Category: cable tv

It’s a coffee maker. No, it’s a music box!

 

When I’m at a loss for a blog idea (which is often), I call in the Never-Fail Blog Topic Generator: the Hammacher/Schlemmer catalog. They seldom disappoint, and yesterday this gem appeared in my in-box. It is a combination music box and espresso maker that plays an odd assortment of 30-second snippets of songs such as Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water as the beans brew. (Let’s just pause here a moment while you run those two tunes through your head.)

If you are reaching for your credit card so that you can have your very own Music Box Espresso Machine, I should warn you that it will set you back $4200. That’s a lot of beans, friend.

I try to imagine how this product came about in the first place. Did the inventor’s children accidentally Crazy Glue his wife’s heirloom Swiss music box to Mr. Coffee? What else can we juxtapose?

Oh wait, those already exist.

For just an instant, I considered trying to invent something and pitch it on some local cable TV channel at 3AM, but that would be silly.

Any fool can see that all the good ideas have already been taken.

What if your cable company sold kitchen appliances?

Stove

Think about this: Refrigerators can be controlled via the Internet now. You can program your house and appliances to turn on or off and control them from your mobile phone or computer. As our need to be  constantly connected keeps growing, is it such a stretch to imagine your Internet provider branching out? What if they just bought a big box appliance store? Could you just walk in and buy a refrigerator, or would you have to buy a bundle that included appliances you don’t need, just like all those cable channels you never watch?

I walk into the bright, shiny store and am met by a smiling young man.

Brad: Hello and welcome to Cable Appliances, your one-stop for all things Internet. My name is Brad and I’ll be your Customer Support Specialist this morning.  How may I help you?

Me: Hello, Brad. I’m shopping for new kitchen appliances. I need a new stove, refrigerator, and microwave.

Brad: I understand exactly what you are looking for. You want a stove, refrigerator, and microwave. Is that correct?

Me: It absolutely is, Brad. I’ve been doing a little research online, so I know exactly what I want.

Brad: Excellent! Before we begin, I should mention that this conversation may be recorded for training purposes. Now, how may I help you?

Me: I need a new range, refrigerator, and microwave. I want them all in stainless. I know exactly the brands and models that I want.

Brad: Excellent, but I noticed that you didn’t mention a dishwasher.

Me: I have a new dishwasher that I absolutely love. It’s the best dishwasher that I’ve ever owned. I don’t need to buy one, just the three appliances that I mentioned.

Brad: I understand that you want to keep your dishwasher but I wanted to point out that our best-selling appliance bundle includes a dishwasher. You save quite a bit of money by getting the Super Chef bundle.

Me: I won’t be saving much if I buy an appliance that I don’t want.

Brad: But the bundles are the best way to go.

Me: Not for me, Brad. Can you show me the ranges?

Brad: Of course. I understand that you want to see the ranges. They are in the next aisle.

Me: Oh, good. You have the range I want! I’ve read all the reviews and this is the one for me: convection oven, warming oven, and a griddle. I want this one, Brad.

Brad: Excellent. I understand that you want this range.

Me: Why  do you keep repeating everything I say, Brad?

Brad: We’re taught to do that. It shows that we are listening and that you are our first priority.  So, I should point out that not all of the features on the range are available unless you get our Cook’s Premium Package.

Me: How can the features on the range not be available? The features are already on the range.

Brad: I understand that you see the features on the range but some of them may be disabled depending on which Kitchen Appliance Bundle you choose.

Me: How can that be, Brad?

Brad: Well, as an example, the oven door is not included if you choose the Starter Kitchen Package.

Me: No oven door?

Brad: Correct. All burners and the timer are included, however.

Me: When might you grant me an oven door?

Brad: Oh, the oven door is included in our Sous Chef Bundle. You might want to consider this package. It includes a 3-speed blender for only an additional $35 per month.

Me: Then I would be paying over $420 each year for a $200 blender. That makes no sense.

Brad: I understand that you do not want the Sous Chef Bundle.

Me: And do you understand that you can shove the blender?

Brad: I understand that you would like me to shove the blender.

Me: And your entire company as well, Brad.

Brad: I’ll be sure to pass that request along.

Curse you, Cable Company!

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Full disclosure: this blog post is being brought to you by my Cable Company’s very expensive and opaque cable package.

I had a To-Do list to take care of this morning. There were some bills to pay, but primarily, I wanted to see how much I could lower my monthly expenses.

I love the ease of ordering a book or magazine subscription from Kindle but there is the potential problem of Subscription Creep. You know how it is: you see a magazine that looks interesting, so you subscribe. It’s easy: just one click.

Then you realize that you no longer read that magazine — or the 6 others you’ve subscribed to–so it’s time to trim the monthly outlay. I trimmed those down in quick order.

The next item on my list  was to get my cable bill down, naive fool that I am.

When I moved a few years ago, I called to have the service moved and said I wanted to pare things down. The lovely woman at customer service offered me the same package, PLUS the premium movie channels and half the rate I was currently paying, so I said, “Sure!”

Trouble is, over time, that low rate creeps up to surpass what you were paying a few years ago, so this morning I set out to cut that rate down.

First, I wanted to cancel the premium movie channels because (1) I don’t watch them anymore and (2) if I do want to watch HBO, I can now get it on Netflix.

So I ask to cancel the premium channels and all heck breaks loose. Apparently, there are penalties for such rogue behavior.

Sure, they can cancel the movie channels, but my Internet speeds will be reduced.

What if I cancel the telephone, which is only used by telemarketers and, hence, never used by me.

No phone? Well, then I can’t take advantage of the special pricing for bundling my services. In short: it will cost me more.

We play this pas de deux for a few minutes. He offers me my same service for a $32 dollar month discount. (Big whoop–I’m currently paying over $200 dollars/month for channels that I never watch.)

Whatever I wanted to cut out resulted in some penalty–slower speeds or higher rates.

So then I ask the poison question: Can they please send me an itemized list of all their services so that I can see exactly what I am paying for?

And he says…

He says…

He says that they realize that an itemized list can be very confusing, which is why they offer the packages.

“Do you think I am so dim-witted that I cannot read your list and understand it?” I ask.

“Oh, no, Ma’am, not you.”

“Then please send it to me.”

I’m not sure what he said then. Was it that they understood which channels I watched or that if I gave one thing up, I would pay more for the things I kept? Or was it that he couldn’t send me the list?

I think it was the latter but I reminded him that he did have my e-mail address. Regardless, nothing was settled.

So I left it at this: give me your stupid $32 dollar discount to change absolutely nothing with the understanding that I would be checking out the other options and writing some letters to the Mayor, my Congressman, to whomever is best equipped to deal with this.

Do I jump from cable provider to satellite dish company to just an HDTV antenna? Who knows?

I aim to find out. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for that itemized list from the cable provider.

Let’s not hold our collective breaths on this one.