Thursday, August 17, 2006

TV Torture

Wine Guy and I are not exactly Luddites when it comes to new technology, but neither do we race to own the latest thing. We'd been looking at plasma and other HDTVs for years, but we never bought a thing. Mostly b/c WineGuy takes forever to make a decision on big purchases.

So, last February, a few days before the Super Bowl, our main TV (20 years old) gave up the ghost. We, along with 500 other consumers, were at Best Buy that Saturday to purchase a new TV. We got a good salesman, who hit us for some big buck$: one plasma TV, one LCD TV, 1 DVD player, and 1 DVD/VCR combo player, plus assorted extended service contracts, etc. Once we figured out how to work everything, all the equipment worked fine.

Until ........ we ventured in the sheer hell known as Digital Cable. When we switched our home phone service from Sprint to Comcast, we switched Internet service and upgraded to digital cable. One of those package deals that sounds good during the trial period untl your first "real" bill shows up. We had CableCards installed in both new TVs in early June, and nothing has worked right since. It took Comcast nearly 2 months to rectify serious signal problems at our house. Weeks and weeks of service calls, hours spent on the phone with Customer No-Service, and fighting with everyone. When we finally got the cable TV issues, fixed, the plasma TV went psychotic, turning itself on and off repeatedly.

So, I call the Mfr's Customer Service, who puts me through to their warranty service, which is based out of Fort Lauderdale, FL, nearly 1.5 hours away. Warranty Svc shows up in early August and says, "It's not our TV. It's the Cable Card, but just in case, we'll program a new motherboard for you" and leaves. Of course, the TV did not malfunction once while he was here. Then I called Comcast, who subsequently replaced the CableCard. Then we went on vacation and turned everything off for a week. The motherboard had to be programmed in WhoKnowsWhere and then shipped to the service center in Fort Lauderdale. They called me while I was on vacation to schedule today's service appt.

Meanwhile, we return from vacation, turn everything back on, and the plasma TV works fine. A different warranty service tech shows up today and installs the new motherboard. He's here for less than an hour, proclaims the plasma TV to be in good working order, and then leaves. I sit down to program the TV and find that I've lost all my digital cable channels (again). I call the service man on his cell phone twice to report the problems. He tells me the TV is working fine and that it's the CableCard. I spend another 45 minutes on the phone with Comcast, who tries to re-program the CableCard 3-4 times. No luck. No digital channels again. Back to the phone to call Fort Lauderdale to get the technician back here today. Forget it. He's booked. Maybe tomorrow. Comcast is supposed to be here tomorrow to replace the CableCard again. If I could get these people here at the same time, I'd tie them together until they fixed the problem.

I hate, Hate, HATE being caught in the middle like this. The kids are complaining. Wine Guy will surely bitch when he gets home from work. And, all I have to show for my day is a huge number of wireless minutes devoted to fixing a wired appliance.

Bah, humbug!

[2 hours later]

The warranty service center just called to say that they've been on the phone all day with the "Engineering Dept" (makes you think of geeks with plastic pocket protectors). Engineering is supposed to overnight me a new motherboard to my house, whereupon I am to call the repairman who is supposed to still be in my area tomorrow. Comcast is also supposed to install a new CableCard tomorrow, too. If the gods will it. they will both be here at the same time to work this nightmare out together. Let us pray.


MLL said...

ACK!!! This stressed me out just reading it. I'm not good at dealing with stuff like this.....I just throw a fit about it and let DH handle
it :-) I will pray for technological success......and hope that WineGuy comes up with a good bottle of wine to tide you over in the meantime.

BunnyBubblette said...

Uggghhhh!! Dontcha HATE that stuff??? I love gadgets. I'm a gadget junky. But, there's nothing I hate worse than when a gadget doesn't work right and you have to make a full-time career out of getting it fixed. It's especially aggravating when you have to deal with multiple customer service departments and they're all trying to point the finger at each other!