Opinion: A total disconnect


My problems started after I disconnected my cable in the basement. I watch television downstairs while riding my exercise bike, but if the plot gets exciting, I sometimes forget to pedal and by the time the show is over, I’ve only “traveled” about 28 feet—not even a first down. It was time to get rid of the distraction.

When the cable company got my receiver box back in the mail, they thought I wanted to discontinue my entire service package, and the next day all my televisions displayed the message: CUSTOMER DISABLED, which is a very unfortunate way to phrase my predicament. To fix this problem, they needed to know all the numbers on the backs of all the cable boxes on all five TVs. I have a great photo of my wife scrunched behind our big-screen TV, nudged in between a giant fern and a china cabinet, trying to read the tiny numbers and talk on her cellphone at the same time.

We were told by the customer service rep that the soonest they could come out to fix this was five days. No cable television for five days was scary. Mary Ellen and I love each other; we just weren’t sure how we’d fill all that time.

While on the phone with our cable rep, I asked if she had any suggestions to reduce my cable bill. This is not what she really said, but how it sounded to me:

“If you switch to Direct TV, it will lower your bill, but it’s only a short-term promotional rate…or you can just stream your shows, but then you can’t use your DVR. Or you can buy an Apple TV box but you have to buy them for all the TVs, unless your TVs are smart…or you could subscribe to Hulu, or get a dish, assuming we can get service there. You could also watch TV over the internet, but you may not get any local stations without an antenna.”

Finally, she told me: “We also have a website where you can diagnose your specific problem and find a solution all by yourself. “

By the way, I think that’s also the future of medicine.