Jonathan Andrew Sheen (leviathan0999) wrote,
Jonathan Andrew Sheen

A Leviathan Roundup

So, Leviathan, what's new?

Gentleman of Leisure:

So, at three-thirty today, I walked out the door of "Megatronics" for, as it stands at the moment, the last time ever.

I learned today that there's an opening in the same facility, but a different department, and I put in an application for it.

The other temp in my department left at the same time I did, for the same reason -- contract terminated -- but one of the two temps in the adjoining department, also hired at the same time, left today because he got a paying gig elsewhere, for much more money, and immediate benefits, after a very short interview that asked only, "Do you have call center experience?" He starts the new job -- call center rep for a company that rents out port-a-potties -- Monday. I got the name of his HR contract, and sent her my resume Wednesday evening, when I learned my contract was ending.


She's much happier at the moment, bright-eyed and perky-eared and dancy-feetsed. Now, a few days ago, her course of Antibiotics and steroids to reduce itching ended. Since her diet's been changed, I don't want to ask the vet for more drugs yet. The idea is to keep her off them, and let the diet and regular baths be enough.

Will they be? that's the question!

Charter Communications Sucks:

My Cable Company is Charter Communications. I use them for cable and internet. (My wife and I are Cell-Phone-only users, no landline.)

Charter is a truly crappy cable company. There are times when you call, and get a call center in Canada, and that's okay. But more and more, their "Customer Service" -- I can only use the phrase in quotes -- is done by an Indian Call Center.

Now, no offense to anyone in or from India who reads this: It's a great nation filled with brilliant people. None of whom, as far as I can tell, work in Call Centers.

First: No, your name isn't "John" or "Benjamin" or "Charlie," and starting our conversation off with a lie is a crappy way to do business. Trust me, you're not fooling me into thinking you're from Cleveland.

Worse, though, is that the call center works exactly the way the Dell Computing call center works. There's the front-line phone gunky, who takes the call, and there's one level of "supervisers" who are not empowered to do anything the front line gunky can't do.... And above those supervisors is a firewall. You cannot get over the phenomenally useless supervisor's head without hanging up and calling Charter's corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri.

Gunky and Not-So-Supervisor alike (I wonder if they just take turns?) work from a script, and it's a poor script, and they stick to it like barnacles. They expressly disobey customers in the process.

The situation: Tuesday Evening, in the overnight, Charter "pushed" a code "upgrade" out to all cable boxes. I'm not sold on the "up" part of "upgrade." The primary purpose seems to have been to make it possible for them to use 4-digit channel numbers. Given the vast number of empty channel slots they have in the current 3-digit system -- I doubt very much they offer more than three-hundred and fifty out of the possible 1,000 channels possible under that scheme, and I suspect it's more like a hundred and fifty -- I don't see much advantage. It also changed the graphical interfaces into something that looks strongly influenced by watching "I Love the 80s" on VH1.

Still, it's no skin off my nose if they want to change their operating system... Or, it wouldn't be, except that several of the free "On Demand" channels stopped working.

For those unfamiliar, "On Demand" channels are channels on which certain popular TV networks allow you to watch selected programs from their line-ups, with limited commercial interruptions, via a system much like a DVD or Video Tape.

Tuesday night saw the season premieres, on the USA Network, of White Collar, which I saw and quite liked, although it's generated a lot of controversy over a poorly-chosen plot element (which can and should be done away with with a line of expository dialogue ASAP) and Covert Affairs which is an affront to my spy-fiction-loving sensibilities, but stars Piper Perabo, so I don't care, and which I slept through. Did I mention Piper Perabo? She's not Emma Watson, but Emma's not that jealous of my attentions that I can't enjoy Piper, who's been a favorite of mine since she played FBI Agent Karen Sympathy in the vastly underrated Bullwinke movie of a decade or so ago.

So when I attempted to watch Covert Affairs on USA Network On Demand, I discovered that the OS Update had broken that service. I got a screen that showed a phony status/activity bar, and the words "0% Complete," all of which woud remain on the screen for about ten minutes, to be then replaced by a screen saver. Further investigation revealed the same issue with several other "On Demand" channels I don't much care about.

So I called Charter Communications, and explained this to the Gunky, who wanted to insist on rolling a truck to my house, and then the Not-So-Supervisor, who wanted to insist on rolling a truck to my house. I told both, very explicitly, that they were not to schedule a service call, that nobody would be home to greet a technician, that the problem was identical on every cable box in my house, and that the problem clearly was resident in the technological guts of Charter Communications' local office here in Pepperell, Massachusetts.

Both Gunky and Not-So-Supervisor refused to pass word back to Charter that there was a probem in their office. Their script allowed for only one, inappropriate solution: Roll a truck. "Do not schedule a service call," I said. "Nobody wil be home, the problem is not in my house, and I'm not wasting my time giving a technician a guided tour. I just told you what's wrong. You're Charter. Get it fixed."

In the face of the further refusals that followed, I ended up calling Corporate Headquarters, who told me that a truck roll had been set up, which should solve my problem. After I prevented myself from blowing my top, I had the truck roll cancelled, and explained the situation to the Corporate Escalations Rep, who assured me she'd cancel the service call, send an e-mail to the appropriate technical staff, and call me back the next day, Thursday. The first of these seems actually to have happened, but there was no joy as far as a fix, and no phone call.

So, today, I decided to leave work an hour and a half early, to visit the local Charter Communications Walk-In Office, and get them to look at the probem.

Now, I need to pause here to explain something. I've been working Customer Service jobs since 1987, and my very first one was Customer Service at my local Cable TV provider, much of which I spent as their rep in their walk-in office in Ayer, Massachusetts. Any walk-in office you go into has a TV in it, and it's not there so the Customer Service Representative can enjoy his-or-her day -- athough that's a benefit. It's there so, if a customer reports a problem, you can look. "Channel 24 has a big black line in the middle of it!" "Okay, let me call the office in your area, and they'll take a look."

Charter Communications is set up so there is literally no way for the Call Center, foreign or domestic, to call any local walk-in office for this purpose. Really. Moreover, on previous occasions, when I had to go into the local office to show them that this or that little-watched channel was out of service (another Charter Communications Call Center rule: "We won't take any action on a channel outage unless it is reported by at least three seperate people in at least three seperate homes" [Again: Yes, really!]) I was told snappishly by the doltish geriatric harridan they have staffing the office that it's not her job to check channels to see if they're working. Lady, that's just about your only job! That, swapping out defective equipment, and taking payments!

So, having waited in the tiny lobby about twenty minutes while Doltish Geriatric Harridan fumbled her way through accepting the returned equipment of someone discontinuing service, and then bungled taking a cash payment from a customer -- and bolted out to use the rest room, with an embarrassingly audible fush, in mid-bungle -- I told her I needed her to look at a channel.

Her TV was off, and she sat facing away from it, and didn't even turn toward the set. Before she would look and see that her service was fucked up, she needed to confirm my identity as a Charter Communications Subscriber. After providing my name, address, phone number, and, I swear before God, a Photo ID she read details on my account, careless, and turned on the television, and proceeded to ignore my instructions of what to tune to to see the problem.

"I'm going to check the Oprah Winfrey Network first." That channel -- the actual live channel -- was fine, and she turned back to me with a smug look of victory on her face, and said, "It's fine."

"The Oprah Winfrey Network," I told her patiently, "is not the problem."

"It's what you complained about."

"No it isn't. The problem is with three On Dem--"

"It says right here," she interrupted me, "that you complained about the Oprah Winfrew Network, Women's Entertainment Television, and the USA Network."

"Not the live channels," I ground out between gritted teeth. "It's the On Deman--"

"That's not what it says here!"

"Lady, I'm the one who called in the complaint! I know what isn't working! If your screen disagrees with me, your screen's wrong!" She was quite affronted by this. I didn't care. "Now. Go to 9-9-9. Then select 'Primetime Free.' Now try the USA Network."

She selected the Oprah Winfrey network instead of USA, but that was okay, it was one that wasn't working. (No, I didn't want to watch it, I just made a note of the nonfunctional channels in the "Primetime Free" menu, in case the pattern would tell a technician something.) She stared at the set, then back at me, even more affronted and impatient, as if it was somehow my fault that the channel was behaving as I'd described, as if now both I and the channel were "wrong," and then ran into the back room to finally, praise Ghod, fetch an actual technician.

It took about a minute and thirty seconds to fill him in, and he said, "Okay, yeah, that's a problem here." It isn't fixed yet, but at least after about three days they know one the services we pay about $200.00 a month for is broken.

Just to be clear:

Charter Communications Sucks!

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