Nothing is easy

I’ve had the same digital box and remote forever. I’m in the “if-it’s-not-broke-don’t-fix-it” camp.

About a year ago, the on/off power button on the remote stopped working, but that didn’t bother me. It’s good to get off the couch once in a while. Then on Thursday night, the channel selector thingie stopped working. And that was a bridge too far for me.

Bright and early Friday morning I called my cable provider. I looked at my watch and it was 9:15 a.m. I got through to a customer service person (and I use the term loosely, more like customer torture) much more quickly than I anticipated — like within seconds.

That was the best part of the call.

All I wanted was to book a service call to have a new digital box/remote delivered and connected and the old one taken away. There was a time I would have been able to do that. But clearly, that time is no longer.

After I explained what I was after, there was dead silence on the other end of the line. I thought we’d been disconnected. So I asked if he was still there. Even then it took about a minute for him to finally respond. “Yeah, I’m here.” Said with an edge.

So again, I asked if I could book a service call. No response. So I asked again. He told me he’d have to put me on hold while he checked. He sounded very put out, like I was asking him to … I don’t know … build me a new house. With his bare hands. On the moon.

Tired of waiting, I hung up.

You’re saying to yourself that I should just have disconnected the box from my TV and gone to the store myself. Technically you’re right, but when it comes to anything that involves any kind of technology, wires, connecting bits and bobs to other bits and bobs, I inevitably run into trouble and end up wanting to bang my head against the wall. Hard and repeatedly. Given all the risks associated with concussions, the cost of a service call is well worth it for me.

A friend of mine, who deals with the same company, told me that she now does online chat with them and it’s a far better experience than the phone.

Why not try it, I thought. So I fired up my laptop and connected with someone very quickly. After all the obligatory questions were asked by her and answered by me, she finally asked how she could help me. I told her.

She then proceeded to do the exact opposite. Pleasant as she was, all she was interested in was selling me a completely different service offering. I said “no thank you,” she persisted. I got a bit testy. Polite, but a bit testy. Firmly — politely, but firmly — I once again communicated specifically what I was after.

What then ensued was a series of back and forths. But I still wasn’t getting anywhere.

By now I was flailing around on my couch, arms waving in the air, face flushed, hair standing on end, swearing loudly, globules of spittle forming on the outer edges of my lips.

None of which she was aware of, because we were online. Just as well to be honest.

At that point, I typed that this was all becoming way too complicated and I was out of time and needed to go.

After quickly assuring me that she totally understood my frustration, she suggested that she could transfer me — online — to a technical support person, who would be able to determine if the box and the remote were defective and needed replacing or if it was just the remote.

Or, I suppose, if it was me who was defective. She also said that this technical person would be able to arrange a service call for me, if necessary.

Why she didn’t do that in the first place I don’t know. Well, I do, actually. She wanted to sell me something I didn’t want or need. Obviously, that was the script she was expected to follow. My priority wasn’t part of her training I guess. I’m only the customer, which counts for nothing.

The technical person determined, in a matter of maybe one minute, that it was just the remote that was defective.

Again, I looked at my watch. It was 11:45. It was 9:15 when my descent into hell began.

Off I went to the Rogers (my cable/wireless/internet provider) store for a new remote.

When I got back home — after also running some other errands — I attempted to set it up. Got the batteries in it just fine. Then I unfolded the user guide. It was so huge it looked like the map of the world. It hung off the sides of my dining room table.

Gibberish. It was filled — on both sides — with gibberish. How was I supposed to know which of the different options I should choose?????? Not to mention which codes I would need??????? Assuming, of course, I ever managed to translate the gibberish into the English most humans understand.

Who writes these instructions??????? (I know, the same people who provide the assembly instructions for Ikea).

Still in a weakened condition from the morning’s extravaganza I knew I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude or the mental and emotional stability required to try to figure it out.

Inches away from throwing my TV, the digital box, the new remote and myself off the balcony, I grabbed my computer, positioned myself in front of the TV and went in search of some online tech support — which I found relatively quickly.


Well, it was momentarily okay. Brooke — my online tech support person needed information I didn’t have. After moving heavy furniture around I was able to provide some of it. At that point, she decided we should forget about the user guide (which is why I opted for technical support in the first place, but never mind) and she sent me a link that she said would tell me what to do.

Personally, I think she sent me the link so she could end our conversation and go for a coffee. But I was having none of that. I copied and pasted the link into a new tab — assuring myself that if something went awry, I wouldn’t be stranded — and have to start yet another chat with someone new. Brooke was stuck with me until I decided we were done.

Good thing, because the link did not provide useful information. I was no further ahead. She disappeared briefly. And when she returned she gave me a list of about four simple things I needed to do. Where she found them I don’t know and I don’t care. They worked. Sort of. (Please don’t ask why she didn’t do that right away. I’m still too fragile to contemplate that without crying.)

Anyhoo … like I just said, mostly everything worked — except the remote would not shut the TV and the box off. It would turn them on, but not off.


But, she was able to tell me how to fix that — which I did in mere seconds.

Life was good. Briefly.

Later that night, I did something very stupid. In my defense, it was a case of automatic reflexes kicking in. Old habits die hard. I’d gotten into a routine. For over a year I’ve had to manually turn the TV and the digital box on and off. I’d do it without thinking.

You already know what happened, don’t you? Yep, ‘fraid so.

Sometime around midnight, when I was ready to turn in, I turned it all off. Manually (sigh). And then what happened? Yep, the remote wouldn’t work. Tried everything I could think of, including re-programming it.

Defeated, discouraged, dismayed, depressed and more than a little deranged I went to bed.

Saturday morning I was up at the crack of dawn. After about a five or six-minute wait for online tech support Daniel — once he’d read my tale of woe — was able to walk me through what I had to do. One, two, three it was done — and now I know what to do if I screw up again — which is highly likely.

Now if only there was something worth watching (sob) on television!

P.S. But here’s the thing. On the face of it, if you look at the transcripts of all the online chats I had (which I have if you’re interested), you’d think I’d received great customer service. The tech support people certainly knew what to do. They were polite and did their best to be helpful. In the end my problems were resolved. BUT — all told, I spent (wasted?) about four hours last Friday — and when all was said and done I never got what I called them for in the first place: a service call. Instead I endured a sales pitch for a product I do not want and I started and completed the first phase of training to become a Rogers service technician — a job I never asked for, do not want and truth be told, would not be good at. Call me crazy, but that’s not customer service. I long for the good old days.







6 thoughts on “Nothing is easy

  1. Kudos to you for enduring – and finding the energy to write about it – which is remarkable, really. I put off calling customer service lines for as long as possible, to avoid the nightmare.

    Rogers and other companies of their ilk ought to consider rewriting their scripts – when you consider that the company devoted four hours on one customer and in the end, they didn’t sell anything new, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. PLUS, don’t forget the goodwill that is lost.

    • You would think the Rogers of this world would have figured it out. But no, they don’t get it. I had a week of it last week — a terrible experience with Land’s End and believe it or not, with making a donation to a charitable foundation in memory of someone who passed away. I just don’t understand. People get jobs they cannot do, they’re not trained properly or supervised. There is just an epidemic of terrible service out there. Pretty shocking.

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