You Can Mess With Me, But Don’t You Mess With My TV

Dear Esteemed Local Cable Provider - 

I’m sure at this point you’re somewhat tired of hearing from my husband and me, seeing as how you have been summoned to our house at least seven times in the last two months, not to mention my husband’s thrice-weekly calls to your customer service department regarding our reliably unreliable internet service. (Feel free to use that “reliably unreliable” phrase in your next ad campaign, by the way. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, you can always go with “consistently inconsistent.” Because that too would apply.) 

I’m sure that part of our dissatisfaction with your cable television / DVR / cable internet products is because our last cable-television experience was exceptional. In fact, during the time that we spent with DirectTV at our former home, we called upon their customer service department approximately, oh, zero times. We enjoyed a crystal clear picture, a friendly DVR-interface via our beloved TiVo (or, as I liked to refer to it: The Baby), and an unfailing satellite set-up. Honestly, we planned to be customers for life…life and beyond, in fact, because there’s absolutely no way that heaven won’t come equipped with the DirectTV / TiVo combination. God has spoken to me about this, and I know I can trust Him. 

Now since my outlook is typically of the glass half-full variety, I have tried to look at our current Unfortunate Cable Situation in a more positive light. I’ve been telling myself that the reason we’ve had to call on you so frequently is because you want to get to know us. You want your technicians to get to know us. You want the customer service representatives in call centers located halfway around the world to know us. You’re relational. You’re building community. You’re investing time in our family. You’re not just a cable company; you’re an outstretched hand, offering us a warm welcome into our new home. 

But my perspective changed, you see, when your reliably unreliable DVR product did not record “24” last Monday night. It was programmed to record “24,” and it even showed “24” in our list of recorded programs. But when we tried to play our favorite show in the history of all time ever, we were greeted by a blank screen – a blank screen whose existence your customer service representatives could not explain. A blank screen whose existence your technician could not explain when he made a service call to our house the very next day. A blank screen that caused said technician to replace our faulty DVR unit with another one that wouldn’t record, only to replace that faulty unit with another unit that is apparently quite cheerful – at least that’s what we’ve determined since it makes a whistling noise all the time. 

I won’t even get into the fact that your TiFaux product didn’t record American Idol this past Tuesday night. Frankly, I just can’t talk about it because those wounds are still too raw.

Today a technician is supposed to bring us another DVR unit. And because history is our best teacher, I must tell you that I look forward to identifying the exact nature of our new DVR’s defectiveness – whether that means the unit might have smoke emanating from the area where the clock should be, a lingering odor that smells vaguely of old peas, or perhaps a tendency to inexplicably play showtunes from the 1950’s when I’m JUST TRYING TO WATCH OPRAH, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE.

At this point, nothing would surprise me.

You see, I can deal with the fact that your DVR interface resembles something from a Commodore 64 computer. I just tell myself that it’s retro. 

I can deal with the fact that your On Demand service is, according to your customer service representatives and your technicians, only reliable approximately 20% of the time. I just tell myself that it’s in the beta phase.

I can deal with the fact that last night we inexplicably started to receive every single pay channel known to man - despite the fact that we had not ordered them - and when my husband called your customer service center and asked you to remove them from our service because we have an almost-four year old and would prefer that he not wander across the fine film offerings on Cinemax, your response was that “most people would be glad to get something they’re not paying for.” I just tell myself that you’re generous.

And I’m willing to look past all of those things.

But I cannot deal with being deprived of Monday night’s Jack Bauer Power Hour.

Nor will I tolerate missing even a second of the cheese-tacular that is my beloved American Idol.

So just know this: I’ve got my eye on you.

And more importantly, Jack Bauer has my back.

Let’s get the DVR-thing right this time.

‘Kay, sweet thing?

Yours truly,

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  1. For the love of Tivo and your favorite shows, set this new “Tifaux” to record something totally worthy of being missed like the history channel (just my opinon). Make this one prove itself worthy of recording those irrecoverable moments of AI and 24 before you leave it in it’s hands next week.


  2. HA! Your misfortunes are my comic relief :) I really can’t relate though because we watch t.v. on a CONSOLE (do you even remember what those are?) and we still play VHS tapes on the DVD/VHS recorder (we do have some dvds but no DVR). Hope you get some relief SOON! :)

  3. Have I told you lately that I just adore your sense of humor??? You are rapidly becoming one of my heroes…………

  4. I hope you are laughing so I can say, once again, that I am laughing with, not at, you.

    We have just recently ditched tv altogether so I don’t even know what is on tonight. Kind of freeing really.

    And no, I’m not suggesting anything like an addiction (or pit as Beth would call it), but commenting in love. =)

  5. oh no, no, no, they best not mess with 24! them’s fightin’ words

  6. I am sorry that your misfortune resulted in my pleasure. YOU. ARE. HILARIOUS.

  7. Well, BM, you didn’t miss too much Monday night. I got so upset that I actually got out of bed and left the room. Now, I LOVE it when Jack gets to torture someone really wicked, but really, it was like I was watching a repeat. OK, he’s at the foreign consulate, without authorization, and he…….wait a minute. You may not have seen it yet. Well, anyhoo, they’d better be coming up with some better ideas, or I may have to…, oh who am I kidding. I’ll keep watching.

    Hope everything gets fixed.

  8. We had problems with our VCR (sadly, in our case it was user error!) the last couple times we set it to tape Lost, but then we discovered the most beautiful thing…we can watch it online the next day and in much less time. Commercials only run for about 28 seconds on each break then you can click back to the show. My husband missed 24 a couple of times as well and he was able to watch those online too. Pretty soon we’ll probably just ditch the TVs all together! I agree with you about Directv though…they beat any cable company hands down!

  9. See what all I miss by not having any shows to watch? But I have to admit, it’s making for wonderful blogging fodder on your part…

    Truly, I’m sorry your service sucks and that you’re missing out on your shows. But hey Miss LookAtThePositive, it leaves more time for reading, right?

    Okay, I’m crawling back into my hole…

  10. Take comfort in that the only good thing you missed on 24 was the previews heralding the return of my favorite couple last season. Otherwise it was Boredom City and I say that with great regret. :(

  11. You. Crack. Me. Up. I absolutely love reading your blog. I wish I had half the writing ability you do. Thank you for sharing your wit and charm with us all. : ) ~Happi

  12. nspiredbyfaith says:

    Your blogs(is that what they are called?) are hillarious! I haven’t been into the blog thing for very long, but I am from North AL (rural N AL, we don’t even have cable here!!) and from what I have gathered, you must be in AL somewhere, so most of the time, I can totally relate! ESPECIALLY when somebody messes with the DVR! Maybe they will get it working for ya soon!

  13. Maybe your cable/internet provider is related to ours. Or maybe they’re just having a contest to see who can offer the worst service! Our old provider sold to another one, and Internet Explorer now freezes up on us. And they won’t forward our old e-mail address like they said they would. When the e-mail works at all, that is. And they replaced the Discovery channel on the really basic cable with a Shopping Channel! And raised our rates $5!

  14. Merritt says:

    You have got to really send this on to your cable company, PLEASE!!! I really think their CEO would get a kick out of this! In fact, I know he would!

  15. suzanne says:

    Not that they would publish it or anything remotely close to that…but they gotta love that you are taking it so well, and using them for comic fodder for ALL the internets to read….then they perhaps would give you “beta” service…..pardon the pun, I know you really want Perfect service, in the most modern of technoservices, but I couldn’t help myself. We can don our Southern Belle posse outfits and come over there to AL and help you if need be. They should be scared,very scared, especially if you’ve got all us internets AND Jack Bauer!!! There’s gonna be some whoopin’ going on! ;-)

  16. I second Merritt’s vote.

  17. Yes, I do hope a copy of this post is currently in the mail, on its merry way to your cable provider. My husband’s job involves interaction with various cable providers and sadly, the problems you are experiencing are widespread. You’d think they could learn from DirecTV. I, personally, have made a vow to never live in a house that does not have a clear view of the southern sky — or whichever sky it is that my DirecTV satellite dish points to.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    I’m with Merritt. “‘Kay, sweet thing” was the icing!

  19. You’re brilliant. You have my sympathies; I hope it all gets fixed soon.

  20. Phyllis R. says:

    You showed them. Oh, I’m sorry, I said “show”. : )

    May I borrow this little gem for the next time I have a problem, any problem , and just insert pertinent information as the case calls for??? It is GREAT! Hey, you could SELL this kind of writing for sure.

    I’m so sorry your are suffering so. Please remember to send them your therapy bills.

  21. Bailey's Leaf says:

    Ah, I should tweak your letter just a bit and send it off to Warner. Everytime they climb the pole to fix a neighbor’s cable, ours goes out. You schedule a call that takes days to occur, only to get a time block of “between 12-2.” Then, at 5:45, when you are tired of waiting and call, they say, “Well, it’s too late now!” I don’t recall the wording I used but somehow, a gentleman arrived at my door that evening, fixed my problem and gave the bill a 20. credit for their “On time guarantee” being, well– not so on time. Glove smack them, while your at it. It always seemed to work in those old black and white movies!

  22. I beg you, please, please send this to your cable company. I would really love to be a fly on the wall when the customer service rep opens this email!

  23. I’m with Trista. Pretty pretty please tell me you are sending that hilariously written epistle to them. Love it!

  24. Dear Mrs. Mama (kin we call ya Boo?),

    We here at the Esteamed Lokal Cabul Pervider want to thank you just ever so for yer kind and encuragine letter.

    Me an’ Cooter only got us a 5th grade edyukashun, and that’s whin you add my 4 to his 1. We will have to wait until Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from the Kwik E Mart stopps by and reeds us yur lettr to address your akshule conserns. We just wanted yew to no how we was all pleazed as punch to here frum ya, sints we are all about relashunships.

    Which reminds me, my birfday’s nexd week and could you make me a pie? Cooter sez to say it his birfday too, but it ain’t really, but could he have some pie too?

    Eney way, gotta go fer now. I’m shure we’ll be talkin soon.

    Roll Tide!

    Me ‘n Cooter

  25. I sure hope your sending that in to the cable provider… A hidden camera in the envelope would be priceless too!

    We alas not only have only dial-up internet that on a good day comes in at 37kbps as opposed to the 5000 or so of high speed but we as of yet do not have a dvr. It may become a crisis thing as American Idol, The Office, Ugly Betty and Survivor all come on at 8:00 on Thursdays…do you know how hard it is to flip between 4 shows??!! I missed half of the Dwight Bat show… a tragedy.

  26. Elsha Noble says:

    If you need to watch a back episode of Jack Bauer just go to this link:
    AS far as your TIVO – is your box from the cable company and do you have just the one control? You may have the signal on TV rather than CABLE.
    Sorry you missed “24”. I am a Jack Bauer fan BIG TIME….

  27. little liz says:

    This is my favorite post ever, S! I have cried laughing reading it – twice! Unfortunately, the trade off for having your beautiful tree-filled neighborhood is poor satelite reception. We couldn’t get a TiVo when we moved into our house because of all of our trees. Maybe one day…

  28. OK, first of all, you are RIGHT ON about AI.

    Second of all, my blood just sypathetically boiled for you about the DVR situation. I have some rage residual about our own past cable TV company shortcomings. Don’t mess with my DVR folks, I’ll getcha.

  29. We must have the same cable provider!!

    I have to go apologize to my husband now for that name I called him when he “deleted” several Gilmore Girls in a row… looks like he really was telling the truth about the black screen!

  30. I could certainly use this letter for my Earthlink internet problems. After the umpteenth call to customer service they finally set me up to bypass something and now I don’t need the ACT light to light up. That’s a good thing, because it only would do so half the time. :)

    Hope your DVR problems are solved. If not, I have a 1995 era Panasonic Showstopper gathering dust in the basement you can have. No fees required if you can still find an access number. :)

  31. Smells like old peas???? HAAAAAA!!! I love that! I’m not sure I even know what they smell like but I’m sure it’s not pleasant. I’m a big 24 fan, too. Sorry you missed it. Tell that cable guy that he has less than 24 hours to get yours fixed or your calling Jack Bauer!

  32. homesklr says:

    My husband says you make a Bulldog proud!

  33. I can tell you that THE CABLE COMPANY you are referring to sucks when it comes to internet!!! We had them for 3 months, in that time, we had to wipe out and redo our computer 4 times. 4 times 8 HOURS EACH= 32 hours I spent redoing my computer.

    What did they say to me? That their internet service is set up where 4 to 6 people share a router and that someone on mine must’ve gotten a virus?????

    Needless to say, the next time we switched to Bellsouth Internet and are SO GLAD we did!!!

    Hope you get things fixed soon!!!

  34. Okay, now I truly understand why you have such a devoted following. What a hoot! I have to read it again to savor all the funny stuff.

  35. Oh, BooMama, I feel your pain. Back when our current cable company was our previous cable company, but with a different name and marginally different logo, we had so many problems that I knew many of the phone reps and service technicians by name or by sight. Worse: THEY KNEW ME. When a tech came to the house one day, pointed to my firstborn and said, “Wow, he’s walking really well now,” I called the company and demanded to speak to newer, higher-level people until the problem was F.I.X.E.D.

    Happily, and I knock on wood as I type this, we’ve had relatively trouble-free cable service ever since. Unhappily, Mr. F5 and I now lack the energy and attention span to stay awake for more than ten minutes once we finally crash on the couch and reach for the cable remote. So you win some, you lose some.

    Count me among the many who eagerly await hearing how your cable provider responds to this post after you submit it to them. Yes?

  36. Your problems with your DVR are the exact reasons I put up with my circa 2001 TiVo. I am scared to death that the new one will not record when I program it. The little boys and girls at Best Buy try to tell me I’m just a worrisome old lady (I’m 40. Not THAT old). But what would I do without my shows. I don’t watch that many. I don’t want to loose them.
    I trust this is all worked out for you soon. I is so frustrating when something you depend on doesn’t work correctly.
    BTW, I agree with Merritt, send this to the CEO of your cable provider. S/He would probably love to hear your feedback and in such a humerous way. SEND IT!

  37. Beth in TX says:

    Okay, I wasn’t feeling your pain before because, well, I don’t watch American Idol- audible gasp. I’ve been known to watch and enjoy it but it just hasn’t become a habit, and frankly, I feel like I’m there with your blog posts. But missing 24 — THAT IS A CRIME. So here’s my offer. I’ll come perform a service visit to your house and install a VCR and set it up to record our beloved Jack Bauer. I just ask that you get all the crazies off the road who were driving all over the place the last two times I drove through your fair city. And not to brag or anything, but I once called customer service for our favorite VCR/DVD player to ask a question and once I explained my video configuration, the rep asked me to come set up his video equipment.

  38. I am so with you on this.. Our DVR the recordings skip like a scratched DVD.. It is so annoying.

  39. Crystal Ward says:

    Please tell me that you really sent this to the cable company, because that would be great. You really didn’t miss anything on AI , but that is not the point. Right? All I really want to know is what happened last night that allowed Sanjaya to stay?????!!!!!! Do people not listen when these people sing?

  40. When I get up from rolling on the floor laughing, I’m going to send this one to my husband. (He thinks he IS Jack Bauer – Shhh – it’s top secret!)

    And I’m with the rest, send this to them! :)

  41. I hope you sent that, I really do.

    Probably one of my favorite posts. Very very funny and articulate. You get the best post prize from Jamie today! Yay!

    Good on ya honey.


  42. I’ll bet anything you use Comcast. That is SO SIMILAR to my experience with them.

    Just the other day I went in to return a modem and make sure my account balance was at $0 (I got married and moved and cancelled my service). The nice lady behind the counter told me that I still owed “$135. For the modem.” I just pointed at it and was like, uhhh. She still couldn’t quite grasp why I didn’t need to pay for something that was sitting on her counter.

    I think I need to blog about this.

  43. fabthemayor says:

    My technologically-savvy girlfriend told me I had to read your post because we,too, had a similar situation with said satelite provider. We decided to upgrade to the DVR since we are avid NASCAR fans and want to record the radio channels anytime we are away from the TV. I had blocked the whole experience out of my mind…but reading your blog brought it to the forefront of my memory. Let me just summarize it by saying that a very uhhappy DirecTV technician wanted to see what real people did for fun at 9:45 (PM that is…) on a Saturday night…because that’s when he showed up to install the box. We had been going round and round all day about whether we were “on the schedule” or not and they didn’t like the fact that I had documented times/ phone numbers and names of people I had talked to throughout the day. They need to be thanking their lucky stars it was so close to the Daytona Speedweeks or we would be happy cable customers right now. Cedric the Technician was none too happy when I reiterated for the umteenth time that yes, I was on the schedule, and YES, he would install my box before the day was over. He thought by telling my how far from my house he was (on the other side of town…) and how long it would take him to drive to my house (at least another hour) that I would tell him it was OK, he could get to me another day. Sorry, Cedric. But we did get on another schedule – another technician showed up at the front door on Valentine’s Day…to install the DVR we had been using for two weeks. Imagine that!

  44. TiFaux! How I love my sweet tivo. And every tivo/dvr should AUTOMATICALLY record 24. They obviosly don’t know Jack.

  45. I LOVE your blog! The sticky thing about it is that I’m reading this at work! So I’m expecting anytime now for someone to come in here and check out what’s going on! Oh……just reading about TiFaux!