Thursday, August 13, 2009

Radio Free Hyde Park

It's me again, still blogging from the "liberated" signal of the neighbors (it's even called "patriots". How fabulous). Why, you ask? Wasn't Comcast scheduled to come today and hook me up to the grid? Surely, there is no way Comcast would let me down like this, right?

Ahaha. Puny mortal that I am, I did not comprehend the powers I was dealing with here. You see, Comcast technicians are divided into two orders. The first, who you've probably met, are the installers -- the guys who bring your cable box and/or modem, screw a few things into a wall, attach a few wires, and voila! Now you have television. Those guys have now come to my townhouse twice, and were on time and unfailingly polite both times. Unfortunately, they couldn't actually install my cable or internet, because my house doesn't signal that it's connected to the Comcast network. Which brings us to the other half of the Comcast Cult.

The second order, is apparently a shadowy, paranormal sect called "line technicians", who are responsible for actually hooking up houses to the Comcast grid at the source box level. These ghost-like beings are apparently so powerful that Comcast technical support and installation cannot summon them, or indeed, even contact them. As best I can tell, the Comcast process is to intuit a request in their general direction and then pray. There were traces in the system that they were supposed to come today between 1 and 5 (itself incorrect -- they were supposed to come between 10 and 1), but needless to say they never did. And the hapless mortals manning dispatch told me no, there was no way to reach them and ask sweetly if they ever planned on doing the work they were paid for. Line technicians are powerful and capricious beasts.

Now, here's where things get fun (it wasn't already?). Twice now, the installers have come only to find that no, my house still isn't on the grid because the line techs haven't arrived. The lady I talked to on the phone scheduled another installer date for tomorrow between 1 and 5. But of course, this is as useless as the other two installation dates if the line techs continue to hide in fairy-land. So, I asked, how do we know if the line techs will have arrived by then? She promised she'll call me in the morning (earlier today I received a promise I'd get a call back in 15 minutes which never happened -- the odds that they can manage to remember something over the course of a whole 18 hours requires the sort of heart-warming, inspirational turnabout in competency that one normally only finds in a Disney movie). Will they arrive in the morning? She doesn't know. Will they arrive sometime tomorrow, preferably before the installer so he isn't made redundant (again)? She doesn't know. Hell, they may even come tonight, she told me -- but she has no way of knowing.

This whole proceeding has been a farce from start to finish. Moving always involves hassles -- I know this. My desk arrived (two days late, natch) from Sears today, and we clearly have different interpretations of "easy assembly". But I've never come to face to face with such persistent rank incompetence and byzantine bureaucratic nonsense as I have over the past week with Comcast. It is crazy that I am now on my fourth appointment to get a simple cable and internet installation, even more ridiculous that they don't actually know if the appointment is solid or not, and simply unfathomable that they can't figure out how to contact a division of their own corporation to find out.

If I wasn't convinced that I'd go through the same nonsense with AT&T, I'd have bolted by now.


PG said...

This townhouse has never had cable before?

In NY, it's so hopeless to try to get newly hooked into a grid that buildings are monopolized: you go with whatever company already serves the building. One of my friends sent an email last year asking people's advice about which internet/cable company was "best," and I told her she might want to see what her building was wired for. Sure enough, Time-Warner was her only real option.

David Schraub said...

It had cable apparently something like nine years ago, but had then switched to dish (but who does their internet?). Enough so Comcast says that they serve the building, not enough so they actually are capable of doing it, apparently.