I hate monopolies. They generally treat the customer like so much belly button lint.
Late last month, Allison and I decided to get Roger’s @ Home (aka "Wave"). For those of you who haven’t heard of it, better crawl out from under the bed — you’ve been down there too long. It’s Internet access through your television cable. It’s fast, it’s always on, and it’s twice the price of dial-up.
The reason we wanted to get the Wave was because Allison had decided to go freelance, and needed a way to do research, but not tie up the phone line with the access. Having the ability to download anything at any time was also a major benefit.
Roger’s had a deal on where you could get your installation free if you called by May 31st. Allison called on that day (she was purchasing it, under the guise of expensing it later) and arranged for installation on June 14th at 11:00am. Fine. No problem.
We’ll skip ahead a couple of weeks, mostly because there’s not really much else to fill the gap (and it would make this message really long).
Roger’s calls me on my cell phone. (We have the cell phone number listed on our voice mail message at home, so it’s always fairly easy to contact us.) They wanted to change the install time from 11:00am to 9:00am. Although Allison would be at home for the technicians to show up, I figured it would be two hours she wouldn’t have to waste waiting.
If we only knew...
Monday morning. I’m running a tad late. Just as I head out the door, the phone rings. It’s the technician. He’s running a little late, but will arrive in 15 minutes. No problem — it’s not too bad.
At this point, I defer to Allison’s narrative on the events. (If I make a mistake, a correction will follow shortly.)
At roughly 9:05, Allison receives a phone call from some guy confirming a Wave installation for 11:30. Allison is understandably confused — it was supposed to be five minutes ago, not 11:30 ... even then, it was originally 11:00. The technician gave her the brush off, saying he couldn’t make it before 11:30. Allison made him promise, hope to die, poke a needle in his eye that he’d be there for 11:30. He said: No problem.
At 9:15, a guy shows up at the apartment door (note: he did not buzz into the building), and asked for "Allison" . He didn’t identify himself for some time. Finally, Allison took the risk, opened the door, and only then did the twit say he was there to install the Wave.
I’m telling you: Belly button lint.
He pulls out a box containing the cable modem (pulls the Internet signals from the TV signals), a cable splitter, and about 90 feet of cable (the cable outlet is on the opposite side of the living room). He plugs in the cable splitter, runs the cable, plugs in the modem, waits for some lights to blink, and leaves.
15 minutes work.
I’m in the wrong job...
So you’re probably wondering at this point — what the heck was he there for, anyway? Well, Roger’s has this really inane system of installation: They send a cable technician to install the cable, and get it ready for the PC technician, who comes later.
That’s who Allison now had to wait for. This shining example of the human race called at 11:26 (just four minutes before he was to appear) to inform Allison that he wasn’t going to make it. Needless to say, she was turning an interesting shade of very-pissed-off.
This guy made no apologies about not showing up, about the fact that he had sworn up and down that he’d be there for 11:30, and that Allison had just wasted two hours of her time. He suggested that we reschedule.
After firing off a message to Roger’s (which was half-written shortly after the cable technician left), Allison went to work. We figured that we’d actually hear from Roger’s in a short period of time.
Yeah, I know, we’re living in the wrong universe.
By Wednesday, we still hadn’t heard from them. By this time, my resolve was fading, and I was ready to bust a few heads. I called up their customer service department, and calmly explained that their idea of customer service was something akin to going to a restaurant and having to catch, clean, and cook your Catch-of-the-Day.
I was told that I would be called back in "about 30 minutes".
The following morning, I made it painfully clear to Roger’s that I was not pleased. I was ready to cancel my cable outright. The poor guy who took my call was very apologetic, and then put me on hold for 45 minutes.
[Ed. Note: Now that it’s a week later, this fiasco is getting kinda funny.]
Here’s where it gets really stupid. I end up talking to the twit I’d talked to the day before. I choose not to mention that he’d told me that "at the very least", he was supposed to call me back in "about 30 minutes". Instead, he asks me if I’m at home. I say "no", I’m at work. He asks me when I’ll be at home. I say "when I’m done, usually around 5:30-6:00pm PDT". He says "Oh".
Oh. As in, "Oh boy, this guy’s about to kill me when I tell him we have to reschedule some time next century."
Luckily, Allison (who had only just started freelancing) was at home. I made mention of it. I was told that "she would be contacted today". I quickly called Allison to confirm with her. She said it was "okay". (Sorry, I’m getting a little "quote-happy".) This was around 1:00pm or so. No-one called Allison until 5:30 or so.
Yeah, really snappy service.
At any rate, I come waltzing in around 6:30pm, with the PC tech practically on my heels. He then spends the next hour and a half tearing his fingers open on our computer (I’ve lost many a limb in that monstrosity). Several bandages and some swearing later, he’s got the thing responding to the modem, and we can surf the ‘net a lot faster than before.
As we talked with the technician, he explained that Roger’s had literally just dumped SHL Systemhouse as their PC technicians, and picked up Microage. The transition hadn’t been really smooth. On Monday alone, they were to do 120 installs. There were only 19 successful ones.
Guess who wasn’t one of them.
In the end, things worked out reasonably well. We got the installation for free (a smart move on their part), and we got three free months of use (although that was part of the deal from the beginning anyway — either free installation or free usage). Aside from all the run-around, everything seems to be okay.
At least for now... [Insert ominous-sounding music here.]