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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

I do not mean to generalize... (Cable TV rant #1)

Posted on April 21, 2010 at 2:49 PM

There was a particularly terrific Saturday Night Live skit back in the early 90s called "The Arakawa Group." It was a very McLoughlin Group-esque how, except set in Japan, which of course made it instantly funnier.  During the skit, this group of salary men sat around ranting against America. Basically how hard they work and how fit they are compared to, you know, us. One of the great lines from the skit was, “We would rike to apologize for saying all Americans are fat and razy. We do not mean to generalrize. Some Americans are fat and some are razy. Ahahahaha. Let's look at the monkey!" The camera then cut to a monkey in a suit sitting at a table vomiting. Hilarity.


So, in the same spirit, I don’t like to generalize about the cable company being completely suck ass, *but* some cable installers are competent and some are barely functionally retarded. Sometimes it seems like the only training required to be a “certified” cable tech is a 30-minute course of, “There are two types of cable wires, white and black. You put an end on both sides. You connect it to the TV. Then, and I can’t stress this enough, people! Then, you get out of that house and into your van like your ass were on fire!”


But, for some reason, the public perception is that these installers -- actually the entire the ENTIRE cable company -- are infallible. They are held with a reverence and given an “ultimate authority” status that even the Pope would envy. NEVER does a customer think to level any blame at the Holy Trinity of Cable Company, Cable Installer or Cable Box. Instead, it is always something or someone else to blame.


The other morning, I received a call from a client asking me why his TV wasn’t working. The call started off with something cheery like, “I don’t know what you people did, but you better have someone here Saturday to fix it!” He was railing about how he had all this wire spooling out of his wall, this big can (a low voltage wire enclosure) had a jumbled mess of wires, what kind of company were we, and BY GOD! we needed to fix it so he could watch TV over the weekend. He then adds, “The cable man walked in, took one look at the wiring and said, ‘Man, I don’t touch this sh--!’ and left.” Some 5 star service for sure, but of course, what more would you expect from an organization that gives you an 8 hour window when they may or may not show up?


As I love these kinds of attacks, I took a deep breath and asked if I might have a moment to look through his file to see what was going on. So, I looked through the paperwork and saw that we had absolutely nothing to do with the TV. We pulled 8 rooms of audio. We then installed 8 pair of speakers and 8 volume controls. If there was any wire spooling out of the walls, it wasn’t ours. However, if he wanted us to fix it, we’d be happy to do so. At a charge, of course. I explained that often the electrician pulls the low-voltage (TV, Tel, Data) cabling and that it is generally accepted that if you pull it, you terminate it. (“What do you mean data?” “Like Internet wire. Or for a network.” “For computers?” “Yes, sir. For computers.” “Do I have that?” “I don’t know. We pull it as part of our wiring bundle when we wire a home. But we didn’t wire yours. So....” I love letting it just hang in the air, like a big, gassy cloud of “You totally effed up by not hiring us, now I hope your house doesn’t totally suck.")


So, Sherlock tells me that he’s going to get to the bottom of it. So, this morning I get a call from his builder. “What’s going on with the TV at Sherlock’s house? Did your people come here and totallly disconnect everything or something?” Whaa?! You *really* think I’m going to send someoneout  to a jobsite that's about 30 minutes away to have them vandalize the cable wiring? I mean, really? Because, excuse me if I’m reading to much into this, but that’s kinda what it sounds like.

Turns out that after further inspection, another cable installer had returned, one that was willing to not only "touch that sh--," but to really get in there and put a signature move on it. In his zeal/confusion/hurry to get ONE TV working, he ripped out all of the splitters and amplifiers in the wiring panel. Left them in a jumbalaya, connected the one TV, saw it was working, and adios’d on outta there. In the immortal words of Dubya, “Mission Accomplished!”

Categories: April 2010, TV, Rants

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