Wednesday, April 2, 2014

television light

I love television, especially the programs from my youth. So, imagine my delight when, one day while scanning the plethora of channels offered by my cable provider, I stumbled across MeTV. This retro godsend shone like a beacon in the murky sea of reality shows, sappy romances and obscure sports analyses. The good folks at MeTV have procured the broadcast rights to such simple, wholesome gems like F-Troop, Leave it to Beaver, The Rifleman and countless others from the Golden Age of Television. It's like a dream come true, if you dream in black & white... like me. My evenings are filled with Gilligan's Island and Twilight Zone and my mornings kick off with The Beverly Hillbillies and The Donna Reed Show.

Until this week.

Having given up on Matt Lauer and the degenerating shitstorm that The Today Show has become, I begin my pre-workday hours with a shower, a shave and a little Petticoat Junction, followed by the aforementioned Clampett clan and a visit with Donna Stone, her doctor husband and their kids. Settling down with a cup of coffee, I flicked on the television like I do every Monday morning. However, instead of Elle May fishin' some critters out of the cement pond, I found Alyssa Milano earnestly hawking some hair care product. I checked the channel guide and, sure enough, it described (in typical encapsulated form) an episodes worth of antics from Jed and all his kin. I quickly switched to a few other channels. They all aligned  — Good Morning America on our local ABC affiliate, local news right there on channel 10 (as it should be), the CNN morning anchor reporting intently on the missing Malaysian airplane on channel 5. I scrambled back to the MeTV consort where Miss Milano was presenting a diagram of what hair follicles can amount to if left untreated by her product.

Click to enlarge
I was outraged. I angrily flipped over to The Today Show and watched a jolly Al Roker try to get surly Matt Lauer to crack a smile. Soon, I left for work.

I woke up early on Tuesday morning. After my daily grooming ritual, I grabbed a cup of coffee and flicked on the TV, hoping that Monday's broadcast was a glitch. It wasn't. Damn if the former premonition-blessed witch from Charmed wasn't, once again, singing the praises of her miracle hair treatment. 

That tears it! I grabbed my smartphone and immediately sought out Comcast customer service. Some nimble navigation brought me to a live chat with Comcast Customer Support. That sounded promising. I was determined to get to the bottom of this! I typed my "issue": Why were there infomercials on MeTV instead of The Beverly Hillbillies and Donna Reed— and after a short time, an "analyst" entered the chat. He identified himself as "Aristheo."

Aristheo thanked me for contacting him and asked for a minute or two to review my information. His watch must have stopped, because his "minute or two" turned into five. In the interim, he managed to tell me it was good to know I was having a great day.

I wasn't so far.

He then explained that issue resolution and my satisfaction was his top priority for the day. (Top priority! Wow!) That together we could work this out and that he would personally take care of things. Then, he offered a comforting "no worries." He continued by saying that once my problem found a solution, he would review my account to ensure I was receiving the best possible value for the services I have.

So far, after nearly ten minutes, I found myself in the exact same situation I was in before I entered this chat. I stared at my phone's screen, looking for any sign of activity. There was none. I typed: "This is taking way too long." There was no response for a few minutes until Aristheo replied that he would check the channel listing.

Error! Error!
Check the channel listing? What the hell was he doing all this time? I typed back, inquiring about his progress. He, again, informed me he was checking the channel listing. Then he sent me a long URL, instructing me to check the listing myself. I clicked the link and my browser opened a new tab. The progress bar crept along slowly until it finally stalled a third of the way across my screen. Suddenly, the link revealed a Google Chrome error page!. A bad link! In the middle of my Customer Support chat! From a guy who claimed that my satisfaction was his top priority on this very day. I told Aristheo that the link gave me an error. Aristheo told me to try the link later. (That's hardly the response I would expect from someone who promised to take care of this issue personally!) Aristheo was starting to piss me off.

I had enough! I punched a venomous retort to my Comcast Customer Analyst: "Thank you very much. You have not been helpful in any way and you wasted my time!"

In the most automated, scripted action, Aristheo sent what was obviously a many-times cut-and-pasted reply. It contained words like "ensure," and "guaranteed," and "stand behind our services." It also made the solemn invitation to contact the Customer Support Live Chat 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Then he unceremoniously ended our chat.

If you have a couple of hours to kill with no expectations of solving your problem, I highly recommend giving Comcast a ring.

Ask for Aristheo.


  1. I refuse to pay for cable and have an antenna on my roof. Thankfully I still have MeTV. I love it too. I have no idea if they play info commercials in the morning because I don't believe in mornings. Your last post hits close to home with the job I've got. A lot of people don't bother to find out what other people believe or why. If they would, maybe we could have fewer wars?

    1. George Carlin once observed that more killing has occurred in this world in the name of religion than any other thing else.