Friday, March 21, 2014

Cable: Part Two

Two days ago I finally caved in and got cable. They had a good deal to bundle with my internet package. I called them up and they set me up with an order, and I could pick up the equipment at the local office. At first it was easy; went to the cable office and picked up a box and remote; took it home and connected it; called a 1-800 number and voila, I now have cable.

I was really excited! Finally I can watch the news at night when I get home. I can watch all my shows and the onDemand movie selection is leaps and bounds ahead of Netflix streaming, which is the main reason I like cable anyway. Plus now they broadcast in 1080p.

So after watching the news for a while I decided to get caught up on a couple of my shows. Being Human and Homeland never looked better. But then I decided to take a channel check and noticed that most of my channels didn't actually work. "One Moment Please" they said. And they seemed pretty random. Most of my higher level channels didn't work, but some of the lower channels did, it made no sense. The onDemand worked perfectly. So the next day I took the box back to the office and swapped it out. The lady that helped me said she had the same exact problem with the same model box as well. She said she just unplugged it and plugged it back in and it solved the problem. I said "oh, OK, well I'll try that if it does it again." What I wanted to say was:

  "Really? Do you think I'd have driven down here from downtown Hillsboro if I hadn't already tried that AND talk to several of your overseas tech support reps?"

I tried everything I could think of including swapping out the cords. (I always save my coax cable. I have miles of the stuff from like ten years past). All the while my internet is working perfectly, spiking at over 50mb/s!

So I called Comcast again, got an overseas rep again; finally he decided to send a technician out. My guess was that there was a filter or a trap that was left at the tap. These devices are left over from the pre-digital days to control who gets what service. With the advent of digital technology these devices were made obsolete and unnecessary, as the cable provider could now control what you get via your equipment. But when I last worked at Comcast, I learned that there are still a few of these things out there.

When the tech got here, he tinkered around with the box and the connections and then decided to swap it out. (So now we're on box 3). Problem persisted. I asked him if there might be any traps left on; the building I live in is very old and most of the people are older, and my apartment might not have had service for a very long time. At first he seemed reluctant, scratching his head, but when the second box failed, he decided it couldn't hurt to check. "You were right" he said as he came back in. He told me the tap was a mess. But this only fixed the HD channels. He was perplexed. He went back out to the tap again and made another change. Then he checked my outlet as a last resort. He pulled it off the wall and it fell apart. He reconfigured the outlet and that seemed to fix everything.

I told him about the guide not loading, and he said it can take up to 45 minutes. That was six hours ago and I still have no more than 24 hours of programming showing in the guide. So I called Comcast again! And talked to another inexperienced overseas rep who was going to try to get the tech to come back. He did a bunch of stuff on his computer for about five minutes, didn't even put me on hold, so I'm talking dead air. Then he said, "I'm sorry sir, I can't get the tech to go back today." At that time, my patience had expired and I just hung up. I figured I'd give it a few hours and check it again. (It's worth mentioning that I got several explanations as to why the guide wasn't loading including: "it takes hours;" "it is dependent on the network;" and "sometimes that's all you get.") (Also worth mentioning that once the channels came in I learned that some of my favorite channels weren't included in the package I ordered, so that provoked another call to Comcast.)

Guess it's time to call them again. Will update.