Wednesday, October 19, 2011

to cable or not to cable . . .

Let me state right from the start that we do not have cable TV delivery in our home. Or I should say, for complete disclosure, we do not PAY for cable delivery. It's a long story but one year when we returned from the beach, the person who had been house sitting for us had installed cable for her use. She was here for only two months, moved out and, presumably, canceled cable service. However, the company did not discontinue its service so when we returned we had this fantastic buffet of TV choices. This went on for three years until one morning, we couldn't get half of the cable channels but still got what might be called low-down-basic channels. This technological delivery did not come with any bill. We were sucking off cablevision without paying for it.

Last evening I ambled out to the den and turned on the TV for the news. Nothing but one of those rainbow test patterns. All the stations were dead with a message to contact the cable provider for its latest translation boxes if I wanted to continue to receive the signal. What? All I wanted was KQED or KVIE for the News Hour. I called immediately but was told it might be several hours before I got a Service Representative since the call load was very heavy. I bet it was!

So I logged on to my computer and watched the news. But this would not work for long. This morning I decided to go to the cable provider's local office and find out what the problem was. However, I needed to be very careful here. I was getting cable but was not paying for it. Who was? I had no idea. I didn't want to be slapped with a bill for 5 years of unpaid cable use to the tune of several thousands of dollars.

No problem. Yes, the provider had changed its requirements in the middle of the night and no problem that you are not a subscriber. Take this little magic box, follow the instructions, pay $10 for a month and you'll get what you want. Very basic. Network, PBS, a few extras. Sounds good. I returned home clutching the magic box, the instructions and a list of channels we would get for the rock-bottom, no-frills cable membership. Mr. C wrestled with it for a time, couldn't get it to work. I called the help line for advice. Another example of fantastic and patient help. Do you have the box plugged in with the power cord? Ooops. Once we did that and waited for the operator to send the signal we were in the land of cable watchers.

All of this for one month's service. We'll probably actually get cable legitimately when we get back from the beach. Right now we have what 's called "Limited Basic." For next year I'm eying Starter; it has MSNBC. That means Rachel. It's an election year. Essential!


Anonymous said...

Liz says:
Susan, I have DirectTV, with a small dish installed up on my roof deck railing. I have the basic plan, which has a zillion channels (no HBO or Starz, etc.) for about $60/mo. But, we can't get any decent reception for any channel without it or cable. They have been wonderful to deal with on problems, and my favorite feature is that they will suspend service/fee if one is away. I've been happy with it, except during heavy storms, when the picture is gone.

mary ann said...

We love cable TV, the more the better.
That's funny that you got it free for so long, I've heard stories like this before.