Tuned In

TV-Full Friday: Our Long Nightmare Is Over

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When I saw that the cable guy who arrived to service the Cablecards in my TiVo was carrying a souped-up iPhone that he had custom-hacked himself, I knew everything would be all right. (To recap: I’d been without cable service since Friday, when my HD TiVo died; follow the long boring story backwards from here.) And sure enough, within a few minutes of showing up—which, credit is due, was indeed between the hours of 8 and 12—he had my cable service up and running. 

Of course, getting it up and running simply involved his going to the TiVo menu, taking down some Cablecard info that I could access myself, and making a phone call to Time Warner headquarters to have someone update their records and send a signal. In other words, he identified the exact same problem that a TiVo support tech had figured out the day before, after which he and I spent hours conferencing with various TWC staffers, trying in vain to get them to explain and get them to flip the simple switches that would start the sweet, sweet TV juice flowing to my screen.

So why, I asked the cable guy, couldn’t TWC have just handled the problem over the phone the day before? He grew philosophical. “It’s like any business,” he said. “Most people don’t have the knowledge. And the ones that do, want to keep it to themselves, because it makes them more valuable.” 

Word. Someone needs to get this guy a business-book deal.

Mind you, this situation is not limited to Time Warner Cable, or TiVo, or cable or tech companies generally. I’ve ranted about TWC and TiVo here, but there were a couple heroes in this saga: this guy, for one, and the TiVo support wiz who not only spent hours trying to explain television to various cable support staff, but who called me the next morning, before his shift, from his own cell phone to see if Time Warner had hooked me up. 

But of course getting to either guy involved negotiating a series of gatekeepers and misdirections out of Kafka’s The Castle. This seems to be the story of customer service these days. There are a few truly knowledgable people at a given organization. And vast armies of people whose apparent job is to keep you from ever getting to them.  

But I’m in a good mood for now, so let’s try to be positive. Are there are companies you deal with that have exceptionally good customer service—TV, tech, or otherwise? Leave a detailed message. Your call is important to us.