cable companies offer for home phone service.

When she came back with the needed double-female connector later that evening, there was no dial-tone when I checked after hooking it all up.  This remained a mystery until I discovered that our old splitter had literally came apart at the seams.  So, another trip to Radio Shack was required, which could not be made until the next day.

Thankfully, the phone only rang around a dozen times.  For with our only working phone being in what we call the office, answering the phone required at least a 20 foot trip from where we normally are in the living room, and with doctor’s offices often calling for some reason or another, there was a need to answer the phone.  No, that probably doesn’t sound like much to you, but please take into account that my wife and I are now both invalids (for all intents and purposes).  There was also having to wade through four pups who had recently lost their minds (TWICE!) in a house with just enough space for one of anything (even ants and fleas) to travel from one room to another at a time.

Oh my, I almost also forgot about our actual cable TV service.  For around 12:34 p.m. CDT, the DVR that we still had hooked up quit working.  Well, at least it quit recording programs, which is how I know when it quit, and it would not allow me to access the programs that we had previously recorded.

My first call to Mediacom about that was as interesting as ever.  For after I jumped through all of the extra hoops because of the account still being in my mother-in-law’s name, I was put on the line with a technician, who basically knew which button to push to turn on a DVR and nothing else.  When I asked her to check things from her end, she had no idea what I was talking about.  I then informed her that we were required to pay an extra $4.00 per month PER DVR to allow for them to have remote access to check if our DVR(s) were working properly.  Long story short, she was not helpful at all.

Thankfully, I was “compelled” to try to deal with Mediacom again before scheduling a service call, and this time I was put on the line with a lady who knew what she was doing.  After trying this and that, she didn’t understand why it didn’t work, but this only inspired her to dig deeper.  She finally discovered that some soulless minion in a dungeon cubicle had failed to type in all of the codes right when our new repackaging deal went into effect.  I’m sorry, but I really hate soulless minions in dungeon cubicles.

Just in case you are wondering why we are willing to endure being with Mediacom, we can’t get [DirecTV] because of our trees being too tall to allow for a clear reception of their satellite signal, and it is the same situation with [Dish].  Neither [AT&T U-verse], nor [Verizon’s FiOS], are available in our area, and to keep us from reaching our full potential as serial killers, we need to be regularly entertained by pretty images on a video screen.

Besides, I am quite sure that those other outfits also have their share of soulless minions in dungeon cubicles.  Sigh.

P.S.: Believe it or not, I did manage to forget about the rest of the story to the $9.95 a month for a year of always faster internet service offer.  For that does not include the $10.00 a month modem rental fee.  In all fairness, this is disclosed in microscopic print on both their televised and text advertisements, and it may very well be that -12 point text appears bigger to soulless minions in dimly-lit dungeon cubicles. 

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  1. Listen Jerry, I got ATT when it was $29.95 for a year contract, I got fed-up with them because I waited too long to redEem a $150.00 CASH Visa, as soon as contract over, I called to cancel, they gave me another yr=ear for $19,00 a month...

  2. You don't get ATT, Jerry? My buddy in Arkansas says it's available all over?

  3. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Marc!!! Oh, we have had our home phone with AT&T for years, but their cable television service is only available in the richer part of town for now. They say that they are working on it, but...

    Oh, AT&T DSL service is now available in our part of town, but I think that may cost us more. We'll see how the prices are when our current deal with Mediacom ends. I am still hoping to get a computer hooked up to our TV in order to eliminate the need for a DVR, along with a lot of other potential advantages to it.

  4. ISPs the world over, well Mumbai where all their phone numbers lead to, are either corrupt or staffed with new people. Consider the turn over of staff they have? A young well educated Indian lass has a call from me, with my Scots accent. Followed by a man from Newcastle with a Geordie accent, followed by someone from the south west with an accent no-one understands, the stress must be great!
    As they do not understand half the problems, get paid badly, are ignorant of the culture, what efficiency can result. Folks based in the home nation are often just useless!

  5. Jerry, I was laughing my butt off reading this because your story is better than mine was when we moved here. In fact, our cable provider gave us a "speciall" which was great for a year! I was loving it!! Now, the special is over.. for 1 tv & wirelless. Sure AT&T is available however my neighbors said it sucks for speed. All in all...want to start up a cable business? LOL!! Kidding of course because I am retired, living on SS which when & if we go over the "cliff" I'm screwed. Have a nice day....:)JP

  6. Jerry, I was laughing my butt off reading this because your story is better than mine was when we moved here. In fact, our cable provider gave us a "speciall" which was great for a year! I was loving it!! Now, the special is over.. for 1 tv & wirelless. Sure AT&T is available however my neighbors said it sucks for speed. All in all...want to start up a cable business? LOL!! Kidding of course because I am retired, living on SS which when & if we go over the "cliff" I'm screwed. Have a nice day....:)JP

  7. The whole experience sucked but you sure wrote it funny...Sorry I'm laughing but that''s your fault - you wrote it!

  8. This sounds like a script for a sit

  9. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Adullamite!!! You pretty much made my point. For how can someone in a call center sometimes thousands of miles away really understand what may be going on where the customer is at? Ah, but corporate profits must be maintained.

  10. Thanks for stopping by, my dear JP!!! As a matter of fact, one of my fantasies is of establishing a communications company that would provide really affordable cable television and truly high-speed internet access to everyone around the country. Do you think some letters to our representatives in Washington could get us a raise on our Social Security benefits?

  11. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Grace!!! Alas, I always get the blame--regardless of what the situation may be.

  12. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Ann!!! I hope we will be able to afford to watch it when it airs.


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